NODE: Node 2 (2014)
“Powerful, striking and extremely attractive; this Node 2 is in the class of the best Redshift, Ramp, Arc and Arcane”
1 Shinkansen East 10:37 2 The Traveller 8:17 3 Becoming 8:32 4 Doppler 5:07 5 Marche Mécanique 8:30 6 Dark Beneath The Earth 6:06 7 Shinkansen West 11:11 8 No Signa 6:07 9 Thin Air 8:38 DiN44 (CD 73:33) (V.F.) (Sequencer-based style England School)
I remember the 90 's! The Internet years when Napster gave chance to the North American public to find out that the EM of the Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze style was well and truly alive in ... England. If the 70's are the cradle of an experimental and psychedelic Berlin School strongly set ablaze by analog equipments, these 90's belonged to the movement of England School with key groups such as Radio Massacres International, Air Sculpture and … Node. But honestly! Who of us knew about Node? Nevertheless, the English quartet is as much legendary as his career was ephemeral. His only album, an eponym album launched in 1995, had had such a powerful impact that dozens of bootlegs have flooded the underground market. And what I do recall is the music was dark with heavy rhythms which were crushed beneath chthonian ambiences. I am very satisfied to notice that my memory, on this point, was not lacking to me. Because nearly 20 years later, Node cranks things up a notch with a second album soberly entitled NODE 2. Accompanied by Mel Wesson (who replaces Gary Stout), Dave Bessell, Ed Buller and Flood (Mark Ellis) have concocted from almost 20 months, through diverse meetings at the Studio Battery in London, an album where the improvisations of the quartet were linked in the delights of the analog gear in order to redefine the lines of an almost reinvented dark EM. A little as if in 20 years, nothing had moved … And nevertheless.
Tears of music are falling down and spread an aura of mysticism with winds which roar on some floating sonic breezes of which the slow movements of lyrical waltzes open the somber delights of Shinkansen East. Notes of guitar are dragging there. They lose their harmonies in an intense ambiosonic sauna which redraws the lines of the chthonian atmospheres by making them more metallic. The sound effects are as well multiple as intriguing. They weave a sonic universe without borders where the harmonies of absent choirs blow like the death-agonies of souls in distress. We are floating in bluish synth pads which, by moments, sing like gargoyles in search of a passage. And it opens with slow grating noises and dying breaths which let pass a heavy train activated by resonant, agile, nervous and harmonious sequences. The rhythm of Shinkansen East is as heavy as black. It crawls as it blares, making walls and floors whir like a herd of elephants hallucinated by magic herbs. It follows a spheroidal tangent with various plans of sequences where the ions zigzag and interlace such as snips of the scissors of which the synchronized disorder bursts in hoarse, crystal clear, resonant and even harmonious tones. The rhythm breathes like a train in suffering. Other fragments feed its complexity. Such as pulsations, organic bubbles and random knocks which weave a fascinating static rhythmic painting soaked with a somber musicality where are squeaking the frights of the analog beasts. This is static rhythm at its the pure state. Some furious and dark Berlin School which gets its breath back in a finale studded with sound twigs which sparkle with slow and morphic synth pads to the doubtful angelic appearances. Awesome! Shinkansen East sets the tone to a powerful album where the ambiences mystify the hearing, where sounds fascinate and feed the imagination of the listening on rhythms which float in atmospheres of sinister mystery.
Each track of NODE 2 lives on this complexity of the rhythms where the heaviness crushes some fine harmonies which nevertheless are hanging to the fury of the stormy knockings, as well as the sinuous spirals of sequences. After the slow morphic pads which perfume an intro where is pulsing a sneaky pulsation, The Traveller takes its slow rhythmic flight on elytron of steel and of their lively tsitt-tsitt. The rhythm is lazy. It waddles in a strange glaucous ambience where scattered chords resound and other ones more crystal-clear sing in a mysterious bluish drizzle. A little as in Shinkansen East, the rhythm progresses in its envelope of complexity with a bit bouncy sequences which surround the passive pace the bass pulsations where drag a thick cloud of melodies split up by evenings of improvisation. In spite of the shady agitation which swarms under its foundations, The Traveller lets itself be tame by beautiful solos of a melancholic guitar which harmonizes its evasive melody along with a keyboard, partner of its sorrow. This guitar of Dave Bessell becomes more enticing on the very good Becoming and its structure of rhythm subdivided between many lines of sequences from which the keys jump in all directions, frightened doubtless by these knocks of percussions soaked of felted metal, while respecting a pattern of coherent zigzag. The harmonies are superbly moiré. They slide such as the ectoplasmic singings of spectres terrified by the dizziness of the crisscrossed rhythms among which some tear away the paint of walls, ruined by the rustling of these fierce synth tears. One would believe to hear the origins of Redshift. Especially on the corrosive Doppler, and its rhythm sharpened of organic gurglings which swirl like horizontal helixes on a splendid series of hyperactive sequences which cavort such as sheeps on acid in a sound balm infested by spectral hootings, and the very intriguing Dark Beneath The Earth. Marche Mécanique is intimidating with its slow resonant pulsations which moan like trumpetings of elephants mislaid in a jungle filled of carillons. The rhythm is slow, sneaky. It moves forward stealthily, dancing untidily with aggressive percussions of which the bangings deeply swirl all around these roarings which disturb the quietude of the neighbors. The structure of rhythm, as everywhere in NODE 2, is stupefying with a meshing of sequences, pulsations and percussions, all weaved into the genetic manipulations of the English quartet's analog equipments, which crisscross themselves while disrupting some Cartesian approaches, in order to propel Marche Mécanique towards a rhythmic collapse where the apocalyptic synths sound just as the symphonic harmonious disturbances of the Dream and of his Ricochet years. Simply brilliant! You see me going? If I continue, I am going to write 3 pages about this album. Each track, every second of this last album from Node is a pure marvel of the analog electronic art. Shinkansen West is even more violent than Shinkansen East, while that No Signa is as much gloomy as Dark Beneath The Earth. Thin Air distances itself with a little more musical approach, which halts not at all the entire mystic side of the album, where the sequences are flickering of transparency in a musical broth as harmonious as mysterious and which reminds a certain German trio …
I was powerfully blown away by NODE 2! So much that I listened it very attentively and repeatedly before pronouncing myself. Was I going to grow tired of these infernal rhythms which make suffer walls and neighbors? Was I eventually going to find the spectral harmonies and the chthonian ambiences too much near the spectres of Tangerine Dream? No! Nothing of that kind. So much rhythms, so much ambiences and so much power concocted in the entrails of purely analog equipments are of an exploit that I have difficulty in imagining how sound sculptors can do. This album is in the class of the best Redshift, ['ramp], Arc and Arcane. A little more vicious yet with rhythms and ambiences of which the diapasons are constantly handed in doubt by other explosions of the same kind. Powerful, striking and extremely attractive. I am quite ready to wait for another 20 years to put me something so unique between the ears. But I would prefer the next year if can do. Let's say that it starts 2014 on the right foot. Awesome!
Sylvain Lupari (January 31st, 2014) *****
Available at DiN Bandcamp