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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JEFF GREINKE: Noctilucent (2022)

Hence the beauties of this gloomy album that we discover one listening at a time

1 Unrest 4:31

2 Around the Corner 7:43

3 Of the Deep Sea 5:02

4 Into the Night 9:29

5 Tunnel 5:34

6 Sinking 7:53

7 Noctilucent 5:43

8 Refractions 4:42

9 Undercurrent 7:16

(CD/DDL 57:56) (V.F.)

(Dark ambient)

Beats and knocks, of which resonances weave an elastic thread, wander in a mixed atmosphere of synth waves that mix quite well its esoteric visions to those more organic. The sound envelope vibrates with all these resonant elements that let a thin layer of reverberations radiating while fading. High in tonal color, Unrest opens this new Jeff Greinke album with a meditative texture that is dark to the point of being intriguing. Jurassic fauna noises, a bit like in the worlds of Frore & Shane Morris, adorn a first track in NOCTILUCENT that puts our ears in appetite rather quickly. This last album of the American musician turns around a Latin word meaning, which shines at night. Noctilucent clouds, or night shining clouds, are tenuous cloud-like phenomena in the upper atmosphere of Earth. When viewed from space, they are called Polar mesospheric clouds, detectable as a diffuse scattering layer of water ice crystals near the summer polar mesopause. They consist of ice crystals and from the ground are only visible during astronomical twilight. Offered as a manufactured CD as well as an HQ download on the Spotted Peccary label, NOCTILUCENT offers 9 tracks spread over nearly 58 minutes of atmospheric electronic music (EM) whose enigmatic texture is as close to our ears as those clouds flirting with the Moon. A fascinating journey where the imagination straddles these corridors where dark ambient music is never far enough from the night fears.

The spooky opening of Around the Corner anchors this perception of an unsettling work with synth waves that drift away leaving abyssal voice filaments disintegrating into evil dust. One night in the forests and we hear these humming from ghosts spreading their enigmatic envelopes in a slow sonic maelstrom that Elves mix with this recipe that feed an imagination full of nocturnal fright. How can it be otherwise with these reverberating circles of sleeping batrachians in the opening of Of the Deep Sea? The humming even have a fine industrial texture under a full moon night that fills of its organic mysteries. A synth wave rises with a more musical presence in this panorama of murky ambient music that let filter distant tones of Tibetan bells. Into the Night is probably the track that comes closest to the spirit behind the album's title. More musical and less dark, its panorama is filled with synth waves and lines that are stretching like those long streaks of luminous clouds. A subtle ethereal dance movement is the basis of its ambient harmony with waves that sing while bending into arcs becoming memories over the dull beats of a bass that is weaving a floating rhythmic framework. Attempting to skim through the different styles of EM, Jeff Greinke surprises with the Berlin School approach of Tunnel. Although light, the rhythm hops along on a good sequencer movement in a contrasting tonal color palette. This tunnel is of glass, unless our ears connect to our eyes that imagine a carnival in a night sky where colors dance brightly on clouds that light up on pastel colors from another dimension as only an overflowing imagination can create.

These mostly iridescent colors float against the tide on the march of buzzing drones that articulate under the moonbeams of Sinking, a track that is fond of the Dark Ambient aspect of NOCTILUCENT. The music flirts with a cosmic orchestral essence and stars fading away as they leave their glittering imprints. I can't help but think of Led Zeppelin's No Quarter when the title-track brings its nebulous openness to my ears. The music is evasive with a dense cloak of fog where arpeggios tinkle without harmonic direction to wander in a graveyard in that space between the Moon and those noctilucent clouds. The arpeggios gather in a bank of dissonant harmonies, randomly following a musical canon movement that ends up running out of time. These arpeggios dance more softly in Refractions, which fulfills the promise of its title with a slow, dark movement set on a bed of refractions and white noises. They tinkle in a beautiful moonlit melody over reverberating loops that feed off the sibylline tunes of provisional synth streaks. Undercurrent lays down synth waves on top of synth waves in another slow movement where the streaks display a bright blue color in a sound mass and its elements gravitating in suspension. Arpeggios melt their tones into evasive piano lines, adorning a meditative musical panorama that fits with the title of this latest album to come out of the American label's studios.

It's dressed in black that Jeff Greinke proposes the sound dimensions of NOCTILUCENT. Little harmonic but terribly intuitive, the American musician paints 9 sound pictures with a mysterious vision where the disturbing elements go hand in hand with the possible enchantment of observing these clouds of pastel colors in a firmament which must be free of all forms of darkness. This is how our senses wander in a forest where only a clearing can allow us to observe such a phenomenon. And everyone knows that at night, a clearing is also a meeting place for evil spirits. Hence the beauties of this album that we discover one listening at a time.

Sylvain Lupari (March 25th, 2022) *****

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