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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Grüm~Pé Immunity From Darkness (2023)

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Not easy to tame but paying off for ears that aren't too timorous

1 Plus or Minus 11:12

2 Immunity from Darkness 9:09

3 A Map of Thirteen 9:43

4 Winter Fire 6:38

5 Things not seen Until Recently 7:38

6 Bernoulli Overload 14:48

7 Even Though I Knew the Ending... 11:33

(DDL/CD-(r) 60:45) (V.F.)

(Modular Dark ambient)

If the world of modular synths captivates you, IMMUNITY FROM DARKNESS is a fine invitation from Grüm~Pé, and by ricochet from Cyclical Dreams. But be advised! The music on Maurice Gallagher's new opus was improvised and recorded live. In real time, on a stereo output with VCV Rack and Voltage Modular synthesizer software. There were no keyboards or overdubs, apart from mastering with Ableton Live. The result is an album that's pretty hard to tame. Even more so than A Strange Uncertain Light! Our ears plunge into this universe of sonic experimentations conceived on these modular synths at the dawn of a more commercial musical vision of the recent years. While flirting with the heavy, indecisive rhythms of Arc, Bakis Sirros and even ['ramp], Grüm~Pé extracts the sonic poison of these artists to create atmospheres that put us into the heart of the dimensions and the meaning of the album. And of its title in particular. Each track is an adventure in itself, bewitching us little by little. A bit like a soul lost in the labyrinths of this immunity against darkness, who doesn't want to get out.

And Plus or Minus puts us right at the heart of Maurice Gallagher's experimentations, with a swarm of electronic effects, distorted elements and chords, both rhythmic and harmonic, not quite formed which are at the heart of its opening. At the 100-second mark, a big pulsating bass-line resounds. Its arrhythmic beats have a heaviness fed by a static effect, creating an uncertain rhythm that staggers, groping forward. The movement develops with a certain velocity, but also through the presence of cadenced arpeggios that leap in the shadow of this buzzing line to create a polyrhythmic structure that constantly spins on its rotating axis. Like the pulsating bass line, the arpeggios are resounding but with an incandescent luminosity. The two contrasts create a radioactive sound mass that buzzes ceaselessly under the weight of a static electronic rhythm. What you've just heard on Plus or Minus is the sonic and musical envelope exploited to the full on IMMUNITY FROM DARKNESS. Grüm~Pé's experimentation leads us to a universe that flirts with Stephen Parsick and its very own ['ramp] for this coldness of sound effects, pulsations and bursts of rhythm, like in the title track, which could be compared to the Doombient's symphonies for dark ambient music. The track drags an unparalleled heaviness and explodes with percussive elements and twisted filaments radiating an overheating steel blue. A big track to be devoured with headphones, if sonic adventure excites you! Next, the sound waves that initiate A Map of Thirteen bring us towards a caustic universe where the sounds bite our ears through its reflections, supported by an invisible wall of reverberations. Gradually, the grayness of the synth waves transforms into a seductive spectral melody that clings to the slow movement of a bass shadow. Incredible as it may seem, this slow oscillation creates an earworm that undulates of its multiple caramelized hues over the percussive beats that have grafted themselves as quietly as this heavy, pulsating bass line that dictates a soft, slow rhythm. Just as the way I like it.

Born of deafening hollow breezes, Winter Fire gradually abandons its gloomy, doombient atmospheric opening to crawl towards a rhythmic structure that is in symbiosis with the ambiences. The brilliance of the arpeggios, the cadenced pssitt-pssitt, the disparate percussive elements manage against all odds to get us tapping of the foot. Things not seen Until Recently continues with the experimental overtures that allow Maurice Gallagher's ideas to settle. The track unlocks into a cosmic rhythmic melody before straying into a short phase of not too indigestible cacophony. It's a track that is hard to tame, even after a few listens! The opening of Bernoulli Overload, IMMUNITY FROM DARKNESS' longest track, is a din of static sound effects. There are flying insects, bumblebees like a swarm of beetles with forms as helpless as their language, in this syncretic sound opening where iconoclasm has all its virtues. The sounds display their contrasts and the majesty of their forms in a long, slow opening that transforms into a supernatural parade shortly after the 7th minute. At first very slow, the rhythm progresses through the multiplication of chords and sound effects to anchor itself on a crawling, pulsating bass line that becomes the cradle of luminous, melodious arpeggios finely linked in an undulating pulse. It took me a few listens, but it paid off! Even Though I Knew the Ending...explores the same paths, while developing a heavier, catchier rhythmic approach a la Ian Boddy's Coil.

Not easy to tame, IMMUNITY FROM DARKNESS remains a monument for fans of dark ambient music presented over heavy, resonant and sometimes even driving rhythms. Grüm~Pé continues where he left off with his excellent A Strange Uncertain Light, released 2 years ago on Cyclical Dreams. His new opus is a little more experimental, offering musical experiments that border on the tolerable while flirting with an ambient and psychedelic Berlin School or England School. Good headphones are essential. So that the neighbors don't worry, and your ears don't miss out on all the sonic dimensions of IMMUNITY FROM DARKNESS.

Sylvain Lupari (October 22nd, 2023) ****¼*

Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp

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

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