“From Distant Times is a great album that I recommend to everyone who love driven based sequences EM, especially those who miss Jean Michel Jarre”
1 First Movement 2:19
2 Evolution 6:05
3 The Ancient Land 8:28
4 The Portal 7:56
5 Rise of the Phoenix 5:53
6 Time Passing 9:01
7 Medieval 6:19
8 The New Dawn 6:59
9 Cold Midwinter Nights 8:20
(CD/DDL 61:17) (V.F.)
(E-Rock, EDM, New Berlin School)
I like to compare Nattefrost's musical vision to that of Jean-Michel Jarre's. A bit like the French synthesist did at the start of his career, Bjorn Jeppesen lays a track that hangs from the first listen on each of his albums. A title that would be irretrievably a hit if the FM radios were still interested in EM like in the 70's. And FROM DISTANT TIMES is no exception to this rule. Flanked by Matzumi (Kathrin Manz), the Danish synthesist continues his electronic odyssey in the land of cosmic rhythms. It's no surprise that this tandem, which had stunned our senses with the powerful Die Kinder der Erde, from the Dying Sun / Scarlet Moon album, took up the interesting challenge of uniting the poetic and cinematographic visions of Matzumi with the heavy and static rhythms of Nattefrost, thus opening the very beautiful electronic melodies which overhang this album.
A big gong, like in Matzumi's In Mutatio Tempora introduction, opens the very atmospheric and cinematic First Movement. Synth layers with orchestral aromas wave with slow uncertain movements that create a dramatic ambience while zigzagging with choirs wandering in the calm of ambivalent musical territories, where pulsating sequences flutter like dragonfly wings awaiting an apocalyptic signal. This intro sets the tone for a powerful album where orchestral flights surround indomitable rhythms. Evolution sways in the orchestral ashes of the introductory title when the first rhythmic overlaps of the album descend in a slow hesitant staccato. A spasmodic pulsation shakes this uncertainty to hurtle down the electronic plains with a balanced gallop which is greeted by fine solos drowned in mists with ocher vocals. The Ancient Land adopts the tangent started with a fluid and catchy rhythm where the keyboard chords weave a circular melody which is based on sober percussions. Always so warm, the synth throws sweet melodic solos which mix its harmonies with fine ethereal streaks of voice hovering in a surreal setting. The more we go forward, the more the rhythms come alive with fascinating heaviness. Rhythms embroidered inside a superb amalgam of sequences and percussions, as on The Portal and its melodic approach which spits reminiscences of Tangerine Dream on Underwater Sunlight. Evolutionary, the rhythm is initially fragile. He progresses with beautiful sequences whose rapid oscillations are slowed down by a good play of percussions with varied tones and shapes. The angelic voice of Kathrin Manz collects this portion of rhythm which permutes towards an astonishing heavy and aggressive structure to pulsate on a heavy undulating bass line as well as percussions and their echoes which find refuge in this suave melody traced in Song of the Whale before melting into a finale with cinematic ambiences and effects.
Jean-Michel Jarre's influences are in every corner of FROM DISTANT TIMES. If it's not at the rhythm level, it's at the melodic level. With its hoops fluttering like dragonfly wings in a rhythm crammed with jerking steroids, Rise of the Phoenix is a perfect example. And when I was talking about instant hit, I was referring to this catchy title. Its rhythm is pounded by a street gang approach and drawn by sequences which plow the cosmos like blows of scissors in the vacuum. It struggles to climb the slopes of a heavy stroboscopic ascent which perspires from its cymbals and galactic tones while the melody, divinely electronic, is silently forged in synth solos. Solos floating and singing in mists with iridescent vocalizations to forge a tasty earworm. Erected on a bed of sequences teeming with alternating strikes, Time Passing offers a slow hypnotic rhythmic journey where the voice of Kathrin Manz wanders among synth layers, sometimes cosmic and sometimes orchestral. Medieval carries the nobility of its title with a very theatrical envelope released by synths whose intensely orchestral strata bring us in deployments of medieval battles' fields. Heavy and slow, this powerful rhythm drags its sequences which run under the envelopes of a synth with war chants, like in The New Dawn which follows with an even heavier rhythm which also is enveloped by a synth with orchestral veils and twisted harmonic solos. If the percussions and the sequences weave stunning convoluted rhythms, the synths are incredibly musical and embroider passages which entice the listening, as much by the solos as the harmonies and especially the atmospheres. Following these premises, Cold Midwinter Nights, with its nervous rhythm contained in its cinematographic element and its solos dispersed in the winds of a harmonic discord, is with the height of all which surrounds this album.
This first collaboration Nattefrost and Matzumi gives birth to a superb album. FROM DISTANT TIMES is a powerful and lyrical album, forged in Babylonian, cosmic and musical atmospheres which surround melodies floating like winds of silk on sequences and percussions which pound rhythms as creative as electrifying. One of the most beautiful this year that I recommend to all fans of sequenced EM, especially those who miss Jean Michel Jarre.
Sylvain Lupari (June 29th, 2012) *****