Faber Stories (2014)
Updated: Jan 11
“Well...What can I say? I felt under the spell of those uncountable musical itches which are hiding beneath each structure of Stories”
1 Summer Breeze 6:36 2 Happy in Berlin 5:15 3 Tangerine Lights 7:45 4 Miami Race 3:33 5 L'air Part I 6:04 6 New Elements 3:29 7 Lonely Heart 10:48 8 Night Flight 5:14 9 Fairy Tales 5:12 10 Bon Voyage 6:38 MellowJet Records | CD-r FA1402 (CD-r/DDL 60:33) (V.F.) (New Berlin School, e-rock & synth-pop)
Here is a cute discovery that I made recently, and which goes to those who don't really like complicated EM. Faber is not nevertheless a newcomer in the sphere of the German EM. This project of the northern German musician/synthesist Ronald Schmidt is on feet since almost 15 years with a first album, released also on MellowJet Records, entitled Spacefish. His love story for EM starts at the beginning of 70's when he first heard a more classical kind of EM from Wendy Carlos and Tomita. By searching a little more on the Internet, I read that his main influences varied from Tangerine Dream to Klaus Schulze, while passing by Mike Oldfield. STORIES is already his 10th album. It includes 10 pieces of music with varied lengths, giving thus Faber a good chance to play within his structures and reshapes them in order to please to the most refractory ones regarding soft and melodious EM. This music turns around rhythms, melodies and nice depths of a more accessible genre, as Tangerine Dream but especially Kraftwerk for the very Teutonic synth-pop style and Robert Schroeder for the very lascivious groove style. What has charmed me is the sound wealth. The depth of the arrangements. Ronald Schmidt leaves nothing at random by multiplying orchestrations and synth lines with some very harmonious colors and with a structural approach in the melodies that reminds me vaguely the music of Vladimir Cosma. Here's a good surprise and a beautiful musical rendezvous where each of the 10 tracks of STORIES will leave you the soft sonic perfume of a pleasant earworm.
And it's quite softly that this small musical collection of Faber begins. Glistening synth lines caress of their hot rays some soft arpeggios whose shadows that get loosen are sounding like these melodies of Tangerine Dream, era Underwater Sunlight. A bass line is crawling around this mini sound carousel, forging a minimalist upward movement which seeks for its support around the muffled pulsations. The sound envelope is very rich. We hear a synth whistling a spectral air, while that sober percussions accelerate hardly the pace of Summer Breeze among which the musical envelope and the ambiences bear admirably well its name. The rhythm is soft, a little like an ambient ballad. Arpeggios fall like these notes from a harp that we caress with the back of our fingers whereas other notes get loosen to forge a romantic melody with delicate ringings, a bit like a sort of ethereal xylophone. Summer Breeze goes then in a brief ambiosonic passage before taking up with its soft rhythm where the breezes and the winds unite their sweetness to whistle this spectral melody that we shall find in several places in this STORIES. So, Summer Breeze sets the tone to an album where each structure generates similarities without being closely too alike. I think among others of the very beautiful L'air Part I and its cosmic ambiences filling the air on a rhythm skipping delicately. The melody whistled by the synth is simply invading. I challenge you to resist to this spectral air which eats away our eardrums for a long time. A phenomenon that we observe on the 10 tracks of STORIES. Lonely Heart belongs more or less in the same style, but with a good Food For Fantasy vibe. The same goes for the slow dance tempo that is Bon Voyage which is well-showered by a synth with the perfumes of saxophone. Just enough and not enough to be annoyed. But a synth which, in any case, remains rather electronic by throwing good solos.
Happy in Berlin is my first of many favorites in STORIES. The structure of rhythm catches our attention right on the spot with pulsations and their resonant shadows which welcome a superb solo with a melody as much bewitching, and even more, than that in Summer Breeze. It's very Teutonic. Near a good synth-pop with good arrangements. To the limit, it's near Kraftwerk, especially with the tunes sung on a Vocoder. The rhythm is lively. Sharp and jerky, but at the same time fluid and well fed by this multitude of pulsations which resound in some very robotic percussions, creating an oblong undulating and jerky shape. Like a big boa on acid which crawls along a wall of sharp stones. Far from being annoying, the tunes of the Vocoder are as much bewitching than those harmonies whistled by a very catchy synth. Tangerine Lights starts with big organic pulsations which resound in the echoes of percussions with metallic tones, kind of Reggae. Clouds of allegorical mist invade this intro, while a very New Age melody decorates its finery with it. The rhythm falls over towards a synth-pop fed by stroboscopic organic pulsations which swirl in symbiosis with a series of sequenced arpeggios. It's cute and rather commercial. The melody which gets out of it reminds me Vladimir Cosma's lightness. Cars racing sounds open Miami Race which offers a furious rhythm with a good meshing of pulsations, sequences, lively arpeggios and percussions. The piano is divine and follows the speed of a blunt and jumping rhythm. This is pure up-beat wrapped of nuances which make contrasts with a breakneck pace, in particular these long and slow solos which crisscross the violence of it. And the rhythm and the piano....Very catchy! New Elements plunges us literally into the moods of Kraftwerk and The Man-Machine. We are fast seduced by two structures of rhythms which run tight in opposite swiftness. And this Vocoder...What good memories we are having here. We are going to crack also for this undulating rhythm of Night Flight while that of Fairy Tales is livelier. More musical also with this synth filled by perfumes of a panpipes and these sequences which skip in their shadows with mixed tones.
It took me time before I decided to speak, or write, about this STORIES. I listened to it under all angles in order to have a more subjective idea; synth-pop or accessible, even almost easy listening, EM being not really my cup of tea. But I was set in my trap. Due to those listenings, my ears were flooded by a thick cloud of earworms. Of musical itches that still obsess. And especially with a style that Kraftwerk had thrown to the trash just after The Man Machine album. And no matter the angles, I really end by liking this first experience with the music of Faber. Enough in any case to dive into Ways that my good friend Nick describes me as being very good. The universe of Faber is very melodious. And even if the whole thing remains very accessible, nothing is made in the ease. The rhythms are rich and have many diversified outcomes, overflowing even towards the frame of synth-pop in order to caress the Groove and Chill-out styles. Synths exult the colors of the imagination while throwing here and there pretty good solos. The blend gives a kind of very progressive synth-pop with strong arrangements that are also obsessing as the melodies that they surround. This is some very nice and warm music we have here. Made well and well written in the style that Robert Schroeder likes to create since a few years. In brief, I recommend it to you without hesitations. Even if we are outside the lands of true Berlin School.
Sylvain Lupari (March 23rd, 2015) *****
Available at MellowJet Records