NORD: Linking the Stars (2020)
Updated: Jul 17, 2020
“I have nothing to reproach to this album, except to wish that one day it ends up in the hands of Ron Boots. Hat my friend”
1 Prologue. Sequence 1 & 2 8:09
2 Up in the Sky 9:04
3 Reaching the Stars 13:33
4 The Falcon. Linking the Stars 13:04
5 Between the Stars 10:06
6 Orbiting Forever 9:57
(DDL 63:54) (V.F.)
(Electronic Progressive Rock)
It starts with a sequenced approach which is reminiscent of the unique Vangelis in a cross between Pulsar and Albedo 0.39. Except that here, the circular movement is more animated with a large bass line which directs the axis of a rhythm that big symphonic drums try to break. Except that Prologue. Sequence 1 & 2 doesn't understand it that way. This first rhythmic skeleton gets tie to a second which is more animated, more lively with long slender rings whose loop is looped in a short radius of resonances. The impression of going faster is well restored, while the rain of acrobatic synth solos diverts our hearing which captures the percussive rattling. And like that, Prologue. Sequence 1 & 2 heads into a Deep Purple's heavy progressive rock, without Ritchie Blackmore but with an aggressive John Lord on keyboard. Finally, Nord succeeded in his ambitious project to connect two musical universes under his supervision. LINKING THE STARS, what a beautiful title, offers more than an hour of music in which EM is relieved of a few superfluous things to infiltrate superb phases of progressive rock, captivating and at times deafening, in one of his best albums since a very very long time…
Borrowing this same vision of intensity with big resonant chords, the upward movement of the sequencer which opens Up in the Sky is in all respects with the vision of its title. This cosmic rock is well sprinkled with imagined sound effects from the Cosmos that we have heard since the early 70's, in addition of other very good synth solos which seem to want to flirt with a guitar tone. It's with this synth that Nord pierces the opaque canvas woven in the sound effects of a space shuttle's passage which preserved the introduction of Reaching the Stars. The solos are lively and sharp, a bit like Sztakics István Attila torturing his synthesizer. They are the cornerstone of this album! The sequencer is in Software mode and is trying to breakthroughs in a sound harvest rich in its interstellar vision. In fact, we derive in a Cosmos sober of its sound effects, but rich in synth lines and solos which frankly amaze me with this sharing of Nord's visions for EM and progressive rock. It's around the point of 9 minutes that an oscillating movement takes off slowly, even needing percussions to finally graft a rhythm which still serves the cause of other very good synth solos.
A captivating and powerful title that can unstitch our eardrums, The Falcon. Linking the Stars is the headline of LINKING THE STARS. The sequencer escapes from its cosmic broth after 100 seconds. Its rhythm is fluid and armed with multiple oscillations. Another line flows muted in a decor that survives by the nobility of the solos of a synth that seems to be possessed by a box of fuzz-wah-wah. The percussions get bind to weld an enthralling progressive rock structure, pretext for the synth to weave the textural complexity of solos from a synth that fascinates my ears since I actuated the button PLAY of my Cambridge streamer. The music explores its territory conquered by the catchy rhythm of a sequencer as skillful as the synth to explore and tame phases of atmospheres viciously attacked by the synth before resuming its true rhythmic form not even two minutes later. The first part of Between the Stars is reflected in the occult mysteries of the Cosmos. The synth is always the star between these stars and guides the peaceful blossoming of the sequencer with moving lines of heaviness and resonances. The explosion arrives a little before the 8th minute, propelling Between the Stars in a big symphonic hard-rock welded by riffs in bursts. A powerful passage too short to be appreciated at its right size. A lode that Nord could have exploited a bit more and which arrives too little too late in the title. But Nord gets another chance with the ambient and pulsating rhythm of Orbiting Forever. Extracting itself from an opening of ambiences where the synth causes his tears to agonize, it leaves its mold a little before 4 minutes. The rhythm is sneaky with its pulsating effect gently creamed by orchestrations. It takes a more jerky tangent some 40 seconds later. The solos and psybient effects camouflage a sustained vision that will explode around 7 minutes with arid riffs and captivating percussions. The staccatos flow with enthusiasm while the solos are such that one would think that Eddie Van Halen has traded his electric six-string for a synthesizer.
Magical and amazing synth solos which fly over and whip catchy rhythms, like adorning ambient phases with poetic calligraphy, LINKING THE STARS is powerful album from Nord. The EM of the Romanian musician is without complexes towards the amplitudes of progressive hard-rock. Apart from a certain length in Between the Stars, I have nothing to reproach this album for, except to wish that one day it ends up in the hands of Ron Boots. Hat my friend!
Sylvain Lupari (July 16h, 2020) ****½*
Available at Nord Bandcamp