JEFFREY KOEPPER: Momentium (2006)
Updated: Oct 24, 2021
“Lively, fluid and above all very electronic, this album turns between two musical spheres”
1 Byzantine Machine 6:18
2 Outside 6:45
3 Godspeed 2 5:50
4 Sense of Time 11:13
5 Eternal Sea 12:11
6 2600 A.D. 3:13
7 Sequential Meditation 11:45
8 Awakening 9:40
(DDL 66:59) (V.F.)
(Cosmic analog EM)
Here's Jeffrey Koepper's second opus, him who offered us Etherea in 2003. And like then, MOMENTIUM visits the complexities of the analog world versus current technology. Helped by his good friend Steve Roach who did the final mix and who plays the Oberheim Xpander on tracks 2, 6 and 7, he offers an amazing album with a stunning result. Lively, fluid and above all very electronic, this album gravitates between two musical spheres: the analog and the modern digital, with an innate sense of arrangements, harmonic structures and unsuspected reversals. A musical experience worth of the investment.
The first keys of Byzantine Machine are sober and float in a space with strange reverberations. A brief harmonic vision ends its way in the threatening resonances of its last keys when we hear the sequencer getting install. Nervous, it wriggles on a circular movement with a jerky and sustained cadence. A sequencer is beautiful! It is the perfect cohesion, too perfect even. And that's why synthesizers like to vary the intonation of jumping chords, bringing subtle modulations into the movements. Here, Koepper is wonderful. His sequencer adopts various rotating shapes on fine metallic percussions and a background melody that divides and deepens the main melody of Byzantine Machine. Kelvin Russel plays the synth on this track, which gives it a rich texture. Outside is an atmospheric track performed with Steve Roach that develops on smooth synth layers in an atmosphere variegated by intriguing sound effects, cosmic as organic. Godspeed 2 is a track dedicated to the memory of the American synthesist Michael Garrison, who died from cancer in 2004. It's a good electronic rock track with a lot of alternative hits from the sequencer and electronic percussions. The sequencer also shapes a nice melodic approach flirting among a range of sound effects. Fragments of melody are found in the synth layers that match the cadence imposed by sustained bursts.
A sequencer takes Sense of Time out of a heavy hum that emerges from a strong cosmic wind. Resonating with its heaviness, it draws a good movement through heavy intermittent riffs. Imperfect movements with perfect rotations, its sequenced melody crosses a cosmos of analog noises, where fragmented melodies enrich a minimalist movement in search of harmonic treasures. Eternal Sea is the longest track on MOMENTIUM. It starts with the sounds of airplane engines passing from one ear to the other. A bass pulse activates a series of large, slightly imperfect oscillating loops, developing the analog rhythm that is so unique to Electronic Music. A synth layer of lays down a thin membrane of ambient melody that covers the contracted convulsions of this minimalist rhythm. Except the sequencer introduces a jerky rhythm after the second minute, creating two contiguous rhythm lines. The movement of the sequencer is like an electronic train that rolls between the oscillations, creating the perfect addictive when the percussion matches the oscillations. A very good track! Dark and ambient, like Outside, 2600 A.D. is a short atmospheric track with a lot of sound effects. Yes, Steve Roach performs here, as well as on Sequential Meditation, which still offers its portion of analog rhythm. Also built on oscillating loops, less spaced and more fluid, this pure jewel of minimalist movement lulls us into an undulating, upward motion with buzzing notes fluttering in the background. At variable speed, the sequence is pleasing to the ear and moves slowly. A movement that subdivides to form two parallel lines with competing melodies, but which complement each other. A superb idea that gives a new breath to Sequential Meditation where 2 lines intertwine, one of them superbly bouncy, on a synth with silky breaths. The title melts in the opening of Awakening which continues this cycle of harmonious carousel in a brisker flow and with a resonance layer which tightly links the oscillating sequences in a dance for cyborgs dreaming of becoming human. A splendid way to conclude a fascinating album where the art of the analog EM remains immensely creative and warm.
This MOMENTIUM from Jeffrey Koepper is an unexpected surprise. The American synthesist links ingenuity and creativity in an album propelled by created and sequenced rhythms with the flavors of the cosmic analog years. The harmonic portion is not forgotten by being shared by the synth and the sequencer. A superb album with an incredible richness of sounds that reminds us that the music of yesterday was made with the ideas and visions of today for the generation of tomorrow.
Sylvain Lupari (January 7th, 2007) *****
Available at Jeffrey Koepper Bandcamp