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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KELLER & SCHONWALDER: Pure Relaxation (2013)

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

The Manikin label transcends the shape and colors of relaxation music such as shown by the American market under the name of New Age

1 Regeneration (Detelf Keller) 25:18

2 Floating Images (Mario Schönwälder) 24:11

3 The Inner Light (Thomas Fanger) 25:52


(CD 75:26) (V.F.)

(Ambient and relaxing EM)

Is life stressful? Everyday problems take over and one has trouble sleeping? Are the pains gnawing at us and exasperating long minutes, even hours, of everyday life? This PURE RELAXATION from the Fanger, Keller & Schönwälder's trio is one of the very beautiful antidotes I've heard lately. Far from being some banal New Age which exploits at wear, strings and seraphic voices too cliché, PURE RELAXATION is a relaxing, soothing music which adopts the precepts and the principles long minimalist works with slow but constant evolutions of the German label Manikin. With their very stylized touches, the 3 friends worked on 3 long tracks where harmonies, ambiences and esotericism flirt with the very personal seal of Fanger, Keller & Schönwälder.

A little like a rough draft thought which little by little takes its shape, Regeneration drags its peace of mind from hesitating arpeggios of which tones of mirrors are dancing in the shadows of a line of bass sequences with motionless pulsations. The reverberations are of crystal and a somber perfume of nostalgia floats above the first seconds of Regeneration when another line of sequences gets loose to forge a soft melodic tick-tock which rings in the sighs of fictitious violins and cellos. These sequences swirl like ballerinas of glass, colliding their feet and elbows in a soft passive duel to finally draw a morphic melody whose minimalist approach is coated of dense clouds of mist. A soft flute rises over this harmonious pendulum where are still dragging uncertain arpeggios. The union is seraphic. The dreams take shape. And when a melancholic piano invites itself throughout the fog, Regeneration reaches its paroxysm of serenity. Certainly, the movement is ambivalent. Sometimes it's oneiric, sometimes it's just absentee with chords lost in the trails of cymbals. But always it comes back to its minimalist basis lost in mists, thoughts and orchestrations. These flutes, like these violins and these voices roaming such as spectres floating on the down of pearls strummed with anvil, call out to a serenity which accepts gladly the caresses of our eyelids over our eyes while we remember of these soft unexpected melodies of Detlev Keller's solo works, in particular Harmonic Steps or still Behind the Tears. Very beautiful!

We are floating adrift between cosmos and the ocean with the very ambient Floating Images from Mario Schönwälder which, by the way, wears its naming marvellously. It's a long morphic music piece where our ears are mixing with fascination the synth waves which float like submarine waves or seraphic wings. We hear voices murmured, like sung, dark themes here of which the weak harmonies appear to come from the oceanic bottom. A line of bass throws furtive chords which seem to snore in dense ethereal vapors while a line of sequence emerges from this sonic silence and made zigzag its keys which chirp and trample in a strange organic dance. Keyboard chords are popping up, adding a morphic depth to this long track where our ears are constantly dumbfounded by this meshing of synth lines with shape-shifting colors and harmonies. This is very deep and much relaxing. This impression to be under the water persists with The Inner Light and its skeleton of rhythm slightly groovy where the bass lines create subtle effects of organic swirls. On the other hand, Thomas Fanger exploits a rather tantric approach with an esoteric structure very near the Hindu hypnotic trances. Ethnic percussions and sitar effects decorate synth lines and fine solos filled with mist which raise their harmonies on an extremely mesmerizing structure which reminds me a little of Mind Over Matter's ambient and very musical rhythms, but especially of Osamu Kitijama on his brilliant and famous The Source. This is quite good.

The dreamy and romantic harmonies of Detlev Keller with the profound ambient and meditative structures of Mario Schönwälder by passing by the delicate groovy movements of Thomas Fanger, PURE RELAXATION brings new colors, new dimensions to the word of relaxation music. Without denying the origins of the minimalist and hypnotic structures so dear to the movement of Berlin School, this album transcends the borders of New Age such as defined by the American market. This is a very progressive, even audacious, way of doing music for relaxation or meditation where the electronic charms of Berlin School breathe in ambiences to weave waking dreams. I liked this a lot and it has landing in my IPod for night music. A DVD version is also available, just to modify the images that our imagination embroiders a little more in each new listening.

Sylvain Lupari (April 10th, 2014) ***½**

Available at Manikin Bandcamp

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