JOHN CHRISTIAN: Susbarbatus (2009)
“Susbarbatus is a strong EM album where retro Berlin School meets the charms and loudness of the England School”
1 Susbarbatus 9:22 2 Los Ashes 9:29 3 Brane Storm 7:45 4 Forest of Weaver's Beams 6:21 5 Mangrove (live) 7:26 6 Antiquark 9:13
(CD 49:36) (V.F.) (Mostly sequencer-based EM)
John Christian is a member of the EM band Air Sculpture. And he offers us in SUSBARBATUS a solid second opus with heavy and lively rhythms that has nothing to do with the long atmospheric improvisations of the English trio.
It's with a fleeting and vacillating wave that opens the title play. This morphic shadow zigzags lazily between the choirs that float in an atmosphere filled with mellotron sails. Susbarbatus first nests in an ethereal universe before embracing a good movement of the sequencer cradled by a sweet rhythm of a good bass line. Gradually spinning, the tempo bites the ears while evolving in a swarm of enveloping strata. Getting more and more heavy and livelier, it receives the caresses and melodious solos of the synth that also misleads its effects in a rhythmic approach hammered by a mesh of percussions, bass pulses and sequences. This amalgam and evolution bring this good and catchy Berlin School of Susbarbatus to a much progressive dimension. This nice introduction to SUSBARBATUS brings us to the dramatic and intriguing Los Ashes. Divided into 2 sections, Los Ashes opens with a bass coming out of hell which pulsates with a hypnotic slowness in a strange cataclysmic universe. The approach is dark and close to the terroir of Tangerine Dream of the time of Rubycon or Phaedra with its flow which swims between two rhythms and its synth with its ocher strata which surrounds a desert land. Halfway through, this mixed rhythm is suspended to make room for a soundscape that scrolls by sections, continuously accelerating the pace to dive into a heavy sequencer and its curt strikes that multiply in a drummed chaos. A chaos full of strata that engulf Los Ashes than the waves eat the reefs. A superb piece of music at both hypnotic and striking.
The heavy mellotron drones of Brane Storm bring back SUSBARBATUS into the atmospheric furrows of Air Sculpture, but with a darker and a lugubrious approach. A long caustic breeze filled of sonic strangeness encapsulates this morphic title that we listen to as one lives a dream. After this sweet cerebral interlude, Forest Of Weaver's Beams falls into our ears like a dropper of sounds that crosses the two hemispheres of our pair of speakers. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful title on this second album by John Christian because it progresses gracefully on a beautiful synth with tearful waves and a flow of the sequencer fractured by its echoic chords that scroll as a timeless sound spiral. Not really rhythmic, but not devoid of tempo, Forest Of Weaver's Beams enchants by its continual knockings that strike in an ambivalent structure where the musical poetry is molded to an ingenious sequencer. Recorded live at the Hampshire Jam 2006, Mangrove is revealed with strikes of corrosive layers whose echoes are lost in an aquatic environment. A good sequence of rhythm heavy and frank emerges from this intro caustic to draw a breathless rhythm that runs under a heady synth and whose sound forms embrace a sweet ghostly madness. Another good piece of music on this John Christian's 2nd opus. Antiquark ends SUSBARBATUS with a sweet minimalism melody that sails between the soft sequenced chords of Love on Real Train combined to Tangerine Dream's atmospheric Wavelength approach. We simply cannot not love!
SUSBARBATUS is a solid EM album. Its only flaw is to be too short, because John Christian lugs us into a sound world sat on a catchy sequencer whose progressive rhythms beat under a synth to the effects obsessed by a melodious mellotron. Solos synth and sequencer! Like what EM can be as beautiful as intrepid. Berlin School fans will devour!
Sylvain Lupari (December 5th, 2009) *****
Available at John Christian Bandcamp