JOHANNES SCHMOELLING: 20 (2020)
Updated: Jun 15, 2021
“Johannes Schmoelling doing Tangerine Dream and yet, it fits him like a glove”
1 Mountain Blue 7:32
(& Jonas Behrens)
2 Kaleidoscope 8:27
(& Kurt Ader)
3 The Stumble 4:39
(& Jonas Behrens)
4 Ancient Ride 9:19
(& Lambert Ringlage)
(CD E.P. 29:57) (V.F.)
(Tangerine Dream style of EM)
Johannes Schmoelling has always been the composer that Tangerine Dream would sorely miss after his departure following the albums Le Parc and Legend. His solo career, set up with the album Wuivend Riet, had something to comfort the Dream fans with a musical approach that flirted with the one of the Virgin years, that is to say 1 long track that filled the B-side and 4 shorter ones that were both lively and melodious with that little progressive touch on side A. I still listen to this album regularly 25 years after its release in 1986. Thereafter, the German musician has developed his solo career around 15 albums solo and nearly a dozen in collaboration with other artists, including Loom, having gravitated in the world of the Dream or that of his label Viktoriapark Records named after a park of the same name, located not far from his home. 20 is an E.P. of about thirty minutes to celebrate the 20 years of his label whose first album was the reissue of White Out in 2000. JS thought it was a good opportunity to invite musicians to compose with him the music celebrating this event. 20 will be followed by a real album which will be soberly entitled 21 in 2021.
Arpeggios tinkling like a clock out of time open the soft melody of Mountain Blue. This ambient introduction lays down a bass line whose creeping shadow connects to the bright angelic synth layers. Composed with Jonas Behrens, Mountain Blue is a good melody typical to Johannes Schmoelling's repertoire. Torn between a sequencer, percussions and ambient phases, the rhythm follows the different phases of a melody split between driving phases and those a little dreamier, honeyed in good arrangements to put a tear in the corner of our soul. The Stumble is the other track composed with Behrens. A good little track animated by an instinct of creativity which gives it good melodious impulses. The play of the sequencer is very Chris Franke on this track which does not hesitate to exploit exploratory phases for its short time. Composed with Kurt Ader, Kaleidoscope is the kind of track that will please the nostalgic of Tangerine Dream. The rhythm is more sophisticated here and is designed by a sequencer which likes to make dribbling its rhythmic marbles with more sober percussions. The synth solos here are divinely incredible and fly over both the rhythmic phases, which are much more animated in the second half, and the static phases. The middle of the track is more exploratory with whispered sounds and voice samples with a muffled echo effect. The second rhythm phase is simply...Tangerine Dream. Lambert Ringlage was very influenced by Schmoelling's style in TD. His track written with Schmoelling, Ancient Ride, travels through the ages of the German trio's different soundtracks, from Wavelength to Legend, not to mention The Keep. Ancient Ride is finely elaborated in a progressive vision of the Berlin School of the time with a beautiful bucolic melody inserted around the 9th minute before the track explodes in a big electronic rock always conceived in creativity.
An E.P. by Johannes Schmoelling that does Tangerine Dream? That's quite a bend my friends, since JS has always wanted to avoid falling into that trap. And yet, it fits him like a glove! So much so that 20 fits in this list that exceeds Loom's arguments. A solid EP that many fans, including myself, were no longer expecting. It's obvious that the expectations will be huge for the rest of things...
Sylvain Lupari (June 15th, 2021) *****
Available at Viktoriapark Records