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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Fratoroler Landscapes (2022)

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Fratoroler flirts a lot with Fringo Chills' genre here with more or less ambient rhythms

1 Great Barrier Reef 17:18

2 Yellowstone 16:38

3 Somewhere in your Mind 10:00

4 High Mountains 16:17

5 Serengeti 15:15

(CD/DDL 75:29) (V.F.)

(Ambient Berlin School)

A new Fratoroler album since May 2021, LANDSCAPES proposes 5 structures with slow evolutions which lead us in these territories of the duet Thomas Köhler and Frank Rothe where the Berlin School style unravels its ambient rhythms in luxuriant musical panoramas. And this is deliberate, since this 9th opus of the Berlin duo revolves around some of the most fantastic landscapes of our planet.

And it starts with Great Barrier Reef and its opening sewn with winds that buzz in an industrial texture. Clinkings scattered between the sinuosity of the winds, some of those are growling with a barely perceptible voice effect, and a brassy tone on some of them give that industrial dimension to this opening. Keyboard chords get lost in the ripples of these trade winds and eventually weave a melodic vision that blends with the slightly droning winds until the 6th minute. It's a swarm of twirling arpeggios that begins the first rhythmic approach of Great Barrier Reef. This cadenced harmony is immediately followed by a movement of the sequencer that moves forward at a slow pace while slightly accelerating the beat. A rhythmic shadow adds depth to the movement of which the sudden fluidity guides us towards an ascending structure. Always vaporous, the synths multiply new charms with stylized harmonies in the form of long aerial solos, while the rhythm embraces its home stretch to take the tangent of an organic train. It's a visit to a misty Yellowstone that awaits our ears. The opening haze and sequenced pssiitt-pssiitt is filled with sonic bursts and of percussive rattling up until a buzzing wave drops some fat and resonant chords around the 3-minute mark. Contemplative synth waves grow between the sinuosity of these reverb waves, giving a sibylline setting to this introduction that becomes more musical around its 6th minute. It's almost similar to Great Barrier Reef, except that the ring of arpeggios shimmers as it turns more slowly in the faint beats of a pulsating bass line. Its atmospheric envelope becomes more musical and develops into a beautiful musical rainbow with synth filaments whose iridescent colors follow the circular melody of the ivory arpeggios. This cadenced ritornello glows and flutters on an ascending axis, matching the quiet velocity of the ambient rhythm.

The music of Somewhere in your Mind is in perfect harmony with the meaning of its title which proposes a short introduction filled with hollow breezes. A line of sequenced arpeggios comes out of it as soon as the first minute is crossed. Its opaline sheen shines through the nuances of its tones, at times sounding like organic chirps, and erects a spiral that is not quite upward, but not quite linear. Dark pulsing chords beat faintly from within, casting a rhythmic shadow that alleviates the cadenced shimmer of the silver sequences. Keyboard riffs add a crackling nuance around the 5-minute mark. Their random presence will be the main accompaniment to this cerebral rhythm perfect for meditation. Synth chords sculpt a musical ascension that carries us to the heights of High Mountains. This procession is very colorful, and highlights tones whose opposites draw wings that make us drift above the mountains. Other chords, which sound like electric guitar strings that are firmly plucked, adorn this firmament and untie short harmonies that dream in the hollow and rumblings winds which add a slightly sibylline texture to this opening of ambiences that also stretches its meditative charms up to the point of 6 minute. A circle of arpeggios that rotates in a slightly upward direction is coming out of it. The movement of the ambient rhythm is similar to that of Somewhere in your Mind, except that it unfolds with a little more fluidity. And this movement surveys the mountainsides with a velocity that flirts with Berlin School and especially in a sound fauna filled with keyboard riffs, guitar effects and synth pads with Tangerine Dream flavors to reach a more melodic finale with a melancholic piano. Woven into an opening comparable to LANDSCAPES' other 4 tracks, Serengeti however takes less than 2 minutes before creating its rhythmic structure that zigzags in a series of pulsating strobes. Flowing under an avalanche of hollow breezes, the rhythm changes its fluidity and tonal appearance to take a more spasmodic tangent. The addition of a sequenced pulsing bass-line gives it a rubbery texture, creating a continuous structure that pulsates and rolls at the same time. The result is a delightful rhythmic leapfrog effect under a sky darkened by sinuous waves and dusty winds. Fratoroler grafts organic effects onto the rhythm and other clinking that add a zest of velocity imaginary to the ear. It sounds a lot like Edgar Froese's sequenced patterns in his Pinnacles album. The synth draws layers with twilight colors while the rhythm starts to leap to join in a galloping finale woven in the dangers of which this great African river is the silent night witness.

The colors and the reflections of the sound fauna are immensely rich in LANDSCAPES, proving that Fratoroler navigates at ease in the parameters of this new musical project. We are far from the Berlin School of the Berlin album here. In fact, Fratoroler flirts a lot with the genre of Fringo Chills, which is Frank Rothe's solo project, offering an album of more ambient rhythms in a rich sonic fauna that is matched only by the landscapes of the tracks that define this LANDSCAPES.

Sylvain Lupari (December 7th, 2022) *****

Available on SynGate Bandcamp

(NB: Text in blue are links you can click on)

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