NOTHING BUT NOISE: AEON 1 (2021)
Updated: May 13, 2021
“A Berlin School vision and the sequencer impulses will appeal to aficionados of this style”
1 Cycles 1 (11:56)
2 Cycles 2 (13:06)
3 Cycles 3 (14:11)
4 Cycles 4 (21:56)
(CD/DDL 61:09) (V.F.)
(Berlin School Dark Psybient)
Secret ambiences and as much heavy as the multiple movements of the sequencers, Nothing but Noise comes back after two years break to present us its musical philosophy on Aeon, one of the 3 main concepts of time. Destiny and eternity! Is it a new trilogy that the Belgian duo undertakes? We remember the pharaonic trilogy of eXistence Oscilla+ion set to music from 2016 to 2018. This trilogy wrings out the creative juice of the Belgian trio as it was put in the Webland along with succulent albums such as From Berlin to Brussel and Formations Magnétiques and Phénomènes D'incertitude. These years were the greatest ones of this unlikely duo composed of Daniel Bressanutti and Dirk Bergen, the levers of Front 242. AEON 1 is built around 9 cycles, including one in memory of Wim Bergen, spread over 2 CDs. The CDs can be purchased, or downloaded separately, as in a bundle with booklet around May 15. We find here a NBN in full possession of their creative impulses where the progressive Berlin School is dancing with a dark psybient and orchestrations cut in sequenced riffs. And there is intelligence at each square inch! At the very least in AEON 1.
Cycles 1 starts this 9-cycle period with an exciting structure where the acoustic side of the percussions and the sequencer weave an electronic gallop to which good orchestral arrangements are grafted. The impression of hearing cello strings being plucked adds a staccato dimension to the orchestrations. Rich, this rhythmic figure follows the usual Berlin School path, flirting with less driving phases, moments that are conducive for the synth to place its pads with garish colors. Cycles 1 reaches a bridge around the 5th minute. NBN listens to its heart by deconstructing the orchestral portion and crumbling it into an experimental ambient phase of more or less 2 minutes. This phase propagates a vision of cacophony that will mark the majority of the bridges in AEON 1 and leads the track to begin its slow organic metamorphosis. Everything happens in slow motion, much like a dream denying access to wakefulness, until a bass line spits out spikes, which our memories may mistake for Pink Floyd's One of These Days, that structure a slower version of the opening rhythm. The percussive effects add to a depth already manipulated by the orchestrations. Painfully, this rhythm reaches its initial peak for a short time before fading into the limbo of brownish darkness filled with dull woosshh. They transport into the muted beats of Cycles 2 where my ears hear ululations hidden in the woosshh lines. After a dynamic rhythm, this second cycle takes us on a journey into the dark psybient world of Daniel Bressanutti and Dirk Bergen. The rhythmic framework is equal to the one proposed previously but in a beautiful slow motion that sculpts a splendid stroboscopic spiral. Psybient and prismatic, Cycles 2 travels between the conscious and the subconscious like a big tonal boa snaking a rhythmic flora that is not always at the same level. As much in strength as in velocity!
Rolling like a stream spreading its thousand reflections under the sun, Cycles 3 also offers an ambient rhythm with sequenced balls glittering like diamonds on a conveyor belt. The orchestrations roll in sequenced loops while the rhythmic portion lives on through the muted pulses of an ascending bass line. Following the cycle of appearance and disappearance, the synth injects lines that come and go to dissolve into harmonies crushed by the power of Cycles 3 that extends its grip with rhythm loops that have become hungrier than the ambient spaces. Composed in memory of his brother Wim Bergen, who passed away in 2019, Cycles 4 ends this AEON 1 on a melancholier note. We hear a moving wall of sound behind the orchestrations that gradually structures the rhythm. A dark wall that moves in mumbling, moaning. The organic bass line does a great job here. Although in the background, this dark ambient membrane dominates the first moments of the track until its 6th minute. The rhythmic chunks are pushed back into unfinished orchestrations and an ostinato pulsing movement of the sequencer. Juicy, fat resonant chords attempt an opening that materializes in a biphasic rhythm as a more galloping line expels itself from the meekly minimalist one. This static phase resists until the 9th minute, when an umpteenth mutation of Cycles 4 brings it in a cinematographic vision with slow staccatos filled of honey and percussive effects that would be much more favorable to a rhythmic agitation. And it does so with a bubbling tempestuous movement that always remains under the cover of that dense atmospheric membrane that holds back its impulses. And this will be the story of this requiem for Wim, whose dark beauty borders on the excitement of the repressed but still present intensity of Cycles 4. Indecisive and powerfully theatrical!
Dirk wanted AEON to be reviewed CD by CD. This is correct and honest as Aeon 2 requires more love than AEON 1 whose Berlin School vision and sequencer thrusts will appeal to aficionados of the sequencer driven EM style. Apart from the rhythms, the ambiences are well defined while being constantly diverted by orchestrations, some of which are sequenced. The psybient and organic side of Nothing but Noise is also well presented with phases more inviting than to make us flee. In short, a very nice album that can be listened from one end to the other.
Sylvain Lupari (May 12th, 2021) *****