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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JOHAN TRONESTAM: Roots and Legends from the North (2013)

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

“Roots and Legends from the North is one ton of bricks which immure our ears in a world of contrast”

1 Secrets from the Northern Heights 6:45 2 Mountain Poems 5:57 3 Nordic Legends 5:54 4 Opening a Door to the Past 6:35 5 Closer to the Ancient Truth 6:56 6 The Ancient Pulse still Beats 6:27 7 Brave Souls 8:01 8 Traces of a Forgotten Time 6:03 9 Dominate 6:46 10 Roots and Legends:

End Title 6:25 TeamQuasar | JMT002

(CD 65:49) (VF) (Sequencer-based EM)

After Far Away, an album which had seduced by its refreshing approach of a universe prepared by Jean Michel Jarre, Johan Tronestam gets back in strength with an album inspired by the legends of the nomads from the Scandinavians countries. ROOTS AND LEGENDS FROM THE NORTH presents a pallet of 10 very melodious and lively tracks with heavy, loud and powerful rhythmic structures. Movements of pure rhythm which follow evolutionary tangents where the primary pulsations are flooded by sequenced arcs which free some nice jumping keys in forms as diversified as harmonious. Synths are poetic. Torn between their soft solos, they blow sometimes warm and dark winds where voices of all kinds tell poems, disturbing or comforting, in the trails of splendid solos which awake the intergalactic ambiences of the French synthesist and the poetic ones of Vangelis.

Secrets from the Northern Heights begins this Johan Tronestam's 3rd opus with glaucous pulsations that stroll in a state of wandering among weak explosions of which the knocks are suffocating below a dense veil of mystery. From the start, Johan Tronestam spreads the main lines of a musical tale illuminated with paradoxes where rhythms and harmonies embrace each other in ambiences that inhale the legends of the North. Airier sequencer keys skip awkwardly in the traces of these pulsations, pushing a rhythm which resounds of its sizzling keys into mists with thin lines of silvered voices. And the rhythm takes shape. Going away from its sinister approach, it sparkles with its crystal-clear chords which skip in the jingles of cymbals and beneath the caresses of a synth and its soft solos. Then another line of sequences rushes in order to forge a parallel rhythm of which the fine kicks are enfolding to form a structure which hiccups of its harmonious rebellion. Mountain Poems is a good down-tempo bathing in a lot of ambiences. The rhythm is soft and fed by jingles as well as by percussions with tones of hollow wood resounding in the veils of mist which float and wave in good orchestral arrangements decorated by a synth with breaths of celestial trumpets. An acoustic guitar adorns this very good ballad by singing its melancholic poems that get mixed with delicate serpentines of limpid sequences falling from bluish clouds. Nordic Legends widens its lugubrious vampiric waves which undulate in loops under the harmonies of a seraphic synth. A black voice recites a poem while the track, still semi floating, kisses a meshing of pulsations and sober percussions which weave a kind of cosmic groove. Opening a Door to the Past offers a heavy pace. A Scandinavian rhythm with sequencer's chords that spin and intertwine in a powerful and heavy technoid waltz that heaviness makes swirl at low speed. These agreements are as powerful as they are incisive. They hammer a black rhythm that greets voices with lugubrious and intimidating lamentations, while the synth divides its harmonies between spectral winds and cosmic solos. These Scandinavian voices, scarred by the winds, the cold and the struggles, fill the introduction of Closer to the Ancient Truth which hops of its chords fragile like the feet of a cold deer under voices of angels and lines of synths that coo in loops. Percussions slam on the horizon, dragging the rhythm towards a more sustained approach. An approach closer to synth-pop with beautiful solos and delicate astral voices that add a poetic vision.

The Ancient Pulse still Beats falls heavily into our ears with a mesh of organic pulsations and percussive strokes that forge a rhythm set with streamers with clear sequences. Raucous voices regurgitate a dialogue of Babel while the solos, sharp and dreamy, awaken souvenirs of Jean-Michel Jarre with constantly melodious approaches. Brave Souls bursts out of its sequences with hybrid tones that drum an absent rhythm under the intense fog of a synth still filled with harmonies and dreamy voices. A superb line of piano discreetly adopts the movement of the sequences to detach itself from it and to forge the lines of a melody that one could hear in the musical box of another world. The percussion that are falling undo a little the musical background that runs like a gallop in the plains, there where a synth and its sweet harmonic loops are chanted. Traces of a Forgotten Time follows a bit the same rhythmic pattern. A rhythm of vagabond in a desert of coldness where the synth illuminates the atmosphere of the Vikings of ice with superb solos. Rhythm, always rhythm! heavy and dark! Dominate sinks into our ears with heavy sequences that alternate their jumps in a structure pounded of a linear rhythm. The synth borrows these harmonic patterns that follow the evolution of ROOTS AND LEGENDS FROM THE NORTH by launching both cosmic and vampiric solos, guiding the title towards darker territories. Roots and Legends: End Title brilliantly concluds an album whose powerful rhythms have dug furrows in our ears. The pulsations are heavy and make vibrate the back, as well as the walls, with curt and hammered strikes where the lapping of percussions play the hard in front of so much fast rhythm. A good stroboscopic serpentine deflects the attention, also deviating the rhythm towards a more street gang approach. An androgynous hip-hop where a sonorous wildlife explodes and still has so many wonders to tell, to blow for the greatest pleasure of our ears constantly on the lookout for a tonality, a magic harmony which will popped out. It is known to have experienced it since the very first note of Secrets from the Northern Heights.

Jean Michel Jarre is in a lack of inspiration since a long time? Well, long live Johan Tronestam! Seriously, this last album of the Scandinavian synthesist is above all expectations. He realizes an impressive tour de force by allying the harmonies and arrangements of Vangelis, the contemporary version, to the rhythms and the cosmic atmospheres from the composer of Oxygene. ROOTS AND LEGENDS FROM THE NORTH is one hard train which immure our ears in a world of contrast where the rhythms sculptured in the crackling of thousand sequences and percussions with so hard-hitting tones meet synths with magical solos, contagious harmonies and mystic ambiances. Drawing so the lines of a superb, powerful and surprising album. To recommend without hesitations!

Sylvain Lupari (March 14th, 2013) ****½*

Available at Johan Tronestam Bandcamp

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