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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Martin Stürtzer Illumination Cycle (2021)

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

Another splendid album with a Stürtzer creative and imaginative of his sequencers

1 Alpha Recall 8:04

2 Duality Cipher 6:28

3 Lagrange Point 8:04

4 Liquid Source 7:38

5 Radial Orbit 7:28

6 Sky's Edge 6:08

7 Omega Threshold 6:50

8 Harmonic Polarity 7:29

(CD/DDL 59:06) (V.F.)

(Berlin School with modern tones)

The Berlin School universe has just been enriched by a very good CD with ILLUMINATION CYCLE by Martin Stürtzer. Offered in manufactured CD and in DDL 24 Bits on Synphaera's Bandcamp, this new album of the German artist injects a new breath to a style developed and popularized in the middle of the 70's by injecting the jewels of the psybient tonalities. Flirting dangerously with an album as great than Farcaster, this new album of Martin Stürtzer proposes some very good Berlin School coated with the contemporary essences of the Electronica scene. In this analogue universe coppered with the tones of the psybient and perfumed with the rubbery essence of Chill Out, which coats the jumping ions/sequences, he sculpts here a panoply of rhythms suspended between different options. There are ambient rhythms supported by echo effects and/or flickering sequenced lines. There are also those catchy ascending rhythms for fingers tapping in the void and/or feet dancing limply. The sequences are heavy and juicy. They are at the heart of an album abandoned by synth solos and conventional sound effects. A slight lack that one forgets quite easily.

And it starts with Alpha Recall and those beats having that metallic tone of ambient chill out pulsing with a quickening pace. The rhythm is vertical and linear with juicy sequences and dull hums of the bass. Another line of rhythm takes shape in parallel. The elastic joint joining two chords weaves a stroboscopic movement as other jumping keys and keyboard chords meet in this circular ascent. The beauty of the movement is the rhythmic-melodic elaboration that surrounds this semi-ambient Berlin School, like the line of arpeggios shimmering in minimalist arabesques and a synth that extends evasive breaths in a rhythmic crossroads that has no shortage of resources to satisfy the hardcore Berlin School fan in us. Duality Cipher's weary beats have that endless elastic echo, weaving a sustained rhythmic line, as well as a lovely dress of controlled radiations. Earlier than later, another sequencer movement makes gamboling its sequences on a linear structure, constantly interweaving that first vertical rhythmic line. The synth throws some short plaintive solos with a harmonic essence as these flickering sequences are welded into a static line. This combination of elements structures a good and addictive ambient Berlin School. Lagrange Point offers a driving rhythm for the neurons and for those who have Jell-O for legs. It takes 70 seconds of black hole ambiences for a first line of pulses; boom, boom-boom, to start. It is crossed by adjacent lines; one rhythmic and the other melodic. I can't help but imagine hearing Kraftwerk from the Star Wars years with this merger of sequences that sing as they jump. These lines play on the depth of the rhythms and nuances of the harmonic staves, while the synth weaves a semi-visible line that extends a prismatic aura. I love the nuances in the echoes and depths of the harmonic sequences, especially in the arrangements that stick to Walter C. Rothe's classic Let the Night Last Forever. Liquid Source offers a linear movement forged by oscillations that swirl in a too narrow tube. The layers of fog invade this sedentary horde that barely moves, if only for a few slow oscillations of this tube as flexible as any sound snake. Let's say that the music and its ambiences reflect well the spirit of its title.

Radial Orbit is livelier! This is a real Berlin School with an inviting movement of a sequencer that subdivides well its rhythm lines. The contrasts, sometimes strong, between the vision of serenity and the heavy weight of the sequences, and this is everywhere in the album, are more visible here because of the discretion of the synths injecting mists sometimes dramatic and often just enveloping. Sky's Edge is a good ambient track whose charms are offered through the echoes of a percussive element regular as a clock. Its opening is ambient with chords of an organ from the last millennium and more contemporary keyboard chords set in floating bubbles. This knocking, and its echoes, generate an ambient rhythmic mass where other elastic pulsations drag in an environment that relies on its echo effect to furnish the ambiences. Omega Threshold stays in the same flow with a laconic pulse that becomes girded by a horde of sequenced arpeggios that come and go in a restricted space, creating the illusion of congestion on the road to the stars. The echo effects fill the ambiences in a structure often used in this album which lacks a little oxygen. Harmonic Polarity reconciles me with the Stürtzer style, which is inspired here by a harmonic rhythmic model used by Steve Roach in his first albums, notably Traveller. It's a beautiful Berlin School armed with these fluttering sequences that flutter around in small rotating circles. Melodious, this minimalist rhythm accentuates its measure with a beautiful intensity in its upward movement stimulated by clattering percussive elements and this musical canon effect of the circular sequences. A delicate layer of astral voices infiltrates the movement with sporadic appearances, some more intense than others. A superb movement that caps ILLUMINATION CYCLE, another splendid album with a Martin Stürtzer creative and imaginative of his sequencers. Hat to you Martin!

Sylvain Lupari (May 21st, 2021) ****½*

Available at Synphaera Bandcamp

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