Parallax-5 Sonic Awakening (2023)
“An album for aficionados of fractured rhythms and cadenced oscillations”
1 Regeneration 5:18
2 Nekrit Expanse 7:32
3 Afterimage 6:36
4 The Visitor 5:58
5 Elogium 5:56
6 The Broken Link 7:48
7 Resurrection 7:36
8 AR-558 8:02
(DDL 54:46) (V.F.)
Synphaera Records beats to the rhythm of its excellent releases, which flirt with ambient, dark and cosmic, psybient, psychill, IDM and Berlin School. Established on the US West Coast, Chris Bryant's label exploits a contemporary sound that reflects the greatness of this state, where the 4th art merrily sails towards as yet unknown frontiers. In addition to these releases, the Californian label has managed to unearth new talent that shows equally flourishing prospects for its Exosphere sub-label. I'm thinking, among others, of Stellarium, whose majestic Pillars of Light still floats in my memory, and of an artist like Martin Stürtzer, who has been plying his trade on both labels while delighting fans of cosmic Berlin School for a couple of years now. This time, it's Parallax-5's turn to launch its seduction operation. This new musical project from Behrang Hakami, who admits to having been heavily influenced by the music of Californian labels, offers psybient electronica and futuristic electronic music (EM). SONIC AWAKENING is aptly named, since it's a place where you won't sleep! The rhythms are ferocious, with a fusion of electronic percussions and pulsating bass sequences and live on the stop'n'go principle. Rhythmic jolts that melt their ferocity into atmospheric passages borrowed from the future. These are not the only recurring elements on the album, since Synphaera's new artist also likes to exploit oscillating lines propelled by whirring electronic electricity, as well as arpeggio flights that trace the shifting landscapes of electronic murmuration. It's not really my cup of tea, but I've discovered some few interesting things...
The chants of a cyborg choir and a flight of gregarious arpeggios are at the origin of Regeneration. A shadow of bass resonates heavily. Cadenced arpeggios shimmer their echoes, while the synth weaves a sickly-spoken melody. This opening flirts with the 80-second mark and is representative of SONIC AWAKENING's sonic panoramas for its other tracks. The rhythm takes shape with a mesh between an oscillating line and rubbery percussions of which the arrhythmic flow structures an up-tempo fractured by jolts. The harmonic flow of the oscillations wave coos at variable speed, avoiding any synchronization with the keyboard melody, which also likes to chirp, and the momentum of the percussions. Oscillatory expressions, both rhythmic and harmonic, are in vogue on this album, and are at the roots of Nekrit Expanse, which emerges from a storm of industrial breezes. Percussive elements run like lost footsteps, and the bass still extends its black velum of rumbling reverberations. The rhythm is more jerky here, sounding like breakdancing performed by humanoid robots. So are the melody lines, though some escape in a random way, and the music is surrounded by seductive organic percussive elements. The stop'n'go principle is applied in this structure which borrows short atmospheric passages filled with little beasts that nibble at the bottom of our eardrums. The echo of certain clickings and some industrial howls against a background of creeping bass are also recurring elements that lend an imposing sonic dimension to the 8 chapters of this first Parallax-5 album. Afterimage is another evolving track with a transitory rhythm that lives on sequenced bass pulses. Its slow opening lets us hear the embryo of its melody blown in a loop by a synth that is more musical than experimental. The rhythm moves back and forth between its atmospheric phases, rich in cosmic color. Where layers of voices drift and sonic arcs unravel into silken filaments of astral pastel hues. Between the serial oscillations, little creatures nibble at our eardrums like crazy typists. When sustained, the rhythm becomes a solid up-tempo supported by a good percussive bludgeoning, but above all pecked by seductive organic rattlings.
The ethereal opening of The Visitor even flirts with a New Age vision. It begins slowly, almost dreamily, with dusty arpeggios floating adrift. Resonant percussive knocks, oscillating sequencer dances and clattering metal elytra underpin a more sustained and fluid rhythm here than elsewhere in the downloadable album. There are no jolts here. There are 2 short, rather seraphic atmospheric passages. And the rhythm maintains its up-tempo without fractures. Elogium also takes advantage of an ethereal opening to head towards a downtempo that lives in an organic flora filled with the rattling of hungry teeth and suspended arpeggios. The music exploits good orchestrations that waltz through this half-organic, half-cybernetic universe. Melodious loops coo in oscillating forms befitting the album's dimensions. A fine track, more musical here than elsewhere on SONIC AWAKENING. Percussions and muffled pulses that strike and fall silent, The Broken Link takes off with an indecisive rhythmic structure. Rhythm for the neurons. You can dance to it, even tap your foot in the void, as floating between two spheres. The bass membrane extends a shroud of resonance that crawls with a vampiric vision, firmly anchoring the rhythm in its illusion of rhythm versus non-rhythm. The track is crisscrossed by clouds of arpeggios that adopt the wild waltz of electronic murmuration movements. Resurrection is another downtempo track, very good by the way, with an organic, futuristic sound that is up to the dimensions of Solar Fields and Carbon Based Lifeforms. AR-558 wraps up the album in style. Its bassline oscillations are heavy, ponderous and mainly guide a rhythmic structure that goes beyond electronic rock. It's so rollicking that it sounds as if the instruments are running out of breath! Behrang Hakami inserts highly effective spectral ululations, fog sprays and cadenced echo effects. The percussions are more sustained. In short, a very good track that I'd like to see Parallax-5 exploits a little more on its next opus. But in the end, how can you not love music that overflows everywhere? This is the soundscape of SONIC AWAKENING, an album for aficionados of fractured rhythms and cadenced oscillations in a psybient organic and futuristic sonic flora.
Sylvain Lupari (November 14th, 2023) ***½**
Available at Synphaera Records Bandcamp
(NB: Texts in blue are links you can click on)