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  • Sylvain Lupari

Klangwelt Here and Why (2022)

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

Arend fills each of his 78 minutes in order to make our ears overflow with pleasure

1 Propaganda 6:31

2 Cold War Child 8:04

3 Corium 6:26

4 Futurist 6:00

5 Noir 6:25

6 Information 5:34

7 Escape 6:06

8 Attic 9:00

9 Wake up. Sleep. Repeat 4:44

10 Muse 6:33

11 Ago 5:03

12 An Explanation of Life 7:17

Spheric Music | SMCD6104

(CD 77:49) (V.F.)

(Synthwave EDM E-Rock)

Gerald Arend, aka Klangwelt, had a busy year in 2022, both in work and emotionally. He finalized and mixed the album of his late friend Ulrich Mühl, the very good and very Jarre Earth Express by Roger Universe. In the meantime, he composed the music for what was to become the German musician's 5th album, HERE AND WHY. It is by listening to its music that one fully seizes the dimension of this title. Building on the dynamism of the rhythms we found in The Incident, this new album is one that is filled with bitterness with a more pessimistic musical vision here than on the 4 previous albums of Klangwelt. The universe of HERE AND WHY turns on rhythms of fire. Rhythms that combine synthpop with Trance and Electronica, pleasantly mixing the universes of Jean-Michel Jarre, between Magnetic Fields and his Electronica series, Faber, Kraftwerk, Vangelis and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in an ambitious 78 minutes project with 12 tracks that connect us directly, via samplings and arrangements, to the tragic events (pandemic, war, famine, extreme climate change and economic crisis) that have killed hundreds of thousands of human beings, in addition to undermining the morale of the entire planet since the spring of 2020. The multiple samplings and vocoder effects add a cinematic dimension to the music, while the fluctuations in the bass waves and orchestrations bring a more dramatic vision. A very solid album!

Propaganda begins with a repetitive keyboard chord that jumps around in an environment that swells with samples of neighborhood life. Among other things, we hear hubbub, military footsteps, sirens, helicopter noises and dog barking. The keyboard breaks away from its sober linear gait to weave a melancholy melody that flickers among fireman's mask breathing effects, pulsating leaps and scarlet-colored synth streaks. Apart from the spoken voices, including the one in the background, the voice layers have this little depressing side. More atmospheric than anything else, the first 4 minutes of Propaganda progress with bits of melodies that twist in ephemeral spirals. The pulsating rhythm jumps with more velocity later on. And coupled with military percussion rolls, it invites us to a sort of collective jubilation in an illusion of a carnival and of its hundred sound spells. After an opening fed by orchestral layers that float to cling to a brief keyboard melody, Cold War Child deploys a blistering evolving rhythm. A solid bass-pulse line pulses brightly with a circular effect, inviting wooden percussion, like Leftfield in Release The Pressure, to make resonate their skin on a simply irresistible Trance Electronica rhythm. There is some Jean-Michel Jarre in this structure built by rhythmic scale. And if you like the electronic rhythm anthems of the French musician, tracks like Futurist, very good in its rhythm, effects and melody, as well as the tribal essence of An Explanation of Life, should definitely please you. Noir is another track that exploits a furious rhythm with very good percussive elements and synth blades that cut out the strategy, adding an apocalyptic touch. Corium follows with buzzing waves and organic percussive effects that adorn an opening that drifts quietly into a stop and go rhythm structure. The piano adds a melancholic element reminiscent of Faber's world, especially with a dramatic intensity in the heavenly voice layers. The melody is of the magnetizing kind and fits very well with this rhythm structure that will always stay between its two motions. The synths have this dark and nostalgic perfume of Vangelis on a JM Jarre background.

Samples from a newsroom inform us that we are in Information. The rhythm is heavy and driving with its flurry of twirling arpeggios. The sound and vocoder effects as well as this rhythm structure, bouncing like a big rubber band stretched to the maximum, bring back memories of the synthpop years. In particular the worlds of OMD and Kraftwerk, for the melodious arpeggios, with a more heaviness and a more amplified sound dimension. Chants coming from a kind of minaret initiate the ambiences of Escape. This opening is covered with arpeggios that flicker in a circular melody, A pulsating rhythm, set on a mesh of sequences and percussions, starts to beat. The percussions have a Berber electronic tribal texture with increasingly vivid strokes which puts life to a strobe-like movement of a heavy bass line. After a brief passage of ambient dub, Escape dives into a much more frenzied rhythmic structure, the percussion work is remarkable here, which is mainly propelled by orchestral strings in Disco Dance mode. That too, does very Jarre! If you're fascinated by Middle Eastern moods, the slow pulsating structure of Ago is soaked in it. Each Klangwelt album has that pearl of romance and melancholy that is laid down by a ballad filled with nostalgia. Attic is that pearl in HERE AND WHY! The piano is soul-stirringly delicate, building a melody filled with tears. Its crescendo overpowers the dynamics of the rhythm whose speed matches its dramatic bent. The violins and this delicately spasmodic rhythm lead to a finale that shakes the walls of our emotions. It's beautiful and it can wet that dry river of our eyes. There's more than one layer of rhythm to propel Wake up. Sleep. Repeat. There's a vibrating synth one, a fairly discreet pulsing bass line, percussive rattles, percussive effects and a two-speed sequencer. The result gives a curt and lively rhythm, like a marathon runner speeding up, with a sequencer that dribbles its jumping keys and percussions that hit in rotational mode. The keyboard weaves a nice line of melodious arpeggios. Some guitar riffs complete a rhythmic dynamic which takes a more upbeat rise in the second half of a track which lets hover some nice spectral melodies from the synth. A rather particular title, Muse is built on slow jerky movements of orchestrations which encircle a guitar with a country-western essence. A layer of Celtic voice, kind of Enya, embellishes this decor but not at the expense of a very beautiful carousel of melodious arpeggios. A fascinating New-Age on a stop'n'go rhythmic approach, like music in a futuristic cinema texture, and voice effects like this Diva in The 5th Element movie. One remains surprised at the first listening, and one becomes seduced with the following ones. A recurring phenomenon in HERE AND WHY where Klangwelt fills each of its 78 minutes with an accumulation of musical and sonic richness, layers of rhythms and atmospheres, melodies and cinematographic essences to make our ears overflow with pleasure and emotion.

Sylvain Lupari (November 1st, 2022) ****¼*

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