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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JOHAN TRONESTAM: Roswell (2015)

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

Roswell is all in rhythms! Creative and catchy rhythms surrounded by cosmic synth

1 The Journey to Roswell 6:15

2 Crash Site 8:29

3 Exciting Experiences 4:46

4 The Unimaginable 12:16

5 National Security 11:08

6 A Silent Response 6:45

7 The Roswell Desert 7:40

8 Sacrificed 14:10

9 The Roswell Post-Reflection 7:40

(CD-r/DDL 79:09) (V.F.)

(Cosmic sequence-based E-Rock)

The story of Roswell is doubtless one of the good ones which can find echo in the fantasy and imagination of the crafters for an EM a bit cosmic. The kind of Jean-Michel Jarre in particular. But as much surprising as it can sound, the music here is rather of use as rampart to a solid album of electronic rock by Johan Tronestam who, in spite of seductive fragrances of the Oxygene era, exploits a great pallet of very lively mid-tempos instead of the enigmatic interstellar atmospheres. But nobody is going to complain, because ROSWELL is undoubtedly the best album of the Swedish synthesist. And he made pretty good ones in the last two years.

Rhythms? It's Johan Tronestam's field! And it starts on a pretty good way with The Journey to Roswell. Metallic hoops and distant bangings unfold their echoing shadows. The 6th second is the good one! Heavy pulsations, a flow oscillating sequences and percussions which click with delicacy braid the mid-tempo of The Journey to Roswell that voices, chirping and organic effects are covering of a shroud as much melodic than sibylline. The rhythm follows its race with brief ambiospherical breaches where floating harmonies reign over ethereal atmospheres. Melodious, catchy and lively, The Journey to Roswell ends nevertheless abruptly. But Crash Site reloads the machine beat again with nice sequences which resound such as skins of percussions within other percussions with a tribal zest. The meshing of both effects of rhythms is rather ear-catching. But not as much as the melodious envelope which pulls us in the perfumes of the Eastern deserts. The intro is superb, very filmic, with winds and absent voices which hum or mumble in the hot breezes of the deserts. A first phase of rhythm then takes off with more linear pulsations. But the real rhythm runs away with more fluidity at around the 3rd minute. A rhythm with wave-like sequences which rises and comes down in a solid tempo, too heavy to be an up one and too fast to be a mid, decorated with a beautiful pallet of percussions and with their shadows full of echo. This is the pattern of sequences and percussions which enriches Johan Tronestam's rhythms throughout the 80 minutes of the album. Great! A synth spreads solos which little by little become the main harmonies of Crash Site of which the Middle East perfumes stay its main asset. We are not in the cosmic, nor the inexplicable, but in these structures of fluid and lively rhythms which are Johan Tronestam's trademark. We often compare his style with Jarre's, and Exciting Experiences does nothing to avoid this game of comparison. This is as much sober, catchy and lively than Rendez-Vous IV, less the arrangements, with good robotics percussions and good synth solos which reveals nice harmonious loops. You will catch an earworm instantly here. There are 20 minutes to the meter yet and ROSWELL makes its nest between both ears. And that will be as such for the 60 next ones. And even better!

With its long intro sculptured in fathomless. There where some heterogeneous noises, knockings, banging, sirens and rustles get entangled, contort and free themselves in long passive unfolding in order to flow slowly into corridors as lugubrious as the unexplored hidden recesses of a space shuttle, The Unimaginable leads us in the little more complex territories of the album. Soft and inviting a synth layer is dressing again these dark atmospheres of a more ethereal veil, inviting then a mesmerizing duel which finds its exit by with a delicate angelic voice of which the blown rustles and its dreamlike prayer are melting, getting lost in lines of a synth freed from its yoke of oracle. It's at this moment when a rhythm limping harmoniously gets out The Unimaginable of its limbos. A rhythm with three heads! One line with organic sequences which squeak in limping, another one with agile sequences which bite the back of others and finally percussions which plough a sober but really lively rhythmic line. The effects are very sci-fi, without being cosmic, except that a delicate cosmic melody which sparkles in the flutterings of a synth line and of its organic language. A beautiful seraphic voice, a kind of astral mermaid, decorates the landscape of The Unimaginable whose soft and invading rhythm goes towards an ethereal phase before showing a little more vigor. This is very good! I like this small dark and complex side of Tronestam who will go even farther with the very good Sacrificed and its stunning structure in constant evolution. Both at the level of rhythm, the melody and the ambiences. This is by far the best moments in this album which has so many. Like National Security and its orchestration which nibbles its second part, after a rather ambient intro, of pretty good jerks. There also the synth which is also magical. It draws good solos which are more romantic than cosmic. The figure of rhythm there is also very creative. The Roswell Desert has escaped from it but in a shorter, just as much harmonious and well-paced, approach. A Silent Response is a down-tempo filled with the fluty charms of a synth very near the fragrances of Jean-Michel Jarre analog vibes in Oxygene. The progression, the evolution of the rhythm is always as attractive as surprising. Lively sequences and fluid rhythm, The Roswell Post-Reflection ends this new sci-fi journey with the same envelope of rhythms sculptured in the imagination where three elements take different directions without distorting an attractive symbiosis which charms and amazes at each time. The synths, with good solos, effects, voice-over of NASA staff (do we also hear gurglings of Aliens?) and the arrangements, weaved with a beautiful film approach, give us hardly the choice to put back The Journey to Roswell and to restart this sonic adventure that is ROSWELL which is what is done best in the genre of lively and catchy EM rock with a tiny zest of cosmic. Hat to you Johan Tronestam for such creative rhythms!

Sylvain Lupari (May 9th, 2015) *****

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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