FRANK AYERS: Crossroads (2018)
Updated: Jan 23, 2020
“Melodious music built around short tracks, Crossroads has this little something that make you hooked on it”
1 Greenwich 4:35 2 Shibuya 4:31 3 El Raval 4:48 4 King's Cross 3:53 5 Biscayne 4:41 6 Hayes Valley 4:42 7 Mont Royal 4:46 8 Nanjing 5:00 9 Brandenburg 6:58 Frank Ayers Music
(CD/DDL 44:00) (V.F.) (Melodic E-Rock)
It's always a little bit daring to present an opus, no matter the musical genre, where short pieces are nesting, especially in a genre like EM where musical permutations and the twists toward rhythms are the food for more sophisticated ears, for more open minds and above all more starving of sounds and tones. Bands such as Yes, Genesis and, closer to EM style, Tangerine Dream have upset the habits of their legions of fans, while many have left their musical ships. For his third album, Frank Ayers decided to take up this risky bet by presenting 9 musical reflections on various parks in different cities where he set foot. Sharing his structures between very melodic rhythms and atmospheric textures stuffed with melodious elements which get tie easily to our soul, the French synthesist, known for his very classical approach, signs here an album whose audacity in his change of orientation is not without remember a certain Le Parc from Tangerine Dream. Even that some links of similarity bring the themetics of these 2 albums closer.
This last trip of Frank Ayers begins with multilayers of cosmic waves from which come out layers of astral voices which get embrace and merge under the songs of stars and sediments of prisms. It's like a moonlit evening where the tranquility of the areas can be heard in the very orchestral texture of Greenwich. This slow movement, where the layers of voices become more dominant, goes towards a last minute agitated by a line of sequences from which the fast and constant jumps of its keys are overflowing with a bit of intensity, provided by a bass pulsation, in order to open Shibuya. The correlation with the ambiances, in particular the synth riffs, with Le Parc cannot just be ignored here. Frank Ayers does a lot of work around his line of sequences whose minimalist flow remains just as much keen. Apart from these synth riffs, in fact they are layers of mists, the rhythm is supported by synthesized voice effects and other elements that burst like sonic buds. Good echo effects of percussion and a bass line, which plays with the intensity of movement, adorn this electronic rock filled of good harmonic solos. This is the kind of title that sticks to the eardrums. And there are plenty here! El Raval is a title of rich atmospheres with its orchestral textures which float to accommodate the ululations of a very emotional synth. The cries fade as the texture of ambiences becomes slower and finally silent, ushering in the vicious attack of King's Cross and its nervous rhythm, teeming of spasmodic rhythmic lines, and where nestles a very beautiful catchy melody that we can easily whistles. A huge worm-ear occurs here. Subsequently, Biscayne falls between our ears like a lost track from the sessions of Legend, or The Keep, which was retrieved by Frank Ayers. In fact, one could even quote Wavelength because of its rather cosmic ambient approach. Layers of voices are floating in a dark secret place, scarcely enlightened by some lost chords and bursts of luminous layers which come and go without soliciting an opening for any rhythm. These voices evolve in an emotional texture, like a spectral choir calling for light. After another swarm of ambient elements rich in cosmic textures, Hayes Valley drifts to the oscillating rhythm of Mount Royal, a pure electronic ballad stuffed with sumptuous synth solos and where the keyboard riffs, and other very good and effective electronic effects, remain scented of Tangerine Dream's atmospheres of the Jive years. Beautiful, with a spirit of poetry in it, this title, whose park is very close to my hometown, will make you want to listen again and again. Nanjing proposes also some atmospheric textures which travel between planets. The synth writes its poetry on an invisible soundscape where multilayered of synths, sighs and orchestrations are hooking a tinge of nostalgia on our soul. The mix on this track between the analog period of EM and its more contemporary essences dominates more here than elsewhere in CROSSROADS which concludes its journey into sounds and effects with another inspiring electronic rhythm, Brandenburg. Here again, the fragrances of Tangerine Dream float with this unique way that Frank Ayers has to transpose his influences with a vision that is very personal.
And this is one of the main reasons that gives this aspect so charming this album where the moods and rhythms follow in a mosaic of 44 minutes well thought out, well placed. A charm that will increase strongly as CROSSROADS will magnetize you, listen after listen. Because it's also this kind of album that we listen in a loop, so much it's beautiful, lyrical and stunningly musical for the genre. To recommend if you are a fan of the Jive period of Tangerine Dream. Otherwise, if beautiful music calls you out you!
Sylvain Lupari (May 31st, 2018) *****