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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

CONCEPT DEVICES: Conceptus Fabrica (2019)

Updated: Jul 29, 2019

“Conceptus Fabrica is this kind of opus where an approach a bit experimental flirts agreeably with the scents of analog Berlin School”

1 Templar Knight 18:07

2 A Touch of Velvet 3:37

3 The Trail 10:15

4 All Seeing Eye 9:09

5 The Chinon Parchment 7:28

6 Knights Keep 24:04

Groove | GR-269 (CD 72:40)

(Experimental with a touch of Berlin School)

This one won't be easy! Concept Devices is the project of Martyn Greenwood, a trained bassist who has become an addict to analog synthesizers. He is also one of those underground musicians, on the dark side of the EM, who is like a little fish in his ocean when he is in an improvisation session. CONCEPTUS FABRICA is a second opus for this English musician who also offers on his site Bandcamp a series of EP recorded during these multiple improvised sonic expeditions. And this time it's serious! Produced and distributed by the Groove label, we are not here in the realm of the Berlin School, except on a few occasions, but rather on the dark side of the EM. Small hesitant riffs succeed each other in a jolted line, while the keyboard extends more musical chords. It's with a pleasant melody that Templar Knight infiltrates our ears. The riffs always try to stretch their presences and the disorder settles with a swarm of effects and keys which roll and wrap together in a setting where an organ blows hot and cold. Experimentation or melody! It's rather a hypnotic movement of the sequencer that surfaces with a jumping structure which makes roll its oscillations with more fluidity than many elements in the scenery. The experimental ambiences fade to reborn in other forms of tones, always in contrast with this structure à la Philip Glass which continues to flicker by flirting with anesthetic layers and frolicking with some elements of Templar Knight sound fauna. The rhythmic ammunition gradually fades away, revealing a line of hasty pulsations that jump quickly and bring back the rhythmic framework for a last dance. A Touch of Velvet is a short ambient title with textured layers around astral hums. The sonic surges exploit different tones of the synthesizers with semicircles, loops and pads as well as riffs which glue together and intertwine in the same heap. At times, I hear of Robert Fripp and his genesis of Exposure. A two-parts title, The Trail follows with a musical wave from the interstellar West. It lays down a beautiful musicality which serves as a lair for two lines of the sequencer jumping in symbiosis with a nuance in the alternation, giving a preponderance to a more limpid hopping movement. Ambient, but not too much, the structure advances and extends its charm with the complicity of a synth, perhaps even a Mellotron, which weaves a beautiful melodious soporific approach. Is it a Michael Rother guitar that I hear after the 4 minutes? Possible, but from this moment The Trail acquires a more intense phase with a bass pulsation that shakes its musicality. Everything shifts after 5 minutes! The sound fauna takes on a more experimental attitude, like a good psybient at the edge of a nerve crisis, with a line of sequences flowing like the sounds of an oscillating water leak. All Seeing Eye also develops these ballets of tones which turn into choreographies amputated of its most graceful movements. The lines of sound rotate in circles or juxtapose with different degrees of harmony. Layers get insert and act like morose and melancholic synth tears in this mass of sequences and arpeggios, while a stairway of sounds gravitates towards a Babel tower where everything is heard but nothing communicates nor get in harmonies. The Chinon Parchment is good for our ears, not too badly treat so far, with what I consider the little pearl of CONCEPTUS FABRICA. A synth raises an azure wave where is born its multiple of two, with two contrasting tones. These lines give a sound luster of the analog years. And when the sequencer sculpts and releases this stealthy movement in its rhythmic structure, the whole thing adds more warmth with vibrating waves which blow a surreal harmony to our ears. It's after this moment, a little before the 3 minutes, that the most beautiful principle of sequenced rhythm in this album begins to sparkle, even to sing, between our ears. This magnetizing rhythm evolves into a well managed tumult that leaves all the charms to the sequencer. A good title that rewards our auditory curiosity! Curiosity because Knights Keep is the very principle of beginning a sonic exploration, as it's also the principle that we must at least hear one or two times, or even more (me it was three), before making a judgment on a musical act. What I initially considered to be a mass of sounds has become an ever-compact sound mass, nourished mainly by the effect of reverberations of a primary line and of its reflections, which get multiplied by small waves. There shines a delicate melody born from a fusion between an organ and a harpsichord that weaves its repetitive loops in this magma of tones animated by muted impulses. This sound mass advances as a threat to the point of 10 minutes, where a line of the sequencer works on its waving. This movement becomes like a crazy dog whose enthusiasm constantly changes its direction and moods, giving to Knights Keep a final that ultimately respects the outlines of a daring album which certainly worth to be discovered.

Sylvain Lupari (June 6th, 2019) ***½**

Available at Groove

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