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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

IVAN BLACK: Visitors to the Dream Palace (2022)

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

A very nice album that I enjoyed as much with headphones as my speakers

1 We Are Luminous 7:00

2 Parabellum 6:36

3 Cascades 6:57

4 Pattern Juggler 6:57

5 Daphnaie 6:52

6 Spectre 6:24

7 The Haunted Boy 7:00

8 Visitors to the Dream Palace 6:57

9 Glass Floor Mirage 5:03

10 Residential Prison 6:51

(DDL 66:40) (V.F.)

(Ambient minimalist Berlin School)

VISITORS TO THE DREAM PALACE is a surprising album-download for a project inspired by an abandoned cinema and mostly realized in improvisation in the studio of the English sculptor, The Ambient Corporation. The album belongs to a series called Lost Places, the first volume of which was released earlier this year. Ivan Black finalized the whole with a mastering without re-recordings. The result is a solid album with a rhythmic column that is very similar and whose minimalist texture drifts with subtle modulations while being spiced by good percussions and percussive effects always attractive to the ear. Echo effects tone the rigid aspect of the minimalist structures down as well as those synth lines that have a rhythmic presence with sustained impulses at times. The atmospheric portion of the album revolves around spectral presences in an industrial haze and resonant chords that bring that touch of cinematic catastrophe to panoramas that our ears visualize quite well. In short, a very nice album that I enjoyed as much with headphones as my speakers.

We are Luminous sets the tone for this album with a puny sequencer movement that makes trot its jumping arpeggios through minimalist loops. Juicy, fat, resonance-filled chords coat this seductive ambient rhythm movement, creating an abundance of droning layers and that ruinous atmosphere in a musical panorama as dramatic than its equivalence in its tonal vision. Ivan Black skillfully uses the 7 minutes of this track to give it a cinematic and musical intensity that builds on an increasingly driving rhythmic projection with the arrival of percussions about 30 seconds before the 5 minute mark. This fog of sizzling and spectral waves also envelops the slightly bouncy rhythm of Parabellum. Absent voices humming are also encouraging this elastic rhythm to temper its echoing effect that transfers into its tonal mass. The track embraces a transitional phase quite realistic to its concept with streaks whose echo multiplies scarlet colors over percussive tinkles. The vaporous gases and chords sounding like a throat slamming come back to life after the 4th minute, leading to a 2nd part that is much more attractive and effective, especially because of the stuttering percussive elements. Born of lapping water in an industrial area, Cascades continues the excellent start of VISITORS TO THE DREAM PALACE with psybient-textured synth loops. Paired with the bass line, the tune that emerges is surprisingly reminiscent of Kraftwerk's Autobahn. A train can be heard passing by, while the sequencer weaves a hesitant circular line confronting that of the train which suits the imperfect lassos of the loops very well. The music goes off on another tangent before the second minute, leading us to a much more dynamic second part with an electronic rhythm structure that is as attractive as very catchy. The sequencing part does very Tangerine Dream with a good dramatic effect in the chords.

Pattern Juggler continues to impress our ears with a post-war electronic rock structure. The ambiences tetanize the senses with screaming effects on a rhythm as heavy as slow, I love this kind of structure, where the percussions and the percussive effects are as great as this vision of industrial catastrophe that envelops the 7 minutes of this superb track. Another track where we can float easily between two spheres, Daphnaie imposes its presence with a slow atmospheric opening always in relation with the theme of the album. Its progression brings us to a sparkling electronic ballad set on arpeggios dancing softly in the vapors of a good bass structure and ascending sequences. The Haunted Boy is a bit in the same genre and evolves rather for an approach between an Electronica fed by percussive drumsticks rolls and a downtempo pleasantly submitted to a torrid bass line. On another tone, Spectre also offers a good circular ballad that develops with a psybient texture. The bass line crawls like a wolf while the synth articulates a rather effective alien language. The title-track is built on a slow movement filled with bumps and jolts in a claustrophobic ambience due to the sound effects that remind one of the ballast tanks in a submarine. Since Daphnaie, the music of VISITORS TO THE DREAM PALACE takes on a more atmospheric feel with slow introductions that blossom into various forms of rhythm. Glass Floor Mirage is in this category. Its opening is of floating shadows and spectral waves in a sonic coating that is borderline catastrophic. A train movement, quite similar to Kraftwerk's in TEE, offers a rhythmic structure as weak as a boneless membrane. It sounds like a mono recording with the spasmodic movement of the sequencer and its keys bursting curtly. Residential Prison ends this fascinating last Black's opus with an atmospheric structure that slowly develops into a circular hymn for specters on a Halloween night. Roughly speaking, the synth weaves harmonies that reform into long, hypnotic loops over a circular rhythmic structure, embellished by blows on a forged glass anvil. It's this kind of track that incites us to listen again to this last album of Ivan Black which is pleasant to discover as much in my headphones as on my loudspeakers where the effect of the rhythms and ambiances is even more seizing.

Sylvain Lupari (March 23rd, 2022) *****

Available at Ivan Black Bandcamp

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