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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Jarmodular Sounds from the Black Machine (2023)

An album more daring of its convoluted rhythm structures

1 Get out of Reality 10:00

2 Starry Lullaby 12:47

3 On the Other Side of the Mind 10:06

4 Black Machine Inspiration 10:59

5 In a World of Inverted Dreams 11:56

6 A Journey to Unreal Places 11:00

7 A Journey through a Mysterious Land 11:18

8 Sacred Spot 10:10

(CD-(r)/DDL 88:18) (V.F.)

(Progressive Berlin School)

Jarmodular was one of the pleasant surprises that label Cyclical Dreams brought us at the end of 2022. Jaromir Ziętek's debut album offered solid electronic rock tinged with the New Berlin School of Tangerine Dream's Schmoelling years. SOUNDS FROM THE BLACK MACHINE is a collection of tracks inspired by stories and experiences that sometimes take us to the depths of the mind, analyzing the dreams and emotions that brought us to this point. This brief description by the Polish synthesist-musician of his new album is transposed onto electronic music (EM) conceived on the basis of his first album. We find those polyrhythmic structures unified by an excellent mesh of percussions and sequencer, highly creative in its choice of rhythm lines and ratcheting effects, as numerous here as in Return to the Land of a Static Twilight.

Get out of Reality bears well the dimensions of its title. There's a kind of rhythmic anarchy in this track, where sequencer and keyboard combine their creativity to create rambling rhythm lines as well as good, short phases of cadenced melody. The sequencer activates a rhythmic language that cackles with a slightly organic tone right from the opening. From the outset, Jarmodular displays the various percussive elements and sound effects that will adorn the 8 structures of his new album. The sequencer is in multiline mode, with vivid, unbridled phases concocted by parallel rhythmic jolts and its multiple ratcheting effects. The electronic percussions follow this flow with vivid machine-gun fires, while the keyboard unleashes swarms of arpeggios that sometimes flow in jolts and in symbiosis with the rhythm, and at other times sculpt more melodic approaches. And amid all this rhythmic hubbub, the synth manipulates vocal effects, throws in other effects that coo like strange solos and/or unknown dialogues, while synth pads fall with a very Logos-era TD tone. And at times, the sequencer and its bits of melody remind me of the worlds of Johannes Schmoelling in Wuivend Riet and Peter Baumann in Trans Harmonic Nights. Starry Lullaby gets in with a minimalist stationary rhythm structure that moves backwards and forwards, a bit like a cha-cha-cha missing a step or two. This rhythm plays host to some very alien-sounding synth chants. Various chirps complete the track's sci-fi setting. On the Other Side of the Mind is an atmospheric track in the progressive/psychedelic genre, with gloomy synth effects, reverb layers, electronic howls and many other sound effects in harmony with the meaning of the track. Chords hover in this horror-movie setting, while electronic drum beats sculpt a kind of nocturnal procession into the world of the unreal.

Black Machine Inspiration offers a cosmic-flavored electronic rock that's very catchy. The sequencer throws a sequenced bass line that runs in oblong zigzags with a resonant tone in the jumps of the sequenced chords. The keyboard draws a musical shadow with arpeggios that radiate in symbiosis with the rhythm. The synth throws in superb solos, reminiscent of analog times, meandering through a universe of electronic dialogue and science-fiction sound effects. A very good track! In a World of Inverted Dreams is another atmospheric track, with a solemn bass layer and cadenced chords that quack like a cybernetic duck. Here too, the bass forges a latent procession through a host of avian and alien electronic effects. The track progresses with elements of percussions too scattered to sustain a rhythm, as well as human voice effects. A Journey to Unreal Places is another good piece of electronic rock, heavily inspired by the world of Tangerine Dream, especially those synth pads that seem to come out of the Thief soundtrack and that haze of the metallic years. The bass is very fluid and catchy. As is the percussions, which supports this rhythm with a jerky flow, to which Jarmodular adds lively machine-gun effects and metallic clacking. The sequencer is rather sober, offering some good ratcheting effects that harmonize with the rollings of electronic percussions. After an ethereal opening that flirts with a slightly more sibylline one A Journey through a Mysterious Land follows with good analog electronic rhythm. Still adorned by a panoply of percussive elements, the structure is ascensional with a series of beats that come and go in an environment that flirts with paranoia, thanks to the effects of voices and murmurs verging on panic. The sequencer is in minimalist mode, even though Jarmodular adds inflections, such as phases of linear pounding, and plays on the ratcheting effects that are always so tasty to my ears. The result is a structure that gently gallops across interstellar plains. Sacred Spot closes this album, ultimately divided between its unbridled rhythmic phases and highly intriguing atmospheric ones, with a meditative approach to a tribal genre but with an element of piousness in the ambiences. The rhythm is gentle and structured over beats that trace a processional path. The synth lays down beautiful harmonies with hints of celestial flute, but still adorns the various panoramas of SOUNDS FROM THE BLACK MACHINE with this vision of psychedelia that flirts with the psychic aspect of a musician determined to take us on a journey into the depths of our souls. Where our emotions and experiences are equal to the dimensions of this album. A solid 2nd opus from Jarmodular, which is bolder in its convoluted rhythm structures than Return to the Land of a Static Twilight.

Sylvain Lupari (October 5th, 2023) *****

Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp

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

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