DIGITAL HORIZONS: Natural Causes (2016)
“This is an album of musical extravaganzas filled of this progressive tension which nails us to our armchair, the ears screwed well to our headphones”
1 Free as a Bird 8:22
2 Natural Causes 13:28
3 Wild Life 13:00
4 Darwinian 11:39
(DDL 46:30) (V.F.)
(New Berlin School)
I was wondering why Justin really wanted me to listen to this 46 minute (sic!) E.P. instead of his brand new Locigal Step album. So, I sit, put my headphones on and a layer of a musical synth envelops me and extends its floating pads in an opening where the irradiations sculpt 3 static impulses. A bass sequence also extends its resonances in a swinging movement, rooting Free as a Bird in an opening that commands our senses to expect more. We constantly perceive a gradation, both in the moods and the rhythm, when the sequencer releases a static line. And it's shortly after the 4th minute that percussions give a second impetus which pushes the title to rebel with a series of kicks in a cosmic rock. Not bad, Free as a Bird installs this perfume of sounds and of ambiences which make a link between Jean-Michel Jarre, mainly for percussions, and Tangerine Dream for these synth pads sculpted in the mist. But I felt, throughout these 8 minutes, a tension in this title whose ashes will fall all over Digital Horizon's NATURAL CAUSES. It's a solemn overture, an intriguing organ, which pushes the procession of sequenced arpeggios to zigzag on a slightly more metallic musical texture, style of the years 81-82, of the title piece. Percussions, some of them have a smacking tone, and a sequenced bass line beat push this faltering phase, whose tone is almost sung, in a musical carousel which goes up and down like a good ambient Berlin School. This carousel is illuminated by series of shimmering arpeggios whose tonal differences create a powder of lights and sounds, while the sequences and percussions vary the strength and shape of a magnetizing rhythm.
These arpeggios shape a big playful dance which clings onto the circadian booms of a morphic rhythm. Cosmic effects fly over the haze powders of the anesthetic layers which form an imaginary roof above this dome stimulated by the spheroidal effect of the sequenced arpeggios and the vibrations of the booms become deafened by a mass of layers and cosmic waves. A breach opens the spheroidal mechanism of Wild Life a little after the 6th minute, thus modifying a course so that it becomes an electronic rock designed to make our pebble nod forward. Wild Life then becomes a huge stationary structure filled with sound, but we feel that the rhythm forces to move forward. From synth lines and their cosmic effects to lines of divided and lost harmonies in this immense sound broth without forgetting the dramatic effects of austere chords, this broth in suspension absorbs all the elements in a huge mess full of charms. This mishmash finds its balance in its intensity and creativity in the parity between percussions, and percussive effects with rattlesnake tones, and arpeggios that stimulate both rhythm and melody. A title filled with passion that you have to hear! Darwinian openness lives on the same principle! The title is also presented as this big bowl of sounds which turns by a series of serious and austere chords. This circular musical mass serves the cause of synths, their harmonies like their singing solos. The vision is Dantesque with the procession of layers whose tone of the old organ of the village contrasts with the more contemporary spirit which forms the astral setting of a music which feed itself of disorder. Other movements, more linear, of the sequencer infiltrate this big sound cumulus by creating rhythmic counter-currents that go perfectly with the essence of a rhythm without beat and the ambiences riddled with crevices coming out of the imagination of Digital Horizons since the development of Wild Life and which makes of NATURAL CAUSES a rather particular album.
An album and especially a music poured with this progressive tension which nails us to our armchair, the ears screwed well to our headphones. Bright and still musical enough for such a context, NATURAL CAUSES is one more reason to discover the music of Digital Horizons. And always I wonder why? Maybe it sounds very Tangerine Dream of the early 80's at times… 😊
Sylvain Lupari (August 7th, 2020) *****
Available at Digital Horizons Bandcamp