NORD: BERLIN (2011)
“Nearly 90 minutes of pure Berlin School for aficionados...”
1 Overture 9:21 2 Berlin I 8:03 3 Berlin II 8:55 4 Berlin III 14:14 5 Berlin IV 8:50 6 Berlin V 11:44 7 Berlin VI 14:06 8 My Silent Agony 13:52 Nord Music
(DDL 87:09) (V.F.) (Berlin School)
We jump up! And from the first steps our fingers cannot follow the beat of Overture. So, imagine feet! It was with My Christmas Collection that I heard a segment of BERLIN, that is with the convincing and catchy rhythm of Berlin III. Overture is from the same mold. Bass sequences, others more limpid and electronic percussion are all a hit! Arpeggios in glass and melodious chords get grafted to this hammering of the sequencer which jumps madly on the same spot but with such ferocity that the adjective velocity appears timid. The synth throws banks of fog and these sharp and pointed solos which are the point of reference of Nord's electronic hymns. Overture sets the tone to an album whose reference to the Berlin School extends more on its evolution than the rhythms discovered with Berlin III and this Overture. We move from pure tempo forging by a creative and strong sequencer to moments which require a greater open mind, especially with Berlin VI. But there are several little musical treats before you get there. The solos are lascivious and fiercely melodious in the semi-slow rhythm of Berlin I. The organicosmic vision of interplanetary noises and these solos add a very Jean-Michel Jarre touch to this track whose strident and spectral harmonies give chills in the back. The rhythm evolves to reach a good velocity of a rock which is strongly attracted by the vibes of dance music with percussions which frolic and slam like a swarm of metallic wings in a factory of EM which does very Jarre. But it resists to this call and dominates in a good electronic rock! And when it's over, Berlin II falls into our ears. And we wonder, our ears too, whether there is not a mistake because we have the impression of re-hearing Berlin I. And that's comprehensible! The pace is almost similar, and it will evolve to embrace a decidedly more dance approach. A slight fragrance of Arabian cosmic and harmonic pads, which sound like Moonbooter, are the first noticeable differences. There are more effects and more orchestral layers which throw artificial harmonies traveling on violin wings, I hear Software here, in a more dance-like approach. This is a good title with harmonies that a synth screws still very adroitly into our ears. We know the killer yrack that is Berlin III? (Otherwise read my review of My Christmas Collection)!
So, let's jump to Berlin IV and its breaths in saccade which adorn its opening. Drawing a rhythm in the form of jerky fog breezes, the introduction takes two minutes to take off. And when it's done, a barrage of percussion and tssiit-tssiit added to futuristic Funky-like sequences attack our eardrums with a good rhythmic velocity which serves well the layers, lines and the harmonic solos of a synth which is also very generous on sound effects. Fine variances distort a rhythmic minimalist approach which breathes comfortably in Jarre's cosmic fauna. As we go forward the world of BERLIN evolves in a more audacious form. If the first 4 tracks invite us into the pure Berlin School animated by sequences whose variable speeds always breathe the magnetisms of the Berliner model, Berlin IV begins the transition between energic Berlin School, slowed down as the titles get unfold, and a cosmic dance music. Thus, what Berlin V is made of? Of a beat which is flowing like a semi-lascivious dance with strident solos melting into pleasant electronic harmonies. Loopy oscillations weave a melodious pattern that quietly makes its way between the ears while the rhythm is carved of jerky spasms which dance pretty well with the oscillations. Here, as everywhere in BERLIN, the spatial effects of French cosmic rock adorn these carousels, rolling with always catchy rhythms even if the speeds of the structures vary a lot, whereas the synths blow many influences of Klaus Schulze in their solos. Speaking of Schulze, the spheroidal structure of Berlin VI fits very well with his style of the 85-90 years. An appealing arpeggio ritornello, whose axis goes up and down in a vision of romance or of a lunar lullaby, is blooming from an introduction all in multicoloured sounds. Electronic effects, cosmic noises, Kraftwerk's oscillator gurgling, and orchestral layers irradiated of ether and opium particles are among the sound samples which blend into a very progressive decor and make the moods of Berlin VI a bit difficult to tame. The whole thing flirts more with sound experiments than the incisive melody which goes so deep between the ears. The synth tones embrace several psychedelic influences, including those of Conrad Schnitzler, and are at times the equivalent of a concerto for voices of eunuch sick from an interplanetary virus. Let say it's a title that may scratch some ears! My beautiful Lise gave me a couple of questioning looks. My Silent Agony ends this BERLIN with a first seraphic half. Dense and enveloping layers of anesthetic fog and Babylonian orchestrations play with impulses of intensity up until the rhythm hops up and down in its multiple oscillations and jolts which will ended without really having progressed.
Nearly 90 minutes of pure Berlin School for aficionados, we cannot say that Nord aims next to his target with a BERLIN whose first 60 minutes seduce those who learned to tame the style of the mid 70's. There is a slack after Berlin IV, immersing the listener in a world that is not his and yet which is not that far. But a little open mind and you will discover a music that zeroes all possible horizons of the best of EM...which is the good old Berlin School!
Sylvain Lupari (February 24th, 2019) ***½** SynthSequences.com
Available at Nord's Bandcamp