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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Imaginary Landscape Auf der Suche nach der verlorenen Stille (2023)

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

A big 4 stars because in the end, it's as brilliant as it is daring!

1 Im Nirgendwo 6:34

2 Auf den Strassen 8:29

3 Von draussen und drinnen 5:45

4 In sternenklarer Nacht 5:13

5 Im Zwischenraum 7:28

6 In eisiger Kälte 6:27

7 Tief im Zauberwald 6:59

8 Nah und fern 4:01

9 Weit unten 7:06

10 Auf dem verwunschenen See 5:09

11 In Abgeschiedenheit 5:06

12 Werde still und höre 6:48

(DDL/CD-(r) 75:05) (V.F.)

(Ambient Experimental)

AUF DER SUCHE NACH DER VERLORENEN STILLE (In search of the lost silence)! You'd think with a title like that, Imaginary Landscape would be offering us a gentle rendezvous with meditative music. But no! For his recent album on SynGate, and its Luna division, Hans-Dieter Schmidt enlisted the services of Michael Hoffmann, who plays drums, percussion and various electronic music instruments. The result is an album from which the tumultuous percussions take the listener into almost experimental zones of progressive music, where Hoffmann seems totally disconnected from the visions of the musician-synthesist, who is also part of the Bridge To Imla project with Michael Brückner. It was there it that I first heard the music of the man affectionately known as HaDi. Oscillating between the nebulous frontiers of Nothing Left Behind and the slightly more accessible of Undiscovered Landscapes, Imaginary Landscape's 3rd opus isn't exactly easy to tame. The music and its ambiences, dark, orchestral, cinematic and even ethereal, are pulverized by a paradoxical, not to say savage, approach from Hoffmann versus the one of HaDi. The result is structures that are rarely purely ambient, and when they are, they are beautiful, often cacophonous and even tribal, supporting some fine approaches of meditative melodies.

Im Nirgendwo (Nowhere) heralds the colors of Hans-Dieter Schmidt's new album with a melancholy melody approach set against a rhythmic background that seeks to emerge from the buzzing bushes that the synth weaves in the background. The track begins its ascent towards our ears with acoustic-toned chords marking its harmonic cadence. An edge of iridescent mist floats behind, while an enchanting flute caresses our ears with a nostalgic air. A veil of humming makes a mess as it replaces the iridescent wave. Cymbals are tap-dancing and the percussions drum a rhythm that's more boisterous than catchy. It's an approach that will be heard quite often on AUF DER SUCHE NACH DER VERLORENEN STILLE. The gust of wind that started Auf den Strassen (In the Streets) turns into a long, industrial lowing. Michael Hoffmann drums out a structureless rhythm that gets lost in this long, rustling edge of sounds, where an industrial heart beats fiercely. Tribal percussions hammer out a rhythm, like we found in Nothing Left Behind's cacophonous structures, which chimes attempt to cover with a vague approach of spiritual melody. The synth takes its place once again, with waves of metallic alloy rippling through the various sound effects, including the quavering of an uncharted material. The keyboard still manages to sculpt a very hypnotic melody towards the track's finale. Von draussen und drinnen (From Outside and Inside) follows with a heavenly opening, in the heart of a forest home to the most exotic birds. A buzzing shadow encircles this opening, chasing away the birds too, with only the boisterous ones left to bang on the trees. A soft, fluty shadow emerges around the second minute. Its ethereal air is jostled by random percussive strikes. This air lingers and undulates like a musical flame for a good while before dissolving into muffled drums and metallic crumpling. It's a finale of darker ambiences, as if our interior were a form of hell. In sternenklarer Nacht (By a starry night) is a more musical track, with a beautiful piano scattering its melancholy notes over a carpet of metallic synth haze. The orchestrations are in keeping with the tone, being quite poignant. The percussions are not overly dissonant, except for the cymbals crumple towards the very end, which somewhat spoils the track's highly poetic vision. The cradle, the seal of Imaginary Landscape! The ambiences in Im Zwischenraum (In the space between) are in tune with its title. The first part is purely cosmic atmospheric, with synth strings and orchestrations that shine over a bed of humming sounds associated with the propulsion of a shuttle in space. The second part, just after the 4-minute mark, let hear the resonance of bass chords that radiate over dramatically-dimensional sound clackings and over orchestrations. The sensation of emptiness, of a black hole, sucks our hearing into the finale. This is quite disturbing. We hear the cold which is freezing, cracking and splitting in the opening of In eisiger Kälte (In the freezing cold). An orchestral shadow covers the first meditative moments, which Michael Hoffmann, absent in In sternenklarer Nacht, bludgeons with senseless strikes. Like a free jazz drummer! And he comes back like that, from time to time, to enliven and haunt the moods of In eisiger Kälte.

It's dark in Tief im Zauberwald (Deep in the Enchanted Forest)! The synth divides its emotions by weaving a big, buzzing shadow and metallic filaments that screech with pain. Woosshh, from the cymbals, add to the decor, as does a bass shadow that crawls along spitting waves of industrial reverberation. Various percussive elements, such as tinkling, woosshh and the muted surges of the mumbling bass layer, create a cabalistic background that transforms into a linear symphony of cavernous breezes in the second half of the track. Nah und fern (Near and Far) awakens to the sound of a shimmering wave that makes radiate its luminescence under the beat of percussive chords with an oriental flavor. If the drum has a musical presence, it's on this track. Its strikes are coordinated with these percussive chords which have a vague tonality of a Koto, a Japanese acoustic guitar. Weit unten (Well Below) plunges us into a dark ambient track, with hollow breezes embracing metallic-blue synth waves. A fascinating organic beat emerges. The bass makes sigh the pads and the synth smear the ambiences with metallic crumpling. We're in mode Berlin School experimental because of the minimalist, hypnotic movement of the organic rhythm. Percussions thunder in from the 4th minute, structuring a more tribal rhythm à la Byron Metcalf while being in symbiosis with the track's organic elements. An excellent piece of music that ends in a purely electronic approach, with sinusoidal synth waves running through our ears in a wide oscillatory motion of which the race is stopped by a cloud of radiation. Dragonflies are making fluttering their metallic wings in Auf dem verwunschenen See (On the Enchanted Lake). Michael Hoffmann's brilliant use of clashing cymbals creates a metallic texture that sounds like multiple wings fluttering on the spot. Like in every track on AUF DER SUCHE NACH DER VERLORENEN STILLE, the music, its rhythm and ambiences, constantly shift horizon to embrace a spasmodic phase created by the agile drumming of the drum. The synth sculpts caustic harmonies that drift without the power of enchantment, other than that of hearing, due to their very ether-oxide natures which remind the early works of Klaus Schulze. Between the luminosity of the Cosmos and the darkness of a cell, In Abgeschiedenheit (In Isolation) floats weightlessly, untying multicolored synth waves that waltz with some of our old memories. The falling synth pads do so with great sadness in the sound, interweaving sorrow and mournful orchestrations in the same struggle. We have to wait until the very end to hear a track of purely meditative ambience with Werde still und höre (Stay still and listen). The synth makes float two lines, one a fiery azure blue and the other melancholier, with orchestrations imbued with sadness and elegiac sighs. A beautiful piano stretches out its tinkling notes of brightening luminosity over the radiant arabesques of the synth. A beautiful track that concludes an album not made for all ears, but one that all ears should listen to at least once. Just to hear the musical depth, even if at times the cacophony feasts on our bewilderment, that comes from the works of Imaginary Landscape. A big 4 stars, because in the end, it's as brilliant as it is daring!

Sylvain Lupari (December 4th, 2023) *****

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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

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