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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JOS D'ALMEIDA: Aspheres (2019)

There are a lot of movements in Aspheres which may explain this sensation of being lost, but little by little we discover a really good album of symphonic EM

1 Aspheres 6:43

2 Sunrise Stone 6:33

3 Sidereus 4:38

4 Lagrange L3 4:44

5 Eta Carinae 9:05

6 Geometric Progression 6:49

7 Kailasa Temple 6:08

8 Hyper Dream 6:06

9 Green Islands 6:34

10 Hello, from the children of Planet Earth 8:50

11 Among Dolphins 7:00

12 Cruithne 6:07

(CD/DDL 79:48) (V.F.)

(Symphonic EM, Berlin School)

How to introduce you Jos d'Almeida? I hesitated for a long time to review this album by the Portuguese musician who founded in 1980 the progressive music band Perfect Symbiosis. But if I wrote about Robert Fox on this site, I don't see why I won't do it from this musician who has an impressive academic track record. And this link with Robert Fox is at the harmonic level and this facility that the musician living in Ireland now has to insert, and this at different levels of intensity, these voices filled with murmured spells. And I find their skills indivisible on this album, especially in the first part of ASPHERES. Built around the theme that the Earth is repopulated some 2,000 years after its extinction, the music takes its essence through sumptuous philharmonic arrangements, Jos d'Almeida trained as a classical musician, and EM structures idealized from orchestral visions of its author. Between Tomita and Vangelis, this music flows with the accuracy of our images romanticized by the emotional plans inserted almost everywhere in the album. We are in the field of pure science fiction, so each title is coated with usual tones in sets that we already know.

Thus, the title-track starts with the sound of a shuttle launched into space. In reality and according to the story, it is a massive launch of cosmic cradles containing embryos intended to hatch on Earth. Cosmic atmospheres are beautifully restored and accompany the emotional crescendo of synth pads sculpted in apprehension. The synth multiplies its layers and its pads, some with a touch of organ which brings this sense of abysmal coldness reigning all around the slow evolution of this sound mass. Intense like an expected death, this cloud of organ pads crumbles a little after 4 minutes. It's at this instant that two lines of ambient rhythm expose musicality and melody, kind Halloween but in more joyful, with a nonchalant waddling which plays with its crystalline echo. Keyboard pads with serious textures root this climate of uncertainty that surrounds this first phase of seduction which is not far from the melodious England School of Mark Shreeve. Sunrise Stone is a moving title with a seraphic voice that melts into sumptuous orchestrations filled with grave and striking chords. Symphonic percussions and bells of the Tubular Bells genre complete the decor. This unreal voice emerges here and there in this mesh sewn in remarkably high emotivity. A lost piano crumbles its melancholy in a second part that makes the soul shiver, especially when the voice trapped in samplings comes out with passion. It's one of the very intense moments of ASPHERES, with Among Dolphins for similar reasons but in a completely different context. The voice samples, as well as the voices of the astral nymphs, are numerous and inserted in several places of the album. On Sidereus, this is the first conversation between the astronauts of the space station M.I.R. and the Center for Space Control on Earth. The music is woven into the nostalgic scents of Sunrise Stone with sound waves rolling among the wooshh and that voice of the less dominant spatial goddess here. Reverb filaments emanate from the opening of Lagrange L3. The musical panorama is also based on Aspheres.

Braving a rain of Pleiades blowing with winds of sedimentary particles, Eta Carinae rises at the same time as corns of an unknown origin acclaim its presence. The new sun in this story projects an impenetrable mass of sound whose slow ambient movement makes me think of a giant boa always floating with hunger in its stomach. A first rhythm structure very Berlin School comes to charm my ears a little before the 3rd minute. Its flow is jerky with a solitary key hopping fluidly in guttural reverberations coming from the interstices of this new star. A brief moment lost in dense orchestrations. A short moment which will have its impact on the other titles since we have reached this phase of the album where intense cinematic music with good orchestral arrangements draws a Berlin School soaked in an esoteric vision. Like this fascinating organic and symphonic rhythm of Geometric Progression, the first electronic title of ASPHERES. The rhythm emerges with arpeggios hopping in groups of nine. The end of the last arpeggio immediately sticks to the start of the other, weaving a continuous structure which comes and goes in an amazing tonal texture. The layers of stringed instruments are like flying carpets that carry the rhythm in a seraphic forest. I have never heard as much green as here. The movement suddenly ends in a short phase of ambiences before returning, a few seconds later, in a resplendent and invigorated form. Cinematographic music with good orchestral arrangements which draw a Berlin School dipped in an esoteric vision, Kailasa Temple camouflages a secret rhythm which is finally exposed in timbres of jerky voices which make me think of Philip Glass playing an orchestral version of an enigmatic Berlin School with its ambient rhythm built on the foundations of a musical canon. The evolution of Kailasa Temple is purely brilliant! With its little bits of rhythm that come and go in dense symphonic arrangements, Hyper Dream takes staccato tangents in a storm of wind instruments. Green Islands offers an oceanographic vision with very good synth solos. The sound mass is somewhat taken into endless wavelets which support the last third of this album in arrangements as intense than those of Vangelis. Here too the title changes, some phases are very radical, a little too often for its length. Hello, from the children of Planet Earth reminds me of Mannheim Steamroller with arrangements that bring me closer to the themes of the album Fresh Aire 7. The voices of children saying Hello are samplers of Humankind to the Universe. Among Dolphins offers an ambient melody that tickles the emotions, while Cruithne ends ASPHERES in a monument of ambiences where the murmurs of passion rock an electronic-classical structure.

There are a lot of movements in the 79 minutes of this album that I divide into 3 phases. If the final meets the objectives of its opening, its core led me into musical panoramas that I had lost of ears since Vangelis' retirement. Be careful, I'm not saying that Jos d'Almeida is a new Vangelis. But there is enough talent and creativity in ASPHERES to make a sober connection.

Sylvain Lupari (07/17/20) *****

Available at The Cape Recordings Bandcamp

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