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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

MARIA WARNER: Vernal Voyager (2019)

“The aficionados of fast sequencer-based style EM will be delight by this Vernal Voyager”

1 Momentum Mori 18:46 2 Vernal Voyager 26:58

Maria Warner Music (DDL 45:45)

(Fast sequenced Berlin School)

Like some of you, I was curious when I saw the name of Maria Warner appear fairly regularly in the news posted on Groove E-News which appears every Sunday. And it was after reading that a new album had just appeared, VERNAL VOYAGER, that I decided to push my investigation a little more. And I learned beautiful things! Maria Warner is the pen name of Michael Neil. And who is Michael Neil? Nothing less than Graham Getty's colleague for the Retrochet project! A veteran of the UK EM scene, Michael Neil has made himself known for his cosmic music since the late 80's. I didn't know him in this form, but rather with the excellent 3 volumes of Retrochet. Maria Warner is a project that was born as recently as last year with Omicron in a Cannabis Veil, an album tribute to Epsilon in Malaysian Pale from the great Edgar Froese. No less than 10 albums have also joined the discography of Maria Warner in a month only, March 2019, showing an immense creativity in a style which is close to Berlin School. Released last May, VERNAL VOYAGER which gets articulate essentially on two long minimalist titles which deploy lines of stormy and hyper-jerky sequences that are real ear's crusher.

An oblong buzzing synth wave invites the sequencer to drop a bumpy line on its bed of reverberations. The sequencer sputters in a portal of atmospheres filled of sound reflections and wraps itself from the heat of a synth became more ethereal. Bass pulsations resonate and the rhythm gets articulate more and more while the sonic sky of Momentum Mori is filled with dense and enveloping multilayers with brief solos which manage to introduce in. Clinking of metal wings are sparkling over this minimalist structure, and in the decor of this puny rhythmic skeleton intensifies its grip with Mellotron hums, voices layer and orchestral arrangements. In return, the electronic percussions tie in with this structure which gradually reverses the trend. It's from now on the sequencer and the electronic percussions which dominate the ambiences. If we can draw a parallel, especially in the second phase of Momentum Mori, the sequencer refuses to give a fluidity to its structure, creating a kind of breakdance for sequencer and synthesizer. The approach therefore remains spasmodic with sharp twitches that carve a hopping and hobbling skeleton under synth pads spinning like sonic beams in a second part where the velocity has not only become the story of the rhythm.

It's with a lively, if not furious, movement of alternance in the keys thrown by the sequencer that the title-track begins its minimalist progression. Sound effects, like bugs in a video game, go through this first phase of rhythm where is already in another one which beats in the shadow of the initial line. Apart from the bizarre synth effects, the layers and pads, became sources of ambient riffs, adorn this convulsive procession where other gifts from the sequencer are still getting in. Imagine huge rhythmic and magnetizing spirographs that oscillate and spin around at great speed, and you have a good idea of the infernal rhythm that feed the vast majority of Vernal Voyager. Loops of oscillating rhythms turn and turn, developing a refinement in the decor by adding more limpid keys and, later, even more vividly. There is a more flexible movement in this rhythmic setting, like those other brighter lines that come and go as our ears catch the shadows of Logos. This movement is simply astonishing, maybe even deafening. If this rhythm, still stationary by the way, is powerful, its decor is still dense with a vision to become more intense. Layers of synth and Mellotron drift with flute essences and hums of absent and slightly chthonic voices. The pace decreases a bit its rate around the 17 minutes. The sequencer gets isolated and throws lively lines with keys in fire which dance slightly and fidget quickly. Their limpid tones succeed one another ardently like a stream of white-water cascading on the points of rocks. I said it above; a real eardrum crusher!

Sylvain Lupari (June 3rd, 2019) ***½**

Available at Maria Warner's Bandcamp

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