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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Fratoroler What! (2016)

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

For its subtle mixture of dark cinematographic EM and a Berlin School sometimes dipped into neo-Krautrock, What! will be a dominating album in 2016

1 Okklusion 17:15 2 Lapsang Souchong 13:24 3 Scoville 21:35 4 Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerych-wyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch 16:09 SynGate ‎| CD-R FR05

(CD-r/DDL 68:23) (V.F.) (Retro Berlin School)

Fratoroler became this kind of band, a little like Perge or Arcane, from which we wait impatiently for the suite of events. Since Reflections, produced in 2010, this project which gathers Thomas Köhler and Frank Rothe, the half of Filter-Kaffee, does not stop progressing with a series of albums of which the point of maturity was reached with the fascinating Nano in 2014. WHAT! is a 5th album. An album which transcends the 4 first ones because Fratoroler touches slightly the essences of the neo-Krautrock while remaining framed well in its roots of retro Berlin School. And those who loves the genre, you will be delighted to hear 4 long music pieces which changes subtly of skin, even in their minimalist phase, where the sequences dominate the ambiences which try to avoid the origins of the Berlin School.

And what would be an album, a music of Fratoroler without these misty openings where the sounds lose a little of their virginity? It's thus in an industrial atmosphere where the breaths and the hummings reign among knockings and shudders of chains that opens Okklusion. A small sneaky pulsation rises from this din of factory, as well as some Babylonian percussions. The introduction is meditating then between a filmic approach and another one more electronic as the synth throws a long plaintive pad which snivels around the chords of a thinking keyboard. And a superb line of sequences of the vintage years escapes around the point of 130 seconds. The movement is fluid, lively and oscillating in good speed under the caresses of a fluty harmony and another line of sequences with curt keys streaking the Teutonic rhythm of. We are in the territories of a Berlin School reinvented with nice electronic effects, in particular spurts of vapors and of Mellotron mists as well as rattling effect percussions at the purpose of the harmonies and which decorate its rhythm delicately shaded. The synth throws solos as bewitching than the flutes of these sonic snake charmers. And the more we move forward and the more Okklusion falls a little in a Krautrock mood with riffs of guitar, a metallic heaviness and psychotronic tones which bring it out of its Berliner bed. A very good title that puts our ears in appetite! After 2 minutes of carbonic atmospheres, Lapsang Souchong gets out of its minimalist approach with a line of sequences which makes 6 peaceful keys waddle in front of another sequencer pattern clinking such as ceramic bells. Calm, the movement remains not less attractive to the ear with this line of static rhythm which answers to its shadows, which goes up and comes down under nice electronic effects, pensive guitar notes and some very good airy synth solos. We stay easily in a state of hypnosis for a good ten minutes here.

A long title proposed in 4 evolutionary phases, Scoville presents a long intro of atmospheres where prowl some percussions rattlers, like a snake which crumbles its skeleton, in a cosmos filled with electronic effects, of wooshh and of hollow winds. A movement of sequences makes skip some keys after the point of 6 minutes. Immediately, the rhythm takes shape with a muffled and resonant pulsation which bombards a static rhythm under the airs of a hybrid synth and of its harmonies as nasal and as symphonic, reminding the trumpets of Tangerine Dream's vintage years. The pulsatory movement is not static anymore. It offers a structure of gallop one minute later. According to an evolution that adopts the curve of our desire, the keys burst out quietly in a charmingly anarchy figure and create a rhythmic always so static but furiously lively if our fingers follow the imagination of a rodeo of a herd of wild horses that we draw in our head. The atmospheres which encircle this movement difficult to describe are taken in the golden years of EM, in particular the forms crepuscular harmonies of Ricochet and Phaedra from you know who. Scoville reaches its saturation point around the 13 minutes, borrowing a corridor of atmospheres quite near of its long opening, voices and electronic effects of bubbling magma in more. Another movement of sequences, more fluid and livelier, appears some 90 seconds farther, plunging Scoville into a movement of more contemporary electronic rhythm, as much at the level of the sequences as the ambience effects and the chants of synth. After its introduction of shady and glaucous ambiences fed of floating layers and of dark winds where wallow smothered voices, electronic noises and other noises taken out of hell; Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll llantysiliogogogoch (WHAT!) proposes a minimalist structure which walks on the bed of gaps. A line of sequences spreads 3 keys which skip heavily and sneakily in a structure of mortuary ambiences ideal for the kind of movie where the maniac spreads terror with a victim which roams in a corridor without exits. That does as well Redshift as John Carpenter with a very black movement of which the velocity increases with the addition of another line of more crystal clear and more musical sequences which rings and skips in a structure of rhythm very in contrast with the primary minimalist approach. And if the rhythm changes a little, the ambiences are always so black , always also near fear.

For its subtle mixture of dark cinematographic EM and a Berlin School sometimes dipped into neo-Krautrock, WHAT! will be a dominating album in 2016. Fratoroler fills our ears and our senses of a music which refuses all compromises by surfing outside the limits of musical genres which attract our passions. And it's the biggest charm of this album; overturn into the unexpected while staying near the identity that we knew of it. A strong album which will seduce you again and again at every listening!

Sylvain Lupari (May 18th, 2016) ****½*

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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