K. MARKOV: Visitors (2020)
Updated: Sep 4
“This Visitors is a little gem of modern EM that could occupy our ears for the next weeks”
1 Visitors 8:54
2 Close Encounter 8:06
3 Fluid Emotions 7:15
4 Gone Too Far 8:37
5 Exotic Landscape 7:55
6 Alien Plant 8:21
7 Dream Creatures 9:07
(DDL 58:19) (V.F.)
(Cosmic Berlin School)
I was looking forward to hearing this next K. Markov album on Synphaera. Often this second album following a first that we did like a lot is a disappointment towards our expectations. But not here! On the other hand, you don't fall in love the first time you listen to VISITORS. Although the music, its rhythms, its atmospheres and its harmonies, are conceived in the same soil as Interactivity, the Croatian musician displays the immensity of his talent in a slightly more creative perspective.
The adventure begins with the title-track and its opening filled to the brim with diverse sound effects, ranging from racing effects to heavy ringing of bells and spectral sails that float like Casper's sheets. Or simply, we mix everything up and it makes the noise of an encounter of the 3rd kind over nearly 120 seconds. A line of bass sequences extends a pulsating rhythm of which the echo in a mirror reflects a second line which smooches it. Leaned tight, these lines gravitate in a cosmic broth filled with unique sound entertainments to the progressive visions of the creators of sounds and atmospheres. It's when a third line is added that the static depth of Visitors welcomes a whispered melody on this rhythmic pattern that a fluty line elaborates a little more. If everything seems innocuous at the first listening, the subsequent listenings reveal a rich sound fauna which diversifies and amplifies as one explores this slightly hopping hypnotic rhythm. For example, this melody that seems to come out of nowhere! It was, however, anchored in the third line of the sequencer and quietly transformed into this melody whose keys flow gracefully into a delicious earworm.
That's that the discovery of VISITORS. And that's also that the discovery of this title-track whose nebulous mists lead to Close Encounter. The electronic scribbles which twirl like leaves without country confront the serious chords that make quite Jean-Michel Jarre in the tragic moments of his Oxygene and Equinoxe periods. This 45-second opening stops suffering when the sequencer activates a fat line created from kicking horses jumping in a linear chaotic motion. Harmonies of churches inject a paradoxical beauty to this bellicose movement which crosses an ambient phase around the 3 minutes. A phase where the rhythmic matrix corrects the shot by letting go of large filaments filled with jolts unfolding in reverberating and stroboscopic waves. A splendid oneiric melody moans through the Mellotron. She sticks a charm in our ears at the same time as isolated rhythmic jerks amplify the static origin of Close Encounter which has enough elements to be exploitable well beyond its 8 minutes. As evidenced this solid cosmic rock that saws our legs for not even 60 seconds before its too hasty seraphic finale. This is also that the discovery of VISITORS. And so on ... Fluid Emotions is a splendid electronic ballad sculpted in the emotions' shadow of its ambient rhythm line and its keys which empty of its austere auras. A short line of harmonic rhythm crisscrosses this not quite forming down-tempo with its rhythmic impulses lost on its 7-minute structure.
Gone Too Far gets rid of its intro of atmospheric elements, we are talking about more than 2½ minutes here, to rush headlong, like a rhythmic Berlin School train, in a strong linear movement which serves the cause of synths. Apart from the usual sound effects and other cosmic-industrial sound effects, these synths exorcise other tonal demons in addition to weaving hybrid melodious approaches and thirsty vampire solos from our ears. Clicks accompany the rhythmic sustained like a stubborn beast of the sequencer, while wooden clogs dance the tap in the last moments of Gone Too Far. It's an excellent Berlin School that we will like even more with each new listening. Ditto for Exotic Landscape which flees an opening of 90 seconds of cosmic elements before offering one of those spasmodic rhythms that Tangerine Dream imported in its electric tour of 81-82. If the circular synth layers have a Jean-Michel Jarre vision, the other synth effects are very close to those the trio Franke-Froese & Schmoelling has incorporated into their music. The rhythm is welded by continual jolts of the sequencer to which the Croatian musician ties pads of mist and inserts a lost key so that to desynchronize the New Berlin School perfection of Exotic Landscape. The layers of chthonic voices complete a decor that takes us back in time. And this journey is not over! Alien Plant, and its aquatic atmospheres, is an astonishing title that takes us back to Klaus Schulze's Dig It era. These chords carved from liquefied metal in layered glass, sounding like glockenspiel, are the masters of its limping opening. The glass pads sizzling with debris and static effects embellish this contemporary Dolce Vita which runs away with a very Berlin School movement from the sequencer. Full volume my friends! Dream Creatures ends this excellent album with a hopping movement which is lost in an immense canvas of vellum fraying in industrial dusts. The synth roars reverberating harmonies which wriggle like a huge ascarid at birth. This tone is threatening and at no time lets think of a more musical suite with a good synth blowing its solos like musical crystal on a rhythmic approach that has become more uniform. A more nervous rhythm where Markov inserts this disturbing key, maintaining a more limpid and sustained axis where the immense mechanical clicks and its keyboard riffs of the Le Parc years are the abstract complements to these wonderful synth solos which supported with grace an ambient and static track that we're going to love listening to listening even more. Irreparable sign that K. Markov and Synphaera have just given us a little gem that will grab our ears for the next weeks. A worthy successor to Interactivity.
Sylvain Lupari (August 28th, 2020) ****¼*
Available at Exosphere Bandcamp