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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

IOTRONICA: Of Moons and Stars (2014)

Updated: May 18, 2020

Iotronica is a newcomer who makes revive the great forgotten moments of spacey orchestral EM

1 Destination Io 6:38

2 Watching Lava Plumes on Io 9:43

3 As We Leave Europa 9:28

4 Dreaming of Oceans on Ganymede 7:03

5 Secrets of Callisto 9:48

6 Drifting Towards Antares 6:55

7 Shadow of the Eclipse 8:22

8 Supermoon 7:32

(CD 65:29) (V.F.)

(Ambient poetic symphonic EM)

The recipe may date as far as the first stammerings of synthesizers, Walter Carlos' Switched-On Bach or still Tomita's Snowflakes are Dancing, the orchestral EM always has the art to seduce. Certainly the model was worn and become outdated over the years. The fact remains that these tunes of astral violins and cellos which float in a cosmos encircled by heart-rending film moods were always popular, when done well. The Americans seized the model in the 80's, with as leaders of the artists who really left their imprints (Kevin Braheny, Constance Demby and Michael Stearns), while at the world level artists, such as Vangelis and Hans Zimmer, reinvented the genre with a clearly more lyrical and filmic vision. And if I dared, I would say that Iotronica is the child of these big names. Amanda Byrne is the soul behind this character, or this name, with a very intersidereal reach. Influenced by artists with styles as varied as Kraftwerk, Can, Wendy Carlos, Jean-Michel Jarre and even Kate Bush, the synthesist of Cornwall, small coastal village of England, offers a first work which is inspired by one of the moons of Jupiter; Io.

OF MOONS AND STARS shows the hybrid style of Iotronica with a kind of Space techno which beats slowly in the beginning. Destination Io and Watching Lava Plumes on Io present two patterns of static rhythm where lines of sequences oscillate, wave and make their keys flicker in some dense orchestral pads. In fact, the rhythms follow much more the curves of the violin winds than those of more or less quiet sequences. Although stormy, the movements are slow and describe big circles of seething keys. The best analogy would be to imagine millipedes, with clogs of soft wood, trying to sprint in a pond of Jell-O. It is rather what surrounds these sequences that make all the charms. We float easily in the memories of Software, period Electronic-Universe, with these violins and cellos which draw veils of melancholy, skillfully nuanced by choirs which do not take too much room and caressed too briefly by discreet synth solos. Those who love Software and Peter Mergener are going to adore this opus. These first two titles will be the livelier here. As We Leave Europa offers a bit dramatic structure with sci-fi sound elements which get lost in the waltzes of strings instruments. The orchestral arrangements are sublime and forge elements of suspense with a pleasant staccato movement and Greco-Roman choruses. That feels a good perfume of Vangelis. Dreaming of Oceans on Ganymede and Secrets of Callisto have a more scent of cinema with choruses which are grafted to the laments of synth strings fanciful instruments. It's poignant and I hear here these dense philarmonicosmic of Tomita. And we go drifting in an esoteric universe with the violin pads of Drifting Towards Antares. Its shy melody is crumbled by a piano so miserly of its notes that we are losing it in the shoals of astral voices. Except that it's too beautiful to disappear totally. Its airs come back in order to be melted in a seraphic setting misted by waves with drizzle drunk of pensive voices. It's very beautiful. Meditative, but very beautiful! We have a tear hanging in the soul? It's nothing! We did not hear yet the titanic Shadow of the Eclipse and its rustles which get lost in an intense, but intense I insist, orchestration. Honestly? I don't remember having heard a piece of music so powerfully orchestral in electronic. It's ambient, but it's strong! And Supermoon doesn't calm things down! More filmic, one would say hearing Hans Zimmer on a sci-fi theme filled by Arabic scents, this last title of OF MOONS AND STARS concludes an album which is going to make dream more than one.

Sylvain Lupari (September 18th, 2014) ***½**

Available at AD Music

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