FREE SYSTEM PROJEKT: Spoon Forest (2018)
“Spoon Forest is a jewel, a splendid album which is a must to all aficionados of the Berlin School's golden years”
1 Winterflow 21:00 2 Spoon Forest 24:05
3 Trollheimen 24:49
FSP Records | FSPCD05 (CD/DDL 69:54)
It's while writing the review on the album D.E.S.H. from WintherStormer that I learned about this collaborative project between Terje Winther and Free System Projekt. And thanks to Terje, I was able to get my hands on one of the 500 copies of SPOON FOREST. Those who know the music of WintherStormer and of the Netherlands' duo, consists of Marcel Engels and Ruud Heij, must have been called out by this musical project where each of the artists had to control the sequencers in one title. Hence 3 long titles with an average duration of 23 minutes. We are here in the territories of Tangerine Dream, period Ricochet to Force Majeure (for the effects) where each rhythmic exercise of the sequencer is preceded by an introduction woven into the borders of the beyond-the-grave psychedelic with finals which try to exorcise the fruits of these atmospheres. This results in 3 superb structures of pure Berlin School where, and again, Free System Projekt and Terje Winther have managed to open a gap in time.
It's with jingling which disintegrate, such as the killing of a suspicion insect in a video game, that Winterflow is taking shape. The form of the sound, and its mysterious and unrealistic approach, coupled with the bellowing of a neckless beast and some industrial rumblings are all elements that throw a post-psychedelic framework to an opening where everything tips over in a tonal fairyland and get up with the momentum of a heavy and fluid sequencer. The movement is very TD periods Phaedra and Rubycon. Two albums that have always served as a tonal essence to the engine of creativity of Free System Projekt. The rhythm is in the pure spirit of vintage Berlin School with sequences running and galloping in layers of mists which float with a vampiric grip on the senses. Very skilled, and subtle in its rotation of its circles of rhythms, the sequencer-man likes to lose a key or insert two so that its pace has just enough nuances to roll faster or slow down without being noticed instantly. But enough talk about rhythms, since they are quite similar in SPOON FOREST. It's the ambiances and decorations that make the nobility of the creativity of Marcel Engels, Ruud Heij and Terje Winther. The atmospheres are frozen in layers of mist with tender threads of absent voices that pierce the opacity. There are effects! Many of the usual, and sometimes odd, effects that seem to speak to us. If not, they are murmuring tones to the ear. The synth solos are multiple, and their songs play as much in bass as in high-pitched. The soundscape is imagined in arid lands with red clay soils that crack. But the pace is just quite exciting. It goes steady beyond the 12 minutes of heaviness before melting in a more lunar vibe around 15 minutes. Then after, and even if weak rhythmic waves are trying to live through a delicate rodeo pattern, these atmospheres of another universe, such as these soundscapes of Tangerine Dream in the early Virgin years, radiate the moods with a sound fauna rich of its heterogeneous elements, and where the retro flirts with the possibilities of more contemporary tones. Layers of chthonic voices, humming over pads of old organ, and winds, propelled by particles which also used to drag in the years 74-77, are completing the decor.
The rhythms are similar but are not all the same. As in the title-track, proposed by Terje Winther, where it's more in successive and stormy kicks mode. Jerky rodeos which are rolling in an all well balanced industrial gears. Arpeggios of glass sparkle here and there on a keyboard in mode retro EM. We have already heard them in Pink Floyd and in Phaedra, but also in Ricochet. The fog pads are getting unctuous and float in a panorama where our ears see the colored strata of the aurora borealis zigzagging in a small firmament. The rhythmic portion is supported with rotary axes simulating horizontal propellers. The Mellotron is also active in Spoon Forest with flute chants, mellow orchestrations, organ pads and abyssal voices. And as in Winterflow, the rhythm loses its vitality around the 15 minutes in order to reach a more hullabaloo landing. We are not far from the atmospheres of Force Majeure here, especially at the level of heavy and jerky sequencer movement. We can also insert the diversity of sound effects in this context. And after a brief moment of respite, where the rhythm has never completely disappeared, the sequencer comes alive in the last moments of a structure that also let pass these lines of synths filled with the scent of celestial trumpets unique to the golden years of Baumann-Franke & Froese. We will find these lines and their tunes in the 2nd part of Trollheimen introduction, a title proposed by Marcel Engels. This intro offers previously these cries of frightening sirens, a little like the ones in Planet of the Apes, lines of Martenot waves and their spectral magnets, roars of a zombie horde, synth effects which get extend like a threat and industrial humming. This is the prototype of music not-easy-of-all-to-assimilate-in-the first-attempts that takes place under our ears. The sequencer comes alive around the 8th minute, after the trumpets of the apocalypse. Its flow is fluid and its tone is harmonic. The signature is unique! Playing on the variables of speed, this rhythm progresses with its beautiful imperfections programmed beneath a thick coat of fog. The synth lines are still so deliciously imbued with these trumpet tones, but the rhythm remains the dominant of this title where its intro is now far behind. We hear the echo of this skeleton, a bit gangly which hobbles and frolicking under a cloud of electronic effects that are the coats of arms of EM, as vintage as Luciferian. The synth solos are sewn into the auditory charm with a melodious vision while Trollheimen continues to evolve through the ages and between its intense, stormy or seraphic phases. All this of course at the discretion of the listener's imagination who listens, who hears! After all, isn't that the beauty of EM? Thanks, Terje…, Ruud and Marcel for such a splendid album which is a must to all aficionados of the Berlin School's golden years.
Sylvain Lupari (May 1st, 2019) ****½*
Available at Free System Projekt's Bandcamp