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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Divine Matrix Sequencer Drift (2022)

A beautiful and accessible EM which is perhaps a little too much here

1 Dyson Sphere 5:28

2 Sequencer Drift 4:38

3 Artemis 5:40

4 Azimuth 6:06

5 Starfields 4:14

6 Light Sail 5:00

7 Deimos 4:58

8 Moon Freighter 5:18

9 Magellanic Clouds 7:32

10 Lofstrom Loop 6:10

11 Space Fountain 6:14

12 Snow on Mars 6:00

13 Cryo Ship 5:28

14 Dark Nebula 5:25

15 After Earth 5:13

(CD/DDL 83:28) (V.F.)

(Electronic Rock)

Here is the latest invitation from Divine Matrix to hear his recent collection of electronic music (EM) inspired by the melodic rock of Tangerine Dream from the 80's and 90's. Second album of Steve Barnes in 2022, after the very good Journeys released at the beginning of spring, SEQUENCER DRIFT revolves around 15 tracks of an average length of more or less 5 minutes, with structures which evolve slightly in order to preserve this touch of accessibility which characterizes the style of the English musician-synthesist. Everything is here to please those ears found of catchy melodious structures; from electronic rock to more cosmic phases with good textures of sequenced melodies that are unique to his style.

The first arpeggios of SEQUENCER DRIFT sparkle and sound like those encrypted messages that are transmitted in a musical morse code. The Cosmos in Dyson Sphere fills with breezes and of orchestral waves as the arpeggios take on a texture of sequenced melody in a rhythmic structure weighed down by the dense ripples of these interstellar haze layers. Like many of the tracks on his new album, Steve Barnes offers textures that flirt with drama vibes in contexts evolving with intensity at the level of arrangements. And Dyson Sphere gives us a good overview of it with an accentuation of the sequencer, both in terms of speed and rhythmic enrichment with a second texture of cadenced arpeggios, in arrangements that embrace the new dynamism of the second half of the track. The title track features a circular sequencer movement that carves out a cadenced melody line swirling around 7 other ascending chords. The movement is both lively and yet slow, reminiscent of those phases of Tangerine Dream in its Legend era. A layer of iridescent fog envelops this flow made up of two rhythmic elements in opposition. These lunar orchestrations inject a dose of emotionality to this structure where the melodious arpeggios have taken a rhythmic ascendancy of which the new velocity marries the arrival of the percussions that reshape the dynamism of Sequencer Drift into an electronic rock of the 80's. It is with a jerky movement of the sequencer that Artemis leads us on a spheroidal rhythm that takes off with the muffled impulses of a bass shadow. A good track with a steady rhythm, the fluidity of the movement is accelerated by the percussions whose motorik flow structures a rhythm that flirts with a zest of Electronica. The layers inject a nuance of astral voices where the synth ends up weaving a seductive line of spectral melody that ululates like a rock guitar in a setting that fills with cosmic sound effects. Azimuth unfolds an oblong line of sequences that ripples with sinuous fluctuations to reach a delicately spasmodic structure. Everything revolves around the sequencer in this track that sounds like TD in its Miramar years. The ascending and changing structure of Deimos brings us back to the TD style of the 80's. Starfields is the first ballad of SEQUENCER DRIFT. And it is the misty flute tone which reveals this tenderness on a swarm of silver sequences which sparkle and shine while carrying out these short circles under a layer of mist where a discrete sibylline voice hums. We stay in ballad mode with Light Sail whose ascending movement develops into a good and heavy downtempo on a melodious approach of a keyboard with melancholic chords. There is intensity to the square inch in this title.

Moon Freighter offers a first approach of a melodious circular rhythm on a two-step sequencer before the rhythm becomes bouncier. Almost bumpy! The music and its atmospheric imprint embrace the vision of the track by developing a slow-motion texture through sumptuous lunar orchestrations. It is another track that progresses with a good rhythmic evolution, the percussive effects are quite seductive, within its short time. It is under slow layers of cosmic orchestrations that Magellanic Clouds releases its sequencer which activates a line of lively jerks. These kicks forge a fascinating gallop that hops under a membrane of sounds and cosmic elements, creating this balance between the meditative and rhythmic phases of the track. Lofstrom Loop is another nice electronic ballad with arrangements that are more melancholic on a good and heavy downtempo structure. The long wiisshh effects of the synth, dragging their dust in the Cosmos, on a bouncy sequencer give it a nice sentimental depth. Space Fountain is a track of cosmic ambiences that scrolls its slow sinuous flow in dense orchestrations, giving it a cinematographic touch with a little dramatic side. Snow on Mars is also a track in a more meditative than rhythmic mode with its slow strobe effects that slowly swirl in a dense cosmic sphere. Cryo Ship follows this tangent but with much more slowness in the deployment of its lunar orchestrations. Drones and cosmic fog are at the origin of Dark Nebula, whose muffled bass wave makes us move forward in a sly way. It's like hearing the void doing poetry for us! Sound particles start to radiate in this dark interstellar firmament, betraying these arpeggios which glitter and waddle in this slow maelstrom whose movement of the waves draws a slow cosmic waltz. The synth is complaining in a core of cosmic effects as the arpeggios wind their way into a stationary sequenced cadence that swirls in weightlessness, creating a fairly powerful but relatively calm rhythm despite its intense sonic boil. It is the fingers of a dreamy, wistful keyboardist that sculpt the slow, atmospheric melody of After Earth. The arpeggios shine, reflecting a distant shadow on a mirror of sound in an atmosphere that becomes increasingly dominated by droning textures, creating the effect of propulsion from the engines of a space shuttle moving away from its base with a heavy sorrow in the eyes of its astronauts.

Without being the best of Divine Matrix, SEQUENCER DRIFT is an album that respects in all points the multiple talents of composer from Steve Barnes who has no equal when it comes to offering beautiful and accessible EM which is perhaps a little too much here...

Sylvain Lupari (December 4th, 2022) ***½**

Available at AD Music

(NB: Text in blue are links you can click on)

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