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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Moonbooter Reminiscence (2022)

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Moonbooter has changed and is yet not really far from his musical values

1 Me in the Mirror 7:08

2 Time Traveler 7:01

3 Who am I? 9:25

4 Motherland 7:14

5 Tribute to Climax 8:01

6 Mystic Sunset 7:10

7 Remember the Neon Lights 6:03

8 Me in the Mirror (reprise) 4:08

9 Extraordinary 5:36

10 The Reticence of Dreams 6:31

11 Goodbye my Friend 6:20

(CD(r)/DDL 74:42) (V.F.)

(EDM, E-Rock, New Berlin School)

There was a time I thought that Bernd Scholl would put a definitive end to his career as a musician, as well as the owner of the label MellowJet Records. There was the pandemic, which reduced his work by a lot, and the end of the shows, which were a very important activity in the development of Moonbooter. And then, the terrible floods that hit his city in July 2021, wiping out his house and studios. Already after the release of his last album, Beyond the Neon Lights, in October 2020, the German musician-synthesist and producer put his career on hold in order to do an introspection on his life. He felt the need to get out of his Moonbooter persona to spend more time with his loved ones and family as well as for himself. It wasn't until the beginning of April 2022 that he turned on his synthesizers and his desire to write music again. Again, he wanted to create something different! However, REMINISCENCE is not really far from the musical values that propelled Moonbooter to the forefront of electronic music (EM) in a form of creative dance and rock hymns. However, there is a slight difference in the intonation of the rhythms, which are less wild, leaving more room for the beautiful harmonious prints that have always tied me to Bernd's music.

The keyboard notes fall with melancholy. Me in the Mirror begins this latest Moonbooter offering with these notes echoing on a keyboard tortured by fingers heavy of nostalgia. One could even say of sadness. Another row of arpeggios falls with an alternating effect, almost sculpting these two solemn rows that frame a royal procession. A delicate bass shadow spreads a light shroud of resonance, adding drama to this melancholy processional opening. Dark and resonant arpeggios complete the dramatic advance of the track, which paces up and down its atmospheric phase to gently migrate towards an evolving rhythm structure to become a melodic electronic rock that is belted with good melodic synth solos. The march of the keyboard slides in the direction of the synth weeping of Time Traveler's opening. After an opening typical to the genre (floating synth layers, resonant mist waves and seraphic voice effects), the track slowly moves forward to a faster flow. The sequencer weaves a first line of rhythm that zigzags, while the second forges a muted pulsating beat. This first rhythmic sketch is the beginning of another evolving rhythmic structure where other lines and percussive effects will be grafted, including those famous technoïd boom-boom. Harmonious keyboard riffs with very Tangerine Dream tonalities, from the Schmoelling era, and then a delicate ballad, set on shimmering arpeggios, will complete the harmonic decor of this electronic rock which is looking for its dance orientation. The finale glides into the electronic effects of Who am I?, A heavy and slow track, as I like them, with a clear penchant towards Jean Michel Jarre's style. Its slow 120-second opening is snatched by a pulsing bass-line of which the sharp, alternating jumps are harpooned by solid percussions. They hammer and refine the spheroidal heaviness of this rhythm which lets go its series of arpeggios. They shimmer in circles and with vivacity, while the synth throws iridescent laments that undeniably recall the influences of the French musician-synthesist on Bernd Scholl. These influences are even more noticeable in the second part of this longest REMINISCENCE track, especially the clattering percussions, which is very intense. Motherland follows the structure of Who am I? very well by proposing a rhythm with tribal influences, think of the Revolutions album, in a beautiful mesh of rhythm lines. This rhythm is playful in a fusion of dance, rock and hip-hop where a refrain builder of an earworm is sung by a children choir. It's addictive from the first listen!

Tribute to Climax continues this very danceable part of the album with a rhythmic carousel that scales in stages before becoming very catchy. Kind of techno, boom-boom, in a big EDM envelope. The sparkling keyboard melody, also in a circular form, that flickers between the resonance of the percussions is a beauty in this spasmodic dance structure that evolves with more and more intensity in the second half of the track. Dark keyboard chords fuel the rather sinister opening of Mystic Sunset. By the by, this track stands out by its rather cinematographic atmosphere. Unruly pulses juggle with the future of the rhythm to accommodate a line of arpeggios that makes tinkling a melody whose remnants can make us think of that nursery rhyme that John Carpenter played for Michael Myers in Halloween. Even with this cloud of arrhythmic pulsations, the structure develops slowly and rather hangs on riff lines to gradually go up the rhythmic current. Good electronic percussion tones remind us of the art of building rhythms that animates Moonbooter's creativity, but not so much as this melodic sequenced ritornello that haunts the senses after the 3rd minute. Here too, the arrangements give an emotional depth to this track whose synthesizer riffs, around the 5th minute, are of a nature to screw our ears to the music, as well as those pulsations and those vibratory suction effects. This is the kind of track that is hard to get out of our head. Remember the Neon Lights is a good synthpop track, I hear Head Over Heels from Tears for Fears in its setting, which brings us back to the flavors of Moonbooter's previous album, Beyond the Neon Lights. Me in the Mirror (reprise) is more fluid and rhythmic than Me in the Mirror. I would say more melodic too. And why not more intense? In any case, it's just as good but the similarity is not so obvious. Extraordinary is in the pure EDM tradition of Moonbooter with a touch of Funk by the presence of the brassy orchestrations. The synth takes again these airs of trumpets in the heavy, slow, resonant and pulsing rhythm of The Reticence of Dreams. A very good and melodious electronic ballad, in the Software genre, with whispers of sensuality and whose finale flows towards the introduction of Goodbye my Friend. The music, more in mode meditative melody and dreaming with open eyes, the ambiences and these arrangements of the synth that have the flavor of those in Mystic Sunset, are in symbiosis with the vision of nostalgia that one can has just by reading the title.

I was really looking forward to discovering REMINISCENCE. And I was not disappointed! Moonbooter lays down his melancholic, romantic and ecstatic moods in structures that always flirt with these electronic rock and EDM styles in which he navigates with ease. The melodies are very different here compared to his previous albums. One has to feel them and to perceive them before being carried away in these euphoric waltzes which get us these shivers of elation often attached to his music. Moonbooter has changed! And it will take you more than one listen before you realize that REMINISCENCE is finally Bernd School who has overcome the challenges imposed by life since the famous Beyond the Neon Lights.

Sylvain Lupari (November 13th, 2022) ****½*

Available at Mellow-Jet Records

(NB: Words in blue are links you can click on)

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