PHARAMOND: Naturalis Historia (2018)
“This 2nd album of Pharamond meets our expectations with an EM as much well done than on Orbis Tertius and tied to a high level of creativity”
1 Luminescence 18:00 2 Conference of the Birds 8:45 3 Faune 4:04 4 Biophores 17:38 5 Sequoia 11:15 SynGate CD-R SM02
(CD-r/DDL 59:44) (VF) (Berlin School)
One was expecting, in fact we hoped for, a new album from Pharamond for a long time. One of the rare newcomers to propose a unique style, Sylvain Mazars had surprised the planet EM in 2014 with an amazing album, Orbis Tertius, which had attracted the praise of critics and fans of the genre. Inspired by the multiple bends of Tangerine Dream in the 70's and the 80's, the French musician offered a very refined music with a clear penchant for a more progressive approach which even flirted with the psychedelic side of the golden years of electronic and / or progressive music. While respecting this imprint, NATURALIS HISTORIA takes a more daring turn with a vision that makes the right part between the ambient rhythms and the soundscapes that are at the greatness of another fascinating slice in the history of human kind.
Luminescence begins this audacious musical adventure of Pharamond with a structure of rhythm built on a series of riffs which change skins as the moods change the scenery. Voices, I heard Latin (?!), and murmurs clash in a place shrouded by a strange halo woven of words and of electronic elements. A large sonic lighthouse emerges and makes twirl its beam of sounds and moods, casting an apocalyptic vision on where a series of riffs from an acoustic guitar clings onto it. Energetic, this series forges a kind of lively ballad which dominates the ambiances stigmatized by flute songs, sonic graffitis and synth pads tempted to carve a slow staccato. The song from the synth is very Tangerine Dream, period 77-80. And the layers of chthonic voices, as well as these banks of nebulous mist, add even more the influences of the Dream in the equation of NATURALIS HISTORIA. The rhythm slowly migrates towards a structure of sequences of which the vivid oscillations freeze a more stationary structure. The scenery remains flamboyant with arias which twirl around this static approach and these murmurs of Mellotron which always inject this scent of mysticism to EM. A fourth change occurs at the same time as the sequences radiate of sound distortions at around the 11th minute. Standing out from its static membrane, Luminescence clings to a more fluid, but not more animated, movement with keys weakened by the sound radiations and which gradually melt into a structure breathing like a mad toad. We are in the last minutes of a title in motion and which gives an excellent idea of the next 40 minutes to come, while the ethereal finale is nourished by a timid Mellotron and a pensive piano. Conference of the Birds begins slowly. Songs from enchanted flute and tinklings of little bells fill a woodland where drip a tranquil water. A bit like a thick duvet which is removed from the bed, the synth pads and their caresses of violins awaken an avian fauna. This heavenly setting floats gently until meeting a line of sequences which makes its keys leap like only Chris Franke knew how to do it at the time. The tones are limpid, and the cabrioles are agile in this kind of ascending circular beat. Another more orchestral movement starts zigzagging by drawing a structure that reminds me of Edgar Froese in Stuntman, bringing this almost symphonic road to a kind of quiet refuge for this fascinating conference for birds.
Faune is a good electronic rock in a structure more striking at the sound level than of the rhythm which is a mid-tempo with its crossing between the ample oscillations of the sequencer and sober electronic percussions. This is a good title probably inspired by the Exit period of Tangerine Dream if we rely on the many sound pastiches which burst and sparkle from everywhere. Short and succulent! A bit like Luminescence, Biophores is another jewel with an evolutionary structure filled with effects of ambiances and permutations in its rhythmic horizons. Its first 5 minutes offer an approach of ambient rhythm with a meshing of bass sequences which leap silently in very sharp harmonies of a synth in mode Edgar Froese. Moreover, the large oscillating loops cooing like in an opera of Martenot waves have the sides a little less polished than in Conference of the Birds. The layers of mists and electronic noises add to this decor which takes a more theatrical turn a la Let the Night Last Forever of Walter Christian Rothe. A torrential rain of glass sequences falls on these ambiences a little before the 8th minute, sculpting a very Peter Baumann approach which goes straight into the perfumes of Logos. After these 18 very exploratory minutes, Sequoia ends this 2nd opus of Pharamond on a more ambient note where organic noises purr with synth pads more discreet than those advancing like a carpet of white fog over a forest which bursts of its visceral secrets.
Pharamond could not has a better answer than this NATURALIS HISTORIA in front of the general questioning following the reception of Orbis Tertius. Was it a twist of fate? A straw fire? The answer is no! This 2nd album of Pharamond meets our expectations, somewhat forgotten in these 4 years of silence I must said, with an EM as much well done and tied to a high level of creativity. This is great EM and an excellent album which transcends the usual genre while being rather accessible in its metamorphoses.
Sylvain Lupari (June 30th, 2018) *****
Available at SynGate Bandcamp