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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

LA PONTO ENSEMBLO: Eniwetok Suite (2021)

The imbalance between its beauty and destruction is more violent than the message conveyed in music

1 I Black Sand 10:14

2 Knee Play 1 (a theme) 3:54

3 II Fragrant Clouds / Synchro Set Up 7:46

4 Knee Play 2 (a feeling) 3:51

5 III Light Anthem 7:15

6 Knee Play 3 (dust) 9:19

7 IV Synergy and Silence 8:08

(CD-R/DDL 50:31) (V.F.)

(Neo-classical, Avant-gardist EM)

We can say that SynGate has a lot of ideas! After a crispy album of scary sound effects, Pete Farn-Sweet Metal, the German label offers us another sound universe which remains in the spheres of avant-gardism. La Ponto Ensemblo is a new duo which brings together Hans-Dieter Schmidt, from Imaginary Landscape and Bridge To Imla, to the American musician E-Clark Cornell. Both artists are drawn to neo-classical and experimental music. ENIWETOK SUITE is a whistleblower album of what happened in Eniwetok, near the Marshall Islands, during the US hydrogen bomb tests. On the one hand there is the raw beauty of the atoll. And on the other hand, we have the terrible destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons. But… there is a creepy, surreal beauty to these explosions. And it is in an admirable way that La Ponto Ensemblo set this to music.

The use of traditional instruments is at the heart of the charms of I Black Sand. Samples of living water teleport us to its opening which seduces with a beautiful fluty ode whose breezes make the ornamental chimes sparkle. The tonal decor is splendid where the fine sand receives the ongoing feet of a fictitious tribe and its hubbub dancing with the sunrise. A layer of voices hums in the scents of oriental orchestrations while an element of stridence flies over these paradisiacal ambiences. Even if ambient and acoustic, there is a level of intensity which clings to a muffled movement of rhythm. One would tell that it sounds like riffs of ambiences flowing by jerks imitating the cascades melted in the background. The tinklings and the tears of Chinese violins add a cinematic depth to an opening where all the elements of a morning nature constantly frees us from this tension. The suite in ENIWETOK SUITE is interrupted by interludes; the Knee Play. The first one features orchestrations that have an intimate link with the album's opening title. Violins and cellos are heart-wrenching here on Knee Play 1 (a theme). Immediately the acoustic riffs of II Fragrant Clouds / Synchro Set Up are startling. The echo effect traps celestial voices which become prisoners of the keyboard chords falling sharply into this spiral where dissonance flirts with the avant-gardism. Flute jets are lost in this maze of rhythm which dissolves in the tenderness of oriental instruments. The influence of Philip Glass is recognizable in this title which falls under the wrath of rowdy percussions and curious effects of voice swollen by the gases of unrealism. Knee Play 2 (a feeling) injects a dose of New Age musicality that is good to hear. A progressive New Age certainly but which remains in the field of the listenable from end to end. I write listenable, because ENIWETOK SUITE has this curious habit of sowing the wind and reaping its storm. Like in the opening of III Light Anthem which combines the tenderness of its strings and a beautiful choir whose piano buried in a melodious approach fights against the growth of violins whose sibylline vision throws another anchor of discord which is difficult if one seeks tranquility. We must not forget either the essence of this work which was born in the brutal beauty of nuclear tests on an earthly paradise. Knee Play 3 (dust) reminds us with a first 4 seraphic minutes before heaviness settles with a taste of metal melted in the embers of the friction of bows on the strings of violins and cellos. It's the kind of universe of discordance that makes my patience bleed. Should I go to the end? And why not! Especially since IV Synergy and Silence is the most beautiful title on this album whose constant tension and paradoxical paths respect the logic of its denunciations.

Considering its playing field, ENIWETOK SUITE is an album that must be heard with your ears riveted to its history. The imbalance between its virginal beauty and its destruction by unscrupulous conquerors is more violent than the message conveyed in music. In this mix of Kitaro, Mike Oldfield and Philip Glass, La Ponto Ensemblo succeeds more often in moving us than its opposite.

Sylvain Lupari (February 7th, 2021) ***¾**

Available at SynGate Luna Bandcamp

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