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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

DASK & THANECO: Stages (2022)

Ambient phases and melodies on evolving rhythms that are slowly flirting with Berlin School

1 The Innocent in the Nest 4:04

2 The Explorer in the Garden 8:50

3 The Thespian at the Oasis 7:34

4 The Wanderer in the Cocoon 8:38

5 The Apprentice in the Wellspring 7:58

6 The Artisan in the Wild Orchard 6:47

7 The Master in the Grove of Elders 7:51

8 The Sage in the Mountain Cave 6:52

(CD-R/DDL 58:36) (V.F.)

(Ambient, Soundscapes, Cinematic)

It's inspired by Bill Plotkin's book Nature And The Human Soul, which illustrates the healthiest path toward authentic elder-hood and genuine wisdom, that the 59-minute of this new album-download from the duo Thaneco & DASK goes by. There was no doubt in the mind of Thanasis Oikonomopoulos that his friend David Marsh had the musical signature to co-sign a work of psychological as well as philosophical scope in a lyrical context that is equal to the thoughts of the author. And he was not wrong! STAGES is philosophical only in its concept as the electronic music (EM) offers a happy mix of DASK's unique dark atmospheric textures and Thaneco's orchestral melodies over rhythms that flirt with a romantic yet melancholic Berlin School. From its first track, STAGES follows an evolution that goes hand in hand with the orientations of the book where Thaneco & DASK's signature always flirts with the musical perfumes of a certain Greek musician.

The Innocent in the Nest sets the tone for this new opus from the duo working at distance with a processional opening. The brassy tone of the synth sculpts this astral march under a layer of seraphic voices where a procession of arpeggios, sometimes melodic and sometimes pensive, swirl under different musical sonic skies. The Explorer in the Garden is slow and dark, a bit like The Innocent in the Nest. The synthesizer weaves beautiful airs on a mass of reverberating sounds that undulates like a slow lava flow. Here too the keyboardist is pensive as he drags his fingers over keys which are wandering in two shades in a mournful structure. Gradually, the track develops with an ambient rhythmic texture supported by a crawling bass line under a good texture of orchestrations and Vangelis-like inspired synth layers. After an opening structured on melodious ascending loops, The Thespian at the Oasis also offers a slow evolution of ambient rhythm moving stealthily on the beats of a pulsing bass-line. A melodious texture gets anchored with sober keys that embrace this astral march and arpeggios twittering between the azure breaths of a synth that also weaves beautiful orchestrations. Percussions, shoot by mini bursts, end up bringing this very good track of STAGES towards a form of electronic art rock some 20 seconds after the 4th minute. Becoming a bit spasmodic, this phase unleashes some good jerky bucking that are covered with good solos, with a tone to tickle the emotions, orchestrations and drones reverberating in a dramatic finale. A very good track! An intense flurry of winds, howling drones and electronic elements is at the origin of The Wanderer in the Cocoon. A delicate texture of ambient melody emerges midway through. Rising and falling in hypnotic loops, it is woven by a pensive keyboardist under breezes of a shadowy flute. An ascending bass layer envelops its finale, which takes the shape of a lunar downtempo.

The opening of The Apprentice in the Wellspring is more than sibylline with an unreal voice humming above a flurry of vocal swirls, it sounds like a spectral voice trying to communicate through a magnetic field, form where come jerky filaments. Curious as well as fascinating, this opening lets pass percussions that structures a good, driving electronic rock. The synth pads are in symbiosis with a texture of riffs that follows the velocity of the rhythm where the solos take acrobatic forms. Intense and catchy! Keys leap over a rubbery structure to initiate the ambient rhythmic phase of The Artisan in the Wild Orchard. Multiplying loops of a minimalist rhythm, this structure is covered with bluish haze and a cello's lamentations in a cinematic meditative vision that awakens to a form of convulsive art rock as soon as oscillatory filaments jostle its way in. The form is ascending with a pool of related tones that respond in echo. An atmospheric bridge, covered with electronic haze, stops this rhythmic evolution which starts again with more tonal richness. Although provided with rich cosmic orchestrations, The Master in the Grove of Elders is an intense atmospheric track with an imposing oceanographic texture. Thrills are guaranteed in this track where the tone of the synths seduces as much as the delicate arpeggios that dance innocently in a hypnotic circle. I can't help but think of Michael Stearns' majestic M'Ocean here. The introduction of The Sage in the Mountain Cave drinks of the same water before joining the celestial ways in a splendid meditative melody to make the very late Vangelis smile. Let's just say that it fits very well with the opening of STAGES.

EM enthusiasts have two reasons to rejoice with the arrival of this STAGES. First of all it's a very nice album of Thaneco & DASK which is in the continuity of Elemental and Oneira, the first 2 collaborations of the Greek-English duo. There are as many meditative atmospheric elements as melodic phases and electronic rhythms that flirt with the Berlin School style on this 8-tracks download-album. The other reason is the return of Kilian Schloemp-Uelhoff, better known as Kilian CabGuy, back to health after a long battle against cancer and by ricochet of his SynGate label after a long sick leave. Welcome back Kilian and good continuity for your label. Because albums like this STAGES, I take those any time!

Sylvain Lupari (July 6th, 2022) ****¼*

Available at SynGate's Bandcamp

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