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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

CREATE: We live by the Machines (2010)

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

This one flirts in a dark and corrosive Berlin School with an apocalyptic approach

1 Portal 23:03

2 We live by the Machines 6:45

3 Fanfare of Dreams 9:50

4 Somewhere in the Distance 5:17

5 Running out of Time 8:07

6 Search and Rescue 21:51

(CD/DDL 74:55) (V.F.)

(Dark ambient Berlin School)

This is the last studio album that Create recorded before he starts his adventure with Magnetron. And it is in the massive use of new communication technologies that Stephen Humphries drew his inspiration for the making of WE LIVE BY THE MACHINES. An album with tortured emotions and structures torn between the dark world of ['ramp] and the corrosive universe of Air Sculpture, it respects the robotics and cybernetics of the technological revolutions with minimalist and hypnotic structures that are immersed in gloomy and spectral ambiences where Create's particular synths criss-cross the valleys of a world obsessed by the evolution of machines.

Portal is a typical intrusion in the mysterious and tenebrous universe of a dark Berlin School. A long track where minimalist phases predominate, Portal starts its slow spectral unfolding with an intro full of eclectic sounds. A thin synth wave pierces the void, undulating and crisscrossing a soundscape where interstellar whale songs spawn in a mechanical electronic universe. Synth blasts, sometimes jerky and sometimes morphic, are entangled in a heterogeneous sonic fauna where spasmodic spirals fall from nothingness to feed a heavy ambience of mystery. A sequence with alternating strikes emerges from this dense metallic veil at around 4:30 minutes. It gambols and waddles under the gyrating waves of an apocalyptic synth and the thick haze of a nasal mellotron. This minimalist, pulsating rhythm evolves with sharper chords and with the addition of another clearer sequenced line around the 7th minute, giving more relief to this sequencer mechanism that is quite robotic and that a line with crystalline arpeggios makes even more melodious. Solos with Stephen Humphries' unique signature loop and twist around this stealthy rhythm meandering around with saccades under a dense metallic haze. This rhythm continues its minimalist march until the 15th minute, when the sequence isolates itself and enters a dark zone with chthonian choirs singing under this intriguing mellotron mist, while another clearer sequence dances awkwardly through it up until the finale. These erratic rhythms that progress surreptitiously in dark atmospheres are the basis of the minimalist structures of this album. Of course there is the title-track which is a kind of electronic groovy-loopy-reggae, a bit in the style of Weird Caravan found on Klaus Schulze's Dig It album. The rhythm jumps on a good bass line with heavy waving notes. It's rounder, softer and less digital, and it's full of good synth layers slightly jerky and sweet fluty breezes.

Fanfare of Dreams brings us back to Create's dark and corrosive universe with a sequence that moves stealthily. Heavy, jerky and resonant chords progress with a furtive gait under dark twisted solos and a thin line that spins like a limpid musical carousel give the track a devilish and sinister approach worthy of a good thriller or horror movie. Those who appreciate John Carpenter's creepy and minimalist universe will be charmed by this title, as well as the mysterious and spectral Somewhere in the Distance. Running out of Time is a long atonal movement where strata and spectral synthesizer blasts ululate around a hypnotic ticking. Supported by this single rhythmic movement but animated by the impulses of a synth with hybrid and intriguing sonorities, the title brings us to the doors of Search and Rescue's strange introduction of which is not without recalling the ambient and disconcerting movements of Tangerine Dream in its psychedelic period and even with Force Majeure. Little by little the metallic breaths dissipate to make place to this mystical mist which envelops the heart of the machines in WE LIVE BY THE MACHINES, while a pulsation shapes a first rhythmic outline. A rhythm which will be subdivided by another sequenced movement more limpid, chords zigzagging, and others strummed chords under the aegis of synth solos as distorted as threatening which chisel and furrow this perpetual mist reigning all around this album. A little like this mist coming from the explosions which drew the end of times in Terminator, a movie having inspired this album of Create. Faithful to himself, and this even if his tracks are long minimalistic explorations, the English synthesist remains always as intriguing as the bite of his synths.

A meeting point between ['ramp] and Air Sculpture, WE LIVE BY THE MACHINES is an EM album that flirts with the dark and corrosive Berlin School style with a nice apocalyptic approach. If it's true that some musical structures are stretched, on the other hand the synth solos with metallic essences that come out of it give another dimension to this cynical look that Create throws on the evolution of a world that seems to always turn in circles. This album will not be a disappointment for Create's fans. A little more difficult to coax, it could even be an opening for those who like dark minimalist music and who still don't know the musical universe of Create.

Sylvain Lupari (April 7th, 2011) *****

Available at Groove nl

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