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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

OLIVIER BRIAND: The Tape (2014)

Like Phillipe Valin has written it; The Tape is Olivier Briand's very own Moondawn. This is what EM is all about!

1 Part I 10:37 2 Part II 8:30 3 Part III 2:04 4 Part IV 5:31 5 Part V 16:58 6 Part VI 3:21 7 Part VII 9:48 8 Part VIII 4:49 PWM Association

(CD-r 61:44) (V.F) (Mix of vintage, modern and avant-gardist EM)

My distinguished colleague with the very esthetic feather Phillipe Valin, whose Blog Clair & Obscur is among the finest in the field, qualifies this last album from Olivier Briand as being no more and no less his Moondawn. On a scale of 10, he rated the album at 9.5! Knowing his very selective appetite for this kind music, I had more and more haste to listen to this last album of the one who had lifted me from the ground with the excellent Transparences in 2011. And after some listenings I only have to agree with what Philippe has written. But I'll go further by saying that THE TAPE is in the lineage of the big works. Not only the best from Briand, but the best album of 2014! Here is why...

Don't let yourself being fooled by the very ambiospherical approach of Part I. Quietly, the synth wizard of Nantes is setting the tone, is setting the basis of THE TAPE. A synth to nasal tones is whistling its airs a bit cheerful which coo in banks of mist of which the nebulosity caresses a cozy rivulet of prismic sequences. Quite slowly, we are getting bewitched. A line of bass makes pulsing some jumping keys while the synth exchanges its charming singings for those of a nightingale in tints of jazz which always shouts and still in a more and more charming sound decoration. A sonic background which reborn out of the vast reverberations from the waves of the bass. And as nothing ever is stigmatized in the ease in Olivier Briand's universe, Part I plunges a little into a kind of ambiospherical indiscipline with solos without leaders which skim now a more cosmic approach, as well as some soft and weak breezes of Orion. What always has differentiated the music of Briand is his visceral desire to restore in synths the letters of noblesse that they have lost in all this puddle of harmonious sequences of the New Berlin School mode. Here he fills our ears of delicate electronic flavors with solos to the thousand twists, hypnotizing our attention which perceives well enough these sequences and these percussions which are born and are reborn in a sonic mishmash where are glittering the wave-like prisms of sequences and interlacing solos bearing the soul of forsaken violin tunes. Little by little, the ambient disorder of Part I is melting in the structure of Part II and of its intro where one believes to encounter an amphibian night-world. The movement of sequences weaves this ambient rhythm which glitters so much like those of Tangerine Dream in the Jive years. We hear the wings of metal flickering in the celestial mists as well as the long gurglings of an organic beast. And the sequences begin to dance, to skip. The movement of sequences makes some brief kicks with keys which dance awkwardly on the spot, increasing subtly a pace which catches briskly a heavy pulsating bass line. There is a kind of dramatic mood which bites our eardrums with a threatening mist which always floats in the background. The tension rises. We feel it! The metallic wings are clicking more and more, and solos become more and more aggressive. And when Mourad Ait Abdelmalek's percussions are tumbling down; I understand this analogy with Moondawn! They roll on a delicious structure of rhythm from the analog years. And they float on the wings of mist as much as they knock down the dissonant harmonies of the numerous synth solos with tones just as much mocking as nasal. Mourad Ait Abdelmalek's play is sublime. Very near Harald Grosskpof with surgical strikes which enrich this electronic / acoustic symbiosis while giving an impression of live which floats throughout THE TAPE.

The rhythmic movement of the short Part III awakens in me some souvenirs of Richard Pinhas' sequences in his East-West. The synth solos are also shrill but surprisingly very harmonious. The battle between contemporary and vintage rages. We are in a kind of a still virgin territory where the analogue flirts with the digital technology and it's even more convincing with the intro of Part IV where the synths remind me of Jean-Michel Jarre and his Revolutions. The synth airs and tones, as well as the ambiences and this structure of rhythm in a perpetual restructuring, will remind for some of you those delights of Edgar Froese in his Stuntman and Pinnacles albums. Quietly we go towards the sublime Part V and of its famous duel between sequencer and Mourad Ait Abdelmalek. The long intro amplifies each second the explosion to come with electronic percussions and sequences always so gleaming. The drum invites itself in the duel at about the 7th minute, giving all the analog latitude to other shiny solos from Olivier Briand. This is as great as Part II, even a little more violent. But not as on Part VI whose bridge is always so deliciously ambio-cosmic kind. It's a great space rock with kicks of free jazz which scatters its fury in the first minutes of Part VII which revisits a little, in a more rock structure, Part II and Part V. Except that I hear, with a great pleasure, this crackling of Richard Pinhas' percussions here. Pinhas, Schulze and Tangerine Dream! All this in a pure electronic envelope. What to ask furthermore? And quietly the album rushes towards its last minutes. And no way that Olivier Briand will end this in meditative ambiences! Part VIII livens up those last moments with a beautiful battle between sequences and electronic percussions among which the strikes and the kicks fidget under a carpet of contemporary electronic ambiences. The loop is so looped!

Why THE TAPE is the best after albums such as Node 2 and Umbra from Arc? Beyond the fact that we have this very perceptible sensation to have the ears riveted to a mini recital, the big strength lies in this splendid mixture of old and modern. The old analog perfumes of Schulze and Pinhas mixed in the pure rhythms of Jarre and in the sequences of Tangerine Dream's Jive years. Olivier Briand casts a wide net here. And he makes it with a vision where the spirit of the cosmic rock of the vintage years can marvelously goes alongside to the new madness allowed by the infinite possibilities of EM and of its accessories. And admit that Schulze with TD, while passing by Jarre and Pinhas, has enough to charm the most demanding of us here.

Sylvain Lupari (January 22nd, 2015) *****

Available at PWM Distrib

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