DAVE BESSELL: Reality Engine (2020)
“Heavy cinematic and cabalistic psybiences on a meshing of England School's rhythms, this album is not to be missed for fans of highly textural EM”
1 Codex 5.57
2 The Silver Thread 7:16
3 Ghost of Lost Cities 7:10
4 Sleeping Air Awakes 5:01
5 A Man is a Small Thing and the Night is Large and Full of Wonders 6:44
6 Raven King 6:38
7 The Fountains are Singing 5:09
8 The Tower 6:05
9 Neverwhere 9:25
(England School, Dark Psybient)
Despite a fairly slim discography, Dave Bessell is a brilliant artist whose next album we are impatiently awaiting. And it will happen on April 17 in DiN's bins, in a limited edition of 500 CDs and in high-quality download. Your favorite columnist had the chance to hear this REALITY ENGINE which continues where Black Horses of the Sun has left us 5 years ago. Inspired by the literary works of Jorge Luis Borges, the brothers Grimm and Lord Dunsany, this latest album by the English musician reproduces this very eclectic ambiences in the works of these writers. Between ethereal phases, even very lyrical's, and heavy atmospheres, there are rhythms. Sometimes indecisive and often catchy for the neurons, they remain heavy with an arrhythmic vision which is based on these dark movements of the England School. The ambiences and their textures are filled to the brim with essences and influences from the label of Ian Boddy, with a creativity that has nothing to envy to the explorations of modular synths by the artists of this label.
A layer filled with distorted rustles falls abruptly on the Codex opening. Another heavier one imposes its disturbing presence by purring loudly like a ghost ship in thick fog. We don't even feel the illusion of a ground that Codex is already transposing itself for a more ethereal cosmos where the stars twinkle and where the calls of the boats are more distant. Arpeggios parade through this decor to make a Halloween style melody tinkle. Codex changes its skin, like the other 50 minutes of REALITY ENGINE incidentally. Through and on drifting layers, like a boat in absolute darkness, the atmospheres of this first track install a climate which reaches a level of anxiety with a sound rise where all the instruments converge towards a nebulous point. Heavenly voices and a harp play with the scenarios of our imagination in a sound texture worthy of the great albums of the English label. The Silver Thread follows with deaf and intense blows, which surprise the hearing after such a finale, bringing in its ambiances these crystalline stars which fooled our imagination in Codex. Despite these sepulchral knocks, The Silver Thread perpetuates the indecisive ambiences which are at the origin of the first 10 minutes of this latest album by Bessell before embracing a down-tempo wrapped in a creative fabric of psybient. Psybient with a nice tint of anxiety film! There is a movement of the sequencer here which is very Tangerine Dream, not to mention Arc. This movement bypasses the seat of the ambiances of the title with a delicate stroboscopic thread which doesn't always manage to contain the lamentations of the synths.
I insist on emphasizing the richness of the sound textures of this album which sets up a marvelous dark cinematographic environment. We hook instantly on Ghost of Lost Cities which is born of shrill spectral lamentations that synth pads are wrapping up of caresses from reverberations' shadows. A slight indecision and up! Ghost of Lost Cities enters the bowels of Arc with a plethora of electronic percussions, and their tonal variants, and on a sequencer which disjoins each of its ideas in structures sometimes rhythmic and sometimes ambient. A guitar launches loud riffs in a setting reminiscent of the soft and heavy rhythms of Redshift. Excellent! Sleeping Air Awakes doesn't do things by half either by offering a changing structure which is based on a cabalistic cinematic vision where the demons prepare the buffet of Satan. The tonal flora is impeccable with elements that ululate and shiver. The percussions personify falls of sound masses which mistreat goblins howling with fright. A sequence is dancing slightly in this setting, perfectly imitating the confusion of ambiences and of those rhythmic fires that light up a bit everywhere in the 5 minutes (only!) of Sleeping Air Awakes whose rhythmic crescendo is simply breathtaking.
A Man is a Small Thing and the Night is Large and Full of Wonders is a title structured on King Crimson or Markus Reuter vibes, especially because of the guitars. And much like Arc and/or Redshift, the floating atmospheres put on their big boots to advance heavily towards a final that refuses to get out of its introductory bed. Oh, how wonderful Raven King is! Its introduction, woven with fascinating lamentations of a guitar string that is tortured, gradually transforms under the insistence of a series of muffled beats which advances this membrane of atmospheres. A very vintage keyboard makes me smile at the same time when heavy percussions act like an uncertain walk in the hesitant corridors of Redshift. This heavy and slow rhythm ends up becoming catchy with a collective of sequences and percussions which beats in these very vintage keyboard layers. Simply superb! The Fountains are Singing shares its dark ambiances with a guitar tortured by its desire to break with the poetry of a fluty melody. The Tower opens with a crash to exhibit its 6 minutes imagined in sordid ambiences. Certainly, the Mellotron embellishes the moods with a misty fluty melody while a good keyboard extends its notes like a lover its roses. But there is something evil in this decor where the vile and the pure are defying each other without going for a dramatic outpouring. I don't know why, but there's something very Mike Oldfield about the guitar that leads Neverwhere's destiny to the REALITY ENGINE ending. The solos are very inspiring and seem to cry on an idle structure of rhythm, a bit minimalist, pushed by muffled bass pulsations. A good and very gothic coat envelops this incessant march which accepts a jerky movement of orchestrations where the guitar and the keyboard unite their destinies in a final which has nothing to do with the dark violence, sometimes repressed and other times not, which dictates tone to a custom album for fans of Node, Arc, Redshift and Ian Boddy. The best of the England cream! Excellent one Dave!
Sylvain Lupari (April 4th, 2020) ****½*
Available at DiN