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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

HARALD NIES: The Circle (2019)

Always a bit difficult to tame, Harald Nies’ music in The Circle is among his best yet to listen too and to tame as well

1 Out of Shape 5:28

2 Irrational Bias 4:42

3 In the Centre 5:41

4 Circuit 6:14

5 Tangent Lights 6:37

6 Borders of Life 5:15

7 Threesixty 7:57

8 Magic Pi 5:46

9 No Boundaries 8:18

10 Hold Me 7:44

11 Leaving the Circle 7:57

(CD-r/DDL 71:40) (V.F.)

(E-Rock, New Berlin School)

It's an opening blown in crystal that a series of jerky arpeggios unrolls a structure which is violently caught up by a line of bass sequences as fierce than the percussions. Out of Shape eats our eardrums with a heavy and fluid circular approach where a synth and its Mexican flavors sing. A kind of tribal fiesta trapped in a gyratory sequencing pattern; this first title of THE CIRCLE has something to surprise! True to his signature of cosmic rocker, Harald Nies always has this gift of putting our ears in the same pitch as our feet to start his albums. Out of Shape is no exception. It's a heavy and catchy rhythm which is sculpted in a decorative vision with a swarm of arpeggios and sequences which intersect their lines in a combat between harmony and rhythm which reaches an even higher level of intensity after a brief ambient passage. Taming a Harald Nies album isn't always easy! Always very versatile in the choice of his compositions, and in the art of integrating them in a fairly variable order in terms of intensities, Harald offers us another album with his panoply of rhythms nesting in a mosaic of nearly 72 minutes that requires some listening in order to unravel the dose of emotions that he's throwing at us.

After this fiery rock, Irrational Bias follows with a well hammered Electronica structure. It's like if Moonbooter is going to do electronic hard-rock with his cosmic wings. The harmonic design is very stylized in THE CIRCLE. The arpeggios, like the sequences by the way, have a harmonic as well as a rhythmic component by leaving the main structures in order to flow like a second skin. That gives a more attractive dimension to the music that would be a simple Techno, for here, or simple electronic rocks elsewhere in the album. Good and unexpected, Irrational Bias makes us stomp in this other form of Techno which extends its ambient threads up until the opening of In the Center which quietly blossoms in a good circular rock. In an almost similar structure, but imbued with superb guitar solos, Circuit makes us dance softly instead of being hovered. Each album offers its pearl! Here it's Tangent Lights with its great cosmic slow which combines sensuality and ethereal heaviness. Everything here is designed to make our arm hairs dance with the fibers of our soul. It couldn't be more beautiful than here in THE CIRCLE. Borders of Life immerses us in these heavy and circular rocks with a hungry bass line, just like the percussions too. Sailing between this very animated structure and shorter more ethereal phases, the music remains very melodious in particular with good synth solos and other more ethereal effects as well as good electronic effects which flirt with a fascinating indecipherable dialect.

Threesixty follows with a line of bold and discordant arpeggios which roll on itself, driving the rhythm in these soft electronic rocks of Tangerine Dream from the Miramar years. The percussive effects remain gems that pique our auditory curiosity while the real percussions lead the music into a sober rock well watered by this mixture of synth and guitars solos. A good track of which the finale deviates towards the more static rhythm and the more floating atmospheres of Magic Pi. No Boundaries follows the curve of Threesixty by proposing two lines of rhythm with intersecting courses. They trace an undulating spiral before accelerating the pace almost 2 minutes after an introduction filled with elements of electronic ambience. The progression remains calm, however, with a kind of gallop in the green plains of an electronic mirage where musicality is hidden behind magnificent solos and harmonious arpeggios. A nucleus of small lost steps excites the sweetness of No Boundaries which then lights up with another delicious fusion of synth and guitar solos. The structure of Hold Me is more catchy with a steady rock whose fluidity rocks the lamentations of Harald's electric six-string. The structure strikes its atmospheric phase before being reborn with a more hopping approach and its solos with the scent of a Mexican trumpeter stranded on a cosmic highway. After a brief laborious start, Leaving the Circle ends THE CIRCLE with a rather catchy hovering rock which is unique to Harald Nies' signature. The movement is circular with countless solos and noisy percussions which are also more numerous in this last album of the German musician.

You must give yourself a chance to truly break through the wall of this versatility that makes any attempt at taming more difficult in Harald Nies albums than elsewhere. However, his music is very good. Its fabric and fibers are more complex because of the diversity of the compositions and the denser and richer sound texture inside these compositions. The length of his albums should also be reconsidered. There are a couple of titles here that take away a lot of luster from THE CIRCLE which is most certainly among his best albums and I would even say the most accessible because of titles like Out of Shape, In the Center, Tangent Lights and No Boundaries. It's a lot of reasons 😉!

Sylvain Lupari (March 2nd, 2020) *****

Available at MellowJet Record

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