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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

LENSFLARE: Berlin Nights (2021)

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

Berlin Nights is an album of the more exploratory period of the Dream, the years 74-75

1 Phi 22:24

2 Epsilon 15:45

3 Sigma 10:32

(DDL 48:41) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

Imagine a swarm of bats fleeing its cellars illuminated by a flute-like song! You have the introduction of Phi. There is a dull industrial hum, a bit like light coming out of a crack to better let us hear the mellotron's song. The chant disintegrates and its floating remains are carried by this core of reverberations that compacts the opening into an ambient phase that justifies its passivity by the appearance of the sequencer after the 6th minute. Its pulsating movement draws circles in a storm of reverberations from which the mellotron expresses itself again, its song piercing a velum of mist dancing like a flame under the winds. The race and the song hit a wall towards nothingness some 20 seconds before the 11th minute. We are thus plunged into the mysteries of Phi, which are imagined in waves rolling in on themselves from its very opening. Drone's effects with powerful distorted chants, ghostly voice effects that melt away from the radiation of known electronic noises make up the next 4 minutes. And it is in a stagnant power that the rhythm explodes around the 15th minute. It has the appearance of a line of experimental oscillations that quietly adjust to create a rhythm bouncing with drive. The synth (mellotron?) weaves a good ambient chant that winds its way through the choreography of the keyboard riffs crashing down to the point of accelerating oscillations. It is thus on a more powerful and faster rhythm that the synthesizer dispatches its song until a final caught by drones which will fade away 20 seconds later.

BERLIN NIGHTS is a concept album by Lensflare. But beware, the concept of this new album is in the way of doing it. The idea has been in Andrea Debbi's head since a business trip he made to Germany. He took the opportunity to visit the places where the idols of his youth, Tangerine Dream, had performed in concert. And it was in the winter of the pandemic that he set up in his studio by nights to work with a sequencer to experiment and realize fluid and evolving analog sequences. He liquefied these structures in the charms of the mellotron, the drones of the Moog and other electronic tones. For Lensflare, this means composing in the manner of Tangerine Dream, which is also the way of the Berlin School. And he is not far from the truth! Because Phi literally sounds like experimental TD from the Phaedra years. The time when the mellotron was blooming in our ears.

The opening of Epsilon is centered on a good Mellotron air that floats between the chirping of electronic sparrows and strong winds. A bass line infiltrates the ambient movement, trying to awaken it from those false impulses that bounce back into a sonic envelope of as much power as diversity. It is at the point of these two extremes, around the 5th minute, that the sequencer activates its rhythmic lines which jump on each other before undertaking a rhythmic push which makes its balls oscillate in a static movement and under the better-defined tunes of the mellotron. There is a battle of harmony as two mellotron layers exchange courtesies. The rhythm palpitates for a big 5 minutes before entering its tube a little after the 10th minute, leaving Epsilon in its last part of ambiences filled by titanic layers of organs and synthesizers in the colors of red orange. Where the spectres play with tinkling bones and a greedy bass line becomes hungry again, like in the first moments of the track. Sigma is even more exploratory with bells rolling on top of thick layers of sound effects and that languidly tongued bass line. The movement is austere with escapes from the mellotron whose harmonies remain buried in this dense sonic membrane that hits a nest of oscillations stretched out in lines of reverberating drones around the 4th minute. The sequencer immediately spits out an explosive rhythmic vision that rises and falls sharply under the morphic caresses of synth and mellotron layers. The synth articulates choreographed movements with apocalyptic trumpet blasts and twisted solos with reverberating effects. We're really into Berlin School, just before it becomes more commercial with the Stratosfear album.

Strongly influenced by the improvisation sessions of Free System Projekt, BERLIN NIGHTS is an album more from the exploratory period of Tangerine Dream, the years 74-75 and the memorable concerts played around Rubycon and Phaedra. If you like sequencers and mellotrons, this new Lensflare album should please you effortlessly 😊

Sylvain Lupari (June 1st, 2021) ***½**

Available at Lensflare Bandcamp

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