KEBU: Urban Dreams (2021)
“The only weakness of this upbeat album is to be hyper commercial”
1 Enter Dreamland 1:39
2 Discovering Utopia 5:25
3 Another Reality 2:36
4 Free from the Pain 6:02
5 Memories of Youth 3:02
6 Chased by the Ghost of Yesterday 3:30
7 Echoes of the Moment 1:09
8 Fleeting Lights 5:07
9 Late for the Meeting in the Maze 6:23
10 Hope 4:15
11 Distant Shores 2:21
12 Saved by MacGyver 6:23
13 Meeting the Ice Princess 1:44
14 Arrival of the Tomato Plant Monsters 4:27
15 A Call of Loneliness 1:17
16 Super Troopers 6:14
17 Clear Skies 5:44
18 Regrets 1:48
19 Dreamwalkers 4:16
20 Dream of Hope 2:04
(CD/DDL 75:37) (V.F.)
The refraction of the falling chords is strident. A line of reverberations comes out of it to twist in a sinuous movement and turn into a buzzing shadow as soon as electronic sound effects start raining down over apocalyptic synth layers. Tracks like Enter Dreamland act as introductions, transitional phases, or lunar lullabies, to separate the chapters of URBAN DREAMS. We feel it as soon as 4 melodious arpeggios open the strong Discovering Utopia and its heavy rhythm built on the model of narrative music. Choruses and musical verses follow each other on a heavy and spheroidal rhythm structure with strobe elements in the choruses. A lively and very musical track with an earworm weaving keyboard. There are at least a dozen similar tracks on this URBAN DREAMS. This 3rd solo album of Sebastian Kebu Teir is built around rock and synth-pop themes from the MTV years, without forgetting the famous power ballads with heavy percussions and synth solos that takes itself for a guitar. The musical style is mainly based on Jan Hammer and Giorgio Moroder, with winks to the commercial phases of Jean-Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream. In short, an easily accessible EM. Kebu is a well-known figure in the world of electronic music (EM). The Finnish-born musician became known through his YouTube videos where he performed tracks by the above-mentioned artists. His videos and concerts have been viewed over 70 million times around the world. His music is highly infectious and is performed with analog synthesizers. These YouTube performances, his concerts and his album Perplexagon earned him the award for best artist at the German Schallwelle Music Awards in 2018.
Another Reality is an atmospheric track with intense invasive synth pads. After an intro rolled in the melancholy of its arpeggios, Free from the Pain proposes a good ballad with a synth with poignant moans. The electronic percussions are always so powerful on this structure which develops an up-tempo as a second phase to return in ballad mode afterwards. Memories of Youth is a symphonic movement a la Synergy in Audion. This is followed by the heavy and slow structure of Chased by the Ghost of Yesterday which is quite aptly titled. Echoes of the Moment is a beautiful, sparkling lullaby. It precedes Fleeting Lights which, after a honeyed introduction shining with good arpeggios, runs away in the skin of a good synth-pop with guitar effects. The kind of thing we heard at the cradle of MTV; beat-box percussions included. Late for the Meeting in the Maze offers an introduction in a musical happening mode before some fat chords redirect the whole thing in an electronic rock mixed with pop-rock. Introduction, chorus and verses! It's simple and efficient as anything. But also very catchy. Hope is a little melodic wonder with arpeggios falling curtly like snowflakes on staccato clouds. The arpeggios brighten their hues to become more melodic. The percussions and keyboard harmonies take care of the rest to make this one of the very good tracks on URBAN DREAMS. The sound of waves comes from afar in Distant Shores, an ambient track hummed by a synth through a nasal veil.
You can't say that Kebu is copying and pasting as he continues to create his orderly structures. Saved by MacGyver is another lively track with nervously bouncing chords. Sequenced chords that spin around to get caught up in some solid percussions and good hazy synth pads. The melody is celestial like cosmic with just the right amount of nostalgic tenderness. You can't help but like it! Meeting the Ice Princess is another good track with a beautiful lullaby-ballad made for a night under the stars. Arrival of the Tomato Plant Monsters follows with a structure to match its title. It sounds like a cross between the Jive era and the Seattle years of Tangerine Dream. Tender and melancholic, A Call of Loneliness is as beautiful as Meeting the Ice Princess. I told you that there was no copy and paste on this album. And yet with the number of tracks, one would be inclined to think the opposite. Even a track like Super Troopers surprises us with its emotional velocity on a structure still very narrative-musical and whose military approach takes us by surprise. Something for teenagers, like many other structures on this album that loosens the legs while feeding the ears eager for a more accessible EM. The jerky flow of Clear Skies nevertheless welcomes the slow staccato harmonious sound of a music that would have sounded good on the Top Gun 2022 soundtrack. Guitar, heavy and slow percussions are the elements that make this track appealing. The music of Regrets is in accordance with its title with an overwhelming structure where arpeggio flakes fly over a spheroidal anthem. This leads into the opening of Dreamwalkers, which builds with synth-guitar to land in one of the good power ballads of the album. It sounds like Scorpions, without Klaus Meine and a shy Rudolf Schenker on guitar. Dream of Hope is very stuck on the finale and offers one in a ballad style where confusion takes over our ears with this synth disguised like a guitar that always has the upper hand over the arpeggios.
I asked Sebastian Teir for a promotional copy, so I have to talk you about this URBAN DREAMS whose only weakness is to be hyper commercial. It's all in the flashy! The structures are ordered with a certain level of intensity that earns its place without becoming too disturbing. There are some good, powerful, poignant ballads, just like in my early 30's. It's not bad, or predictable. It's just placid and overly calculated. So much that I peeled back the album in 7 track increments, after listening to it a good half dozen times. And no, I don't think I'll listen to this last Kebu album again unless it's to make people dance or to introduce new ears to this sweet 80's EM style.
Sylvain Lupari (December 15th, 2021) ***½**
Available on Kebu Bandcamp