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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Divine Matrix Beachcombing (Soundscapes Vol. 2) (2020)

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

This universe of psybient where floating rock imposes its stature more and more, this last album of Steve Barnes is a good ambient music

1 Unknown Origins of Flotsam 7:19

2 Drift Seeds 6:15

3 Shells 7:11

4 Sea Glass 7:39

5 Strange Finds 6:39

6 Footsteps in the Wash 6:51

7 Walking the Tideline 7:15

8 Rockpools 7:45

(CD/DDL 56:54) (V.F.)

(Ambient Music)

An ascending sequence rises to the surface of an iridescent wave ululating like a specter lost in the astral immensity of Firestarter, genre Charlie the Kid, of Tangerine Dream. These sound waves sculpted in the sensitivity of metallic blue are legion in this album. And this wave breaks up and subdivides here while the sequence makes its presence felt more and more in a sound fauna inspired by the psybient of Solar Fields or even Carbon Based Lifeforms. Floating, the rhythm of Unknown Origins of Flotsam is a ball of energy which injects between our ears a multitude of tones which go from frozen arpeggios to astral waves, without forgetting this circular guitar and these howls with variable intensities. It's a new psybient with a good emotional dose as I like them! New, since the textures are different in this universe where floating rock imposes its stature more and more. It's amazing how the universe of Divine Matrix has evolved. It's day and night between his 2015 Cloudsurfing (Soundscapes Volume 1), which was a copy of a Kitaro from the Greffen years, to BEACHCOMBING (Soundscapes Vol. 2) which landed in the bins 5 years later with a splendid envelope of a psybient well colored in ink of a rich fauna.

Drift Seeds is a first small earworm. Its almost liquefied structure goes adrift in a vessel that can only accommodate a melancholy pianist. A pianist and his piano who scatters his notes in a melody without framework and which gradually regroups his notes freezing in a massive resonance. A resonance that becomes the cradle of this lunar incantation circulating like a stroboscopic thread in a contemporary psychedelic universe forged by the infinite possibilities of art and electronic music. A good title which brings us to Shells, a moderately rhythmic title which is inspired by Unknown Origins of Flotsam, for its opening, and Drift Seeds, for its piano. The ambiences seem closer to the ghosts of the Amerindians with felted and muffled beats as well as Didgeridoo murmurs which are lost in this absent guitar. The synth tears are sharp with pain and flirt with the lamentations of the Martenot waves and the guitar's TalkBox. The more the title advances, the more it increases its hold on an emotional level. The panoramic colors are rich, with an organic scent much more present in the second half of Shells. Sea Glass is a dark ambient title à la Steve Roach. The streaks of more translucent lines on this huge carpet of buzzing injects a little color that allows us to discover the hums of fairies huddled under dense ferns where also hide a legion of amphibians whose organic language we clearly hear. Purely ambient with enveloping wings that make us drift into the unknown, Sea Glass is unique in BEACHCOMBING (Soundscapes Vol. 2).

Living in a hovering rock structure, Strange Finds lives on a seam of riffs zigzagging around a moving surface. A piano follows this tangent with chords as fragile as this bass line which howls its heavy pain in this drifting sphere by dragging its bundle of psychill and its insects which constantly inject new tonal colors. Footsteps in the Wash is a slightly livelier track, even if its introduction is sewn with slow orchestrations that float between the sound signals of submarine ballasts. The waves come to caress our emotions in a living texture of this dependence of the Earth for the Cosmos, and vice versa. The added riffs and this resonating bass line are elements that provide the juice so that the title evolves into a floating rock and its percussive effects carved in wooden hoofs. A bit like in Shells, Footsteps in the Wash evolves with more passion while maintaining its vision of ambient music. And once the taste of the hovering rhythm of Divine Matrix is well established, Steve Barnes tries to serve it to us with different musical colors. The introduction of Walking the Tideline is sculpted by a sequencer scrolling its keys in a single file that zigzags with a spasmodic vision. Bewitching mermaid's layers of voices are added at the same time as the riffs of an electric guitar walk in the same path as the sequencer. As melodious as the keyboard, the riffs close ranks in a dense fog where the sequencer comes to life. This rock floating within a mixed choral reaches a level of intensity which, in an album of meditative music like this, pulls us out of our shoes to dance with the mermaids that Ulysses absolutely had to avoid. Despite the visions of an oasis grazing our toes, Rockpools installs its roots like an anesthetic rocker in a structure evolving like the last 3 tracks of BEACHCOMBING (Soundscapes Vol. 2), that is to say hovering rock. Wandering rock without the artifices of the psybient but no longer in a New Age core with orchestrations that must be detected in this musical fauna so dense and intense that our ears lose a little of this common thread that links the 8 tracks of this album in a vision of ambient music where floating rock and New Age orchestrations drink in the fountains of the psybient. A very nice Divine Matrix album.

Sylvain Lupari (October 26th, 2020) ***¾**

Available at AD Music

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