MAC of BIOnighT: Astronauts 10 (2021)
Updated: May 22, 2021
“A nice compilation that honestly documents the many facets of Mac's career”
1 Men from the Moon (2009) 4:24
2 Bracelets of Guilt (2020) 19:10
3 Powerless (2009) 3:22
4 Near Passage (2011) 15:28
5 Driving Force (2017) 12:02
6 Planetaria (Part One) (2017) 19:50
7 Astounding Stories (2013) 6:18
8 Motion (Like Falling 3) (2010) 6:01
9 Aeronauta (part one) (2020) 12:59
10 Computer Flight (2020) 5:31
11 Explophobia (2019) 12:40
12 Enchanting Beauty (2012) 4:45
13 Latent Powers (2013) 5:35
14 A Gradual Process (2021) 15:43
15 Beyond the Last Galaxy (2012) 7:06
16 Evening (2019) 2:12
17 Ephemeral Phenomena (2021) 9:02
(CD/DDL 162:14) (V.F.)
(Berlin School, Progressive EM)
Here is an excellent initiative from the label Aural Films to offer us a wide range of the career of this larger-than-life artist that is Mac of Bionight. Another artist who produces as many EM than a cat can have kittens, Mac was part of the Italian duo BIOnight between 99 and 11. This did not prevent him from having a solo career in parallel. A tireless musician and composer, he understood early on the importance of the Internet by opening his own online record store and by maintaining constant links with his public. I had the chance to review his first albums and see how nice he was, except that illness and painkillers kept me away from the scene a few times and over a few years. This 3 CD compilation from the San Francisco label is therefore an excellent initiative to rediscover the music of the Italian synthesist. It's the 10th compilation of this kind for this label that likes to make us discover another vision of EM. Today, and more than 170 albums later, Mac navigates between Berlin School, ambient music and its disturbing drones, experimental music, Italian disco, contemporary and symphonic music, Jazz, music for movies and mainly for the horror and science-fiction genres, synth-pop, cosmic and even ethnic music. A wide range that really requires the almost 3 hours invested to assemble this mega compilation whose only novelty is at the very end.
And it starts with Men from the Moon and its reverberating wave that inspires a mellotron playing on layers of voices and flutes. The approach is very stereotypical in this envelope of modern synth tones in the 60's. A more than realistic flute stands out and invites a heavy, flowing sequencer to dig into its Tangerine Dream inspired Berlin School. It was the perfect track to start one of Mac's first solo albums, Aelectroid from his Classic EM series. Powerless also comes from this album and offers a short electronic ballad whose fragility is chased by heavy sequences in a landscape that seems to melt between our ears. The melody returns this time with more aplomb in a finale filled with good synth solos. Bracelets of Guilt is a superb track that sounds very TD, periods Tangram, for the piano, Green Desert, for the analog tones and the undulating effects as well as Hyperborea, for the percussive arrangements that bring the track to another level. Intense and Babylonic! Near Passage belongs to a single called The Void. It's a music of ambiguous ambiences that evolves between rather accessible experimental phases and abstract music zones. This is the Just Music side of Mac! Moreover, the title track is in its image. The first CD concludes with the resonant bursts of Driving Force. Taken from the album Visible Galaxy, classified as Classic EM, this track features a superb Berlin School structure driven by a sequencer and its staggering gait where a key seems to be missing. The brightly jumping rhythm, under the watery eyes of distraught specters, rises and falls in the shadow of majestic synth solos that chased away the specters, but not the chthonic atmospheres. The rhythm divides its approach after the 7th minute by dribbling its keys and reorienting its concept for an approach that makes very TD. Another strong track with 70's flavors made in 2017.
The second CD exploits more the experimental ambient side and even the disco side of Mac of Bionight. Planetaria (Part One) starts with a long ambient introduction with a piano running through various waves of sounds. One of them creates a suspenseful ambience that the sequencer surprises with an undulating movement. This first line of rhythm comes and goes, goes up and down in a magnetizing phase until it's sucked up into the void. Suddenly, percussions beat up these ambiences 15 seconds after the 12th minute. We are in a phase of Italian progressive rock which makes its turn in a phase without sounds to return more timidly fed this void. We like this progressive rock side? Astounding Stories answers this need with an energetic and enticing track with a zest of synth-pop to the sonic pastiches of the New Wave years. Motion (Like Falling 3) exploits the oscillating circles in a psybient ambience. It's like being hypnotized by sound spirographs in a dance atmosphere. Aeronauta (part one) offers an ambient opening with a hybrid choir where dark and celestial voices dominate its first 4 minutes. A piano line, a bit like in Planetaria (Part One), wants to be heard while the rhythm bursts in an ascending circular movement of the sequencer which installs this balance between rhythm and ambiances in a nice undulating movement. This fluid and harmonic rhythm meets a cloud of sonic radioactivity just before the 6th minute. The resonant effects of white noises and organic fauna seem to energize the cadence, which suddenly disrupts the rhythm momentarily, until a finale built on the return to the cradle of Planetaria (Part One). A nice track in this motley universe of ASTRONAUTS 10 that continues with a disco dance anthem with vocoder and sung vocals in Computer Flight, from the Cosmic Avenue album of the Just Music series. It's well done and I'm sure it will be a hit on the dance floors in Italy. Explophobia is part of the Classic EM series and comes from the album of the same name. Its opening is set on the irradiation of a reverb line zigzagging on a world of psybient until the sequencer takes out its rhythm line a little before the 5th minute. This rhythm is lively and fluid. In spite of its dynamism, it goes in a gloomy theatrical vision by accumulating kicks and rodeos on a race where the psybient seems to run out of solutions to counter its fury. And it is by itself that it gets back to the door of its cradle, leaving the last moments of Explophobia to dissolve in the mist. Another excellent Berlin School here.
CD3 begins with a nice ambient track, Enchanting Beauty, before Latent Powers turns the tables with a hyper lively track in its cosmic synth-pop structure. A Gradual Process belongs to the album Escape which was released a month before this compilation. It's opening lets hear the tunes of a saxophonist wandering his thoughts with his pensive piano. There is a nice echo effect behind the piano notes that the synth covers with delicious solos. Everything shifts around the 4th minute, creating a temporary discomfort before the piano, accompanied by a flute this time, returns to plunge into a waterfall. The spin-drying finished results in an unexpectedly fiery Berlin School rolling its oscillations in the fluty chants of the mellotron. The sequencer injects another line of jumping keys, giving just enough to make A Gradual Process not lacking in breath and ending in the finest Berlin School traditions. Beyond the Last Galaxy is part of the album Space Train Antares Vol. 1, 8th album of the Space Adventures series. The track develops into a good electronic and cosmic ballad with a synth-guitar solo to end in a big cosmic rock. Evening proposes a beautiful singing of the Ondes Martenot, giving it a rather particular cosmic stamp. Ephemeral Phenomena is the only unreleased track of this impressive compilation that is ASTRONAUTS 10. The sequencer movement starts to flicker a little before the 4th minute. A violin effect flirts with the spheroidal rotation of the sequencer, which remains more in a static state until the keyboard and other percussive elements get in. And it's with a scent of Jazz that Ephemeral Phenomena gets to the conclusion of this 3 CD set album. Showing these multiple facets and changes, worthy of the truly diverse Mac that once belonged to BIOnight 😊. And ASTRONAUTS 10 is a nice compilation that honestly documents the many facets of his career.
Sylvain Lupari (May 22nd, 2021) ***¾**
Available at Aural Films Music