MATTHEW STRINGER: The Second Sun (2015)
“Matthew Stringer proposes here a solid opus painted in this secret correlation which exists between him and Johannes Schmoelling”
1 Riposte 7:55
2 Dreique 11:22
3 Fortress 8:26
4 Glimpse 6:46
5 Conduit 8:45
6 Window 5:56
7 Air 18:38
8 Retrospect (Bonus) 7:51
(CD-r/DDL 75:38) (V.F.)
(E-Rock and New Berlin School)
The least we can say is that Matthew Stringer is to Perge what Johannes Schmoelling was to Tangerine Dream. And the correlation doesn't stop there! Real musical window on a work undertaken in 2009 with Your World is but One from the Dream Conspiracy era, THE SECOND SUN is a wonderful album where EM gets rid of its etiquette in order to charm us with melodious perfumes of melancholy. An album where synths are sculpting some very harmonious solos, where the sequences weave rhythms always drawn from the influences of the Dream and where the piano of Matthew flirts with that of Schmoelling with a fascinating complicity to create two parallel universes which always eventually join.
A slender synth wave, perfumed by the dark radiances of drones, floats over the introduction of Riposte. Voices, murmurs and lappings decorate the ambiences of this sonic fresco where Matthew Stringer leads us back to the Meadow of his YWIBO. Moreover, all the story turns around this first musical essay from the half od Perge. If the dialogues, scattered here and there all over the album, help our way in, the author takes good care to underline, and rightly, that this journey corresponds as well to an introspective odyssey. Already, we feel from the first seconds of Riposte a level of intensity which will occupy the ambiences of this fascinating album where the author will turn upside down our emotions. The synth lines float such as murmurs and caresses from the darkness, by moment one would swear to hear some Rick Wright (Pink Floyd) so much it's intense, guiding us towards a smooth down-tempo. The slow rhythm is built on good sober percussions and fed by fine crystalline arpeggios of which the ringings forge a melody almost abstracted so much it is fragile. The murmurs are always so present. They set up this delicious mixture of seduction and paranoia which imbricates the 7 chapters here while feeding its depth. These voices, we can even say dialogues, resound through a microphone at opening of Dreique which little by little spreads a rivulet of arpeggios and sequences tinted with prism. These carillons flow like a quiet water in the breaths of a seductive synth filled with hyper melodious, and sometimes strident, twists. A brook which little by little pours in a torrent, giving to the second part of Dreique a more lively rhythm decorated with a beautiful harmonious approach drawn in the shade of a keyboard of which the chords evaporate in the solos of a synth always very harmonious. Fortress is much darker. The black breaths of its intro melt themselves in a superb structure of rhythm that will remind to some of us the essences, the spirit of Tangram or still Firestarter. Unexpected and especially very good! Glimpse is as much lugubrious and intense. It makes me think of the tenebrous, but same rather melodious, ambiences of Walter Christian Rothe in his Let the Night Last Forever. The rhythm flows with beautiful sequences which skip and alternate the shadows of the pace of others before exploding with more swiftness. The arrangements are very good, and we can even hear some guitar notes to roam while the rhythm scatters its sequences in a long ambiospherical final.
Conduit moves on with the same moods, but even deeper and more intense. The winds are roaring like these apocalyptic sirens that we heard in Silent Hill. The jingles and the panting feed a heavy climate of terror. A climate which becomes gradually blurred while, as so improbable as unhoped-for, a soft ballad extricates itself from these jingles. A beautiful ambient ballad, almost spectral, where the jingle of the time dances with the delicate arpeggios of the serenity. Window is a nice little track. A very romantic and melancholic piece of music with a good piano which sticks its melody at the bottom of our soul. Whistlings of synth and tears of voices tune their shadows with the intensity of the feelings sculptured by the piano, giving a spectral approach to a track that will remind to some of you the play of Schmoelling in his solo works. Air presents a very beautiful dark and melancholic intro where an intensely nostalgic piano spreads its sorrow on the roadways of a life washed by a rain which always tries to put to sleep the noises of a city very close by. Reference point obliges to define better the great versatility of Stringer: Vangelis and his ambiences, and his so dark piano in Blade Runner. Air turns out to be is a wonderful track which exploits marvelously its 19 minutes to bring us to the borders of the Dream with a hopping rhythm and with harmonies sculptured in arpeggios which will sound vaguely as an acoustic version of Stratosfear. Great! The rhythm accentuates its strength at the same time as the synth blows these solos more harmonious than unpredictable which define the somber and cabalistic facets of this album.
A track that you will get as a bonus when you buy the downloadable version is Retrospect that reaches our ears with another nice melody drummed on a piano and of which the airs get lost in the threads of the breaths of a nature where everything seems to shine like a beautiful Sunday at the countryside. The approach doesn't clash that much from the atmospheres, because the mirror of Retrospect lets filter some blackish reflections with dark chords which hook onto the happiness of this melody which swirls with this suppleness of the fingers on a piano which we tame by a sunny mood. Still there, the influences of Schmoelling perspire when the nervous fingers of Stringer lead the piano towards a livelier ballad where percussions and arrangements transport Retrospect where THE SECOND SUN hasn't yet go. I have already heard bonus tracks that had half of the charms!
As it's impossible to keep silent the similarities between Perge and Tangerine Dream, as it's difficult to ignore the parallels between the music of Matthew Stringer and Johannes Schmoelling. And there I don't say that one is copying the other! If Perge is literally melted in the Dream, Stringer possesses an identity of his own where the influences of Schmoelling, as those of Vangelis, Pink Floyd and even of Tony Banks from Genesis, are used as base to some appealing melodious approaches which melt themselves in absolutely exhilarating sonic decorations. The strength of THE SECOND SUN is its melodies, so much from the keyboards as the synths, propelled by lively rhythms, but also coated by a heavy ambiospherical envelope which weaves ambiences which can become as much intimist as the visions of his author. This is very good and that will be one of the doubtless inescapable in 2015.
Sylvain Lupari (April 10th, 2015) ****½*
Available on Perge Bandcamp