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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

IVAN BLACK: Compass (2016)

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

Compass is the perfect album for those who are eager of the sequencer-based Berlin School style

1 Going South 15:08 2 Going North 15:04 3 Going East 14:56 4 Going West 15:00 5 Compass 15:00 Ivan Black | Music Zeit

(DDL75:08) (V.F.) (Sequencer-Based Berlin School)

Gather the 4 corners of the globe, like the center of a compass, to make a unique nation and build a better world on more human reports where the greediness and the egoism of the rich ones would become the horn of plenty of all. It is the concept which hides behind COMPASS; another good album that Ivan Black offers to the fans of sequencer-based EM. An album loaded of juicy, bouncy, heavy and lively beats, like a good Berlin School, where Black sees the race of his sequenced rhythms being immersed into ambiospherical passages to colors as much contrasting as the evolution of the phases of rhythms.

And what would be EM without an intro sculptured in nebulous atmospheres? Believer in this model of Berlin School, Ivan Black respects this approach in order to develop Going South which is the first one of the 5 chapters, of an average duration of 15 minutes each, which will offer all phases of rhythms evolving between passages of atmospheres, quiet movements which flicker like undulatory waves and more steady structures which are at the heart of a good electronic cosmic rock. Sequences snore behind the hollow breezes of its intro, awakening another line of sequences of which the heavy but agile steps string together some structures of lively rhythms. Firmly sat on a game of sequences very Berliner, the sequences resound in minimalist phases which orientate again the resounding rhythm of Going South under a sound sky covered of electronic effects as attractive as schemers and which also lock some very good Tangerine Dream's flavors. Going South sets the tone at an album which will please undoubtedly to those fans of heavy and dark sequences. These sequences which aligned in dysfunctional jolts forge rhythms of Berlin School more minimalist than evolutionary. Going North is a little built on the same model. The introduction is sewn of mysteries and nebulosity which ally the cosmos to an industrial world, the same goes for Going West by the way, where a rhythm emerges to be immediately crumbled in a cocoon of atmospheres. Keys jump with a halo of resonant and organic tones, paving the opening to a steadier movement of sequences with keys which skip in a spasmodic oscillatory ballet. Other keys flirt in a continual coming and going weakened by the heaviness of the main rhythm movement and its jerks which make wriggle our neurons in very beautiful atmospheres injected by the multiple effects of synth as well as layers crowned of faded voices. These layers are very enveloping and induce a poetic coldness in the atmospheres of Going North. Here the rhythm spreads phases of go and come which structure an uncertain approach while movements of sequences make all the fuss in the background, bickering with a wall of atmospheres as ethereal as very spicy at the cosmic and industrial level.

Effects of gong and of their resonances open Going East which proposes the barest rhythmic approach of this album with a linear pulsatory movement which makes skip an isolated key which is heavy of resonance. A more fragile shadow cackle in the background giving more depth to a structure which finds its wealth in electronic effects. The arrangements are more lyrical here with some very nice ghosts of violins which throw a little veil of melancholy in all this game of sound twists, of the chants of the Martenot waves, of the cosmic effects and of the gong resonances which at the end are sounding like the long breezes of drones loaded of guttural laments. The movement of Going West is clearly more fluid, more lively and warmer. The keys have the fidgets and sparkle of their contrasting tones like rolling as a train in a cosmic ocean. The overlapping of the sequences give the impression that the rhythm is quavering such as a shamanic dance while the atmospheres, always very rich, are made of desert winds, of spectral chants and of these elements which enrich a universe which lines the realism of the tales on the western deserts. It's possibly the most beautiful movement on this album. The title-track ends this album all in rhythms of Ivan Black with a bumpy and circular structure, kind of Alan Parsons' I Robot, less the fluidity, but with an organic envelope which makes the sequences cackling in an ambiance more than very nebulous. Here the synth makes shine its effects more than somewhere else. And like everything is in movement in this universe, the second part of Compass brings a more contemporary electronic approach with a lively rhythm which aligns its knocks and jolts under a sonic sky painted of colors pastels, even if sometimes these colors daub a metallic breeze and radiate breaths of voices soaked of weary humming.

Rhythms full the ears, COMPASS is the perfect album for those who are eager for the sequencer-based Berliner style. On synths which weave more veils of ambiences than harmonies, Ivan Black makes all the room for movements of rhythmic sequences which exploit at the most permutations which flow smoothly both into kicks and jumps and in tones which are after all at the diapason of the ambiences. It's some good electronic cosmic rock!

Sylvain Lupari (September 12th, 2016) ***½**

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