JOHANNES SCHMOELLING: Time and Tide (2011)
Updated: Jan 25
“Once again, Johannes Schmoelling amazes and captivates me with an album whose first listening had left me indifferent”
1 Splendid Isolation 7:55
2 Lone Warrior 3:49
3 The Gift 6:47
4 The Answer 5:53
5 Zero Gravity 7:47
6 Beacon of Hope 5:50
7 Life in the Dark 4:26
8 Genetic Diversity 7:44
9 Time and Tide 9:11
(CD 59:20) (V.F.)
A morphic synth wave covers the coldness of the strident echoes left by the imprint of a metallic note which stretches its reverberations in order to introduce the fascinating ballet of Splendid Isolation. Sequences, taken from a bass line à la Legend frolic under a wavy synth line. Meandering invisible obstacles, they stagger among shards of glass and the iridescent breaths, advancing and stopping like fragile prey to migrate towards a bass line whose furtive pulsations awaken reminiscences of a famous trio. Between chords zigzagging under sharp breezes, the floating wanderings and bits of harmonies, the intro of Splendid Isolation is a long and superb prelude to a magnificent melodious approach which shakes our contemplatively a little after the 4 minutes mark. The rhythm is frank and based on sequences with keys alternating with velocity. Those sequences are dancing in feverish pas-de-deux, creating a spasmodic spiral under the melodious attacks of a synth which divides its tunes and sprinkles its fine melodies in the form of solos through its intense melancholy mist. Splendid Isolation is the starting point of another very good album signed Johannes Schmoelling. Always very structured, his universe remains very diverse and that of TIME AND TIDE amply shows all the mastery that the Austrian musician has over his compositions. With his son Jonas Behrens, he offers 9 new compositions with evolving structures where every minute is exploited like in this introductory title of the album. Very nice melodies are hidden in ambiences sometimes eclectic and sometimes poetic and where the magic of the Austrian musician awakens the memories of a universe that we never want to be forgotten. Because yes, his melodious structures all have this scent of another era.
Take the example of Lone Warrior. Its 3:49 minutes are full. It begins with a synth whose breaths on the Jericho trumpets blend into a heavy electronic ride overhung by solos. Solos forging melodies which marry sequences as much rhythmic as melodic, leading the rhythm towards fine ambient passages to be reborn from its rides and gallop under a sky and its iridescent mists. After an intro eaten away by the uncertainty of hesitant notes, The Gift awakens to the sound of heavy riffs and percussions which hammer a light but sustained rhythm that a guitar and a synth tear apart with juicy solos. The Answer is a nice contemplative melody which begins with a delicate piano whose melancholic notes draw fragile tears which are wrapped in a veil of gloom. Angelic and melodic, The Answer emerges from its hold of solitude to let itself be lulled by a bass line with fine pulsations and sober percussions that synth blades caress with their waltzing morphic veils, dragging the sweet rhythm towards the labyrinths of an indecisive serenity. Zero Gravity is a title divided between its melodious approach, its heavy rhythm and its dark ambiences. Electric piano notes drop, swirling in the mists. If the piano is melodious, the ambience is quite its opposite with its ocher vapors and its strange aura of mystery.
Beacon of Hope goes on a curt and light rhythm which appropriates as much the heavy riffs of guitar as the delicate mists of a creative synth. A synth whose nice whistled melody will be the only vestige of this fine harmonic approach. Life in the Dark offers an astonishing static ride forged in the sharp movements of an orchestral synth and its spasms of staccato violins. The rhythm is heavy, like a ride in dark plains, and the guitar spits out its riffs and its black solos in a hallucinating symphonic rock paradox. Another title with unsuspected evolutions, Genetic Diversity begins with crystalline arpeggios which drag their wanderings in a rhythmic lifeless corridor. Electronic chirps in suspension gradually form a rhythmic swarm which advances like scissors' hits in the void to attach itself to percussions rolling under the cooing of a synth with the unique musical signature of Johannes Schmoelling. The title-track is the jewel in the TIME AND TIDE's crown. A synth, whose jerky breaths sound so much like in Tangram, covers the drumming of glockenspiel which opens the slow procession of Time and Tide. The rhythm is slow, even static, but extremely captivating with percussions which stand out and hammer a funeral march. Keyboard chords waddle in the shade of these fluty layers and mist with undulating astral waltzes. Percussion hits thunder throughout this processional bolero which stores the layers of mist, the reverberating effects as well as the majestic solos which tear the placidity of this superb musical parade which, against all expectations, plunges us back into the most beautiful emotions of the Dream and Tangram.
Once again, Johannes Schmoelling amazes and captivates me with an album whose first listening had left me indifferent. But TIME AND TIDE turns out to be a great album. Through its suspicious and ethereal ambiences and its stealthy and progressive rhythms, Johannes Schmoelling succeeds the improbable by extracting silky melodies out of nowhere. And that's his strength, as much as it was back in the days of Tangerine Dream.
Sylvain Lupari (June 17th, 2012) *****
Available at Johannes Schmoelling Store