MODULAR WHITE: Lemondream (2021)
Updated: May 8, 2021
“Fresh and bursting rhythms in festive electronic ambiences, this is a very nice album”
1 Lemon Paradise (Romerium) 6:48
2 Yuma Ponderosa Lemon
(Marc van Olden) 7:22
3 Salon d'Agrume
(Michel Bekkering) 16:40
4 Skybox (Manorlogic) 8:32
5 Lemon Dream (Romerium) 8:20
6 Making the Lemon Elixer
(Marc van Olden) 3:22
(CD-R/DDL 51:04) (V.F.)
(Chill Out, Lounge, Summer Music)
Ron Boots continues to dig into the Netherlands School in order to make us discover different facets of this unique model of the Berlin School genre developed in a very progressive vision, very avant-garde like the Belgian School. ModularWhite is a last project of Holland to cross its borders to be known more internationally by the commercial reach of the Dutch label Groove nl. ModularWhite is the fruit of 4 musicians making a comeback after more than 10 years of absence. It was under the name of White that the connection was made between René Montfoort, aka Romerium, and Michel Bekkering for an album, Sailing Through Unknown Waters, sold as a CD-R in 2005. White became ModularWhite in 2006 with a first album The Machine. The duo then became a quartet with the addition of musicians Marc van Olden and Norman van Krimpen better known as Manorlogic. Together and/or on their own, the music is sent to Romerium who makes the final mixing.
We look at the summery colors of the artwork and we should not be surprised if the music takes a light side, quite accessible with rhythms as flamboyant as festive. We know a little bit about Romerium's style as the most publicized artist of the quartet. Lemon Paradise infiltrates our ears with a line of bass-sequences constantly swallowing its desire for freedom with elastic chords and a synth sounding like a ghostly harpsichord. A slightly funky texture then takes over the embryo and brings it back into an alley gang rhythm structure. A rhythm of neighborhood's conquerors with the floating harmonies of a nasal synth. It's very catchy with good percussion and judicious percussive effects. Lemon Dream embraces some of that funk texture. Its snake-like rhythm undulates peacefully over some good, driving percussions that support a nice melodic keyboard philosophy. After his keyboard solo, Romerium presents a good synth solo followed by a fascinating solo of percussions, mostly African. This is the first time I've heard Marc van Olden. The sound and texture require some thought! Yuma Ponderosa Lemon is a jerky track with good percussions playing. The start is lively with bright percussions and chords that come curtly between our ears. The percussions dominate with good sound effects. And when the music deviates on a wave of harmonic oscillations, it becomes flooded by an attack of percussions, percussive and organic effects. And when the lunar chords come back in the second half, the percussive delirium strikes with such creativity that one asks for more. A very good track if you like the magic of sounds! Making the Lemon Elixer offers a highly-energetic structure with a sequence of sequenced pulses whose lively flow is supported by electronic percussions and other effects, both percussive and sonic. That doesn't take anything away from Yuma Ponderosa Lemon...
Manorlogic's Skybox also has this frenetic vision of the sequencer and electronic percussion. The flow is as curt as in Making the Lemon Elixer, except that Norman van Krimpen manages to insert pads that cut the percussive frenzy on a long structure divided in two and whose arcade music aspect as well as the dance music portion are surprising directions for a track that constantly pushes its evolution while keeping this spirit of festive rhythm. From the top of its almost 17 minutes, Salon d'Agrume from Michel Bekkering is the jewel of LEMONDREAM. It's by a wet breath coming from far that the shell opens. Wet or cosmic, this breath becomes a layer whose jerky effect ends up creating a repetitive movement that comes and goes like two loggers fighting over a saw on a tree. Whispers and tinkling arpeggios are part of this musical setting which takes another direction some 20 second after the 3rd minute. This time, arpeggios hesitate to confront shadows that are on the same pace. It's a kind of ambient funk with sound effects coming in for support as the true nature of Salon d'Agrume slowly takes shape. Those who remember Klaus Schulze's Transfer Station Blue album with brothers Kevin and Michael Shrieve will be on familiar ground, especially on the Approach Spiral track with a more lunar flow here.
Fresh and bursting rhythms in festive electronic ambiences, LEMONDREAM is a very nice album by ModularWhite that should hold the road for your summer parties. The music is refreshing, even in its more laborious phases, combining the peculiarities of EM with the expressionist freedom of beats without borders.
Sylvain Lupari (April 28th, 2021) ***¾**
Available at Groove nl