LAMP: The Three Towers (2012)
“This is a great album where retro Berlin School bathes in progressive ambiences with just what it takes to make us topple over”
1 The Tower of Breganze 20:19
2 The Tower of Aurumshade 17:51
3 The Tower of Diameter 19:28
(CD/DDL 58:38) (V.F.)
(England & Berlin Schools)
Based on the woven tales of Bernodine, a scientist as unknown as his fame, THE THREE TOWERS by Lamp is the answer to the surprising Phoenix Arising by Steve Smith and the Tylas Cyndrome which surprised the world of progressive EM and the English School in 2011. Lamp also came out of Volt's right thigh, in the presence of Michael Shipway (the other half of Volt) on synthesizers and sequencers and Garth Jones, a longtime friend, on guitars. THE THREE TOWERS is a first album of the new duo and a very good one which has a particular cachet with its artwork and its wink to the Tolkien saga; The Lord of the Rings. Except that far from being in the lands of an EM with aromas of the Middle Ages, this album is built on 3 long musical chapters where the vaporous mellotrons and synths with solos of yesteryear caress those as well as the harmonies of a very romantic guitar on evolving rhythms which are sculpted on good sequences and programmed percussions. The music transcends that of the Middle Earth , let's stay on the thematic, in order to offer us a musical journey as epic as the tales of Bernodine (the universe as seen by Bernodine), whose extracts can be read on Michael Shipway's website.
The Tower of Breganze introduces us to this dazzling world of a hybrid EM with iridescent strata of a metallic guitar floating in the soft comfort of a soft mellotron mist. This exhilarating mist, that transports us far beyond our dreams and waltz between our two hemispheres, also serves as a bulwark for Michael Shipway's synth which molds twisted solos. These EM solos with scents of vintage years coo down our ears, like songs of mermaids in distress on dry ice floes, when the more harmonious chords of Garth Jones hum around a threatening fine pulsation. The rhythm slowly settles down with a line of sequences whose chords which pulsate in a random manner outline a nervous rhythmic approach and follow the spiral movement of a phantom bass line. This revolving rhythm is harpooned by programmed percussions, propelling The Tower of Breganze into the mixed universe of a progressive electronic rock which swirls in a heavy minimalist spiral. Displaying a disarming contrast between its rotary heaviness and its astonishing rhythmic velocity, this heavy tempo rolls like a powerful circular race with a more than poetic guitar whose solos and choruses stuffed with a Latin flavor dance below the bludgeoning percussions and under these mellotron clouds which used to lull the genesis of The Tower of Breganze. This mist of Mellotron casts a veil of mysticism on the introduction of The Tower of Aurumshade with sung layers floating in a cosmos enchanted by the romantic guitar of Garth Jones. Fine synth solos crisscross this Eden of cotton wool, rooting this intro in its envelope of mist until the first pulsations which draw up a rhythmic canvas similar to the The Tower of Breganze. Slowly, and with the help of sequences that flutter like wasps, the rhythm wakes up like a wolf with beautiful tears of violin that weep on the chords of a dreamlike guitar until the insistence of pulsations stumble on an amalgam of sequences with divided flow. And like a long auditory orgasm which remains stuck on its climax of enjoyment, in order to extract all the maximum of its pleasure, the rhythm takes off a little after the 13th minute, adopting the torrent of Breganze percussions while the guitar, more incisive, beats the pace with furious solos. Strangely and unlike the press guide, The Tower of Diameter is my favorite title, and here's why! First of all, the intro whips our senses with its strong cosmic breezes which weave iridescent winds on a ghostly plain crushed by a wandering guitar. We are in the heart of a dark imaginary world where the winds whistle with a noisy intensity on a rhythm which blossoms after the third minute with glaucous resonances' pulsations. A good line of limpid and fluid sequences whirls with celestial grace around this single-phase rhythm which hops limply, as if asleep by harmonic chords of a keyboard courting the bites of an oneiric guitar. The sequences and impulses merge into a single rhythmic zone when lines with Hindu psychedelic tones cast a clan and progressive aura on a passage which quietly sinks towards oblivion before being reborn with curt riffs. And the superb and astonishing rhythmic structure of The Tower of Diameter spreads out all its splendor with riffs that sound strangely like The Police (Every breath you take) enveloped in a serene cosmic mist. The next 10 minutes which flow into our ears are simply enchanting. Solos of guitars and synths exchange their musical poems on an oblong hypnotic rhythm that large celestial clouds caress with a lyrical veil, wrapping the rhythms and ambiences of a theme to forge the most beautiful of earworms.
As you may have guessed, THE THREE TOWERS is a wonderful album where the retro Berlin School style bathes in progressive ambiences with just what it takes to tip us upside down from the mirror of the comfort of minimalist rhythms. We have a good feeling for the rhythmic overlaps that we hear coming from the miles around that we are still speechless before their attacks as vicious as predictable, sign of a magnificently honed opus which is completely in tune with these tales of which we just don't know where they come from. And what about those mellotrons? Hum quite lovely. My favorite for 2012!
Sylvain Lupari (July 25th, 2012) ****½*
Available at Groove NL