JOHAN TRONESTAM: The Long Journey (2016)
Updated: Jul 1
“This album shows that Johan Tronestam became the most notable ambassador of cosmic e-rock since the best days of Jarre and Garrison”
1 A New Frontier 3:34 2 Starting Point 5:54 3 Speed 6:56 4 Miscalculations 10:24 5 Beyond all References 6:36 6 Journey to Nowhere 5:28 7 The Eternity 8:16 8 New Worlds 6:56 9 Good Ambitions 6:56 10 Longing for Home 7:30 11 Back in Orbit 6:00 SynGate | CD-r JT03
(CD-r/DDL 74:30) (V.F.) (Classical cosmic rock)
A crawling bass line which drags its sorrow by climbing with difficulty the tops of the electronic rhythms, and tears of synth which sweep the horizons with Vangelis' style of shrill mooings; A New Frontier begins this last album of Johan Tronestam with a structure of ambient rhythm which is filled of melancholy. Prisms sparkle on the reflections of deafening synth lines which turn slowly like the eye of a dying beacon light while that some absent voices are clouding our feelings enslaved to these heavy ambiences livened up by electronic tones which are at the diapason of an intersidereal language. Inspired from the works of the astronomer and author Peter Nilson and from the cosmic poem of Harry Martinson, THE LONG JOURNEY fits very well to the main lines of this novel depicting a cosmic journey that has lasted much longer than planned and which especially knew a completely unexpected outcome. A cosmic journey for a very cosmic music! Although it doesn't seem like it, Johan Tronestam became the most notable ambassador of cosmic electronic rock with those nice analog fragrances since that Jean Michel Jarre and Michael Garrison have abandoned the genre. Both of them for different reasons. Always fortified by a Vangelis dramatic touch and wrapping synth pads a la Pink Floyd, the music of the Swedish synthesist has this gift to fling us to the borders of cosmos with lively or soft, sometimes even ambient, rhythms, which are the proud ambassadors of melodies eaters of neurons.
After the slow and very effective introduction in A New Frontier, Johan Tronestam attacks the catchy rhythm mood with Starting Point and its ambient melody which gets loose of its morphic hold in order to shine on a good e-rhythm built on beat-box tones of the cosmic rock from the 70's. The beat-box and the throbbing bass sequences revitalize a structure which sounds so much like this good French cosmic rock of the 70' s while the synth amazes even more with a melody weaver of ear-worm and whose tone can never deny the influences that guide the music of Tronestam. And it's what impress the most is these poignant arrangements which oversize the semi melancholic and the semi dramatic approach of Starting Point. And it's not just a pebble in the ocean! Nor a stroke of luck because the rhythms and the very catchy melodies, and especially very accessible/commercial, abound in this album. Good Ambitions, the superb Longing For Home and, to a lesser extent, Beyond all References, although the intro here is more ambient, as well as New Worlds, are those kinds of tracks that will hook you on the very first flow of music. And as Johan Tronestam has so well accustomed us since Far Away, he is also able of concocting us rhythms which develop in an a little more worked envelope. We can say that Speed is a kind of cosmic Punk with a curt and jerky rhythm which diverts for a phase of more cosmic dance with slamming percussions which resound on a robotics line of sequences and on vampiric synth lines. Here as elsewhere, the synth layers are filled with absent voices, with orchestral caresses and with lunar prisms which sing as much that they sparkle. We hear stars spun as we drum our fingers on movements of sequences which make some rodeos in cosmos. In brief, a whole arsenal of sounds and tones to the nuances as much explosive as striking.
Miscalculations is a long track which shows a structure similar to Speed, but in a more lento mode and with delicate permutations between the rhythm and the harmonies. The rhythm is hopping, as a hopeful heart which pounds with the regularity of a metronome, with 4 chords which draw the slow undulations of a water snake sated. The transfer of rhythm for the melody is smoothly made and these 4 sequenced chords became object of harmonious obsession in a pond of electronic effects and especially layers which sigh such as veils of nostalgia. That does very Michael Garrison, especially at the level of the sequences which come and disappear quickly. The title-track offers a repetitive rhythm which is more fluid and more dynamic with sharp oscillations which roll in loops among effects of percussions and of intersidereal effects. Still here, the gloomy synth layers play a determining role by diverting the effect of repetition of a rather furious EM I would say. The Eternity is the quietest piece of music here. It's a kind of cosmic bolero whose intensity reveals the charms of a synth filled of solos and of effects which reflect the best moments of the Garrison years. Back in Orbit concludes Johan Tronestam's album with a curt and nervous rhythm which skips and limps in a very robotics approach. The second part is livelier though. This is a catchy and very good electronic rock where we roll of the neck and where Tronestam shows all his fitness to make sing his synths.
Lively and catchy cosmic rock filled with melodies that hang onto our neurons just as much, THE LONG JOURNEY is in the continuity of what Johan Tronestam offers us since that Far Away has invaded our ears and quenches this thirst of cosmic rock a la Jarre or Garrison in 2012. But it's also a journey in the corridors of the time of Johan Tronestam because the beginnings of the album go back up to 2008, or during his very first album Island. And this can be heard!
Sylvain Lupari (April 5th, 2016) *****
Available at SynGate Bandcamp