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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ICINGWOLF: From Inside (2020)

Techno, Electronica, E-Rock, Cosmic Rock and New Age in a same album whose lack of homogeneity might battle against its charms

1 The Morning 5:12

2 Landscape 6:37

3 Dancing Birds 6:34

4 Ocean of Sound 7:10

5 My J.F.A. 5:47

6 Dutch Trip 5:26

7 The Men of Apollo 11 6:35

8 Galaxy Flight 6:20

9 Friends Experiance 6:33

10 The Metronome 12:59

(CD/DDL 69:20) (V.F.)

(Macedoine of EM visions)

A loud roar and bursts of musical breezes push the first ambient modulations of The Morning. The synths are in mode accessory for orchestrations, when a fluty chant rises with the chirping of birds. We are in the territories of progressive New Age here with a nice cinematic and orchestral opening to an album which left me perplexed as his first titles came out of my Totem loudspeakers. It must have been at least one year since I heard about IcingWolf or if you prefer Monika Freerk. In the very limited circles of EM producers, the German artist is highly regarded to such an extent that she won the prestigious Schallwelle Award for Discovery in 2017. We talk about the album Sonic Waves as being the best first album by a woman in EM through the ages. I listened to a few bits of it on her Bandcamp site, and it sounds a bit better than this FROM INSIDE which for my tastes hasn't respond to the expectations of her so positive praises from the press or in har press-kit. My friend Ron Boots, the album is produced and distributed by Groove nl, sent me this album last March and the first listening left me half fig and half grape. By dint of perseverance, and because it was necessary to talk about it, I put myself on its case during the last week. And I discovered an album of which the multiple facets of Monika Freerk go in phases on to reach completely unexpected heights in the last third of this album whose first shortcoming is this lack of homogeneity. Going through cinematic textures in rose water to New Age and Electronica, the phases of IcingWolf are as diverse as stigmatized in a musical texture that also differs from one style to another, even one track to another in this album. It's like if Ron had managed to capture a different character for each of Monika Freerk's styles in FROM INSIDE. Hence this lack of musical cohesion.

The piano notes falling at the opening of Landscape bring its delicacy to a ride whose syrupy flute's chants also flirts with a cinematic New Age, but more in the genre of Muzak or Easy Listening here. Dancing Birds gives musical direction a boost with a vision more in the Electronica genre. Bass sequences and percussive submachine guns ensure a jerky rhythmic part while the keyboard weaves a melodious approach a bit complex in its texture which befits much more to the synth which integrates the title some 90 seconds later. Another title, another tone with Ocean of Sound which is a particular title. Structured by impulsive kicks, it beats as much with a vision of Techno as of electronic rock in a conjectural Electronica fabric wrapped up by synthesizer's multi-strata as much foggy as musical. The percussions' tones plus the spasmodic and kind of breathless rhythm remind me of Clara Mondshine in Memorymetropolis, while the keyboard chords sound like some good Yanni. My J.F.A. is a calmer title, kind of Landscape style, with a second part more intense in its heavy and slow approach. Dutch Trip follows the trend with a New Age harmonious vision, always in the Landscape ballad style, but with a little more vigor. The Men of Apollo 11 is a title of communications' ambiences between NASA and the men of Apollo 11. The voices of the astronauts and the communications' beeps take too much space in an opening which ends up gripping a line of spasmodic bass and a persistent melody which could have had a more beautiful dimension without these samplings. Too much is like not enough!

Galaxy Flight is one of the good titles of this FROM INSIDE with synth textures that are very Tangerine Dream of the Jive years. The music remains like a nucleus of large clouds in suspension while one of pulsating sequence agitates the specter of a wild rhythm which won't explode. Another title and another tone; Friends Experiance is like this duck on the water. We notice his phlegm on the surface while underwater his legs are moving without common sense. It's a good static EM track with good slamming percussions and above all a rather good synth which whistles an oneiric melody in a cosmic setting. Monika's voice comes to whisper words that do her good without annoying that much. Recorded during a live session with Blinky Blinky Computerband, The Metronome is by far the most interesting title from FROM INSIDE. The rhythm crawls with good undulations lines whose reverberation effects weave a thin stroboscopic line. Slamming percussions, also in the form of tap dancing, take the shape of this fragile and nervous structure which always seems to progress with a delicate subtlety in its musical envelope. It's like listening to a heavy and incisive Kraftwerk with synth solos whistling on a crossroads of reverberations. It's solid good! The best is for the end? But you have to take the means to get there. Which I did without too many efforts…

The dilemma of FROM INSIDE is this: Those who love New Age and the melody not too complicated to tame will love its first part. Conversely, those who like progressive EM with good rhythms have to wait until the end. And those who like a more Electronica genre where Techno for beginners should stroll through the 10 tracks on this album. But you can always listen to it end to end if you like the variety and the disparity in an album.

Sylvain Lupari (June 21st, 2020) ***½**

Available at Groove nl

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