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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

MAGNETRON: Spherics (2014)

On a musical genre that a lot of people said it's belongs to the past, Magnetron succeeds to sneak and leave a sonic visiting card extremely attractive

1 Prelude 0:43 2 Return to Earth 27:11 3 Spherics 14:09 4 Call for Peace 12:34 5 Survival (For Yolande) 12:17 Magnetron Bandcamp

(DDL 66:56) (V.F.) (Minimalist base sequenced EM)

Magnetron?! It's the meeting of two English artists who surfed on the English electronic vague of the 90's. Xan Alexander (The Omega Syndicate) and Steve Humphries (Create) grew by discovering the music of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. But it's the explosion of the England School (Redshift, Andy Pickford, Arc, Air Sculpture and others) that literally brought them to create their own music. If I am rather familiar with Steve Humphries' universe, I am a little less with the one of Xan Alexander whose band specialized itself in concerts of improvised EM highly appreciated in the English underground scene. SPHERICS is their fourth album. An album strong in static, minimalist and circular rhythms with movements of sequences which get loose to forge some delicious rhythmic echoes so unique to a Berlin School hidden behind the heavinesses of the English movement. Hypnotic rhythms which are carefully coated by solos, by mist, by harmonies, by ambiences and by recollections which find their cradles in the metal years of Tangerine Dream.

The ears on the wait, after the very short introduction to SPHERICS, our loudspeakers are flooded of electronic braids which open the sonic fairies of this last Magnetron album. The echoes of din pour various sci-fi tones which plunge us into a universe on the border of cosmos where silky synth lines are floating and waltzing idly, caressing at passage the psychedelic corkscrews as well as the groans of an intergalactic machinery which produces sonic stigmas to the colours of imagination. Trying to describe the introduction of Return to Earth it is as trying to describe a slow volcanic eruption where a magma in colours as well scarlet as black is escaping in a vertical corridor and swirls lasciviously in a long transparent cylinder. But there is a leak! Quite slowly Return to Earth tries to get out of its static hold. Always and always, the allegorical streaks are tearing the horizons of their hallucinogenic stripes while the machines expire their last groans and that orchestrations continue to lull this whole sonic tapestry. And there are these tears of synth so characteristics of Steve Humphries' universe. And bit by bit, Return to Earth lets itself be tempted by a movement of sequences of which the resonant ions draw a hesitating rhythm. Chthonian choir welcome this shaky rhythm which oscillates in a hypnotic spheroidal imperfect movement. While the ions get loose and split a rhythm which dance slightly with its shadows, its misty fogs and some fine sharp solos, synth pads which remind the metallic universe of Tangerine Dream are covering this static rhythm which resound more and more, as it flirts with the darkness. Switching shapes acutely in the course of its 27 minutes, Return to Earth wears a more melodious approach with chords of e-piano which do the serenade to a movement of sequences whose incessant multiplicity of the jumping keys forge a rich rhythm as much static than complex which takes a shape of a structure as crystal clear than black and which ends with a more subtle dramatic approach.

With sonic whirlwinds fed by jumping keys on arrhythmic flows SPHERICS offers magnetic rhythms which develop from their inside. The title-track presents a movement of sequences with keys which jump in a very tight way in a bewitching movement of staccato. Sequences spin in their glass trap, jostling the shadows of sequences which draw ethereal mist while that quite slowly Spherics multiplies its harmonious keys which skip in a delicious cacophony. A sonic rhythmic canon made of multiple keys with mixed tones, Spherics takes the shape of a perpetual solitary walking with a big path in the form of 8 of which the sky is pearlized of sonic shadows to the colours of despair. This fascinating sonic ritornello is the bed of Call for Peace which is more incisive on the other hand with a long and more articulated rhythmic skeleton. The breaths of synth and their cosmic harmonies remind all the influence of Tangerine Dream on the development of EM at the turning of the 80's. Composed within the framework of a vast global movement for the victims of the Cyclone Hayian in the Philippines, Survival (For Yolande) is also built on the same pattern of hatched structure of rhythm, as well as the very Dreamy harmonies, whose curt and nervous debit soaks in electronic moods spiced of quietude and solitude. The Mellotron here is very beautiful and throws lines of flute which make forget the romances and the wanderings of Peter Baumann. We can also find this track on the excellent Radio Happy Music Compilation for the Haiyan / Yolanda Victims:

On a musical genre that a lot of people said it is worn out to the rope, Magnetron succeeds to sneak in and leave a sonic visiting card extremely attractive. But we have to enjoy at least these minimalist rhythms, which swirl like static merry-go-rounds, where wagons hiccup under a sky stuffed by the 1001 charms of this delicate fusion between the Berlin and England School in order to be seduced by the music of SPHERICS and Magnetron. All in all? I think it's worth it.

Sylvain Lupari (June 25th, 2014) ***½**

Available on Magnetron's Bandcamp

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