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Cosmic Ground Entropy (2023)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

True Berlin School in a tradition that transcends its usual gothic universe!

1 Space Seed 9:41

2 Phasing 76 9:22

3 Substance 4:17

4 The Cage 6:58

5 Q2408 6:19

6 Randomize User 0 10:22

7 Equilibrium 6:53

8 Entropy 18:42

(CD/DDL 24Bits 72:35) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

I don't know if you're in the same place as me, but I'd definitely place the name Cosmic Ground, a project by keyboardist Dirk Jan Müller, alongside Arc, Redshift, ['ramp] and Brendan Pollard when it comes to talking about those artists who have best transported the Berlin School style out of its glorious 70's. After all, the man who co-directs Electric Orange's activities with Dirk Bittner, has been delivering solid albums in the genre since his 2014 coup de canon in the self-titled Cosmic Ground. This album was the kick-off to a series of CDs, download albums and EPs that have done wonders for the eardrums of aficionados of Tangerine Dream's style from the Ricochet years to Force Majeure. And ENTROPY isn't about to change that! Available on Digipak CD and in 24-bit download format, this latest offering from the German synthesist follows in the footsteps of the sumptuous Isolate and the fantastic Cosmic Ground IV in a rhythmic fury so powerful that even your ears won't know where to hide.

We enter a universe of horror and science fiction with the strange melting hoops of sound that fuel the introduction of Space Speed. Then come the hums of machine and the ululation of cyborg specters. Dirk Jan Müller introduces a fauna of psychedelic sound elements into ENTROPY's dimension that sets it apart from previous opuses, lending futuristic Luciferian dimensions to the music and its ambiences. Wind, woosshh and mechanical yowlings combine to activate an initial rhythmic structure that stutters like a train making buckings. Passed through a sequence shredder, the spasmodic rhythm eventually leaps between rattling debris and other percussive elements to run like a rhythmic train. It rolls at breakneck speed, even risking overflowing and derailing when it mocks a curve. The sequences are nervous. They twirl and flicker in this mass of percussive clatters, racing towards a passage where the atmosphere becomes rarer, before finally resuming a more conventional momentum, interspersed with a few atmospheric traps in an industrial ambience as sordid as ever. With a few variations, Randomize User 0 follows this rhythmic train structure in a long more fluid flight and a slightly more sober setting. But the industrial scent continues to whistle through. Phasing 76 is a tribute to the pioneers of the 70's who recently passed away. Klaus Schulze, Vangelis and Manuel Göttsching come to mind. The track begins its turn towards our ears with the warbles, distortions and woosshh inherent in the genre of the golden years of electronic music (EM). A sequenced bass line emerges from as close as 30 seconds later. Although muffled, its movement is fluid and circular, with slight jolts. A more harmonious rhythmic shadow - the arpeggios have a more translucent nuance - sticks to this structure that rolls beneath this woosshh storm in a seductive alternation between the mutation of the color and tones. This cadenced melody takes on a more nebulous, almost ghostly form, over the almost 10 minutes of Phasing 76. Dirk Jan Müller plays with the modulations of the sequencer, here as elsewhere on the album, creating confusion and charm between our ears for a structure that slows its course more and more to reach a short atmospheric finale. Are our ears still thirsty for these hellish rhythms? No problem! Substance's frenetic rhythm and spasmodic momentum run through them, with the unbridled race of the sequencer running its rhythm breathlessly under a veil of murmurs and chthonian orchestral hums.

The Cage's opening spreads its murky veil with a drone layer. The track feeds more on elements of industrial and psychedelic ambiences, enveloping a rhythm that struggles to emerge and remains stifled under this hold for its 7-minute length. Q2408 feeds a little on these ambiences to offer a rhythmic structure born from the tinkling of metal on aluminum. The structure quivers and splutters in a rhythmic approach that jolts along without really taking off. The color of the sequences and its jerky variations, like the blows of different instruments on a meshed anvil, tinkle between the clutches of a dark oily membrane that purrs and hums. A bit more, and we'd be in Freddy Krueger's dreams! After the long journey of Randomize User 0's rhythmic train has reached its destination, Equilibrium takes us into ENTROPY's only moment without real rhythms. It's a track full of chthonian ambiences, where machines have souls and breathe out their dark thoughts. These dark industrial ambiences flow over into the introduction of the long title track. Here, specters and evil gargoyles are born from a fusion of cast iron and tungsten. Their yowling, murmurs and hungry gurgles intertwine in long howling moans, akin to metallic winds. They run through long imaginary corridors before fueling a rhythmic structure that shudders to ignite like a train from the underworld shortly after the 8th minute. Two rhythmic lines, one fluid and the other spasmodic, knot together this rhythmic momentum that mechanized fireflies peck at here and there, giving Entropy's music a tormented psychedelic sheen. This is as true for the title track as it is of the other 7 structures on an album designed to change the minds of those who whine that the Berlin School style has never been able to reinvent itself. The rhythm wears out these sequences, which leap like scissors across the industrial void, only to disintegrate, rather like a rhythmic weapon, in a slow, atmospheric finale just before the 14th minute, whose sonic combustion is lost in the muffled winds and murmurs that will haunt our ears for a few minutes yet.

Rhythm! Lots of rhythm. Sequences spread out in constantly permutating rhythm structures, and in tones, in colors and modulations, ENTROPY explores a hidden facet of Cosmic Ground's repertoire, at least not in that dimension, inserting psychedelic and industrial textures into an electronic music inspired by the best moments of Tangerine Dream, Arc, Redshift, Ramp and so on. Dirk Jan Müller has the gift to astonish and seduce even more. Album after album! Here he delivers 72 minutes of flawless ferocity, where the anvil of our eardrums vibrates in symbiosis with an infernal music conceived in the shadow of darkness. Yep... true Berlin School in a tradition that transcends its usual gothic universe!

Sylvain Lupari (June 17th, 2023) *****

Available at Cosmic Ground Bandcamp

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

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