COSMIC GROUND: Cosmic Ground IV (2018)
“A must-hear and a great vintage Berlin School album Cosmic Ground IV is an excellent opus where Dirk Jan Müller still finds a way to reinvent a genre in his own way”
1 Possessed 7:38 2 Stained 11:30 3 Obscured 7:25 4 Greasy 12:29 5 Progeny 20:21 6 Plains 9:02 7 Deep End 9:57 8 Soil 38:17 (Bonus Track) Studio Fleisch | SFCD10
(CD 78:22) (V.F.) (Vintage Berlin School)
Heavy and cavernous, a dark breeze armed with rattling and industrial clamor spreads its shadow of unease in the opening of Possessed. A basis of embryonic rhythm tries to emerge. Except that it is stuck on the spot, like those old vinyl albums and their scratches that constantly made the needle jump. Gelatinous pulsations butter the walls of a nuclear power plant's corridor from which the surrounding noises are witnesses of a horde of ghosts wandering with dark ideas filled to the top of their ectoplasmic auras. Despite this fauna of noises and of sedentary pulsations, the rhythm is totally absent in this title. And its hullabaloo environment reaches an insurmountable level, unbearable for some, around the 5 minutes, so to vanish in some chthonic synth waves just a few seconds later. Possessed has somewhat destabilized the fans of Cosmic Ground with a very industrial dark ambient and a psybient approaches which cast its shadows all over COSMIC GROUND IV. Except that everything is not without rhythmic lives in this latest opus of Dirk Jan Müller. As proof, the splendid Stained which describes its rhythmic arc from the first fogs of spectral voices appeared. The movement is slow and built around two lines which communicate with short oscillations. These leaps and their echoes jump peacefully in layers of hoarse voices and other percussive effects which are jumping like a small group of marbles on a conveyor. Stained, and its Redshift imprint, deploys a clear velocity in its movement which leads to a long pinnacle, as much in the rhythm than the atmospheres, before retreating in its natural state. Some excellent Berlin School of the vintage years here! The themes here revolve around a strange tale of horror. The atmospheres are hefty, and the rhythms respond to these atmospheres with heavy and vampiric structures which are just as black and as the ebony of the underworld. Obscured catches our ears with this unmistakable desire to listen to Pink Floyd's One of These Days. And there's a lot of Rick Wright's influences in this album, in particular with the fog patches here and there. The rhythm is catchy for the neurons with some fascinating Gargoyle's gurgling which cling to the hypnotic oscillations of a phantom rhythm. Magnetizing and haunting, the music of COSMIC GROUND IV continues to reach rhythmic dimensions as powerful as in any other albums of Cosmic Ground, but in music structures much shorter. In addition, this album offers 7 tracks instead of the legendary 4 tracks that Dirk Jan Müller has been offering since Cosmic Ground 2.
Greasy breaks the silence with a heavy Mellotron layer which falls in a dense organ effect coming from the darkness. Only 3 minutes of chthonic atmospheres are enough to generate a fluid rhythm which waves peacefully in its hypnotic structure. Another line of more limpid sequences injects a brighter and somewhat melodious aura with series of oscillatory spasms to which get graft synth riffs which shiver even more than the rhythmic spasms. In this minimalist 12-minute walk, Greasy imposes its nuances, more in its musical envelope than in its structures of crisscrossed rhythms. It's quite near Tangerine Dream, Phaedra period, but with more vivacity in the rhythm. Progeny is another excellent title which only needs 4 minutes to warm up the moods so that another rhythm structure of the Berlin School's golden years deploys a lively movement tied up around a line of keys galloping all slaughtered bridle. Synth filaments, morphic and more Mephistopheles layers are giving a relief at once musical and dark while percussive effects try to add a psychedelic breach to a structure of which the tapping of our fingers has difficulty to follow. I have rarely heard as much of good Berlin School lively and full of nuances in its ornaments as in this album where the essences of Node, Arc, ['ramp], Redshift and the good old Tangerine Dream are soaking the moods and the rhythms without that Cosmic Ground is losing its soul. Plains brings us back to sobriety with a structure of nocturnal atmospheres, but not as rowdy as in Possessed. All the opposite of Deep End which is a title of chthonic atmospheres with industrial hummings which get metamorphose into a black ambient rhythm and whose ghost oscillations swarm in a sonic flora barded of synthesized elements that are in the colors of the sense of its title. Take Phaedra and play it in slow motion, it's a bit Deep End but with more effects and anfractuous movements in the many lamentations and esoteric essences of its atmospheres. Heavy, dark but very intrusive!
Presented in manufactured CD and in a beautiful digipack with colors as intriguing and flamboyant as the basins of its atmospheres, COSMIC GROUND IV offers a long bonus track which comes with the purchase of the CD, a code is provided, or with its download. A long title of nearly 40 minutes without rhythmic life but with the panoply of synth effects and especially of Mellotron vibes which are in mode; music to scare at night. If you are a fan of ambiences of any colors and genres, Soil will meet your expectations. If not, titles like Possessed and Deep End are excellent choices to introduce you to a universe where the imagination embodies a film of which you are the only master of the scenario. Whether we like it or not, it doesn't detract from this album which is an excellent one where Dirk Jan Müller still finds a way to reinvent a genre in his own way. A must-hear and a great vintage Berlin School album which goes in my top 10 list of 2018.
Sylvain Lupari (June 7th, 2018) *****
Available on Cosmic Ground Bandcamp