ETHERFYSH: The Sundered Sky (2019)
“The Sundered Sky is a little gem of cosmic rock which carries rather the weight of its title by flirting with the universes of Michael Garrison and Jean-Michel Jarre”
1 Bloodstone 14:48
2 Rotation 10:43
3 Nightsands 15:52
4 The Sundered Sky 16:52
5 The Dying Earth 7:04
(DDL 65:30) (V.F.)
(Cosmic Rock, Symphonic EM)
The timbre is solemn! The first chord that falls from the spheres of Bloodstone startle our hearing and triggers an electronic procession with a rate too slow to impose a pace, and too fast to be a simple funeral march. The synth pads are filled with orchestrations which are moaning abundance of violins. They cover a magnetizing flow that electric piano chords feed drop by drop with a melody that will find its full form in the floating shadows of the mellotron. In addition to these layers, the synth coos nice solos filled of spleen, while percussive effects make dance strikes of hoofs that giggle into oblivion. This morphic march is filled with an ominous theatrical approach that reminds me of the good moments of Walter Christian Rothe in Let the Night Last Forever. At the stroke of 4 minutes, the procession takes a break and is replaced by a series of tic-tacs. These tic-tacs turn into clatters that tinkle under the thick layers of fog and the orchestral effects of the Mellotron, giving a grandiloquent air in the middle of Bloodstone's musical platoon. The instruments purr and growl. They defy musicality with arches of gloomy reverberations. The title breathes its electronic life under multilayers of synth and mellotron that compete to get the darkest side, while the clatter tames the wood tones trying to follow these arpeggios which tinkle without harmonic direction in an opaque stationary fog from which emerges a line of the sequencer. Evanescent, this line is as thin as a filament that fades with a stroboscopic vision. These percussive elements wander without succeeding in establishing a rhythmic direction that takes back its original rights eight minutes later, while Bloodstone ends its procession in following the overwhelming slowness of the violins. You have just read these lines and you say to yourself; here is another Dark Ambient album! You know the saying: do not trust a first impression. Especially that THE SUNDERED SKY is a little gem of cosmic rock, as it is too seldom done. Project of the English musician Chris Christou, Etherfysh goes around in the music business since the early 2000's. After moving to Sweden in 2008, this musician who loves the analog structures above all, has closed his music books to devote himself to his life projects. He is back after an absence of nearly 10 years, confidently emphasizing that this wait was worth it. I am divided, but in return I had a great time with THE SUNDERED SKY.
Rotation follows with loud, hoarse groans, whose arches extend layers of musicality. Effects of violins and seraphic layers escape in a symphony skewed by a sound mass that will explode in a solid cosmic rock that tries to get rid of this symphonic cloak. It's Jean-Michel Jarre in Games of Throne's clothes. This rhythm is lively and sustained for a good 6 minutes by a solid line of bass sequences whose slow gallop is surrounded by a panoply of percussive elements that sound like this head of Medusa and its viciously hungry crotales. Its last 4 minutes feature a line of sequences that gets rid of its unruly keys. This is the kind of title that catches our attention as soon as the rhythm breaks free from its orchestral ambiances. These percussive effects also make me think of this snoring of giant rattlesnakes in The Keep, mythical album of Tangerine Dream. They are also heard in the introduction of Nightsands where the instruments feed our ears with slow morphic mellotron pads and an electronic language that seems to agonize as much as the big groans of the mellotron. The music is static with these layers that come and go on the shore of our ear lobes with a slow evolution activated by sequences and percussive elements that manage to root the atmospheres in another good cosmic rock around the 9 minutes. And these dormant percussion effects make the atonal approach of this long introduction of Nightsands, whose transition into a cosmic rock is superbly successful, much better especially with the explosion of analog tones that are at the creative crossroads of Michael Garrison and of Jean-Michel Jarre. The title track is the most atmospheric of this comeback album of Etherfysh. Its first part features a pastoral setting with organ layers that rise to the cosmos to get lost in the multi-layers of mellotron and of synth whose combined wooshh and waashh vibrate in an interstellar state filled with sonic pictograms. It's slow and mostly ambient, even with the late arrival of structures wanting to give birth to rhythm but that are stuck in this opaque fusion of voices, violins and mists. Nightsands is finally better than The Sundered Sky. Structured around seven minutes, The Dying Earth goes much better with its stationary rhythm that flutters and drifts like the stationary flights of huge dragonflies through winds of violins, voices and organs.
The signature of Chris Christou requires a level of adjustment since my discovery of THE SUNDERED SKY was done in a few steps. It was between the third and the fourth listening that my ears have captured some of these charms. Subsequently, the long atmospheric passages are quietly stored in my drawer; actually, it's beautiful and good! So, we must take the time to discover this Etherfysh album, especially if we want to attack the album Ochre which seems a little more experimental than this THE SUNDERED SKY, which indeed carries rather the weight of its title. To discover if the worlds of Michael Garrison and Jean-Michel Jarre have ever charmed you.
Sylvain Lupari (September 3rd, 2019) ***½**
Disponible au Etherfysh Bandcamp