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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Christian Fiesel Suspended Life (2023)

A creative and daring album where Christian Fiesel sets the limits of our imagination ablaze

1 Behind the Wall 8:01

2 Layer of Fear 4:46

3 Running into the Void 4:23

4 Suspended Life 24:52

5 Nothing Left to Say, No Regrets, Just a Quiet Place 2:40

6 Church at the Abyss of Midnight 11:02

7 Spiritual Brothers Won't Bother 9:04

8 Fruits 3:54

9 So Many New Faces from the Old World 8:34

(DDL/CD-(r) 77:21) (V.F.)

(Experimental Dark Ambient)

Life in suspension! Is it rest or time suspended as our spirit wanders within our torments? That's the question you have to ask yourself after listening to SUSPENDED LIFE, that Christian Fiesel has deposited in the vaults of Cyclical Dreams. This is already the German musician-synthesist's 5th album for the Argentinian label. And each time, he has the gift of taking us into new territories where the music and its ambiences flirt with the tuning forks of the unknown. Exception made of his excellent Sphere and let me say it straight from the start, this new album of his is far from the Mephistophelian poetry of Sphere. His signature as the Prince of dark ambiences is still the order of the day. But what could be more unfamiliar than this suspended state of life? Especially as perceptions follow the contexts of what Christian Fiesel wants to do with them. SUSPENDED LIFE is an album that borders on dark experimental music, torn apart by purplish synth blades. The moods are always tinged with despair, shouted out by the skillful interweaving of synth, mellotron and electric guitar. The rhythms are forged in unsuspected dimensions with an essence of Berlin School in sound envelopes that defy our knowledge of the genre. Candy for the ears, my friends! So, there are brilliant moments in this SUSPENDED LIFE, as there are phases where some ears may bleed. But generally speaking, this new Christian Fiesel album is a good listen if you like music that connects with the dimensions of its title.

The sound of a dormant, snoring bugle is opening Behind the Wall. The synth multiplies these waves, undulating between droning and soothing tones. Limpid arpeggios stumble over this slow, vaporous procession, heading towards a kind of pinnacle of intensity with a crescendo of humming waves that clump together in their tonal contradictions midway through. Fat chords then begin to resound on a bed of anesthetizing haze just before the 5th minute. This is the cue to introduce the rhythm into Behind the Wall. And like the textures of SUSPENDED LIFE, its tone is the fiercest. It beats like the suckers of a hungry octopus. The bass which supports it counterbalances the organic aspect for a structure more in phase with electronic rhythms. The synth weaves oscillations that are in symbiosis with the pulsations of the suckers, while creating hazy orchestrations and rolling loops that sound like spectral hootings. After an opening in which the metal seems to sing, if not hiss repeatedly, Layer of Fear comes a little more to life with a bed of oscillations that rise and fall in a beautiful ambient rhythm structure. The mellotron borrows a flute timbre and sings profusely over this rhythmic texture driven by serial oscillations, before the music joins the metallic snakes' hisss of its introduction. When I run in my dreams, I always feel like I'm running in slow motion. My legs are as heavy as lead and I'm running into the void with a swarm of ghosts at my heels. This is exactly the setting I discover in Running into the Void. The ambient, I might even say stationary, rhythm is based on rubbery beats to which Fiesel has attached a fluty tone. A more majestic tone from the mellotron flute inspires a veiled chant that undulates between the rustles of a choir of unholy angels. Yes, just like my dreams!

The long title track is a challenge for the ears. It wonderfully depicts this phase of torn emotions and associations between sounds and their imagined staves, twirling in a universe of paradoxes concerning the limits of a life in suspension. A musical synth layer makes undulating its ascending harmonies, whose sharp, low tones trace a strange procession towards the abysses of the subconscious. The sonic fauna may seem hostile, with bass chords bursting out in ashen black, and scarlet laments howling in the dusty graffiti of these same chords. This is without counting the organic flora, and the more electronic ones, with droplets that flee the droppers of time in an opening rich in tonalities that are on a par with the visions of the Trittau's musician-synthesist. We're on the edge of a sonic nightmare when a sequencer movement establishes a race through imagined obstacles in what could be our state in our suspended life. The rhythm is downright delicious with its organic tone, sounding like a belching toad, and those unusual keyboard chords that run with the movement, rather like a silver reflection in a one-way mirror. It rolls, perhaps hobbles, at good speed on the dubious-quality elytra of a mellotron, triturated guitar tones and of a chthonian choir. We're in the realm of the imaginary, in the conceptual frontiers of a musician who likes to fill our ears to the rim all along the 25 minutes of Suspended Life. At around the 7-minute mark, a large blast of sound suspends the rhythm, radiating a cloud of buzzing reverberations. It's cataclysm! A phase of din filled with sonic doubts, from which emerges a rhythmic movement as diabolical as a vague Halloween-themed melody. The bass line moves on stealthily, the hiss effects and the sinister synth harmonies weave a sordid environment. But these elements are less disparate, and perhaps even more musical, than the psychedelic phase that creases our ears after the 12-minute mark. One thing leading to another, Christian Fiesel drags us from one din to another with a sound phase knotted with jerks and percussive blows, like cadenced machine-gun effects, where different sources of sound fizzle and explode. It's anarchy. The revolt of melodies over a hyper-jerky motorik rhythm that leads to a slightly more musical finale.

Nothing Left to Say, No Regrets, Just a Quiet Place is a short interlude with an acoustic guitar serenading the listener in a mood that flirts with darkness. I liked it, as I liked those hand-rubbing effects on the guitar neck. I feel as if the music is being played just for me, so tangible is the effect of promiscuity. Church at the Abyss of Midnight takes us back to the dark ambient genre for which Christian Fiesel is renowned. We listen to the music and its ambiences sliding into the abyss. A deep dark ambient track whereas the metallic clackings of a futuristic typist and heavy, echoing beatings are the source of Spiritual Brothers Won't Bother. This astonishingly convoluted structure is minimalist and will outlive the 9 minutes of the track. It's so the nest for Fiesel's fantasies. And it begins with a fascinating texture of oriental melody that shimmers over the opening moments of this heavy rhythm that seems to move slightly faster, like a monster with giant scissors wanting to cut our flesh. Organ layers and chthonian voices replace this Asian melody. Clattering, fading sounds and dark layers full of Luciferian hums complete a setting as sordid as highly original. Fruits is the most melodious electronic track in the SUSPENDED LIFE's universe. The structure reminds me one of those rhythms of the analog years - think Richard Pinhas in East/West and L'Ethique - with leaps that jump around in a seductive rhythmic harmony, eventually reaching a syncopated flow. The tears of the electric guitar draw out cabalistic arrangements that are nonetheless light, harmonizing with a track made for enjoying life. Enjoying the present moment. It's really good! It literally made me want to rediscover these 2 Pinhas albums (which I did). So Many New Faces from the Old World ends this journey into the land of unconsciousness with a mysterious ambience. The music is propelled by slow dark surges, like materialized hollow breezes, loaded of ghostly ululations. Bells tinkle with the shrillness of a melting, screaming metal being. And these sharp tones seem to come from a mesh of synth and electric guitar. A mesh that thwarts our ears for much of SUSPENDED LIFE. A creative, daring and occasionally thunderous album in which Christian Fiesel sets the limits of our imagination ablaze.

Sylvain Lupari (November 3rd, 2023) *****

Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp

(NB: The text in blue are links you can click on)

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