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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

FD Project Stars Landscape and Collision (2023)

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

An album strong in spirited rhythms that's hard to dislodge from our CD player

1 Stars Landscape and Collision (part one) 9:13

2 Stars Landscape and Collision (part two) 8:39

3 Stars Landscape and Collision (part three) 10:38

4 Stars Landscape and Collision (part four) 7:09

5 Stars Landscape and Collision (part five...final) 11:14

6 The Cave of all Truths 24:01

(CD/DDL 70:54) (V.F.)

(Cosmic E-Rock Electronica Berlin)

I've lost count of the number of times I've listened to this album in recent days. Building on his last album Distance (Groove nl GR-338), F.D. Project's STARS LANDSCAPE AND COLLISION is an album dominated even more by rhythms to which seductive organic percussive effects are glued. Most of the tracks explore polyrhythmic phases, with solid percussion play, providing a dynamic essence of Electronica, and an imaginative sequencer structuring rhythm lines with changing flows. The concept album unfolds in 5 acts of around 47 minutes, with the usual influences that Frank Dorittke has accustomed us to over the years, namely Tangerine Dream and Mike Oldfield. A semi-atmospheric 24-minute track concludes the album. Speaking of Oldfield, the German synthesist-guitarist's guitar is increasingly discreet, leaving more room for the synth which weaves good solos, as harmonious as decorative, in a style where cosmic rock lives through fiery electronic rock, with a touch of progressive, and the Berlin School à la F.D. Project's signature. Rhythmic and harmonious, STARS LANDSCAPE AND COLLISION is full of those little moments that surprise and enchant.

A wave buzzing through the infinite cosmos opens Stars Landscape and Collision (part one). Early on, keyboard chords weave a minimalist ritornello that ripples over stardust splashes. A line of sequenced arpeggios skips along, sharply alternating its jumping keys just before the 90-second mark, leading this first part of STARS LANDSCAPE AND COLLISION towards a fusion of electronic rock and Electronica. The sequencer divides its rhythmic range between two lines. The one in the background is ascending, and the other evolves in spasmodic mode, propelled by a driving pulsing bass-line movement. The percussions, and their clicking, solidify this structure, while the synth coaxes it with some lovely solos that have a touch of Keith Emerson in the tone. The rhythm is slowed down at two places, one of which creates a dramatic cinematic mood, but still remains driving with that sequence bass line that leaps like a progressive rock ride that Frank Dorittke tortures with powerful guitar riffs towards the finale. A big-cat purr that fades into a cosmic element is starting Stars Landscape and Collision (part two). Illuminated by cosmic and organic sound effects, the track soars with a rhythmic structure firmly supported by a sequencer and by solid percussions that drive a rhythm flirting with Moonbooter's style of Electronica. Apart from the drums, the percussive elements resound like elastic springs with a seductive organic tone. Candy for the ears! The synth makes cooing solos in the first part of the track, giving way to the keyboard which weaves an ear-eating melody that sticks like an unremovable earworm. A very good track, slowed down on two occasions and still coming out with the same fervor.

What would be a F.D. Project album without a track that reminds us of that Frank's main influence is Mike Oldfield? This is the essence of Stars Landscape and Collision (part three), which kicks off with angelic synth pads before the sequencer activates a slowly undulating, yet stationary rhythm line. Another line of jumping arpeggios leaps forward with a greater dynamism. But in the end it's the percussions that dominate, hammering out a heavy and slow rhythm. And gosh, do I love that! The synth weaves a nice, melodic approach that is echoed by the guitar, which sounds like Mike Oldfield. Stars Landscape and Collision (part four) takes us back to the fiery rhythms of STARS LANDSCAPE AND COLLISION, with a good electronic rock spiced up by those E.L.P's era solos. The rhythm is circular and bludgeoned by solid percussions, grafted with percussive organic tones. We are more into electronic progressive rock here. More so than Stars Landscape and Collision (part one), because the structure is slower, and Frank uses his guitar more. Stars Landscape and Collision (part five...final) closes this new F.D. Project album with a good cosmic slow, well supported by heavy percussions and a synth that weaves good lunar orchestrations. The music becomes more dynamic, driven mainly by the sequencer, after the atmospheric phase of the track. Just before its finale.

The CD version offered by Groove nl contains The Cave of all Truths as a bonus track, a very good, highly creative and slightly more atmospheric evolutionary title, compared to what we hear on STARS LANDSCAPE AND COLLISION. Frank composed it on a Saturday night when he couldn't sleep. The track unfolds in 2 stages, with the 1st part flirting with a slightly psychedelic and dark ambient vision. The opening consists of a vibrating synth wave where other waves wail, floating like melancholic spectres. Sizzling sounds set in, giving this opening an even more ghostly touch. Scarlet-colored synth filaments entwine in a gliding ballet, where stars twinkle, and a tenebrous wave hums. Tinkling arpeggios sculpt a procession around the 4-minute mark. A superb sound effect, rather like sequenced metal rattlesnake tails, accompanies this march of submissive souls, and the synth, divine in its sinister role, throws harmonized waves that wail like souls in pain. The sequencer activates the cadence around the 8-minute mark. Its processional astral trot is magnetizing and reminds me of Software. The 10th minute plunges us into a more atmospheric phase, although a rhythm sequence hops discreetly around a lunar setting filled with contracting waves, twilight moans and, a little further on, whispers. The sequencer reactivates a nervous rhythm line with flickering sequences and another, more harmonic, that waddles and hops from one step to the next. The percussions support this rhythmic phase with strikes as sober as these harmonious synth laments. A series of limpid, sequenced arpeggios begins to bounce nervously around the 15-minute mark, filling our ears with a tasty polyrhythmic phase guided mainly by this waddling, driving movement of a pulsing bass-line. The Cave of all Truths reaches its final, more atmospheric and cosmic phase around the 18th minute, when an acoustic guitar finally guides us into pre-sleep. The version offered on F.D. Project's Bandcamp site comes with another track instead of The Cave of all Truths, named Live Rehearsal Ledigenheim Germany 2014. Shorter, this track should appeal to fans of Tangerine Dream and their Force Majeure album, since the rhythmic bass sequence seems to be inspired by it. The percussions solidify the whole rhythm, where the sequence line becomes a circular harmonic strobe element. The synth throws in some good solos and judiciously places its layers of mist, while the finale brings out a piano that Frank Dorittke's fingers caress with a vision imbued of nostalgia. Choosing between these two tracks is a difficult exercise, since both have their charms, but I have to admit to having a bigger soft spot for The Cave of all Truths...

STARS LANDSCAPE AND COLLISION is the kind of album that's hard to dislodge from your CD player or the network player, so much that the rhythms, somewhere between hard and heavy electronic rock, and the melodies cohabit easily on evolving structures. The percussion work, the charms of the rubbery organic percussive elements, the multi-lines of the sequencer and, last but not least, these synth solos in the tones of the 70's progressive rock are elements that bring us back to our headphones... with ears wide open. A solid opus from F.D. Project whose simplicity is most comforting.

Sylvain Lupari (December 8th, 2023) ****½*

Available at Groove nl

(NB: Words in blue are links you can click on)

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