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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JOHAN TRONESTAM: Planet X (2018)

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

“Faithful to the landmark of the Swedish musician, Planet X offers another good album of cosmic rock”

1 Contact 5:08 2 Evidence of life beyond Earth 7:04 3 How to Answer 5:24 4 Response 5:08 5 Reflections 5:46 6 The Star Arpeggiator 6:52 7 They have been Here Earlier 6:40 8 Closer to Knowledge 7:06 9 The Linguistic Gap 6:44 (Bonus Track) 10 Beyond our Intellect 4:48 (Bonus Track)

11 Planet X 5:38 (Bonus Track)

(DDL 66:18) (Cosmic Rock Music with a scent of French School) (V.F.)

Composed in the wake of The Island, PLANET X gets a new sound skin that satisfies a little more the musical vision of Johan Tronestam in 2018 than in 2010. And we can easily understand this need for remastering and the feelings of the Swedish synthesist because the sound fauna of this album, as much at the level of its evolutionary rhythms than its ambiances, is nourished of a diversity which is clearly heard in the different passages of this album proposed in downloadable format and in a 24 Bits remaster. As the title suggests it, the listener is immersed in a cosmic universe with a series of titles focused on the concept of communication with aliens. At this level, the game of synths is quite in the tone with tasty extraterrestrial intonations while the ambio-cosmic decor is firmly established by good effects whose research is undeniable. In summary! A very good album of intelligent cosmic rock with subtly evolving rhythms which are not alike from one title to another but are nevertheless from the same genes.

Lively and melodious, Contact starts PLANET X in mode dance. The rhythm is sharp and jerky with a series of spasmodic sequences which flow in a hatched cadence. The ambiospheric elements consist of stroboscopic filaments slightly harmonious and fascinating electronic trumpets which sound very Jean-Michel Jarre. Evidence of life beyond Earth follows with an ambio-cosmic introduction where a synth sings an ectoplasmic alien chant. The rhythm structure emerges after 60 seconds. A space-rock rhythm which is soft, but dangerously catchy and reminiscent of Batman's music, with a bass line which digs oval shapes zigzagging under the bites of sober electronic percussions. The synth always throws these extra-terrestrial songs in another cosmic setting very close to the influences of Jarre again. Between rock and dance music, How to Answer offers an approach which is difficult to pin down, both for its rhythm and its strange vocal melody, as well as its ambience elements. It's a good track which rolls in a rather melodious setting and a good bass line whose flow rides on a good mesh between percussion and sequences. Response follows with a very beautiful lunar ballad as moving as cinematographic. A very beautiful title! More in mode Cosmic Blues, Reflections follows with a hyper slow rhythm where are succeed harmonious synth solos. The Star Arpeggiator takes back the road of electronic rhythms with fire arpeggios flying in orchestral position, a bit like Tomita in Snowflakes are Dancing. The rhythm is more rock on the other hand. Knotted spasms of sequencer and vivid percussion, it hits our eardrums with beautiful synth pads which turn into good solos, always very melodious, and sound effects still in mode cosmos is strange.

They have been Here Earlier is another good cosmic rock with a fascinating panting rhythm and synth pads in the colors of Twilight Zone. The color of the rhythmic arpeggios is of glass whereas the songs of the synths remain foggy, always close to extraterrestrial incantations. Closer to Knowledge offers an evolving structure. The rhythm is disjointed with percussions, which do secondary tam-tams, and sequences forged in an organic language. Synth layers blow a warm mist wind, as well as cosmic jets which constitute the essence of the ambio-cosmic elements of PLANET X. Electric arpeggios are added and tinkle from everywhere while the language stammers on a rhythm which goes for good soft and lively cosmic rock around the 3 minutes. Here as elsewhere, Johan Tronestam waters good solos always very harmonious. The Linguistic Gap is the first of the 3 bonus tracks in this new version. It's an ambient title carved around lush synth layers and effects knotted in a cinematic intensity vision. Beyond our Intellect is a nice piece of music. A kind of cosmic ballad with a slow pulsating rhythm and some nice melodies from both the synth and a harmonic approach finely strobe. The conclusion of this album comes with its title song still composed in the late 2000's which is a solid cosmic rock as melodious as very catchy. The influences of Jarre dominate this superb structure and end another solid album from an artist who remains at the top of his art.

Sylvain Lupari (July 12th, 2018) ***¾**

Available at Johan Tronestam's Bandcamp

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