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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JOHAN TRONESTAM: Midgard (2018)

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

“Johan Tronestam's recipe crosses the years because the Swedish musician has this gift to bring in it an innovative touch in his style”

1 Before the Dawn 10:45 2 The Old Ones 9:30 3 The Growing Shadow 9:36 4 Deceived 11:22 5 The Escape to Middle Earth 8:48 6 Alliance 9:46 7 Grey Havens 9:04 8 The Sailor in the Sky 9:30 SynGate Wave JT06

(CD-r/DDL 78:21) (VF) (French School, Cosmic Rock)

Inspired by a posthumous book of J.R.R. Tolkien, Silmarillion, MIDGARD is another seducing opus by the Swedish synthesist. The idea to make a music inspired by this book goes back around 2015 and Johan Tronestam has carefully composed and selected a music, he told me that he had enough material to complete a 2nd part, which would be at the image of the book. The myths and legends of Tolkien's worlds where the past has no anchoring. But how to reach this when we know the perpetual cosmic rodeos of Johan Tronestam? By bringing it a breath of mystery! So, each title of MIDGARD is dipped into film atmospheres where the roots of the Earth of the Middle express themselves in jerky and/or fluid rhythms, as these structures which mark out the albums of the one who bewitched his public with Roots and Legends from the North in 2013. Except that here, our friend Johan brings a different texture at the level of his synths. They are as much harmonious and stimulating as before. Except that it has changed of tone, plunging the listener into a décor which suits very well to these impregnable images of Tolkien's creative worlds.

Each title proposes a sonic staging which allows to reach its rhythmic core. Before the Dawn proposes on the other hand an intro all in music with a synth which hums while following the soft hypnotic movement of a sequencer and of its keys waddling of a dreamy pace. The lively and curt flow of another line of sequences reorientates the cadence which rolls with more fluidity notably because of a good line of bass. An essential element in the structures of this album. Layers of mists make up the decoration while some distant floating harmonies of a keyboard resound as those of Pink Floyd in Wish You Were Here. Using to knowledge his 10 minutes, Johan Tronestam modifies the course of his rhythm by adding percussions after a short transitory phase. Increasing again the pace, Before the Dawn becomes the theater of splendid solos maker of musical itches. The Old Ones proposes another introduction of mist which evolves slowly but with good effects of percussions. The synth layers and mist have this strange aroma which redefines the approach of Johan Tronestam in this album. If some are mystifying, others are more musical and float with a nasal effect. A phase of rhythm knotted by jerks unties its spasmodic leaps while a strata of bass adds more fluidity, bringing The Old Ones in a cosmic rock and of its charming intervals of atmospheric elements. The synth is very beautiful! Flying and floating on a structure always sewn of jerks, one would say a train, it brings so many nuances in the choice of its solos which are at the same time harmonious and free of any harmonious constraints. According to the rules of the introductions on this album, The Growing Shadow evolves towards another structure of bouncing and lively rhythm. The meshing between the sequencer and the percussions stays in the tone, while it's still the solos which fly very high in this title also filled of good effects.

Deceived presents the longest introduction of ambience elements in MIDGARD. The rhythm which follows is still weaved by 2 or 3 lines of sequences which interlace in an effect of complexity. It jumps in symbiosis with a spiraled percussions line, creating a slow spheroidal movement where hides a ghostly melody in an apocalyptic décor. It's in soft orchestral layers that The Escape to Middle Earth begins its ethereal march. The effect makes very film music when some cosmic elements change things, giving more Michael Garrison's music airs to another good structure of electronic rhythm built on a more fluid approach and where the sequences and the percussions take on board a melodious approach of the synth that will eat your eardrums for hours and hours. That's an ideal music for a science fiction TV show. Adopting this music model in continuous development, Alliance leaves its cozy sound nest of ambience elements to court a soft rhythm which turns into a good sober cosmic rock. The same goes for Grey Havens whose structure of rhythm is fed by sequences which skip with keyboard riffs and sober percussions. This meshing doesn't switch off the fluidity proposed by another effective and ear-catchy bass line. The synth also divides its approach with solos as Arabian as cosmic while bursting out good effects which always please the ears. The Sailor in the Sky ends this other very good opus from Johan Tronestam with an introduction full of strange noises which fade in the contact of a soft circular rhythm. Strange vapors of voices and other sound effects get out from the hearth of the Earth whereas little by little the soft rhythm becomes livelier and always preserving this effect of spiral.

Lively rhythms which are in continual movement and evolution as well as musical and attractive synth solos, Johan Tronestam's recipe crosses the years because the Swedish musician has this gift to bring in it an innovative touch in his style which always flirts between the cosmic hymns of Jean-Michel Jarre and of the late Michael Garrison. And even in an envelope sieved by mystery, MIDGARD always and still has these ingredients which make of his music an adventure extremely pleasant to hear.

Sylvain Lupari (May 1st, 2018) *****

Available on SynGate Bandcamp

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