PENTERAKT: Conquest of the Moon (2020)
Updated: Jan 16
“This is a very good album which taste better after a second attempt and is even more tastier on a third listening and so on...”
1 Meteor Strikes Again 14:14
2 Conquest of the Moon 18:28
3 Preflight Introspection 10:20
4 Life on the Moon 16:10
(CD/DDL 59:20) (V.F.)
(Progressive Berlin School)
I'll be honest, I wasn't a big fan of Kubusschnitt, whom I knew very little about. I remember writing something, possibly a column, at the end of the 90's in a Quebec cultural newspaper. And like Under the Dome, this flagship group from the England School years resurrects to introduce us to old classics, like The Case, while making us discover a hidden facet of solo members like the Remnants album from Hyperkube, a project by Tom Coppens. CONQUEST OF THE MOON is the new album from Kubusschnitt. But like Ruud Heij is missing, Tom Coppens and Andy Bloyce have renamed the band Penterakt. We are told in the same breath that a new Kubu album is still on the sound boards. In the meantime, how does this new album sounds? It revolves around 4 tracks whose sequencer structures have been pre-recorded with analog synthesizers. Let's say it's very good Berlin School, I liked it a lot, with a very progressive vision as well as dense and intense electronic textures that seek to dominate the rhythms. A good production, the cover is very beautiful by the way, by two musicians who seem very happy to renew with their skills.
Meteor Strikes Again begins its rise to my sense of hearing with a rhythm jolting from a sequencer in mode linear rhythm. Echo effects interfere with the curves of the rhythm that a bank of musical and prismatic fog covers everything while letting through flying layers that take root in this perception of progressive Berlin School dominated by the mists of a Mellotron as active as it is striking at moments. I like what I hear, especially this leak in the rhythm line which gives a more organic psybient appearance to these keys which are being dribbled as their colors diversify. This is not where we dance, although some might do it, but neither is it where we sleep. Especially with the vibrating aspect of the sequences which dissect in a school of sonic butterflies foraging on a rhythmic axis in progression. All in all, the rhythmic approach is as stifled as an expedition into a dense Jurassic-type forest. Lively and stifled, Meteor Strikes Again remains an intense track with unforeseen resonance movements that play with the intensity of a track that is not afraid to take an organic turn in the peak of its intensity. Synth pads have the scents of the apocalyptic trumpets summoned by Tangerine Dream in the Stratosfear and Encore years, while others draw wooshh plunging in what seems to attack the rhythmic convoy that little by little runs out of steam at the point of making a quivering flute vibrate in a final where everyone picks up their crumbs of sounds. Mooing, like interstellar whales, blend into the astral welcoming of the title-track. Sibylline layers of mist come undone to create this imaginary base that welcomes the enchanting panorama of the duo Tom Coppens and Andy Bloyce. A mixture of idle layers and of organic bubbles ends up creating a fascinating abstract symphony where melody rubs shoulders with dissonance which knows how to stretch its extreme in more or less paradisiacal vocal lines. An acoustic guitar emerges around the 6 minutes. It poses her delicately detached notes, in a distant harmonic vision which little by little takes shape in the silent torrents of intersecting layers and lines of voices. The sequencer marries the procession of this guitar whose union crystallizes the chords of this six-string in our ears. Like the rise of a cavalry in slow motion, the rhythm becomes more hopping with slight leaps in a panoramic layer always more and more intense. We tap our fingers and we go into ecstasies in front of the seraphic setting which embraces this fusion of rhythm and dense atmospheres, a bit like in Meteor Strikes Again. And if we manage to isolate the play of the sequencer, we notice its efficiency, as we notice the little space available for it to flourish.
Things have to balance out and this is what happens in Preflight Introspection which gives us a heavy start with reverberation effects born from a buried rhythmic structure and which is lost in this atmospheric density of the textures of Penterakt. Necklaces and arpeggio lines fracture to create instant bubbles of non-consumable melodies, while spectral streaks fly over a dysfunctional landscape that seems to drink in all the oases to create tangible patterns. Layers of voices hang around with fluty filaments. A panorama that burns of its inside! The sequencer takes its revenge by reversing these ambiences which wanted to split up with a rhythmic approach that borders on anarchy. Strong and proud, it makes its presence reign with percussions and percussive bubbles bursting with loud squeals in a panorama of percussive atmospheres very close to the orchestral discord of Klaus Schulze from which short synth solos emerge. These solos and fluty breaths challenge the cosmic effects in order to try a temporary domination. Wasted effort! Preflight Introspection is all in rhythm and will remain as it is! That leads us to Life on the Moon and its organic opening. Throughout CONQUEST OF THE MOON, the duo Coppens and Bloyce flirt with the psybient side of their ambiences. Let's say that the opening of this title is unequivocal! For a good 2 minutes, our ears are overloaded with enchantment. The sequencer activates a first phase of rhythm which seems to cleanse the soundscape of Life on the Moon with a very Berlin School rhythm, inspired by Tangerine Dream. The rhythm runs of its sequences with hybrid tones under good synth solos in a cosmic atmosphere. And we don't have time to appreciate this atmosphere since already serious and resonant chords project a dramatic vision. The final makes hear these apocalyptic chants of the synthesizers which inject psybient fuel around these solos while the rhythmic dynamism takes advantage of the percussions to solidify its empire in a heavy and intense finale which puts an end to a very good album which is still tasted, better after a second and a third listening. The sign of an album that gives us value for our money.
Sylvain Lupari (January 7th, 2021) *****
Available at Kubusschnitt Bandcamp