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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PALENTIR: Refuge in Fantasy (1994)

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

Very different because so much full of samplings, Refuge in Fantasy is like a precious stone that we rub and so discover all of its shine

1 The Gardens 5:44

2 Orange Dream 6:25

3 The Waters of Life 11:48

4 Ocean 8:57

5 The Old Forest 7:20

6 Gil-Galad (Starlight) 8:51

7 Fountains 3:33

8 The Flight 3:52

9 Falling Down 3:45

10 World in my Head 6:35

11 Time Loop 2:14

12 Elapsed Time 6:19

(CD/DDL 75:27) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School with a zest of New Age) didn't really tempt me! It's been a long time since Lambert Ringlage sent me the two Palentir albums and each time I got started ..., the desire to continue the experience faded in the middle of The Gardens. I was doing overflights here and there; it was always the same feeling. Out of respect for Lambert, and because to date I liked all Spheric Music's albums, I decided to really immerse myself in this strange universe of samples that chew Palentir's music after listening to Wuivend Riet from Johannes Schmoelling. Inspired by the fantasy world of JRR Tolkien, Christian Schimmöller formed his Palentir project (you know that little ball of indestructible crystal in Lord of the Rings?) in the early 90's. Only 4 albums were born from the very progressive ideas of Christian Schimmöller whose very harmonic, almost poetic, style breathes a sonic fantasy finely elaborated by an impressive pallet of samplings.

Sharp insect dialogues attract birdsongs, and the tom-toms those of very ethereal tribal voices. The Gardens spreads its artificial charms with a variety of samplings. We can hear harmonies of guitar and singing of flute on delicate tribal percussions here, giving to this first track a rhythm as mesmerizing as lively where the flute amazes the ears. It's delicate and very musical. We are in Johannes Schmoelling's lands with sound shavings which remind strangely those of Wuivend Riet. Here and in The Old Forest where the samplings and the vibes stick very well to the spirit of the music. Moreover, it's the first thing that jumps to ears after an attentive listening of REFUGE IN FANTASY. The music is very relaxing and rather melodious, almost in a New Age way, where the influences of Schmoelling glitter in rather hallucinogenic sound structures. Some connoisseurs will compare Palentir with Gandalf, but I don't really know the music of Gandalf. I'm just pointing that out. Orange Dream does very Tangerine Dream with nice synth pads which decorate an introduction sung by a flute. The rhythm that comes is lively. Decorated by the flute, a variety of ringings and some bohemian piano lines; it rolls on undulating bass sequences and on sober strikes of percussions. The duel flute/piano, although rather smooth, gives a very New Age melodic cachet, while the multiple phases of rhythms and ambiences, always very accessible to the ears, give a more progressive depth to a music which inhales the atmospheres of the Dream, circa 85-86. In that respect, the moods and the arrangements of Ocean remind me a little those ones, very sinister, from the Legend album. The same goes for the very good Falling Down, even with some nice passages which are going to remind to some of you the cosmic flutes of Software. We can easily also include World in my Head in the bunch. All long structures with very removable sound decorations.

Suddenly, what annoyed me in REFUGE IN FANTASY ends by eventually charmed. The samplings! Omnipresent, they are sensibly inserted and stick with the thought of the music. The music comes very often in second plan or is presented in short phases with random collages which are of use as fineries to noises of jungle, to chants of insects and of birds, to impulsive and jerky orchestral arrangements, to percussions as tribal as symphonic, to harmonies of piano and of flutes. Many tunes of flutes with misty tones, like in Tangerine Dream, or with cosmic moods, like in the universe of Software. The intro of The Waters of Life is rather claustrophobic with its thick clouds of droplets which fall from everywhere. We hear a kind of Kyoto there which pinch its notes and a flute which throws floating airs in a mood a bit glaucous. Sweet twinkling arpeggios wind up these ambiences which little by little melt themselves with an ambient rhythm shaken by hits of percussions which drop some rolling shadows. The melody is slow. Molded in the tunes of the flute, it inhales an esthetics which gives it appearances very New Age. Even if The Waters of Life, just like Gil-Galad (Starlight) and its Berliner structure of sequences, as well as the very beautiful Elapsed Time from which the melody, the arrangements and the carillons make me regret having ignored for a such a long time this album, scatters its 11 minutes into rather evolutionary phases to bear in a so singular way the New Age seal. Except for Fountains which is a beautiful ballad, less dark than Falling Down, which charms with its simplicity. Only The Flight is embracing totally the lively and undulatory rhythms of Berlin School, while Time Loop is a soft musing with a quite delicate piano which floats on sinister noises that we can easily confuse with a big clock of which the mechanism spreads its noises and its depth beyond the limits of Elapsed Time.

Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed the Palentir experience. Very different because so much full of subtleties and of sound effects, REFUGE IN FANTASY is like a precious stone that we pick in a muddy ground. Once we washed it and brushed it, we eventually see all its charms. And it's still so much truer with earphones.

Sylvain Lupari (March 2nd, 2015) ***½**

Available at Spheric Music

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