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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

FILTER-KAFFEE: 104 (2019)

This is a stunning Berlin School which has tied the 5 decades of styles, tones, beats and vibes from Tangerine Dream

1 Belgian Romance 23:26

2 Another Wasteland 16:19

3 Een Elektronisch Winterlandschap 17:05

4 Radiant Der Lyriden 17:12

(CD/DDL 74:12) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

A bit like coffee producers not satisfied with the last harvest and the processing of the beans, we remember that Filter-Kaffee 100 was a prequel to the first 2 coffee cups of Frank Rothe and Mario Schönwälder, 104 is offered with a distinctly roasted sound enhanced. In fact, this last album of the German duo is at the size of the best albums of 2019 with 4 long titles to minimalist evolutions which serve as rhythmic axes to brilliant sequencers supported by good percussions, sometimes stormy, and daring percussive effects. Mist, layers of voices, fluty lines, various electronic effects and sumptuous synth solos complete this album magnificently designed by two veterans who push their limits much further than Filter-Kaffee 102 which was the best cup of coffee from Filter-Kaffee.

It's in an introductory din usual to the Manikin signature that Belgian Romance sets up. That is, resonances of gongs, metallic percussive effects, gurgling and murmurs of orcas as well as sibylline voices pads. Mellotron's violins come to make peace with the listeners who attend this performance of the duo during the Cosmic Nights Festival of 2017. This mephistophelic opening is impregnated with a decor worthy of a dark psybient with sulfurous synth layers carrying sulfur. A rhythm line emerges around the 5 minutes. Its approach undulates slowly while zigzagging with an amplitude focused on a well calculated gradation. A more limpid line hatches a few minutes later and its waddling brings shadow the first line of rhythm. The layers of mist always carry howling metallic rustles, some of which transform into aerial solos. And suddenly, the sky of Belgian Romance darkens with a thick metallic membrane from which an electronic storm explodes which will fill our ears with a magnificent sonic nectar. The next few minutes are stormy with a totally wild structure. Rumblings, impulsive knocks, electric explosions, electronic effects and glaring solos cover this line of rhythm supported by the alternations of two lines of the sequencer and another line with more organic tones which comes and goes intermittently. And this structure, rich in diversity, is beaten up by stormy percussions and with echoes effects of metal on metal. The synth solos draw steel-blue light points and chants of ectoplasms in this electronic din sustained until the dawn of the 22 minutes. The first cup of coffee is brewed! Another Wasteland is a title as incredible as Belgian Romance. Its first 6 minutes have many similarities, in terms of rhythm and moods. It's when the sequencer makes a leaping structure heard with reflections of radioactivity that we notice its more analog approach. In addition, the philharmonic layers of the years 76-77 don't leave any more doubts, we are indeed in the territories of Tangerine Dream. The rhythm flows with greater velocity and activates our neurons that make us stamp our feet. Jerky and linear with fine modulations in its axis, it begins to subdivide its keys which now drift with the fury of the 83's years. We hear influences of TD's Poland, while the synths coo on harmonies of the Baumann years to head towards a markedly bolder phase. Lively and dizzying, Another Wasteland flirts with these 3 good periods of Tangerine Dream to culminate in an explosive finale that awakens in us the pharaonic one in Horizon. Superb!

Een Elektronisch Winterlandschap is a more ambient, almost dormant track. Its hatching comes from an opening that is always so variegated by stormy tones. The effects of reverberations fill our ears with a chthonian nectar whose scents resemble the openings of the first 2 titles on 104. A pleasant melody drawn on arpeggios tingling in an envelope of serenity arises from this radioactive fog. Minimalist, it floats with a bewitching vision on a tonal fauna animated by synth solos which decorate a dark panorama full of intrigues. Especially since this angelic nursery rhyme could easily turns into a more horrifying one (like Halloween). It floats sinuously and winds a decor where bass pulsations are growing, electronic effects are floating and filaments of synth solos prowling like wandering specters are flying. We make play this between the dark walls of a castle's corridors and we would have chills! But, I also fell asleep on it. After an industrial groan, synth pads intertwine their songs in an opening of chthonian atmospheres which weave the first minutes of Radiant Der Lyriden in a good dark setting. If some layers are chloroformic, others whistle and some extend jerky chants in this opening filled with melancholy for the first albums of Tangerine Dream, as evidenced by these immense mellotron layers with tonal colors as attractive as they are scary. A movement of a classic sequencer lies down a first line of rhythm in the colors of yesteryear. It's the beginning of a rhythmic structure which begins with a hypnotic cadence to evolve towards an energetic phase where the two extremes, analog and digital, converge towards the same fury, but with different results. Let's say it's as crazy as Another Wasteland but in a less refrigerated vision. In fact, everything happens at the level of the sequencers and their multiple rhythmic links which weave a convoluted structure as catchy for neurons as those of the years 73-77. WoW!!! It's a superb Berlin School that ends this impressive album by Frank Rothe and Mario Schönwälder, also known as Filter-Kaffee. It's in my Top 5 of 2019!

Sylvain Lupari (January 26th, 2020) ****½*

Available at Manikin's Bandcamp

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