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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KELLER & SCHONWALDER: Long Distances (2011)

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

If you like long sequential processions and minimalist structures à la Berlin School, Long Distances is for you

1 Long Distances 26:33

2 Metropolis 41:11

3 September Moods 7:10

(CD/DDL 74:54) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

One of EM's beauties is its capacity to exploit the minimalist structures while adding other parallel, ambient, rhythmic or/and melodious structures. Spread in time, LONG DISTANCES is the fruit of long night-recording sessions, excepted for Metropolis, where Keller & Schönwälder plunges deeply into luscious sequential processions. Brilliant sequences which are subdivide, uncross and get entangle in a fine rhythmic disorder or in a delicate hypnotic obsession. Sequences which are wrapped of by an interesting fauna illustrated by synths where hybrid solos are next to breezes of mist and cosmic sound effects. Welcome to the good crossroads of long minimalist structures filled of latent evolutions. Welcome to LONG DISTANCES, the romantic and enchanting musical universe of Detlev Keller and Mario Schönwälder. A universe unique to this nostalgic duet which continues to charm in this ever enchanting and bewitching world of Berlin School.

A rangy dark breath introduces Long Distances. It's a long hollow breeze, crossed by spectral and iridescent waves, crisscrossing a long sinuous corridor to quietly converge on the first sequenced stammering. There, a fine sequence emerges from the cosmic tones and skip weakly in a sound fauna made of composite tones. Streaks and cosmic sound effects linked to morphic layers and the gamboling of crystal-clear keys in the footprints of the sequencer cover this slow procession. Mysterious and claustrophobic, Long Distances pursues its slow and long minimalist ascension by wrapping itself of its melodies and of its parallel ambiences on a movement from which the subtle variations are flooded by fine white noises, wandering and celestial choirs, pads and mists of an iridescent mellotron as well as by brief synth solos. Ghostly solos, filled of Tangerine Dream aromas, which bring us unmistakably back towards the enchanting and mysterious minimalist structures of Klaus Schulze and of the Berlin School genre at the end of the 70's era. These solos come and go on this slow hypnotic procession, as well as on Metropolis, of which the last minutes are fed by breaths and metallic sound effects, bringing a dramatic crescendo which pours into the first modulations of Metropolis.

Recorded live, this long 41 minutes track is inspired by this cult movie from the German director Fritz Lang. Following the tetanized mist of Long Distances, piano notes come out of the abyssal mists to draw a soft melody which delicately leaves its notes over an iridescent and twisted wave. Little by little, this tenebrous intro clears a warmer web with this piano which draws hesitating melodies in a heavy pearlescent drizzle and warm cottoned pads, while metallic hoops collide and flitter nervously. We are in the 10th minute mark and Metropolis wakes up to the sound of heavy industrial pulsations to structure a rhythmic which will be in constant rebellion between its hypnotic beat and its anarchy reflection. Undulating threatening streaks cover the reverberations of these pulsations, plunging this long track towards nervous sequences which skip restlessly beneath mysterious nocturnal vocalizes. Sequences intersect and stamp in the furrow of their echoes before embracing a hyper-active phase and pulsing frenziedly in a stunning disorder. These sudden sequenced awakenings are the cornerstone of this long track which presents a bewitching sequential movement of which the first structure is backed by pulsatory arrhythmic sequences. Sequences sometimes fluid and sometimes wild are weaving polyrhythmic cadences below the wings of good synth solos as calculated as improvised, in the vein of these long hypnotic solemn masses of the Berlin School. These pleasant and spectral solos free cosmic tones as the amplitude of the movement tergiversate whereas electronic percussions are grafted to sequences, amplifying even more the rhythm and its disorder which flows under superb ghostly solos, ochre lamentations and metallic zombie voices. September Moods puts an end to this surprising sequenced procession and puts an end to LONG DISTANCES with a fine sequential movement which waddles under a good bass line and suave solos to tones of a solitary saxophone, before embracing the morphic breaths of a mellotron mist which pushes crystalline stars out of ears reach. But this sequential movement returns little by little, just to revive this sequenced flame which is the enchanting premise of this other very good Keller & Schönwälder opus.

You like long sequencer-based processions fed by fine harmonious approaches? You like minimalist structures which are skillfully dressed of a sweet musicality? Do you miss these long hypnotic structures proper to Berlin School? Keller and Schönwälder's LONG DISTANCES is then quite indicated to you. It's an album amazingly bewitching where sequences and percussions shape rhythms as hypnotic as wild under iridescent mist and solos from synths with hybrid tones. An album that will please for sure to fans of Keller & Schönwälder, as well as those who enjoy these long mesmeric structures of Berlin School with a more contemporary sound.

Sylvain Lupari (November 2nd, 2011) *****

Available at Manikin Bandcamp

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