“Between complexity and accessibility, here's a beautiful album that will please TD fans”
1 New Horizon 6:40
2 Dream Glide 7:40
3 Cave World 5:30
4 Fantasy Plays 5:08
5 Towards Truth 2:05
6 Runguar 2:30
7 Secret Call 5:27
8 Chain of Images 8:32
9 Deep Cloud 2:37
10 Fading Memories 8:02
11 Candle 1:52
12 Bon Courage 8:28
(CD/DDL 64:36) (V.F.)
(Melodic Berlin School)
It takes a few listens to get used to New Horizon's shifting structure. As soon as we do, our ears enter a world of electronic music (EM) that scents of the Schmoelling years (are we surprised?) with a zest of Tangerine Dream from the Jive years, Private Music and even that flamboyant electronic rock period of the Seattle years. It begins with a pensive acoustic guitar texture over a bed of buzzing synth waves. Some 20 seconds later, it's an electronic rock as energetic as a horde of horses speeding down a narrow road that takes hold of our ears. The rhythm exhausts its electronic percussions in a more ethereal passage not even 30 seconds later, where the synth plays short snatches of melody over a clarinet timbre. Very New Age. And the rhythm picks up again with a steady gallop through these same stages. It twitches like a wild horde, sometimes even like those cavalrymen arriving as reinforcements on a battlefield, to be interspersed with good synth tunes and those clarinet harmonies. The first thing I try to notice when discovering an album is the link between the music and the essence of its title. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn't! The 12 tracks and some 65 minutes of BON COURAGE breathe in the meaning of its title. The moods, rhythms and melodies are all linked to this expression that encourages us to keep going...even if life can be difficult at times. Admirably composed and well structured, the music on Lambert's latest opus follows the tangent of Drachenreise, already 8 years old, with longer or shorter structures still inspired by the worlds of Johannes Schmoelling - he co-wrote Fading Memories on this album, with or without Tangerine Dream - and the legendary Berlin trio from his Virgin period at Miramar.
Dream Glide follows with a delicate electric piano laying nostalgic arpeggios. Synth overlays this opening with a chant that accompanies the melancholy. A drummed rhythm line and electronic percussions join forces to further define the dance of arpeggios in a structure that evolves like a carousel spinning slowly through imaginary corridors. In addition to its orchestral haze, the synth elaborates airs that quietly scatter over a structure that begins to leap with greater heaviness, even flirting with a slightly stroboscopic texture. Cave World is a fascinating, obsessive melody with a Baroque evening party feel. A line of sequences designed with a suction-cup resonance effect jumps about, tracing oblong zigzags. The synth lays down short, harmonious solos with the bouquet of French romances. Sequenced arpeggios join in this staggering astral choreography. The movement becomes more jerky, a little like a long stroboscopic filament, and the shimmering effect of these arpeggios subtly modifies the timbre, unifying resonance and harpsichord tone, while a shadow of bass adds a warmer dimension to the music. Fantasy Plays is an electronic ballad based on a rhythmic movement that traces oblong harmonic zigzags. The timbre shimmers with the luminosity of the sequenced arpeggios. The synthesizer lays down orchestrations that sigh over this half-ambient, half-lively rhythm for switched-on neurons. Flute harmonies and synth solos twisting like earthworms on LSD make us dream, while the bass brings more warmth to this long movement that collects here and there the richness of the synth and a slight accentuation of the sequencer in its final stretch.
Towards Truth is a short track that meditates on the wandering tunes of an acoustic guitar. Runguar is a track sung over a rhythmic structure that is nonetheless quite catchy. Lambert adorns this rhythm with shimmering, melodious arpeggios and other synth effects, adding musical depth to a track that sounds like an encouragement chant on a feet excursion. In a structure reminiscent of Edgar Froese's signature in Stuntman and/or Pinnacles, Secret Call takes us back to a more convoluted electronic structure. Synth and keyboard unite different harmonic textures, completing the rhythmic spiral with muted beats. The sequencer redirects the tangent to a more accentuated rhythm as Secret Call reveals its musical secrets. It's the kind of music we love more and more each time we listen to it! Chain of Images is also a great track, with a buzzing opening reminiscent of Silver Scale. Except that here, the rhythm jolts along two axes of the sequencer. It hops along briskly in these very Dreamian arrangements. This track is a jewel for those who like the dimensions of the sequencer with its ratcheting technique among cadenced chords that leap in series as if alternating in a rhythmic structure too lively to dance to. The synth bass adds depth and musical warmth, while sequenced arpeggios burn different tones under the synth's philharmonic caresses. Cello strings and industrial gas effects are other elements that adorn this rhythmic structure where the sequences are shaking as if possessed by the dance of Saint Vitus. The last third of the track develops into a good electronic rock, supported by percussions and a synth with a good TD vibe. A very good track that electrifies the eardrums. Deep Cloud tempers the mood with an atmospheric track. A kind of dreamy ballad with very vaporous dimensions. Strange that Fading Memories, composed with Johannes Schmoelling, has so much of the essence of Tyger from the album of the same name! But the gentle cadence breathes Hyperborea's universe. And the album, like the title track. It replaces Schmoelling's universe, except that Tyger's melody, without Jocelyn B. Smith's voice, haunts the 8 minutes of this beautiful track. Lambert's highly musical and melodious album concludes with the title track and its ascending rhythm propelled by a galloping motion of the sequencer. The structure is divided by two rhythmic structures, one of which is less driving and slightly jerky. It's also more melodic, with good harmonic solos from the synth, its arrangements, sound effects and spectral vocal threads. For the rest, it's a catchy track based on a symbiosis of synth harmonies and rhythmic structure.
Sailing between complexity and accessibility, moving from docile, dreamy structures to more complex ones, BON COURAGE is a very fine EM album, with rather heterogeneous structures brought together by Lambert's highly melodic vision. This is Lambert as we know him, in tune with his latest collaborations with Bertrand Loreau and Johannes Schmoelling, on the albums Let the Light Surround You and 21. Are you a fan of TD? Of Schmoelling? Of that Berlin School that shone with more metallic textures from the Exit years to Le Parc? And even beyond those years? Lambert's music, not just BON COURAGE, is for you.
Sylvain Lupari (October 11th, 2023) *****
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