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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JOHANNES SCHMOELLING: A Thousand Times (2009)

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

With its melodious approaches, its references to the Tangerine Dream repertoire and its melancholic piano, we are in heaven here

1 Monochrome 6:52

2 Diorama 5:40

3 Abakus 5:24

4 Stigma 6:48

5 Funeral Tears (For My Father) 5:51

6 A Thousand Times 6:16

7 Blueprint 5:58

8 A Thousand Times (Reprise) 5:45

9 Kite Runner 5:40

10 Palace Of Dreams 5:42

11 Footsteps 4:39

(CD 64:29) (V.F.)

(Melodious EM)

When one listens to the music of Johannes Schmoelling, we are more able to see his immense impact on the career of Tangerine Dream. If Christopher Franke had a sense of rhythm, Schmoelling's strength lay in harmonies. And on each of his solo album, we discover more and more the charms of the Dream which had so suddenly disappeared following the departure of the Austrian musician. A THOUSAND TIMES is a good collection of 12 titles with sweet nostalgic harmonies where we can still capture the essence of the mythical German trio.

And it begins with Monochrome and its first zigzagging chords of a keyboard that crosses a piano and its series of light notes. From then on, Schmoelling spreads his melodious aura with misty synth pads and a good piano playing, instrument that will be the harmonic base of this album, on a structure of light rhythm. Diorama is a soft melody that whispers on a whistling synth, whose rhythm constantly oscillates between a harmonious duality with the aromas of a strange jazz which lies down on a bed of very attractive synth breaths. A good ballad, just like Funeral Tears which is a little more melancholy and less light, and the superb Blueprint which is a soft lullaby with volatile chords. Abacus is definitely more nervous and seems to come straight out of Le Parc sessions. A good track with a sharper synth, whose loops scroll in a haze unique to the structures of the Austrian musician. A little in the same genre, Kite Runner offers a nervous cadence with good sequences which undulate in cascade on nervous and jerky chords. Listening to JS without constantly referring to Tangerine Dream is very difficult and Stigma is the perfect example. A track waltzing between the emotions of Flashpoint, Silver Scale and Legend, Stigma floats on an austere and hazy intro where the synth bites the eardrums, like the screeching of arid clouds in the middle of the desert plains. Skillful, Johannes weaves ambiences and structures which swap on serious piano chords and good percussion strikes, leaving Stigma to wander between hybrid paces and ambient elements. One of the good tracks on A THOUSAND TIMES, just like the title-track which espouses a soft melody on delicate a rhythm where the piano chords merge harmoniously with a lyrical synth, stuffed of nice vaporous waves. Slower and even more melodious, A Thousand Times (Reprise) floats on the notes of a melancholy piano which breathes its tender nostalgia on a soft cascading cadence. Very beautiful, and it is even more so when you glue the two tracks one after the other. Another superb melody; Palace of Dreams, which is nothing more and nothing less than a delicious acoustic version of Tangram. An extremely powerful moment on A THOUSAND TIMES. Footsteps closes this latest opus from JS. A title written and played by Jonas Behrens; the piano expands its hesitant notes to open a title filled with good orchestrations. These notes slip between chords in loops and a synth with warm layers and delicate solos.

With its melodious approaches, its references to the Tangerine Dream repertoire and its melancholic piano, A THOUSAND TIMES is the kind of album that passes as quickly as a gentle azure wind caressing a skin eroded by the years. We want more and more. A very good album where the catchy passages, like the moments lost in the melancholic mists, constantly challenge us towards a new listening. As far as I'm concerned, this is Johannes Schmoelling's finest work where he weaves a perfect amalgam between the synth, the sequences and his wonderful piano, giving splendid jewels whose cradle is the harmonious structure of a Tangerine. Dream which revolutionized the genre from a concert at the Palast Der Republik on January 30, 1980.

Sylvain Lupari (May 27th, 2010) *****

Available at Johannes Schmoelling Store

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