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  • Sylvain Lupari

FRANK AYERS: Footnotes (2019)

Updated: Jan 23

“Footnotes is splendid journey through times where we find ourselves in the late 60' and early 70's with tones coming from different sci-fi themes or new synth music”

1 Tycho Conspiracy Part 1 5:32

2 Tycho Conspiracy Part 2 6:18

3 Down to Enceladus 8:05

4 The Love Capsule 3:26

5 Exit from Clark’s Belt 7:40

6 Tycho Conspiracy Part 3 6:51

7 The Clouds of Titan 5:08

8 Enter the Solar Winds 4:03

9 Fra Mauro 3:00 Frank Ayers Music

(CD 50:08) (V.F.)

(Melodic E-Rock)

A synth pad, whose short breath exhorts a cloud of misshapen noises coming out of nowhere, opens Tycho Conspiracy Part 1. From then on, a fascinating sound fauna is grafted to those chloroform-colored synth pads. Titanic drums, chords of an acoustic bass guitar, quaverings of unknown origin, the echoes of the water on Dune, the roaring of lazy ghosts, cymbals and many other noises cling to these lazy synth pads which float with a swarm of sound effects stuck at their iridescent tones. We are in the realm of sampling from creative sources that is gradually distancing itself from this fleeting madness, leaving a warmer color to exploit the fate of the floating synth pads. A movement of sequenced arpeggios flickers and surrounds the flight of the layers. Percussion awaken the moods at the same time as a Radio Beep, confirming the great sonic diversity of the sound fauna which flies over Tycho Conspiracy Part 1. Like the 8 other titles of FOOTNOTES. We can barely reach the 2 minutes point that my ears are bleeding to want to identify the origin of each noise in Frank Ayers' samplings machine. And when the rhythm gets in, it's to flirt with a soft tempo. Arpeggios are drawing an earworm just as effective as the harmonies of a synth which sings like the arrangements of Vangelis. The emptiness and voices of the void aspire this down-tempo which will explodes for a much sharper rhythm in Tycho Conspiracy Part 2. FOOTNOTES is a collection of old titles remixed in a new sound skin. Those are Frank Ayers' explanations when I asked him the origin of the title. And for a collection of titles lost and found, I would say that the French synthesist is very critical towards his music, since FOOTNOTES is a brilliant album where the essences of Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Tangerine Dream cohabit on a smart EM that is a true soundtrack for an intergalactic trip in the 70's and 80's.

The sequencer and the harmonious synth pads in Tycho Conspiracy Part 2 are reminiscences of Tangerine Dream with percussive effects straight out of the Parisian tour of 86. The rhythm is lively! The synth pads and the slow harmonies are stretched to the maximum in this electronic rock loaded of twisted solos and adorned with a sound fauna which travels between Cosmos and Earth. Imagine Star-Lord guzzling Vangelis, Jarre and Tangerine Dream from the 80's and new synth tunes of the 60's; you have an excellent overview of FOOTNOTES' music. Down to Enceladus is a long title which crumbles its 8 minutes on a slow beat full of sub-sea and jungle sound effects. The antipodes are numerous in this album! The synth deploys rich slow wings filled with iodized vapor in a structure rich of its percussive effects which don't motivate at all the rhythm. These are atmospheric decorations. The further we go, the more a dramatic envelope surrounds these songs of stars that parade like lines of etiolated prisms. Finely stroboscopic filaments could give impetus to the rhythm, but the synth pushes them back with harmonies that leave their imprints in the ears. The Love Capsule is a little hit of the New Synth Music wave of the 60's with a melody cleverly whistled by a synth of the Popcorn years. A little more and we would think of 60's The Twilight Zone. Bass pulsations, slamming percussions and an assiduous bass line are the seat of cosmic voices and pastiche sound effects from the 60's and the 70's sci-fi cinema, performed 50 years later, and many synth solos can be hear here. We hang on first time! Exit From Clark's Belt is my big crush in this album. The hyper-slow frame of the rhythm sways between the first segment of Genesis' Mama and Kate Bush's Delius (Song of Summer). Add to this mix these percussions that mimic the tails of a rattlesnake and slow layers that stretch in synth solos or for spectral harmonies and you have the ingredients of a title that hits you inside. Tycho Conspiracy Part 3 is even more crazy than Tycho Conspiracy Part 2 with new Disco sound effects, and an almost funk beat. The orchestrations are very effective, and the synth solos are still as harmonious as making of earworm. The Clouds of Titan is an ambient journey to the lands of the Wooshh and Waashh. The winds are acidic with a hint of Dune in the grains of sand that scratch the virgin skins. Enter The Solar Winds is an electronic anthem as fiery as The Love Capsule, but with synth pads which coo in a fuss of percussive elements. There are other very good synth solos here. Fra Mauro ends FOOTNOTES with something we never thought about, the piano and just the thoughtful and dreamy piano by a musician who, I think, is trying, and I hope, to find other old ideas. Just for the pleasure of our ears.

Sylvain Lupari (June 14th, 2019) ****½*

SynthSequences.com

Available at Frank Ayers' Bandcamp

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© 2019 by Alexandre Corbin for Synth&Sequences \ Sylvain (A.K.A. Phaedream) Lupari

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