LENSFLARE: Dystopic Landscapes (2020)
“There are great moments in this album where the music and its stories are in close correlation with its title”
1 Obediences Electronique 8:00
2 Caustic Climate 5:44
3 Toxic Flora 6:04
4 Oxidised Atmospheres 5:10
5 Fallout of the Vapors 4:40
6 From Dusk till Doom 6:51
7 Life on the Barrier Reef 6:24
(DDL 42:54) (V.F.)
(Experimental Berlin School)
Italian culture has always favored a progressive approach, regardless of styles. And that's what makes Lensflare's music so enjoyable to discover. It certainly takes a few plays to adjust to his Berlin School style which flirts with the dynamism of cinema for each filmmaker in us, but once done we do not back down from any other of his albums… or almost! The music, and especially the panoramas that he presents to us in DYSTOPIC LANDSCAPES come out of the imagination. Look at the list of tracks and tell yourself that they stick to the musical reality of this latest album from the sympathetic Italian musician. First of all, the envelope! In an intense static broth, the firmament of the album is welded in incredible aurora borealis tinged with verdigris and of different emerald colors. It's like if the sky had become a huge swamp with cattails, charged with electricity, and muddy fluids that feed on the organic and ectoplasmic matter of DYSTOPIC LANDSCAPES' soils. Between the two, there are different rhythmic appearances... and our ears!
A big corkscrew effect opens the vagaries of Obediences Electronique. The electrified mass lets pass these strange twists which parade with a sinister chant dragging its tunes of hungry specters in the big furrows of its reverberations. A galloping movement of the sequencer releases a rhythm line knotted of its kicks which skip in these slow reverberating effects of the synth. The movement continues to kick like a herd of wild horses that zigzags under multiple synth layers and the intense mists of Mellotron. The sky has retracted. Trading its violence for an ever-threatening appearance, it embalms the static rhythm of Obediences Electronique in the stagnant and silent vapors of the ocher mists. Caustic Climate begins with this invisible finger that activates the synths and keyboards, offering a creepy opening to this military march from elsewhere. An accelerated march which must fight the cattails ablaze with a sonic fire whose sparks constantly feed the vices of our suspended pond, the floating grasses of its banks.
Eclipses of white noises and the chant of a nasal gnome are also the allies of the synths which still throw their banks of sibylline mists with a tone eaten away by verdigris. The rhythm is the equivalent of a cosmic Bolero bursting of parasitic sounds, white noises that threaten this freedom of expression of anemic trumpets singing in the background. We reach a new level with Toxic Flora. After an introduction flirting with the sound effects of a jungle, we hear the ruminating of a strange creature, the sequencer releases a line of rhythm which begins to jump between two phases and two lines alternating for each ear. Everything is relatively calm, until the door of the 4 minutes. At this point, the sequencer modifies its vision a little by rounding off its tap dance and invigorating its wandering walk while the ambiences inject a vocal effect into its mist which has never ceased to feed its ruminations since its opening.
Under a sky filled with undulating waves, like the mirages of an aurora borealis, Oxidised Atmospheres offers a light rhythm which harmonizes its cadence with that of the arpeggios and their tonal difference at the level of the ringing. The tone and form remind me of the heyday of PTO in Klaus Schulze's Body Love album, in a more contemporary velvet atmosphere. The ringings, more or less radioactive, remain in close contact with the sound effects that emerge between the empty zones of the Northern Lights. We are in the ambient rhythms section of DYSTOPIC LANDSCAPES. It's not a half second since Fallout of the Vapors' vibrating arpeggios are jumping on these moods. It's an ambient title whose rhythmic life is summed up in different pulses of synth lines and lost keys which emerge between these lines without really rhythmic cohesion but with a choreographed dialogue on the language of machines. From Dusk till Doom is literally stuck on Fallout of the Vapors. Its intro is made up of intergalactic sounds and effects, as the rhythm arises with the help of jets of radioactive gas. It's a circular nursery rhyme form with sequences that gracefully parade and climb a staircase of Berlin School, except that the reality of the moods catches up with the rhythm with another mass of whoo-whoo and wooshh. The sequence becomes a rhythmic melody animated by an appearance of guitar which rushes notes down against the winds and their reducing forces. The melody comes back and so on… A good track with a great potential. And we are treated to another introduction drowned in galactic sound effects which trade their electronic adornments for the organic effects which trail on the ground of Life on the Barrier Reef. A good structure of rhythm emerges from these ambiences around 2 minutes 30. Its organic Electronica vision is highly successful and constitutes one of the strong points of the album. And like the previous title, this short EDM vision melts into this heavy atmospheric ambient context of DYSTOPIC LANDSCAPES to come back and lead the last moments of this album in a splendid Electronica always hungry for an organic fauna.
Clearly more difficult to tame, this latest Lensflare album nevertheless has interesting avenues that could serve as a springboard for the Italian artist. In the meantime, DYSTOPIC LANDSCAPES remains a strong album. There are great moments in it where the music and its stories are in close correlation with its title.
Sylvain Lupari (October 5th, 2020) ***¾**