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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Fratoroler Berlin (2021)

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

The history of Berlin School can be heard through the choice of Fratoroler's sequencers

1 Moltkebrücke 2:10

2 Berlin 17:29

3 Oberbaumbrücke 2:02

4 Grunewald 16:28

5 Löwenbrücke 2:07

6 Müggelsee 14:55

7 Glienicker Brücke 2:03

8 Alexanderplatz 18:03

SynGate ‎| CD-R FR08

(CD-R/DDL 75:17) (V.F.)

(Berlin Schools)

With an album called BERLIN, we understand that Fratoroler comes back to the base. Berlin, an effervescent city of creativity where art takes different forms. For Thomas Köhler and Frank Rothe, BERLIN consists of 8 tracks spread over 75 minutes of Berlin School that links old fragrances to more contemporary perfumes. An album where the Berlin School lives its evolution on 4 long tracks.

Dark and tenebrous cello whose throbbing strings stretch a distressing song that covers a circular electronic ritornello, I already appreciate the depth of this last Fratoroler album. Moltkebrücke, a short magnetizing track, is one of the 4 interludes that make our ears eager to hear. The title-track follows with another sinister opening with waves of sound piling up on themselves in order to make sound better the organ's raucous breaths. Dust of sound falls from this worry-filled sound firmament. A ball of sound forms and scans the horizons with its circular eye, leaving a delicate line of arpeggios glistening softly among its reverberating rays. The first 7 minutes of Berlin are conceived in a progressive atmosphere with waves of sounds, synth layers filled with ochre particles, tones known from the electronic flora and/or messages coded by synths in search of beats. And they come after the last layer of quietude. A perfect Berlin School movement with a sequencer from which a rhythmic train has been extracted that progresses with a good flow, under different synth tones. The rhythm is curt, I would say jerky, with a sideways inflection, giving the impression that the train is rolling sideways. The synth solos arrive some two minutes later and then the keyboard ones with cybernetic harmonies. This minimalist structure puts some pressure on the rhythmic velocity as the dialogue of the machines gradually covers it with industrial mists, some 8 minutes later, to bring the title track into its original setting.

Another short track, Oberbaumbrücke begins with a cadence imposed by chords sounding like beeps shaped on an anvil. Organic pulsations weave large loops that only accelerate the pace. Two minutes is too short! Two minutes is also the time it takes for Grunewald to leave its organic fauna and start hopping between our ears. Cold and Teutonic, the rhythm remains stoic and gambols under a cloud of layers with different emotional colors. The sound ceiling tends to play on the velocity by lowering the weight of the layers which almost touch the head of the jumping balls. A minimalist harmony starts to sing in this universe where the gaseous and percussive effects, as well as the light murmurs of the bass line add a layer of charms between the waves of musical tones. An enchanting track of which the last 4 minutes are of mists and of meditative ambiences. The guitar of Löwenbrücke and its solos on a structure guided by finger snaps are a real prelude to Müggelsee. Its introduction is based on cosmic ambiences where astral winds and voices let divine harmonies get scattered on a 7-minutes road. A procession sets in. Its movement is quiet and balanced. This minimalist ticking of an organic clock, with a more hurried passage towards the end, is the ideal bed to receive and hear beautiful guitar solos in an atmosphere very close to the works of Manuel Göttsching. These vintage ambiences feed the spirit behind Glienicker Brücke, another intense short track that fades out before Alexanderplatz's big reverberating snake makes move the noisy objects in its opening. This carousel of mechanical noises runs out of steam under the reverberating waves of a synth that struggles to develop them into solos. A 4 minutes not ugly at all, especially since it leads to the most beautiful structure of BERLIN with a sequenced ritornello whose limpidity clings to the fog that has become more intense. A good bass line stretches its chords a little groovy while little by little the synth solos install their anchors on this melody whose ancestor must be Halloween, the musical theme developed by John Carpenter. So goes Alexanderplatz! Synth solos here, another one with a different tone elsewhere and a nice display of the different layers and their tonal colors. Another good track that ends in the turmoil of its opening.

Between the vintage and the new, Berlin School followed an evolutionary curve that constantly linked it to repetitive rhythms. Robotic rhythms created by machines! This is the face of BERLIN. From the Teutonic movement of the Düsseldorf School to the oxygenated and more progressive ones of Ashra Tempel and finally the more caricatural one of Software, these stages are found in this album where the history of the Berlin School can be heard through the choice of Fratoroler's sequencers.

Sylvain Lupari (June 2nd, 2021) *****

Available on SynGate Bandcamp

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