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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

FANGER & SCHÖNWÄLDER: Stromschlag (2007)

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Stromschlag is a musical journey finely depicted by a creative complicity that resuscitates admirably the old essence of vintage EM

1 Wild Joe's 10:02

2 Mojave 7:15

3 Yellow Stones 15:32

4 See you later in Bozeman 23:39

5 Gallatin Field 8:47

6 Twintron 5:21

(DDL 70:46) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

Originally available in digipack format and in a limited edition on Manikin, STROMSCHLAG is a musical collection of 2 travelling salesmen, Thomas Fanger and Mario Schönwälder, invested of a desire to sell an EM with the analog fragrances of the vintage years. It's also an opus that went out of print but which is redone on Vic Reck's label, Ricochet Dream. We can describe this album as a scrapbook of hundred of photos taken in the lands of Steve Roach, that of Tangerine Dream has discovered in its 77 tour, restored into music during the Californian tour of this brilliant German duet. But is STROMSCHLAG for an electric shock? Not really! But rather a nice and quiet musical collection stemming from the fertile imagination of Fanger & Schonwalder who doesn't stop to amaze in his making of a minimalism art where redundancy is held in contempt.

Wild Joe's begins very gently. Soft scintillating arpeggios float in a nebulosity of heterogeneous tones where sound effects of a boreal forest are trapped in a dark Mellotron which becomes the accomplice of an effervescent musical taciturnity. The title comes alive in a kind of groove that sounds like a sweet Mexican romance with percussions, an acoustic guitar and notes with harmonious echoing bursts. Fanger's influence is striking on this soberly playful and rhythmic track reminiscent of Food For Fantasy or some works with Californian essences by Mergener & Weisser on the IC label. It's a captivating title which bathes in an atmosphere of Jazz and Groove and which ends in the sweet exhilarations of a fluted Mellotron. And it's an even darker Mellotron that opens Mojave, exposing the air of the savannas of the American desert. We feel a form of agony there while floating chords call for mirage in a superb soundscape shining of its brilliant reflections. The soft paleness of Mojave extends to Yellow Stones with yet another splendid presence of the Mellotron which recalls the discovery of the American West by Franke, Froese and Baumann. A beautiful sequence splits the movement towards the 5th minute which comes alive under synthesized spectra. The spirits of the desert awaken with the lamentations of the first arrivals. Fanger & Schonwalder's musical re-enactment of the American West is striking and creatively depicts long bus journeys. Apart from this picturesque musical side, the duo does not forget its roots and gives us a superb Berlin School with good percussions and this deviating Mellotron in the second part of Yellow Stones. It's one of the good titles of EM in 2008. Some good EM which wakes up and dies in the nocturnal ambiences of an eroded ground.

From a similar introductory structure feed by a fertile zoological sound fauna, See You Later In Bozeman starts from nothing to finally create a slow and hypnotic Berlin School to which is added a myriad of sound effects and ghostly voices that come together with the synthesized aboriginal breaths. This long circular track exploits the spectral breaths and the ghostly movements of an enveloping Mellotron which weighs on a sober and sustained tempo. The game of Mellotron is simply magical with its mist and dark breaths. It's very good and it's quite indicative of the complicity and the magic that surrounds this duo which drinks of these analog years of the Dream and of Klaus Schulze. And I know I'm repeating myself, but the duo seems to have boundless imaginations. Take Gallatin Field! They could have lowered their guard and offered a well-sequenced track that sticks to your ear. But no… it dresses this rhythm which undulates in cascade with sequences intermingling among melodies made of crystal in a rich and diversified sound effervescence, always raising the auditory attention of a notch. This is a good track with scents of the Middle East and a Southern touch, while Twintron floats in a desert tranquility with tones of a big organ. A dramatic touch that ends a journey finely portrayed by the creativity of this astonishing duo. At when is the next one?

Sylvain Lupari (10/03/09) *****

Available at Manikin Bandcamp

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