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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Joerg Dankert Strange New Worlds (2023)

An excellent album where the dimension of cosmic EM takes on its full meaning!

1 Strange New Worlds 6:00

2 Last Goodbye to Earth 12:37

3 Through Cosmic Atmosphere 5:42

4 Between two Dark Holes 8:00

5 Trip During Endless Night 17:33

6 What is that 5:15

7 Totally Unknown Area 10:22

8 Little Moment of Peace 4:51

9 Time for Optimism 10:46

10 No Return and no stop 6:50

11 Journey to K2-415b 8:46

(DDL 96:43) (V.F.)

(Melodious Orchestral Ambient)

I was quite rough with Joerg Dankert in my review of his album Beyond. Although I found it very melodic, the musical production, particularly the fades in and the fades out, showed a lack of knowledge in the mixing of the music. Despite exchanges with the artist and his numerous attempts to rectify the situation, Beyond has never reached the expected standard that we usually found on electronic music (EM) productions offered on Bandcamp. I therefore refused to review his subsequent albums. Until STRANGE NEW WORLDS! The positive reactions I read on Facebook, and on various sites devoted to the genre, finally convinced me to give an ear to this new album-download from the Tarmstedt musician-synthesist. And I was more than delighted! In a veritable cosmic symphony lasting almost 97 minutes, STRANGE NEW WORLDS reveals Joerg Dankert to be highly creative in the conception of his compositions, adding organic and percussive effects to his rhythmic structures. These elements seduce a listener already absorbed by the evolution of the melody lines, which often match their mutations with those of the album's rather ambient and/or sedentary rhythms. The rhythmic structures are elegantly constructed. So, it's unfair to describe STRANGE NEW WORLDS as an album of ambient music. It's an album where the music is conceived with a vision of ever-growing emotionality. The rhythms, which emerge after long introductions, are also conceived in these contexts.

A bank of drones, of sizzling effects and of electronic radiations feeds the cataclysmic opening of the title track from Joerg Dankert's new opus. The synth unleashes a sad harmonic air blown into a mixture of trumpet and saxophone. The tone is sad and serious. The intonation varies, from austere to highly emotive in this long, atmospheric opening to STRANGE NEW WORLDS. Last Goodbye to Earth undoubtedly explains this very cinematic opening. Its first 60 seconds are sewn with mystery and secrets. A barely formed melody emerges. Its chords float and drift on the curves of orchestral mists from which the first beats emerge, structuring a rhythmic shape which hops with jerky horse-kickings. Arpeggios respond to this structure, which momentarily evaporates only to reappear with greater gusto. The phenomenon is repeated in some times. And these embryos of rhythm and melody fade into an astral void, to be swallowed by a heavy cloud of buzzing reverberations. We're around the 6-minute mark, and already the German musician-synthesist is playing with the creativity and depth of the rhythms and melodies that will punctuate his new opus. With a sequencer that makes spin our senses into a dizzying spiral, Dankert stylizes his synth into a breathtaking melody whose very French vision of the 70's is rooted in a rhythm as harmonic as catchy with an old electronic rock of the same era with the adding of percussions. It may be short, barely 4 minutes, but our ears are already hooked on the album's ambiences with the very cinematic finale, rendered in several places throughout the album, of Last Goodbye to Earth. I've always been fond of these slow rhythms whose ascents seem painful. There are a few of these on the album, and Through Cosmic Atmosphere is one of them. Its undulating rhythm sits on a pulsating bass sequence that stealthily moves on over a dense bank of allegorical mist. The synth harmonizes the whole with electronic cooings that sing in harmony with the evolution of the static rhythm. The track offers good modulations in its slow processions, with finely stylized bass sequences in a rubbery texture whose organic membrane is a delight to my ears. The keyboard takes the place of the synth, crumbling out resonant chords that tinkle in an echo that is symbiotic with this deliciously slow rhythm. Intense and cinematic, Between two Dark Holes is an atmospheric track that flirts with the dark ambient, orchestral style. Waves of drones hover like threats. Nimbed by an orchestral envelope, they roll and/or propel like eruptions from the Cosmos. The orchestrations add intense phases that vary according to the modulation curve. We continue drifting into the vastitudes of the Cosmos with Trip During Endless Night. This long track takes our ears where man dreams of going, with its plethora of sound effects and intergalactic noises exploding like disparate percussive elements. The orchestrations, particularly in the second half of the track where at times they sound like whispers, manage to whet our appetite for a rhythmic structure to hatch from all those banging. And this happens after the 11th minute, with a good surge of the sequencer working on an ascending structure and with an organic tone. Sad synth pads join in a melancholy, melodic vision. There are too some good modulation effects in this rhythm, which stretches out in a stroboscopic procession. A zigzagging march that reaches a level of intensity with seductive orchestrations and finally a Vangelis-like melody towards the finale. A very good track!

With layers of chthonian voices interwoven with drone effects, What is that also has a dark, a murky nature. Jerky pulsations, imbued with an organic texture, are the essence of a stationary rhythm that hops up and down, much like the melody that seems sculpted in timidity. After a slow, atmospheric floating mood inspired by an apocalyptic vision, Totally Unknown Area proposes a slow, ascending rhythm structure towards its 5th minute. The keyboard clings to the march of this ambient rhythm, making tinkling chords whose echoes weave an opaque sonic membrane. Gurgling and croaking effects stick to the march of the sequencer, which subtly accelerates the pace, responding to the synth tuning fork which blows brief melodic lines rolling in loops. The very slow and low-pitched flow that supports Little Moment of Peace reminds me of Bowie's Warszawa, a track from his album Low. A keyboard lays down a similarly solemn melody whose arpeggios reflect its nostalgia in the floating vapors of a bank of industrial mist. It's a beautiful track, tender and moving in a much dystopian cinematic vision. More oneiric than Totally Unknown Area, the introduction to Time for Optimism is chill-inducing. In my opinion, it's the most beautiful track on STRANGE NEW WORLDS, and it has a powerful emotional impact. Its first percussive tinkles emerge after the 3-minute mark, structuring a slightly circular rhythm that undulates up and down under broad bands of reverberations. The sequencer unravels a more pulsating rhythm line, creating two complementary movements of which the cabrioles hiccup more than they leap. It's a seductive electronic rhythm. The keyboard sings a superb melody that makes you hum with the impression of having heard a similar tune in the Mélodie Française repertoire. Lower keyboard chords fall and crash with austerity, creating a dramatic texture that is more than effective in the second half of this superb track, which is very beautiful and above all very musical as well as melodious. In an opening akin to the slow evolution of Through Cosmic Atmosphere, No Return and no stop needs no atmospheric preamble to take off. The flow is slow, with an undulating, an ascending sequence of bass pulses and parallel tinkling keyboard chords. This rhythm takes the form of an astral procession whose flow steadily increases, particularly when pounded by percussions in mode rhythm of war. The keyboard evaporates to leave more room for the synth, which whistles another of these melodies that are easy to hum. Except towards the finale, where it's sharper. Journey to K2-415b concludes STRANGE NEW WORLDS' odyssey with a fine piece of electronic rock. It's very creative in its marriage of sequencer and electronic percussions which is as catchy as the synth melody.

To explore strange new worlds; seek new life and new civilizations; to go boldly where no man has gone before! This is how Joerg Dankert describes the concept of his imposing STRANGE NEW WORLDS. And rightly so! The vast majority of tracks are boldly conceived in their mutations and tonalities. It's as conceptual as any dystopian work, but with enough emotion to move listeners, who are astonished to find so much creativity in a universe where EM does not lack originality in this vision. Without equaling that of Vangelis, the cinematic value of the music rests on melodious ideologies that are the hallmark of Dankert's style. I spent an excellent 97 minutes discovering the frontiers of this STRANGE NEW WORLDS, which is in the register of very nice surprises in 2023. An album where the dimensions of cosmic EM take on their full meaning!

Sylvain Lupari (August 20th, 2023) ****½*

Available at Joerg Dankert Bandcamp

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

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