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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

EXTRAWORLD: Starless (2020)

Even if I had the impression of hearing the same thing, I enjoyed discovering this universe of Starless' crystalline tinkles

1 Radial Velocity 5:37

2 Orbit Declination 6:08

3 Unbound 6:09

4 Starless 7:10

5 Halcyon Transit 5:19

6 Still Void 6:11

7 Orbit Inclination 5:24

8 Distant Light 6:56

(DDL 48:56) (V.F.)

(Melodic soundscapes)

Synphaera continues to dazzle our ears by making us discover other musical horizons sculpted through synths and sequencers. Extraworld is the project of Steve Pierce. The musician with a master's degree in music from the University of Leeds and a master's degree in electro-acoustic music resides in New Hampshire. Little known, he has two albums to his credit; Aphelion, which is available for download name-your-price on Bandcamp, and this one which is also available for download on the Exosphere's BC. He is also part of the Transponder duo with Don Tyler of Ascendant. This duo has produced a single album, which seems interesting by the way, Beholder in November 2018. A new one is on the line. STARLESS is a charming little album focused on a limpid tone of arpeggios. Each title is alike with good choreographies of young ladies in ice that spin in the digital coldness of the Nord Lead 4 and Elektron Digitone synths. In doing so there are few rhythms! Apart from the particularly good Still Void, STARLESS lives on the activities of the bass lines and layers' and offers an attractive mosaic of continual arpeggios' dances which adapt to the different cores of the bass implosions. We thus have a pool of different melodies that charm with the frigid tonality of their choreographies sculpted in the harmonic glaciers of Cosmos.

And it begins with a series of 5 arpeggios, 4 limpid and a bass one, which is repeated with a slight difference in the rise of Radial Velocity. The bass in this album serves more to solidify the basis of the choreographies by multiplying muffled steps from which emanate these layers of reverberations which serve as astral arenas for the musical pearls. The processions of arpeggios sound like a progressive and sibylline nursery rhyme, because of the reverberating effects, both for its elements and its hypnotic charm, where pads of chloroform get in. The series of arpeggios breaks off around 2 minutes. It's at this moment that a veil of a more commercial psybient surrounds the dance of the dancing pearls, in particular with this effect of voice in the synth pads and this bluish mist which comes from it. Forgetting its bass tone, the limpid keys attempt an opening towards a more lyrical universe, bringing Radial Velocity in a phase of ambiences where unicorns drink at the foot of a pond overflown by fairy-dragonflies. This first title is a particularly good indicator of the next 42 minutes to come. Sharp octaves, synth pads attempt an imitation of musical arpeggios in the fascinating overture of Orbit Declination. Moiré arpeggios, wandering over the synth whistles, dance with a little indecision. The bass therefore sets up a base with the reverberations of its rays where arpeggios arise and end up adopting an interesting choreography by adopting a wolf's step with different intonations on different inclinations, both rhythmic and melodic. Orbit Inclination is its complete opposite, displaying lively movement that leaves little room for the bass. This bass which sometimes struggles to follow the flow launched head-on by the crystal arpeggios. The vise ended up tightening and leads the two antagonists back to the same vision. The arpeggios of the Nord Lead 4 dance madly at the opening of Unbound. Imagine ballet dancers twirling their heads backwards with luminous veils attached to the legs and you have this aerial dance whose flow is more accelerated here than on the two previous tracks. Percussive effects change the game, scaring away the keys. Leaving only two or three that resist in a headstrong dance, constantly defying those circular rays of a synth in alert mode. This metallic din ceases its activities before the 5 minute point, leaving these few chords which have a more shadowy tone to end a dance that is no longer one.

The long title-track is just as tasty without offering anything new to our ears. Its flow is slow, letting parade a series of harmonic chords which jump in an interstellar oblivion. There is a delightful moment when the arpeggios dance alone with their radiance that serves as a backdrop, creating an ambient rhythm that tingles with brilliance. It's the beginning of a change in this album as Halcyon Transit brings a first different structure with a more electronic vision. What offers a good fight between the structure of the bass sequences and that of the more limpid arpeggios which end up detaching to offer a melody in two-beats towards the end. Still Void, a great title, brings us into a lugubrious atmosphere, even with the pearly sounds of its arpeggios. Gas jets are responsible for this decor which little by little loses its meaning with a sustained ambient rhythm, giving this illusion that the Halloween theme is waving in an Electronica mode. A stunning track! While Distant Light is a bit like the title-track and offers a peaceful structure with a very melancholy mood.

Even if I had the impression of hearing the same thing, I enjoyed discovering this universe of STARLESS' crystalline tinkles. The depth is there, and the album shows a constant progression leading us to a second part which is clearly superior. A rather good album from Extraworld who leads us in a universe of ice filled with undeniable charms.

Sylvain Lupari (October 9th, 2020) ***¾**

Available at Exosphere Bandcamp

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