John Scott Shepherd Legends of Mars (2022)
Updated: Nov 5, 2022
“An album that can be listened to with the feeling of floating towards Mars' horizons”
1 Into the Depths of Space 4:33
2 Floating in Weightlessness 4:29
3 Orbiting Mars 4:11
4 Luminous Spaces 4:55
5 Exploration of Mars 3:06
6 On the Edge 2:19
7 Tunnels of Mars 4:38
8 Shards of Light 3:57
9 Domes of Mars 2:55
10 Stone Skipping 5:06
(DDL/CD(r) 40:14) (V.F.)
Man's obsession with discovering the immensity of space and the vast territories of Mars and probing its darkest secrets, such as do Martians really exist, is the main source of inspiration that led John Scott Shepherd to write LEGEND OF MARS. Built around 10 short tracks, averaging 4 minutes in length, this 2nd album by the American musician on the Cyclical Dreams label transcends the rather disjointed character of Realms Beyond. And here is why...
Into the Depths of Space begins this musical journey in the lands of Mars with a resplendent synth wave from which the ascent irradiates our ears with a breeze that evaporates its iridescent dust. A distant organ tone comes from it and its undulating movement leaves an ambient air that coos in symbiosis with this other parallel wave that flows with a vibrating effect, simulating an abstract rhythm. Such a structure also exists in Orbiting Mars, a track with smooth sleepy synth layers. To this effect, the multiplicity of synth layers and their textures are the main charming elements that bind the 10 paintings of this album whose orchestral atmospheric side dominates the few rhythmic phases sculpted on the oscillating impulses of the synths. What we have here is a very creative album from JS Shepherd! Floating in Weightlessness wears the colors of its title! The synth layer is foggy and droning, with bright breakthroughs that shimmer like astral chants. The movement weaves some more emotional moments with sharp crescendos that snake in and out between more bass tones synth shadows, creating with precision a weightlessness state in a moment of passive euphoria. Luminous Spaces is of the same mold, but is more intense with good cosmic orchestrations. The layers with violin dust are entwined in a slow maelstrom where the harmonic side melts with delicacy in this impression of sailing in the nothingness that the ambiences of the title bring to our ears.
Exploration of Mars has that texture of documentary music with a droning layer that is subdivided into two tones and two movements waving lazily side by side that melodious lines pierce with their strident brassy tones. On the Edge adopts a similar structure, except that the brighter waves sound like they are skating, gliding over these drone effects that also detach more strident filaments. A series of elastic beats emerge just before the finale. Tunnels of Mars is a purely atmospheric cosmic track that spreads its misty waves and those a little more granular. The movement is almost atonal, with no movement except for the hovering effect of the more nebulous waves. Shards of Light spreads another nice texture of cosmic orchestrations. It glides with its barely felt glitch effects and delicate infusions of celestial voices on barely buzzing waves. Domes of Mars also offers beautiful orchestrations but in a more moiré tone. The synth waves have this undulating effect with a side that vibrates and another texture that makes a melodic touch appear. Much like Into the Depths of Space and Orbiting Mars, there is a muted jerky pulse that creates a distant undulating rhythm that moves on by jolts. Stone Skipping's music lives up to its title with an electronic rhythm built on jerky synth pushes. The structure is bouncy and resonates rather well through the speakers with zigzags running between a purely cadenced vision and a more melodic one that is elaborated from the language of the synths. Very good!
That's it for the essential of this second album of John Scott Shepherd on the Argentinian label. More homogeneous than Realms Beyond, and definitely more musical and better structured, the music of LEGEND OF MARS literally sticks to the ambiences that one can make of such a musical scenario. The synths have this cosmic and orchestral essence that breathes the one of Synergy in the magnificent Audion, but less melodious, weaving the lines of an album that can be listened to with the feeling of floating towards the horizons of Mars.
Sylvain Lupari (November 4th, 2022) ****¼*
Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp
(NB: Words in blue are links you can click on)