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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

NEURONIUM: ExoSomnia (2012)

Quite a surprise to me, ExoSomnia ends to be a superb album which embraces harmoniously all the array of Neuronium's styles

1 Psychic Smell 4:19 2 Five Parsecs from Home 12:04 3 Alienophony 10:38 4 Pareidolia 13:48 5 And Man Created Gods 19:45 6 Time to Dream 4:22

(CD 65:20) (V.F.)

(Ambient and base sequenced Spanish School)

Michel Huygen has this gift of destabilizing his fans. From album to album, you never know what to expect from Neuronium. After a rather ambient album, which even touched a New Age sometimes quite meditative, with Etykagnostyka, Neuronium hands a pole to his fans who have missed his aggressive mystical music with an album which breathes of a violence magnificently contained by these layers of ether so unique to the Spanish band's repertoire.

Acoustic guitar chords carry their imprints of nostalgia and nourish a subtle Latin festive atmosphere that readily accepts the gentle breezes of an astral deity with a voice suggestive, if not sensual. Soft synth pads weave violin sighs that collect the melancholy harmonies of a dreamy piano and cover these ambiences whose union becomes deliciously seraphic. Purely ambient and ethereal, Psychic Smell swaps its first seconds for a static rhythm that hits with percussions whose rebellious blows embrace a rather metallic tone, demonstrating the paradoxes that await the listener through the next 60 minutes of ExoSOMMIA. We look at the artwork and we understand that the universe of this 39th opus of Neuronium swings between white and black. This soft synthesized voice that caresses the senses with such sensuality opens the moods of Five Parsecs from Home of which its intro is as passive as that of Psychic Smell. A line of sequences escapes of there and makes drum its hopping and jostling keys in a narrow corridor, thus confining a static linear rhythm which sparkles under good synth pads. Their twirls follow the softness of flutes and of celestial voices and that ringing bells amplify in a very ambient and New Age approach. Alienophony offers the most beautiful moments of this album. Its intro is sewn with slow morphic veils that float like the sighs of a seraphic night. A slightly more threatening line blows strange lamentations, arguably arguing that tranquility also has its scary reflection. This balance between white and black, beauty and ugliness, constantly floats at the mouth of our ears. If Alienophony manages to escape, the title floats in a superb morphic ballad with sequences which weave a peaceful rhythm. Their endless twisted lines prowl in synth tears with tones as seraphic as symphonic, and in these groans too which go and come as fascinating, but very discreet snores of a dreamer grappling with some turbulences of his dreams.

The gentle guitar of Santi Picó returns to extend its charms on the intro, agitated by lapping waves that make the delicate atmospheres of the very meditative Pareidolia jump. Skillful and very concentrated, Santi Picó makes his guitar sing with finely plucked chords that meet the chants of the stars. Sibylline reflections gradually flood the moods while dense synth veils add ether fragrances. And Pareidolia falls asleep in the sighs of a thousand violins and cellos, releasing sequences with metallic reflections that leap in guttural perfidious breaths. A real fight between contemplativity and agitation takes hold of Pareidolia. The rhythm then becomes heavy and intriguing architecture with sequences whose lost steps run among hoarse breaths and a mixture of synth solos and guitars which recall the somewhat twisted universe of Robert Fripp. But Michel Huygen keeps a weather-eye open and leads Pareidolia back to a little more melodious paths, testifying to this constant tearing between serenity and the pangs that plague the depths of ExoSOMMIA. Heavy sequences leap violently at the opening of And Man Created Gods. The rhythm is hyperactive and jumps furiously with the complicity of organic tones before coming up against morphic synth pads which extend a shroud of virgin whiteness. Flute songs exorcise the vestiges of a recurring but more docile rhythm. Complex at will, And Man Created Gods has everything to rally fans of Neuronium's early hours. On a structure that is sometimes aggressive, very aggressive, sometimes more meditative if not very enigmatic, Michel Huygen pours nasal solos into it, whose roaring twists are wrapped around a long movement fed by iodized mist and which balances between calm and its rival. A movement that separates a little after the 9th minute to charm our ears even more with a very good structure of sequences whose weak rhythmic conjugation, as well as the dense chthonian clouds, go so far as to shake the ashes of Phaedra, combining Neuronium's psychotronic approach à la Tangerine Dream's vintage Berlin School. A long and confusing title which shows that Michel Huygen still has a lot of music to offer. Very good! Time to Dream concludes with a superb electronic ballad imbued with this Neuronium seal of the beautiful vintage years of the Spanish group. Structured on the ethereal softness of Psychic Smell, the rhythm is more stable and ends an album with music that we thought was gone forever and which is very good to hear again. I was surprised. I thought Neuronium was lost in the docile territories of the New Age and ambient music. This is obviously far from the case!

In the end, ExoSOMMIA is a superb album which harmoniously balances the whole panoply of styles of Neuronium. A very nice surprise!

Sylvain Lupari (August 28th, 2014) *****

Available at Neuronium and CD Baby

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