FRATOROLER: Reflections (2010)
Updated: May 23
“Great sequencing with lots of Schulze and Schonwalder reminiscences!”
1 Early Reflection 17:15
2 Quarz 17:25
3 Reflections 19:40
4 Ant Race 5:40
5 Mirror 3:59
(CD-R/DDL 63:59) (V.F.)
REFLECTIONS went very quietly under the radar for an album with such powerful rhythms. It was with the Filter-Kaffee project that I discovered a duplicate of Mario Schönwälder was hiding under the skin of Frank Rothe. With Thomas Köhler he set up Fratoroler and composed this first album which appears on the German label SynGate. An album heavy with its rhythms drawn on powerful and ingenious sequences. The duo uses pretty much the same instruments as Mario Schönwälder, the Schrittmacher sequencer and the Memotron keyboard. It offers us a powerful first opus with wild and melodious rhythms that crisscross good electronic passages imbued with the scent of galvanized iodine from the great analog years of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream.
Synth waves hatch to become entangled in a sound fauna greyed out by the metal to twist around the sounds of the old organ. It's in the corrosive ashes of Totem that this new musical odyssey proposed by the disciples of Mario Schönwälder opens. Sometimes sweet, sometimes freezing, these resonant waves float in a heavy mellotron mist like a strange waltz of the specters. After 5 minutes of a lethal breath intro, a powerful sequence emerges and hammers a heavy hypnotic tempo. Sequences which resound and make flee this heavy sclerotic mist where resonant synth layers, streaks twisted around breaths of apocalyptic sirens and spectral breaths castigate this heavy progressive waddling. These sequenced chords multiply and stumble in a splendid electronic epic where caustic sound effects and nice spiral solos accompany this wild sequenced ride. A real sequenced monument Early Reflection dives at an open rhythm, subtly permuting its rhythmic axis under these great solos soaked with melodious approaches to finish its race in ambiences fill of industrial sounds which nourished its introduction. Quarz is cut in a slow spiral of glass. Like a carousel wrapped in a mystical mist and slashed of metallic streaks, the movement moves with the slowness of ghostly motions to embrace with the end of its sails a scintillating sequence emerging from these corroding limbo. These glass chords multiply and permute into a fine crystal ballet which swirls among iridescent breaths and a dense mellotron mist. Gradually this delicately jerky movement increases its cadence under heavy metallic stripes, whose chipped lines mold sharp hoops, and fine pulses of a resonant bass line. Without precise rhythms and with chords falling with more insistence, Quarz continues to wander in a long timeless loop and to twirl like a hypnotic merry-go-round with limpid sounds. It's like a perpetual dance of time which moves with so much finesse under a cloud of breaths, layers and iridescent lines as well as some jolts which continue to feed its ambiguity.
The echo of fine, plucked chords hops on heavy reverberations to open Reflections. They dance on a thin fluty line and take on fatty tones, while heavy resonant pulsations erect a hesitant cadence. Composed of diverse sounds and divided by latent rhythms, the intro bubbles in a pool of heterogeneous sounds before embracing a magnetizing movement composed of sequences. Like a flying carpet, these sequences undulate and hop in a universe that collects a bundle of reminiscences and tones that we do not know where to delve into our memories. Aromas of TD? Schulze rhythms and synths? The fact remains that this long minimalist movement with fine variations radiates from sequences which exchange tones on a long hypnotic structure nourished by these aromas which have long floated on the first works of psychedelicosmic EM. So good that we throw ourselves into the first works of Klaus Schulze! Ant Race is a superb electronic melody with sequences that fly and intersect in a good acrobatic choreography. Sequences that multiply and subdivide in an unbridled rhythm to dance frantically in the shade of a threatening synth whose waves and solos are tinged with a bewitching approach as melodic as melancholic. Mirror closes this first opus by Frank Rothe and Thomas Köhler in a vaporous atmosphere. A heavy mist with iridescent particles encircles its opening. It moves slowly, like a big threatening cloud about to explode, discovering a soft harmonious thin line which drifts on a nice celestial waves. This sweet melody escapes to convert this slow intro of Mirror into a more harmonious finish.
I was pleasantly surprised by REFLECTIONS! Fratoroler makes a splendid album which stirs the roots of a movement that gave birth to Berlin School. It's a skilful mixture of ambiences and rhythms. Wild and hypnotic rhythms whose subtle inversions are enveloped by synths with layers and solos as captivating as threatening. A really beautiful album which has only one weak point; the quality of its production. The montage shows shortcomings in the finals which are abrupt and without attenuation. It annoys a little because it seems to hear MP3 files with bad fades out cuts in the finale. Too bad because it's an album which deserves a second life by a better mixing and a mastering that would respect all its depth and its subtleties.
Sylvain Lupari (November 4th, 2011) ***¾**
Available at SynGate Bandcamp