ERIK SEIFERT & JOSEF STEINBÜCHEL: Softlock (2014)
“Out of nowhere and full of charms, Softlock is a heck of great album which will seduce any fans of TD, of Software and of EM in general”
CD 1 (46:52) 1 Neutral Density 4:59 2 Chyron 9:19 3 Interpolation 6:21 4 Gamut 12:06 5 Lossless 5:26 6 Anamorphic 8:40 CD 2 (50:30) 1 Reverberation 2:51 2 Motion Artifact 7:57 3 Timelapse 5:21 4 Phase Shift 9:31 5 Fresnel 3:16 6 GPRM 12:15
7 Softlock 9:18 MellowJet Records | CDr-ss1501
(2 CD/DDL 97:22) (V.F.) (Berlin School)
It's rather rare that an album, in its integer, monopolizes my ears like the way SOFTLOCK monopolizes them since a couple of days. In its sound envelope which allies the influences of Software, for the cosmic sound effects as well as the very astral arrangements, of Pink Floyd, for the psychedelic noises, and Tangerine Dream for the sequencing patterns, the progressive dark structures of rhythms as well as this Mellotron with the very airy aromas of flutes; SOFTLOCK is a real treat to the ears! This album, which is initially appeared in 2014 under the form of USB key, was rather difficult to find until that MellowJet Records gets involved in the case. And since December 2015, this double album which gathers two members of Triple S is now available for a wider distribution. In spite of a beautiful meshing of styles and influences, SOFTLOCK is quite far from the very electronic rock approach of Poles of which the guitar of Maxxess had dominated widely the music of this album. Here the duet Erik Seifert et Josef Steinbüchel lays a very electronic cosmic mood with some superb entrancing atmospheres which lead us to rhythms, sometimes ambient and sometimes lively but always very attractive for the senses.
And this rich sound adventure begins with calm and serenity. Neutral Density puts our ears in appetite with melodious orchestral waves from where are muttering some dark hummings which flood the backdrop. Rustles of voices and of cosmic effects also cover these atmospheres which derive quietly towards Chyron. A first movement of sequences shakes the morphic torpor with a lively structure which is finely hatched by oscillating loops of bass sequences. The effect plunges us into the Stratosfear era with a splendid Mellotron which scatters its fluty harmonies among the decorative fragments of the keyboards' riffs and of the psychedeli-cosmic effects of Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream of the 70's. Even if lively, the rhythm is in the ambient-floating kind with stoppages in the run-ups which are dominated by the fluty harmonies of a dominating Mellotron here. The 13 titles play the musical chair between pure ambiences moods and rhythmical beats charmingly increasing. So, Interpolation is a long ambient title with a synth loaded of striking whimperings which inhales a little bit the soft melancholy of Vangelis. Gamut takes back the road of the atypical rhythms with another superb play à la Phaedra sequencing pattern where the keys dance in a jerky way in the shadows of the other more fluid and more metallic sequences. The movement is lively with sharp knockings which seduce the field of interest for these electronic rhythms so difficult to describe. We roll of the neck, we make our fingers and even of the foot with this rhythm as much brusque as fluid which stays prisoner of an intense sound fauna of which the main asset stays its wide trail of mist where hums some lost angels. After the obscure and windy Lossless and its explosions which scratch the tears of a synth always in mode nostalgia, Anamorphic hangs onto our ears with a surprising structure of rhythm which will awaken for a lot of us an uncontrollable desire to throw ourselves into Poland from Tangerine Dream. The synth here is vampiric with spectral harmonies which cry on this structure of rhythm which has so much fascinated the fans of the genre in 1984 and where blooms some influences of modern percussions from Jarre. Superb!
CD 2 begins on a note as much ambiospherical with the lugubrious moods of Reverberation. Motion Artifact begins with a structure of floating rhythm which is slowly set ablaze by the pulsations of bass sequences and the jingles of metronomic percussions in order to adopt a rhythmic motorik structure. Rich, the ambiences are filled with stellar layers where escape celestial fluty voices and fascinating stroboscopic hoops. The effects of synth are richer here while the Mellotron is rather discreet. Timelapse is an ambient title rich in Vangelis ambiences with keyboard chords which torture themselves the spirits under a sanctuary of tears and dreams drawn from a remorseful synth. It's the kind of music that we did not see coming... Phase Shift brings us in the lands of the cosmic music of Jean-Michel Jarre. The music is ambient and decorated with very Oxygene and Equinoxe sound effects on a backdrop embroidered in the drama with a heavy effect of muffled and of black reverberations. A figure of rhythm crawls upward around the 3rd minute. The bass sequences get liven up into small tight circles which are caressed by elytrons of steel while their shadows are taking away the robotics percussions of their zone of silence. The whole thing ends to give a lively rhythm which rises and falls, rocking a spectral melody which waves of its vampiric charms in beautiful cosmic effects. Fresnel is a short but effective title at the level of the very dark and film atmospheres. GPRM is the 3rd solid jewel of SOFTLOCK where the harmonies as so plaintive as in Anamorphic pour their tears into a spherical structure of rhythm which reminds us so much the best of Software. Splendid! The title-track ends this surprising album with a wall of ambiences as much spicy as Vangelis in his dark period. The astral Gregorian voices throw an anguishing veil on this long ambient title which concludes gallantly one of the very good and beautiful albums of contemporary EM to be born for a long time. This is a highly recommended album!
Sylvain Lupari (September 3rd, 2016) ****½*
Available at MellowJet Records