CYCLICAL DREAMS: Gemstones (2020)
“This is a fantastic compilation of nearly 3 hours of modern EM mostly made with analog and modular synth and sequences”
1 Adjacent Omens (Lisa Bella Donna) 11:02
2 It was sad to see you go (2020 remake) (Gert Emmens) 8:46
3 Strange Attractor Island (Zanov) 6:57
4 Magnets (Johnny Woods) 6:43
5 Pivotal (Brendan Pollard) 11:04
6 Uritorco (Cartas de Japón) 8:00
7 X-Pairy (Harald Grosskopf) 5:16
8 7th Degree (Ombient) 13:19
9 Seven Lights (Sophos) 7:22
10 Telexium (Audiometría) 14:38
11 ASD (Ernesto Romeo & Maximiliano Ramos) 7:46
12 Iris (The Soviet Space Dog Project) 13:13
13 Oceanus Procellarum (Bernd-Michael Land) 13:08
14 Out of the Silence - Exclusive version (Sequentia Legenda) 9:09
15 AQ (Rayspark Industries) 11:14
16 Passageway (Chris Russell) 12:48
(DDL 161:31) (V.F.)
(Progressive EM, Berlin & Spanish Schools)
It was at the beginning of June 2020 that Cyclical Dreams began to flood the EM market with a very first production by Eridanus and his eponymous album. Since then, this Argentinian label has produced around 20 albums including two compilations, Dreams # 1 and this one: GEMSTONES. This compilation is built around artists who had a particular meaning and an inspiration to those who set up this label. There are names, big names that I know and that are known to my readers and EM enthusiasts in general as well as new artists who demonstrate enormous potential. Very generous, the label offers the equivalent of 2 CDs filled to capacity on its download and/or streaming platform. The music at Cyclical Dreams is in a more progressive style, at times experimental that revolves around the Berlin School and the convoluted structures of Vangelis at the height of his creativity. I reviewed 3 albums from this label: Circular Logic from Beyond Our Galaxy, Cuentos Fantásticos by Francisco Nicosia and finally the excellent Michael Brückner's Footprints. And is the EM offered in GEMSTONES realistic about the possibilities of choice offered by the label? Absolutely!
Starting off, Lisa Bella Donna's Adjacent Omens shows the label's experimental cosmic side with a good title and its lines of rhythms that crisscross in oblong lateral movements travelling in suspension. Sequenced arpeggios flutter there while the synth spits out good dynamic impulses. A very interesting title from the alchemist of sounds who works with modular synths and you can hear it. Gert Emmens is one of the inspiring artists for the label and he gave a remake of It was sad to see you go, an old track that Gert performed during an encore for a concert given as part of E-Day in 2009 It's good Gert Emmens! Zanov is also taking part to this compilation by offering a title of Chaos Islands that he reworked for the needs of GEMSTONES; Strange Attractor Island. Always very good and despite each artist preserving their tonal signature, everything flows and melts like butter on roasted almonds. Well… Let's say that putting a title inspired by the Phaedra years of Tangerine Dream, I'm talking about Brendan Pollard here, between more contemporary visions of Johnny Woods and Cartas de Japón sounds a little weird. But still there, it goes well! So, Johnny Woods' Magnets is an ambient track designed by modular synth. The music travels through orchestral impulses, structuring waves of staccato which strike each other, overturn while creating a musical layer as disproportionate as the art of the modular can bring to our ears. Those who like random sequencer choreographies will be delighted by this fascinating Latin dance that Cartas de Japón structures with Uritorco. A dance that starts from an ambient cha-cha-cha to a rumba with a rather futuristic vision. The movement has a certain grace with the fuzzy vibrations of the sequencer between our ears. The rhythm is both heavy, because of the vibrations it projects, and curt, because of the timbre of the sequencer. This main movement must deal with a massive influx of bouncing balls that are made to dribble, like jumping and dancing, making more complex this structure embalmed by the mooings of synths and their fluty echoes. I really liked this title and it's a big crush. Another favorite on this album is this track offered by Harald Grosskopf; X-Pairy. A big rhythm of a futuristic tribe with good percussions. Awesome!
Ombient is the project of guitarist Mike Hunter and its title 7th Degree is built on the principle of repetitive loops, always with its nuances, à la Manuel Göttsching. It's a good title that turns our senses in circles at an intoxicating speed. Seven Lights by Sophos is a radiant lullaby illuminated by prisms where each side is imbued with a virginal color. Sophos, the label's only artist on GEMSTONES, injects iridescent synth blades that add moments of disarray to this superb track. After a twilight opening, Audiometría introduces an ambient rhythm with oscillations that flutter on the spot. Quietly, Telexium develops with synth riffs and cymbal's silvery tsiitts-tsiitts before releasing in a heavier and lively movement of the sequencer which welcomes these ambiences of Latin westerns. There are good synth solos on this track which is part of the good Berlin School of this compilation. ASD by Ernesto Romeo & Maximiliano Ramos is the most exploratory track on this album. The music introduces a buzzing and lively line of these multiple lightly bounding oscillations. Chords are grafted forcing a sonic surge on this linear movement where sound effects dominate the music and its experimental-psychedelic design. If you're into the genre, AQ from Rayspark Industries is even better with its industrial percussive elements. So, I couldn't wait to discover the music of The Soviet Space Dog Project and Bernd-Michael Land. Iris offers a restless piano in troubled ambiences which are stretched out on a line of beats without ambition. The title goes through all the stages known from the ambient England School style to fall into a phase of spasmodic ambient rhythm which always preserves the beauty of the electric piano. It's a track that requires some listening, just like the works of Kubusschnitt of which Andy Bloyce, the man behind TSSDP, is also a member. Oceanus Procellarum falls in our ears with a sound and a studio atmosphere from another planet. There is a long hiiisss behind the guitar, very beautiful by the way, which catches my hearing in a feeling that this title by Bernd-Michael Land comes from far away and from elsewhere too. Oceanus Procellarum is an evolving title which travels through the EM ages in the perimeters of progressive electronic rock. The structure is very disparate and must cling to this mesh of programmed percussions and sequences which cross agitated as well as ambient phases. I hear influences from Tangerine Dream on the level of harmonic sequences. It is also the kind of track which gains its portion of charms with each new listening. And it also has all the elements we need to convince us of it. Sequentia Legenda offers one of his timeless jewelry, Out of the Silence. He offers it in a condensed version. Even shortened, the epidemic of bewitching charms does its work in this short extract, the long version of which remains my favorite. It gave me chills, it's so divine. The somber Chris Russell also participates in this superb compilation by offering Passageway, a big title of Dark Ambient which makes us visit straight from our ears one of the most remote corners of the Cosmos.
GEMSTONES is a fantastic compilation from the Cyclical Dreams label! It's almost 3 hours of EM of all genres and for all tastes with unions between titles and artists sometimes questionable, but not enough to erase this curiosity to discover new sound worlds. I enjoyed traveling on the wings of music presented by names that are unknown to me. And those I know live up to their reputation on this compilation that I consider essential with its different tastes and visions of contemporary EM.
Sylvain Lupari (January 12th, 2021) ****¼*
Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp