CHRISTIAN & BEASLEY: Stories (2022)
“Stories has everything to please aficionados of the Berlin and England School styles”
1 Stories 1 (12:58)
2 Stories 2 (21:06)
3 Stories 3 (24:53)
(CD/DDL 58:58) (V.F.)
(Berlin & England School)
It was in early 2018 as part of the Snow Ball, a mini festival held in Rugeley in the Staffordshire district of England where 6 musicians took turns playing a 30-minute segment of music, that STORIES took root. Originally offered on the virtual ticket concept, the recording of the two acts by John Christian and Adrian Beasley has been remixed and mastered in its entirety for the purposes of this new manufactured CD which is offered by the Dutch label Groove nl. The 2 30-minutes tracks are merged into one long 59-minute piece of fully improvised electronic music (EM) where the atmospheric phases are rerouted by Berlin School and England School rhythmic structures and where the flavors of Airsculpture can be heard in the evolution of the 3 parts of STORIES.
A first chord falls and sounds like a distant chime, bringing to our ears the sound of sonic waves and muffled beats that evaporate when the keyboard lets its chords wander under synth layers that have this industrial bluish color. A bass stratum crawls through the background as softly Stories Part 1 prepares its musical homily. Its first few minutes are very atmospheric with a Rick Wright-like keyboard that scatters its keys under banks of gothic mist. A pulsating bass line overlaps this phase a little after the 4th minute, establishing a latent rhythm that attempts to ascend under layers of a more hazy mist. The synth releases jazz-like solos that remain as discreet as the evasive keyboard chords. The rising rhythm of this sequential bass line hangs tightly on the structure whose atmospheric texture slowly fades away to leave more room for the synthesizer's improvised expressions. I hear some Klaus Schulze from the 10th minute onwards, where the rhythmic structure changes the nature of its tone as well as its flow with another line from the sequencer that makes tumble the rhythmic phase of Stories Part 1's last moments. Getting rid of the rumbling shadow, the 2 sequences coordinate an undulating biphasic movement. Stories Part 2 then whispers a soft rhythm that rises and falls with a certain fluidity under the numerous facets of the synth whose musical haze remains the main asset. We enter a superb Berlin School phase with an ascending rhythmic structure that unlocks its speed with more and more accentuated jumping chords from the sequencer. I can still hear Schulze in the synths that let out sonic cirrostratus. These vaporous layers become more and more compact, responding to the rhythmic gravitational accentuation. The solos come in from the 6th minute. It is shortly after that that the sequencer dribbles its jumping arpeggios in a frenzy that now flirts with the violence of England School. The synth takes on a guitar-like texture in this electronic rock phase worthy of the good times of Tangerine Dream in the vintage years. A great moment in this album that fills my ears with pure happiness until the 18th minute when the ghostly solos of the synth conclude a pact of silence with the rhythm. Impossible not to make a link with Airsculpture here!
The hollow breezes, vapors and industrial drizzle of the finale brings us to Stories 3 and those sonic hoops that evaporate in a strong gust of wiisshh and woosshh. A beat remains. Deaf, it disappears under this immense sound mass where a ghostly melody starts to glitter, weaving earworms by a string of moving arpeggios. It's the call for rhythm! We reach the 3-minute mark and already the sequencer is looking for the rhythmic pattern to offer us. Hesitant, uncertain, it ends up deploying a violent gallop made up of sharp kicks which structure a rhythm at first spasmodic listening. The synthesizers multiply one of the zones of mists on a dystopian silvered and sharpened chant. We are in the most violent phase of STORIES with this rhythmic structure that carries several tonal forms, including organic radiations as well as a lyrical vision, galloping with intensity under haunting and evasive synth solos. Polyform in their seductive natures, these solos change harmonic texture to drop twisted filaments a bit psychedelic on a rhythm that decreases its intensity as soon as the 15 minutes barrier is crossed. The last jolts of the sequencer stretch over a distance of 5 minutes, leading Stories 3 into an atmospheric finale that brings the loop of this wild 3rd part of STORIES full circle.
Improvised music is always subject to long redundant phases! An element that is absent from this new album by John Christian and Adrian Beasley that has everything to please aficionados of the Berlin and England School styles. The atmospheric periods are filled with details that are tasty in the ear and cling to latent rhythmic structures that eventually explode...sometimes with a seductive violence.
Sylvain Lupari (June 25th, 2022) *****
Available at Groove nl