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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

HARALD NIES: Horizon (2015)

This is a nice surprise with great moments on Horizon which gives us the taste to dust out the discography of Ashra

1 Silverline 8:43 2 Horizon 9:29 3 Dream of 9:19 4 Perpetual Lights 11:33 5 Out of Nowhere 10:04 6 Round and Round 7:40 7 Erratic Signs 6:23 8 Reaching the End 5:46 Mellow JetRecords | CD-r HN1501 (CD-r/DDL 68:56) (V.F.) (E-Rock, morphic techno and Berlin School)

A very vaporous guitar infiltrates the quiet undulating sunbeams of a synth line of which the very ethereal harmonies caress of their warm beams the singings of synth birds. The guitar forges a torrent of passive loops which cut out through the serenity of the ambiances. In the background, we hear a pulsing line jumping up gradually, inviting a rivulet of sequences to lull the last vestiges of Harald Nies' ambient solos. The percussions fall. The pulsations hiccup. Bang... Bang! The rhythm is slow and sharp. Silverline is trapped in heavy and slow percussions of which every blow resounds in a long silvery strand decorated with sequences which stir nervously into a serial of cascade. And Harald Nies seizes his guitar. One would say of Ashra so much this is good.

Silverline sinks into our ears with the knocks clubbed by the drum, while the guitar spits solos as much lively as the sequences. The symbiosis between the sequencer and the guitar is right in the tone and we curse this ambient moment which separates the furiously lively rhythm that plunges us irreparably into the souvenirs of Ashra in Twelve Samples. It's not the same thing, but the structure makes us irreparably want to re-hear this progressive monument of techno from the band of Gottsching. The guitar and the synth are exchanging harmonious solos which also become as magnetizing than the rhythm. And we also curse this finale which prevents Silverline from becoming definitely the second Twelve Samples. Although that Out of Nowhere will bring us back this taste again. WoW, what a kicker! Heavy and lively rhythms which are stuck in electronic ambiences at the diapason of an Electronica eaten away by a hypnotic slowness, HORIZON is a delicious album which presents us another facet of EM with a skillful mixture of Berlin School, ambient, rock and Electronica.

It's been a while since I had not heard the music of Harald Nies. Since 2010 in fact with EarthCreator; a more personal album where the friendly German guitarist seemed to have found his identity. And it's with pleasure that I found out that Harald always has this mordant which seems to bind so many boundaries in a music which unjam the repulsive ears. The title-track hangs onto our eardrums with a sneaky rhythm, a kind of intergalactic trot, which beats its steady pace beneath an electronic sky covered by these singings of shooting stars and of cosmic mist. We guess here a probable intensity. A possible crescendo. But Horizon remains static, ambient with its calm pulsations which at times change a little the speed of its trot. Loops of a misty guitar are floating over Horizon, a little after the bar of 5 minutes, distracting a listening which notices hardly that the rhythm evolves discreetly between ambient, soft rock and a morphic techno gassed by an intense mystic mist and lead by a lot of good orchestral arrangements. The track is available on You Tube. The introduction of Dream of brings us in a futuristic universe before the rhythm diverts the ambiences towards a kind of lounge. Between ambient and a down-tempo, with arpeggios which flutter on the knocks of heavy and slow percussions, the guitar and the synth are shaping some good solos which irradiate their charms in banks of mist where are hiding subtle evanescent sibylline sighs. Perpetual Lights continuous on the ashes of Dream of before exploding in a splendid electronic blues. This is quite a surprise and we slowly let ourselves floating in a cosmic waltz by this very good down-tempo fed by the feelings of a heavy, incisive, furious and very melancholic guitar. A six-strings among which the harmonies, as sensual as dreamy, and the riffs, heavy and edgy, get lost in the spirals of a bank of ethereal fog. That goes into an iPod! Out of Nowhere follows with a structure of rhythm a bit technoïd which sounds a little like Silverline, but with more electronic effects and more ethereal vibes. It's very good morphic techno with good effects of percussions and beautiful spirals of sequences. Round and Round offers a more abrupt, a more jerky rhythm. Erratic Signs is a very beautiful ethereal ballad which brushes a little the melancholy of Perpetual Lights. Harald Nies' guitar is very romantic, at times nostalgic with good solos which, bounded to the good muffled percussions, shape an effect of slow cosmic blues. The track dives into a huge rock with a guitar became more furious. It's quite an exhilarating track that we like to hear again and again. Reaching the End concludes HORIZON with a very meditative approach drown by a lot of surrounding cosmic atmospheres.

I quite enjoyed the depth of HORIZON. There are moments on this album which gives us the taste to dust the discography of Ashra. And that is a good sign! Harald Nies shows eclecticism in this tasty fusion of blues with electronic on a bottom of rock, otherwise Électronica. Everything is balanced well. The moments of calm measure out pretty well the anarchy of the rock, or the blues, which bicker with livestock of sequences while the guitar has nothing to envy to the immense possibilities of synths. A beautiful mixture which offers us some very good moments.

Sylvain Lupari (April 5th, 2015) ***½**

Available at MellowJet Records

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