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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Martin Stürtzer Far Beyond the Stars (2020)

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

Far Beyond the Stars is a journey through atmospheric landscapes with good cosmic Berlin School ambient beats

1 Hydra 5:58

2 Sanguine Moon 7:37

3 Pleiades 7:25

4 Starburst 8:16

5 Velocity 6:41

6 Radiation 5:50

7 Third Planet 4:52

8 Jupiter Cyclone 6:58

9 Pulsar 6:08

(DDL 59:46) (V.F.)

(Cosmic Rock, Berlin School)

Do you like sounds? These atmospheres of old science fiction films? Or yet a music to accompany landscapes of the cosmos, its stars and its planets? Martin Stürtzer is a musician who specializes in EM from analog and modular sources and whose paths have led him to flirt with Dub Techno and Dark Ambient. Better known as Phelios, the musician from Wuppertal in Germany delivers his first opus on the American label Exosphere. FAR BEYOND THE STARS offers an atmospheric canvas where the 9 tracks carry the traveler-listener through endless landscapes of the never ending cosmos where our ears visit what his soul feels in an irradiating sound mass of its sandy winds. The rhythms remain slow with a vision of the Berlin School well anchored in their progressions against cosmic mistrals fed by implosions and reverberations, as well as a slight shade of Dark Ambient. A first meeting with the universe of Martin Stürtzer in a superb high-definition production of this label which extends its tentacles more and more, and with reason, in the universe of contemporary EM.

We begin this discovery with a wave coming from the West which attracts an immense roar of the winds. The opening is typical of the ambient Berlin School model. The wave becomes a threatening shadow and multiplies its shadow puppets on a high wall where the seeds of sand have this impact of modulating chants, even making them whistle. Quietly, Hydra takes the form of an ambient sound mass which evaporates into the interstellar void. It's as soon as the beginning of Sanguine Moon that a rhythmic form comes to life with pulsations whose echoes create its main line of rhythm. Arpeggios get grafted, giving a more consistent texture to this slow and mesmerizing Berlin School. Other arpeggios twirl softly to create the main harmonic line of a title which thickens its atmospheric texture as the seconds pass. It's a good ambient Dub with a zest of psybient. A light zest which overflows on Pleiades and which is the main nourishing matrix of the album's 60 minutes. Even if I liked Sanguine Moon, Pleiades is the first title that really caught my attention. The rhythm gets rid of its texture of atmospheres quite early by shaking off a line of kicks which roll with a slight upward fluctuation in a minimalist model. It reminds me a lot of old Plastikman with the resonances of these kicks which shape a minimalist approach in a more fluid and sustained structure with bright chords as percussive elements. Starburst is a more atmospheric title with a reverberation line which extends its sound particles on a slow rhythm slyly swaying in the rotating circles of the arpeggios hidden in our state of hypnosis. We find this kind of melodious carousel everywhere in FAR BEYOND THE STARS.

Velocity comes to us with two completely different rhythm lines. If one offers arpeggios which jump in a rolling ball until being swallowed by the second, this latter presents a slow rhythm structured on rubbery bass pulsations which resonate with a suction effect. The title is wrapped in a huge veil of ocher mist that blows with strength sporadically and whose peak of violence turns into reverberant drones. If the first steps seemed heavy and arduous, the cadence becomes more fluid. Going even with a rhythmic gradation. And the more it goes forward, the more the suction cups radiate a mass of reverberations while the rhythm reaches a level that is quite respectable for an ambient one. There is an organic tone that goes perfectly with the chthonian whispers of Velocity. Radiation is a title of atmospheres where I imagined a volcano which seemed to go out by spitting its last patches of fire. It's lava that I hear exploding and boiling on synth pads eaten away by the radiations of molten magma. Third Planet picks up quickly with a slow tear of sound that stretches its descent. The percussive effects and the analog heat of the breezes are the masters on board. They are also witnessing to a rapid metamorphosis of the title which becomes a good down-tempo fused with sound effects worthy of a good psybient. The rhythm is like these blows from the throat that we make click. They take a shade of bass pulsations. It's constant with dozens of small steps that wander randomly in a completely attractive arrhythmic vision. Jupiter Cyclone is a title with intense and dense atmospheres. The texture is compressed into a sound mass where a sequenced flow of bells tolling on the spot is ringing. Percussive effects are massed in unity to flutter here and there in this structure which grabs our senses more by giving additional vitality to this static sound mass engorged to the maximum. Pulsar finishes this first album of Martin Stürtzer on North American soil with an ambient rhythm structured on chimes trapped in a minimalist texture. Another line of sequences is hopping with a more melodious vision in a universe full of muffled implosions which spit iridescent particles, whereas an effect of wings from large metallic bumblebees comes and goes by sweeping the horizons with a tone and its strobe jerk effects.

Lots of sounds and lots of atmospheres that go beyond our perception on the planets, FAR BEYOND THE STARS is a journey that awakens the curiosity hidden in our imagination. Our eyes, firmly attached to our ears, see landscapes of planets whose ocher dust is born from these atmospheric implosions that Martin Stürtzer sets to music with so much realism, that I had red dust in my nostrils. An atmospheric album certainly, but like a good cosmic Berlin School with structures of rhythms that amaze as much as the textures of atmospheres. Me? I set out to conquer this German musician and starting with the music of Phelios…

Sylvain Lupari (June 15th, 2020) *****

Available at Exosphere Bandcamp

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