LARS LEONHARD: Spaceflight (2020)
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
“An album of cosmic rhythms in a sound fauna where metal tastes of honey and where liquified tones are vital organs”
1 Spaceflight 6:09
2 Dragon Spacecraft 7:26
3 Gamma Ray Burst 6:22
4 Space Phenomena 6:40
5 Quasar 6:24
6 Unknown Matter 6:22
7 Blazar 5:48
8 Lenticular Galaxy 6:02
9 Chthonian Planet 6:16
10 Magnetar 6:32
11 Blitzar 5:24
(CD/DDL 69:27) (V.F.)
(Dub Ambient Cosmic Music)
Synphaera has become EM's candy store on this side of the planet. Since its creation in 2015, the American label has quickly carved out an enviable reputation while creating an electronic universe that adapts to all styles. Each work is carefully mixed and mastered, as well as presented in sleeves to the tuning forks of the music offered. The artist roster grows too and the label attracts new and big names regularly. I am thinking among others of Martin Stürtzer and K. Markov. The famous Lars Leonhard, a pioneer of Dub Space Music, is the last big name attracted by Synphaera. SPACEFLIGHT is a 21st album for the pride of Hilden, Düsseldorf. An album of cosmic rhythms in a sound fauna where metal tastes of honey and where liquified tones are vital organs.
A bass line undulating lasciviously, hoops of water which disintegrate and reform into bubbles as well as percussive effects, performed by woodpeckers having smoked a strange grass, are the elements that weave the opening of the title-track. The bassline is the first one to escape to prolong the extension of its lunar down-tempo as the solidified liquid becomes a horde of arpeggios which flutter like water butterflies. Each one has a harmonic sound and one direction that a line of percussive riffs supports in a more melodious second part in terms of keyboards effects and synth's. Describing the colors of Dub Space Music is like making psychedelic drawings all having the same common thread; either be lunar ambiences on soft rhythms. Dragon Spacecraft offers a rather dismal opening. A synth wave rises to float peacefully in a narrow corridor filled of wooshh and waashh, as early chords sparkle in their stationary positioning. Through different psybient effects, Dragon Spacecraft deploys an unsuspected cruising speed for a title that has began in uncertainty. Prismatic breaths accompany this outbreak, as well as good percussive effects, like these metal castanets kicking each other by an evening when the ice has trapped nature. Soft layers are at the origin of Gamma Ray Burst which offers us an ambient structure, despite a melodious approach cemented in a sequencer and percussions in mode Dub Ambient. Sculpted over 3 stages, the opening of Space Phenomena offers a cosmic panorama sculpted in tones that come and go with a slight accelerating effect that takes on a greater dimension as a melody ripples in ears finely linked to this other musical excursion in the land of Lars Leonhard's ambient tones. Comes just after a sequencer sculpting Tangerine Dream-like sequences à la White Eagle, releasing the hold of cosmic ice that was holding back its impulses. Quasar has a sustained rhythmic canvas with bass pulsations and sober double beat percussions. The melodious approach weaves an earworm into a sound fauna sculpted by these chords which come to die there on synth breaths woven in the Moons of Tangerine Dream.
Unknown Matter offers a kind of ambient industrial with a flock of synth waves undulating like Venus breezes. The rhythmic backbone is quite similar to what the German musician offers, a mixture of percussions and pulsations that make toom-toom. Percussive effects decorate this core while arpeggios always come there to disappear. Blazar resembles and sounds so much like a gentle lunar lullaby with a circular melody tied to a rhythm rolling painfully on itself. Although I liked Space Phenomena, Lenticular Galaxy is the song that caught my attention and my ears first on SPACEFLIGHT. The rhythm is sustained with the core of percussion and bass pulsations and percussive effects fluttering here and there. In its ambient phases, it becomes circular like these ambient Berlin School escalations. The melodic role of these percussions is as fascinating as very creative. And all of this takes place in the cosmic corridors of the album. In short, all the reasons are good to appreciate this title at the first listening. There is more than one rhythmic line in Chthonian Planet which is simply exquisite! The arpeggios feast like these snatches of rhythms in a canvas without any real goal, except to please the ears who appreciate this slightly Groovy bassline crawling on a surface in total deconstruction and which likes to reconstruct itself in contemporary influences which even go to progrock. Excellent! Like Magnetar which does very Robert Schroeder in his New Dance Music orientation, especially with the cackling effects in a more than very effective Dub Ambient structure. Blitzar ends SPACEFLIGHT with a structure that supports itself with a dense synth layer that will cling more firmly to a structure more in the morphic down-tempo genre. A sweet finale for an album where the best goes through the end.
Well...except for a few tracks, I had a bit of difficulty getting through this new album from Lars Leonhard. I used to like his music much more in the Ultimae Records era where he offered one or two tracks a year, in a compilation or in an E.P. But it's a fan of Berlin School, or yet of progressive EM, who speaks to you about it. In the end, I think the elements outside the rhythmic structures, which sound so near one from the other, are the main assets of these Dub-Ambient genre. At this level, this SPACEFLIGHT is an album that takes more expression outside a pair of headphones. The sound fauna is so rich there and its timbre is so crystalline that the experience is better in good speakers. And considering the incredible mastering of 24 bit from Don Tyler, aka Ascendant, Transponder and Remote Vision, I consider that the music and its ambiences incredibly fascinating are worth the buying of the ddl.
Sylvain Lupari (December 16th, 2020) ***¾**
Available at Synphaera Bandcamp