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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Mario Schönwälder Close By My Distance (1992)

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

This is an album which is more tribal, even experimental, than Berlin School and which requires a lot of love that will worth it

1 Let The Rhythm Comin' on You 10:31

2 Les Yeux sans Visage 7:58

3 Sems'U'Kanar 10:55

4 The Point of Impact 7:08

5 Memories of Oz 13:33

6 Close by my Distance 12:57

7 Farewell from Heaven 5:02

8 Testsequence (bonus track) 6:13

9 Quiet Earth (bonus track) 3:53

2005 • SynGateCD-R 2053 • 1 CD

(DDL 78:13) (V.F.)

(Tribal ambient, progressive EM)

CLOSE BY MY DISTANCE is Mario Schönwälder's 3rd solo album. And like many albums from the 90's, they haven't been around for ages. Produced in 1992, the rights to the physical album were transferred to SynGate which reissued the album on CD-R in 2005 with 2 bonus tracks. Two ambient tracks with essences of Tangerine Dream, and of Steve Roach having a talk with Mike Oldfield for those who are interested. I was shocked when I discovered this album which is steeped in Middle Eastern vibes and of a caravan of gypsies encountered in passing. And never trust a first impression ... Especially with an artist like Mario!

With the first notes of Let the Rhythm Comin 'On You, we plunge back into the vaporously suave ambiences that perspired on Hypnotic Beats. Hypnotic, the rhythm is assumed by percussions which exchange our ears in a beautiful stereo catch and a movement of bass pulsations. Neither too slow nor too fast, it evolves in the ambient vapors of a synth with fluty essences which raises its harmonies in the form of ethereal solos. Halfway through, the sequence changes the rhythm, making it more biting with a more twisted and daring synth. It does very Klaus Schulze post Dune. Les Yeux Sans Visage is an intense atmospheric track where the synth sails alone on chords scattered between percussive elements and other sound effects. It becomes a long lament with an absent voice and a false violin which crumbles its charms in a second half dominated by a synthesizer with the sounds of a trumpet resonating on a steel wind. A dark title which could have made the soundtrack of a science fiction film on the decadences of the human race, as the ambiences lend themselves to it. An ambient title with a strong cinematographic essence, like Farewell from Heaven and its scent of the Middle East. After an introduction of atmospheric floating ambiences, Sems'U'Kanar follows the rhythm with a good tribal vision of this corner of the planet with a heavy bass that one makes suffer by plucking its strings with violence. A guitar cuts through the ambiences with strident solos from Harald Gleisberg in a half-Indian and half-Eastern panorama. The sequencer and the percussions force an evolving and progressive rhythm. A nice magical title, because of its rhythmic ensemble, the percussions, the sequencer and its torrid bass, as well as the superb undulating guitar solos. Listened at high volume, the effect is superb.

Mario Schönwälder's tribal vision takes on many faces in CLOSE BY MY DISTANCE. The Point of Impact offers a tzigane tribal vision with its slow movement which waddles on Gypsy percussions and arpeggios that are often found in electronic lullabies. Moreover, a little ear-eating melody snickers of this approach of bohemian music animated by a desire to charm. The synth exploits its facet of violin and choir with jerky breaths. The point of impact arrives around the 4th minute, where the rhythm becomes more aggressive in a disorderly ambience. Memories of Oz exploits these ambiences a little and even brings us back to a more fluid rhythm with good exchanges of synth guitars on heterogeneous percussions and violin lines which hover in a disjointed ambience, like the good times of Richard Pinhas and Heldon. The title-track is the one that comes closest to the ambiences of the Berlin School-style EM. A tribal Berlin School, from its progression! The texture is lush with a big dark line filled with wooshh and dark vibes. We hear violins like seraphic effects played with the intentions of the Evil One. This slow dying overture is shaken with the arrival of percussions, around the 4th minute. The bass pulses continue to resonate wildly under a cosmic sky, as the synth gradually carves out its solos having a tribal essence. To this end, the sequences and percussions fix a parish feast with a rhythm animated by a flautist charming snakes. It's a very good track with an increasing rhythm in the art of minimalist music specific to Mario Schönwälder's. Intense and ambient, Farewell from Heaven invites Testsequence to do the same with a vision that is very Tangerine Dream at the time of Underwater Sunlight. Quiet Earth closes this reissue with a minimalist rhythmic vision. The rubbery sequences exchange steps of 3 swings while the synth weaves aerial acrobatics solos without ever trying to exploit the moods to go further.

The least we can say is that the German musician does not choose the easy way to follow Hypnotic Beats. CLOSE BY MY DISTANCE is a work which is more tribal, even experimental, than Berlin School style and which requires a lot of love. Listening which in the end should pay off since once the tribal essences tamed, we have a very good album from Mario Schönwälder. The album can now be found on the Manikin download site.

Sylvain Lupari (September 18th, 2006) ***½**

Available at Manikin Bandcamp

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