FIREHAND: The Three Worlds (2021)
“A magnificent album whose only defect is to be limited to a downloadable version”
1 Sculptor Universe 8:42
2 Ravish 7:17
3 Earth Renewal 8:26
4 Sacred Name 6:03
5 Beneath the Surface 5:21
6 Revelation Sequence 8:45
7 The Eyes 6:47
8 Otherworldly Creatures 5:06
9 Mountain Rain 7:00
10 Seed 7:54
(DDL 71:24) (V.F.)
I got to know Robert Logan's music following the excellent albums he co-wrote with Steve Roach, Second Nature and Biosonic. It's in fact following these albums that I was tempted by a solo album, Sculptor Galaxy, still released by Projekt Records at the same era, 2016-17. Alongside, he made a solo album, New Dawn in 2016, under the pseudonym of Firehand. It was a dark and stormy ambient music. Recently, I received a message from him asking me to listen to his latest album, THE THREE WORLDS for the purpose of a review. What you need to know is that TTW was conceived before he got serious health problems, mainly hearing issues. He put a rush on it, afraid he was to not being able to do so. The result is an incredibly intense album which explores some zones from his previous Sculptor Galaxy. An album that sticks to our skin which is powered by a sequencer driven of wild rhythms, tribal and Berlin School styles, with a zest of E-Rock with a great knowledge of percussions and a treasure trove of percussive effects leading to different textures of trance.
The first woosshh are barely thrown on the floor when a first rhythm structure comes to life in the dark setting of Sculptor Universe that comes straight out from the rhythmic corridors of Sculptor Galaxy. Its initial momentum is driven by jerky effects that mirror the ripples in choppy water. A bass layer crawls like a threatening shadow and from the second minute, the rhythm turns into a ghost train whose speed depends on our perception to count the number of windows opened when it passes in front of our ears. Violent and uncompromising for the tranquility, this rhythm starts to zigzag to follow the forms of a staccato. Intense, a word to remember in the different stages of THE THREE WORLDS, the journey of Sculptor Universe continues its trip under a dark sonic canvas where the ears barely perceive the whispers of Jennifer Sturrock. Rich in creativity, the rhythms of this album are the result of Logan's hard work on the sequencer, percussions and multiple percussive effects that will pamper avid ears of this genre, including mines. Ravish follows with a fascinating psybient-fueled electronic rock structure. The beat is as violent as it is static with aggressive percussive stabs echoing in each other's shadows, creating a sustained structure. The bass pulsations resonate with the same impact as the gunshot-like percussions. We hear mass delirium as well as organic tones, creating an argument between our ears. What to hear? This is a track of incomparable intensity with a real possibility of addiction. My ears have just spent 15 minutes of epicurean bliss when Earth Renewal does nothing to keep them away from this buffet of musical ideas. A layer of synthesizer spreads a landscape of serenity where we already perceive a figure of harmonic rhythm taking shape under a tonal flora filled with squeaks and other organic tones of the same kind. In love with freedom this figure starts to spin, mixing rhythm and harmony in its circular impulses. Whispers, flickers and whistling synth lines feed the first 3 minutes which turn under the sign of intensity. We reach that point where the ideas reformulate, and the faded melody starts to breathe through a piano over a tribal percussion texture. And here my friends, I can't get rid of this harmonic signature of Sebastian im Traum by Frank Specht. Worn out by so much intensity and emotion, the hairs on my arms that escape pointing to the ceiling tell me that I am already on the last steps towards the lake of my tears. What a beautiful track that renews its splendor from listening to listening to listening, even in a musical mess that you have to learn to untangle! I know, there are already a lot of texts for 3 titles. But what a wonderful album my friends!
I'll try to cut to the chase as I hear a wave of resonant drones confine Sacred Name to its murky ambient landscape. The irradiation of shadows turns into a structure of ambient, slightly even spasmodic, rhythm that ripples like ripples on choppy water. Jennifer Sturrock's voice caresses this rhythmic rebellion with whispers that stretch across a soundscape where desolation is found alongside a form of hope found in the intensity of music that flirts with a Tibetan tribal mode. The bell tones are other percussive elements which enrich this track and the following which has a Middle East tribal vibe. Beneath the Surface follows with a structure that is not light years away from Sacred Name. In the sense that we are in the dark ambient with a violin this time that refuses the domination of a yet melodious approach, even if its sorrow was already nibbling our earlobe. The bed of ambiences is however serene, pointing out by moments of tenderness as of repressed violence, with the size of this sorrow which afflicts the violinist whose stinging tears cut the violence of the ambiences. The 3rd minute brings us to a peak of intensity a little disturbed by the Tibetan bells. But it doesn't matter, Griga Cuciuc's violin has already weakened my soul, like the music of Beneath the Surface. We reach Revelation Sequence whose very electronic opening of the sequencer will evolve into a structure comparable to Sculptor Universe. The Eyes proposes a dark ambient structure with the beautiful voice of JS which feasts on the waves of reverberations. It's one of the rare tracks where we can distinguish her voice in a more and more dramatic torment. Otherworldly Creatures is a lighter, more upbeat track with a Native American tribal approach that favors percussions and percussive effects underneath synth waves inspired by the organic ambient work of Steve Roach. The sequencer's arch stabilizes this rhythm that seeks to draw a vision of psychedelic space rock to the ambiences sculpted around the meaning of the title. Mountain Rain is another sound mass that vibrates in intense drones whereas Seed gives the sequencer freedom after a minute of atmospheric virulence. A last movement of rhythm ploughed in the alternations of the jumping tiny balls which roll like those twisted rollercoasters in the fairs and whose end is an astral void.
"The world that was, the past, whence everything came;
The world that is, the present, where everything is restlessly moving;
The world that shall be, the hereafter, whither everything is going..."
These words of Robert Logan find their meaning in the music that his project Firehand presents in THE THREE WORLDS, a magnificent album whose only defect is to be limited to a downloadable version.
Sylvain Lupari (July 15th, 2021) ****½*
Available at Firehand Bandcamp