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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JOHAN TRONESTAM: Cosmic Drama (2019)

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

“Whether you like it complex or just accessible, the music of the Finnish synth magician has everything you need to make of you an addict of his albums”

1 Interstellar Space 7:38

2 Perspectives on Infinity 9:31

3 Orion 9:12

4 The Philosophical Trigger 7:24

5 Further Away 7:28

6 Interstellar Meeting With W 12:48

7 Perpetuity 7:31

8 Hubbles Universe 16:00

(CD/DDL 77:51) (V.F.)

(Melodious Cosmic Rock)

Johan Tronestam is one of the true values in Berlin School style of EM flavored of melodious approaches. From album to album, and since Far Away in 2012, the Swedish synthesist, who now lives in Finland on the Åland Islands, is doing things simple by offering a lively electronic music where the complexity in the structures is almost non-existent. The rhythms are steady with fine nuances that slightly modify them in a sober and efficient cosmic setting that is greatly influenced by Jean-Michel Jarre. Skillful in his way of creating rhythms, JT is just as much in his melodious structures that are copiously sprinkled of very good synth solos; the essence of EM. COSMIC DRAMA is a 15th album, the first on the Dutch label Groove nl, and from his own confession, it's a philosophical emergence that follows the Space Collection album. Staying much comfortable in this genre of more homogeneous rhythms than disparate or convoluted, he offers us another good album with synths that illuminate the ears by his solos and arrangements that always gives us this good dose of gooseflesh when our ears meet the beautiful music of Johan Tronestam. And it starts strong!

Interstellar Space moves us with its rhythm of a cosmic tribe and that of an electronic rock cleverly concocted with a mesh of aboriginal tam-tams and electronic percussions to which is grafted a bounding structure of the sequencer. Keyboard riffs are lost in echo effects while synth pads install haze and vocals. The synth stays pretty close to Robert Schroeder's areas with nice harmonies and as many nuances in the timbre. The sound effects are in the tone, while Interstellar Space drifts towards another structure of rhythm, always on the same cadence, molded in a melodious fluty approach. It starts very well this last opus of Johan Tronestam which is all in steady rhythms evolving barely with some nuances in banks of cosmic mist and of celestial voices. Perspectives on Infinity is another good title! Its introduction is rocked by the illusion of a melancholic cosmos with synth pads triturated by percussive effects and caressed by delicate chords whose jingles merge seamlessly with the shadows of the layers. A structure of rhythm fixed by percussions and two lines of sequences which send oscillations in order to increase the pace whereas the synth skillfully draws solos as evasive as melodious. The decor and the arrangements are essentially identical for the slow rhythm and the gassy percussions in Orion. The Philosophical Trigger offers another good electronic rhythm with strings of shimmering arpeggios that spin with a timid harmonic vision. The synth releases fluffy pads that harmonize with the rhythm of the sequencer and of the electronic percussions while throwing some pretty good aerial solos.

The opening of Further Away reminds me of Pink Floyd in Wish you Were Here, reverberant snoring in more. A delicate spheroidal march is hatching out shortly after 4 minutes. JT adds another movement of the sequencer with keys jumping nervously. He then grafts good harmonious solos that adopt these rhythmic nuances. Dedicated to his friend Wolfgang Gsell, Interstellar Meeting With W is a long title that offers a heavenly introduction with synth layers that give us small shivers to the soul. The sighs of the bass line are like a dumb language that seem to communicate with the weeping pads, setting up a nice cosmic nostalgia that suits so well to the vision of serenity of his friend. Orchestral reveries add to the weight of melancholy. The sequencer goes into a gallop mode with a constant rhythm structure where get grafted notes with tonalities sounding like strings from a guitar pinched with emotion. The cosmic voyage is nice with layers of voices that maintain this aura of astral intimacy between Johan Tronestam and Wolfgang Gsell and then by beautiful synth solos that are the favorite weapon of the Finnish musician to give us nice thrills. Perpetuity offers a brisk pace with a jerky movement of the sequencer and its rhythmic keys that jump in series, in tail-leu-leu. Not aggressive, this rhythm flows with great fluidity to serve as a moving bed for other good solos from Johan Tronestam. Hubbles Universe completes COSMIC DRAMA with an evolving structure filled with fragrances of Robert Schroeder and Peter Mergener. Its slow introduction is drawn from another vision than the one that we find in Further Away. So, it breathes, while the rhythm walks on the paths of Klaus Schulze and his Body Love period. The introductory moods guide the ambient walk of Hubbles Universe, which is animated by another more incisive rhythmic vision around the 11 minutes, thus guiding the final of this last album of Johan Tronestam which requires a suite.

Not complicated for 2 cents, enveloping, melodious and touching at times, this COSMIC DRAMA Johan Tronestam is this kind of album that is easily invited in a tasting of EM for refined ears. Whether you like it complex or just accessible, the music of the Finnish synth magician has everything you need to make you an addict of his albums.

Sylvain Lupari (September 27th, 2019) ***½**

Available at Groove nl

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