JOHN CHRISTIAN: Glis Glis (2021)
“An experience that will pull out your eardrums out of your ears thirsty to hear it again”
1 Occam's Razor 8:28
2 Glis Glis 8:56
3 Russell's Teapot 27:04
(CD/DDL 44:29) (V.F.)
(Industrial Berlin School)
You have to give it to Ron Boots! He's got a knack for pulling a rabbit out of his hat. And the last in line is this GLIS GLIS by John Christian, member of the famous trio AirSculpture. The last time I heard John Christian was with the dark Dark Matters. On the other hand, we observe on his Bandcamp site that he has produced 3 other albums since, which I have never heard, while being active in AirSculpture until the last album released in 2019, Metal Adjacent. It's not wrong to think that the period of global containment slowed down AS's activities, while JC was making his containment album with Elastic Stochastic, a slightly more experimental album. An album on Groove nl means an exceptional showcase for this artist whose talent goes beyond the borders of his trio. But what is GLIS GLIS made of? Hmm... And after a 5th listen, what if I told you that this is the best Berlin School album this year!
The first 2 tracks are very good musical starters. Occam's Razor starts with these metal-layered synth blades that clash to create a cold metallic din mass that makes my eardrums tingle. An ascending movement of the sequencer delivers us even not 1 minute later. Powerful and lively, this rhythm oscillates under the radioactive residues of these introductory swords, structuring a Berlin School which makes its sequences vibrate and makes the cymbals sing. Up and down, with an anger tied to its fury, the sequencer invites an accomplice in order to hammer well this electronic rock running under a rain of synth solos. These percussions change the game, thwarting this minimalist and hypnotic rhythmic with well inserted strikes. Where the sequencer articulates its speed! Superb and dizzying in this furious Berlin School, Occam's Razor offers only happiness to my ears. The title-track also begins with a din. More industrial this time, with the weight of all the metal clenching in pain, it exasperates my patience in a fusion of Richard Pinhas and Georges Grunblatt from the early 80's. But there's a magnet that draws in and stokes the eardrums to notice how the beat finally came together. Born from a sonic cataclysm, around the 3rd minute, it rushes like a train with the speed and strength of the sequencer and the percussions. Its violence and the percussions dancing on the sequencer's shell are magnetizing. Other effects, both percussive and sonic, fatten its dynamism. We have already forgotten the first 3 minutes so much the entraining effect, for the feet and the ears, is at its height. Two big titles before the main course.
Sizzling sounds from space land muffled and then leave, making the firmament creak with each new appearance. Particles fall during these noisy arabesques to form sounds that become notes and finally flickers that become harmonic bits. This noisy merry-go-round tests the calibration of our loudspeakers, as well as that of our eardrums, which begin to bleed. A puny rhythm emerges from the chaos of Russell's Teapot around the 3-minute mark to make its first vibrations heard. It vibrates with more insistence, even forming a spontaneous echo effect that sticks to this amalgam of bass-pulses, sequences and percussions. It seems that John Christian invited Klaus Schulze in his studios since this rhythm breathes the convoluted, even anarchic side of the German Master. The synth invites itself timidly, like the percussions I would say, creating a melody that coos and rolls its tunes as jerky as the rhythm can be spasmodic. Without being a pure Berlin School, the rhythm is still very seductive. The synth is not left out by covering it with vocal illusions, bits of split melodies as well as the lascivious dances of the psychedelic years. The 11-minute barrier establishes an element of power to the rhythm that rises and falls in a Berlin School texture that the percussion embellishes as much as those cooing synth loops. The chaos is still there, but it's still oddly seductive as the beat still dominates the evolution of Russell's Teapot. The 17th minute brings an atmospheric phase where the synth is unleashed in a cultural plundering that gives a new ardor to a rhythmic structure regenerated by a more experimental approach well framed and well supported by a rhythmic texture whose subdivisions save the base of GLIS GLIS.
This last album of John Christian has this merit to be original and seductive with a form of a chaos controlled and dominated by splendid textures of rhythms. Experimental, industrial and Berlin School cohabit with cohesion throughout an album which remains however rather easy to tame. You just have to like the rhythms and the sequences in Berlin School mode, and it's done. Both complex and melodious, GLIS GLIS is an experience that will pull out your eardrums out of your ears thirsty to hear it again and again...
Sylvain Lupari (August 22nd, 2021) ***¾**
Available at Groove nl