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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KURTZ MINDFIELDS: Synthr3 The Burning School Tape (2020)

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

It took a few listens before I could properly connect to this amazing Berlin School album

1 Rubicochet Parts One & Two 13:41

2 Sense of Illusion is Beautiful 8:20

3 Phedre 74 3:55

4 Echoes of Spacetime 11:55

5 The Ennio Betreyal 7:44

6 Rubicochet Part Three 9:40

(CD 55:19) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

A musical clamor rises up by raising a plethora of cosmic sound effects from the analog era. A fat chord falls and then two more! The resonance spreads a vibrating bed that stretches into a synth layer. It's the sequencer's turn, polyphonic, to launch a neurotic rhythmic line where the jumping balls come out in disorganized herds from all sides. They run, gambol and dribble in an aggressive rhythmic pattern, like all these elements that surround it. Rubicochet Parts One & Two deploys rhythmic lines belted by cosmic effects and those fat chords that come back to haunt a passage where precisely the electronic trumpets of the synths roar in a setting that will be familiar to aficionados of Tangerine Dream's old rhythmic ways. To tell you, everything is excessive in this track where the essences of TD are an excuse to make hear the enormous possibilities of the Synthr3. Beaten by solid percussions, girded by organic electronic effects, and raised by synth layers with a brassy perfume, the rhythm begins an atmospheric turn a little after the 5th minute. It's in another sound dimension very close to the psychedelism of the time that Kurtz Mindfields invites us. Over a distance of nearly 4 minutes, the French synthesist explores the rich sonic dimensions of his new toy with an extremely powerful sound level for an atmospheric phase. Rarely serene and trampled on all sides by evasive, if not fleeting, rhythmic orientations, this phase spits out its rhythm 8 seconds before the 9th minute, plunging Rubicochet Parts One & Two first into a phase where the synth layers twirl in a horizontal tubular movement. The pure rhythm remains hidden, letting the synth deploy its solos and loops before the trumpets of Jericho sound the charge for a concentrated rhythm in a spasmodic hard core. The solos are simply divine in this phase which alone explains the origins of SYNTHR3 THE BURNING SCHOOL TAPE.

Jean-Luc Briançon was the musician chosen by Rémy Wasselin to test and develop the famous Synthr3 semi-modular synth. A synth entirely designed in France, the Synthr3 is a modern semi-modular synthesizer with three-way paraphony, duophony, MIDI control, arpeggiator, integrated sequenceŕ, and modulation matrix memorization. Able to take on the colors of any of the famous interchangeable filters, such as Oberheim, ARP, and Moog, it's an all-around beast, both in the studio and on stage for live performances. Kurtz Mindfields learned its rudiments and how to use it while giving it the proper colors to concoct a superb Berlin School vintage style album that was released without fanfare in December 2020, a few months after the official launch of the Synthr3. The musicality is exceptional, as is the 55 minutes of an album that presents a more modern face of vintage Berlin School.

Cosmic waves and beeps stretching in mixed tones compete with woosshh trails and industrial breezes to see which of them best feed the first 110 seconds of Sense of Illusion is Beautiful. The precision of the sounds enhances the listening quality of this track driven mainly by sequenced crystalline arpeggios that take a zigzag and spiral route. The limpid tone of these shimmering pearls illuminate a rhythmic structure for neurons that is caressed by a bass line with muted elastic impulses. The track offers beautiful atmospheric momentums without approaching a rhythmic figure, unlike the violent jolts and oscillations of Phedre 74. The discovery of SYNTHR3 THE BURNING SCHOOL TAPE is not made without clashes, so much the structures are complex and require some listenings. In fact, only Rubicochet Parts One & Two and the furious Rubicochet Part Three are tracks that catch us instantly because they are part of known and memorable albums. A track like Echoes of Spacetime requires fighting the first 4 minutes of intergalactic ambiences where you finally find Klaus Schulze's sound etiquette in this mix of unfinished orchestrations and wandering bats. The mellotron here is divine. Riding with the rhythm, it gallops limply with its misty layers whose tremors create heavenly harmonies. The numerous radioactive sound effects surround this movement that enters a short transition phase with synth solos and prismatic tunes tied on its back, before immediately exiting on an always lively structure anchored to lively oscillations. The Ennio Betreyal is a stateless track. You have to dig into Jean-Luc's jazz repertoire to find a certain perfume of musical freshness. Undeniably, Berlin School is alive with a good sequencer structure, as gaseous spurts tickle my sound-seeking instincts. At times, the synth throws in some very Froesien harmonies that are good to hear in a lively structure propelled by the audacity of progressive jazz rock. An excellent track from Kurtz Mindfields.

It took a few listens before I could properly connect with SYNTHR3 THE BURNING SCHOOL TAPE. By trying to do too much, in order to properly exploit the Synthr3, Jean-Luc Briançon moves away from the targeted listener, the Berlin School fan, by forcing the note a little too much and thus taking the music into more complex territories. We will quickly forgive this mistake, once the 6 structures are assimilated. And that will come quicklier than you might think...

Sylvain Lupari (September 6th, 2021) ****¼*

Available at Kurtz Mindfields Bandcamp

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