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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

RAINBOW SERPENT: Voyager (96/06)

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

Voyager is considered as being the most complete work of the New Berlin School of the 90's and I have to agree

A) Past (22:28)

Overture| 3:30

Ritual| 8:23

Return of the Dreamtime| 5:22

The Gate| 5:14

B) Present (22:42)

Growing from Imagination| 10:09

Wind, Rain and Thunder| 6:06

Remnants| 4:27

C) Future (18:45)

Visualities Labored for Thousands of Years| 10:20

Final: Voyager| 5:52

D) Beyond (Bonus sur Syngate) (13:54)

Dreams and Darkness| 3:07

Elohim| 9:47

ARDEMA | AM965984 (1996-2000)

(CD-R/DDL 72:23) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School, Prog EM)

Ah that I had difficulty in taming VOYAGER! But isn't that the quality of great works? Of those albums that defy the bend of time? Must say that I heard so much about this opus that my expectations were very high. And with good reason! And if you've heard Frank Specht's Sebastian Im Traum before, the taming can turn out to be even more torturous as the similarity between the two works is such that it just can't be talked about. But whatever, this Rainbow Serpent album is a little masterpiece from the Gerd Wienekamp-Frank Specht duo. Composed between September 1995 and June 1996, VOYAGER is considered to be the New Berlin School's most complete work of the 90's. And I must agree with this observation. We find everything to please on this 3rd album of RS; big synth whirlwinds à la Klaus Schulze, a perfect balance between terrestrial and cosmic elements which bring structures in a continual state of indecision, intense orchestral arrangements, hypnotic and spheroidal rhythms à la Software and expensive hallucinogenic ambiences proper to the electronic wanderings of the vintage years with synths as musical as they are lyrical. In short, a musical gem where pleasure grows with use, regardless of the resulting dependence.

The Past segment begins in the most total harmonic anarchy. In 3:30 minutes, Overture provides a very unique overview of what awaits us in this 3rd album of RS. A piano imbued with a nostalgic approach extends a delicate melodious approach which will be the melodic genesis of VOYAGER. This approach only lasts 45 seconds. Subsequently, violent bows draw an infernal race against time until soft violin strata unroll carpets of mist where the stars and their sparkles are disturbed by electromagnetic storms. This ambio-spherical landscape slips into the first seconds of Ritual, which floats downright in space. One would then imagine oneself in the cosmic corridors of Stanley Kubrick and his 2001 movie. Ethnic percussions animate a fuzzy trance, drumming out of time in a lunar waltz fed by enveloping violins. The rhythm comes lively a little after the 4th minute, remolding a circular race with sequences and percussions which throb with a balanced frenzy in canvases of mist. The parallels with Sebastian Im Traum continue to abound. One would believe oneself in the wandering poems of Steve Roach with this tribal-cosmic fusion which will guide the versatile rhythmic fauna of Past and Present. The morphic flutes of Return of the Dreamtime (strange coincidence) embrace the melodious core of VOYAGER (and of Sebastian Im Traum) with tasty hypocrisy, caressing with their sweetness sinuous reverberations that bypass scattered tribal percussions. Percussions with timid and scattered strikes which gradually tie up to muffled pulsations whose heavy palpitations are lost in sweet orchestrations to mold a soft cerebral trance which is still lost in this fragmented melody which lurks throughout this album. Annoying and delicious! The Gate concluded this first portion with a semi techno, semi disco rhythm. Frenetic pulsations draw up a circular sequencing approach where unruly palpitations, cymbal tsitt-tsitt and manual percussions emphasize the tribal beat of Past of which the present melody embraces a confusing originality. Superb, Growing from Imagination is a pure gem of a cross between Berlin School and New Berlin School. The rhythm is fluid and weaved by scintillating sequences which swirl in the curves of a very good bass line. This inverted rhythmic spiral swirls with hypnotic exhilaration, gleaning the breaths of a lyrical synth which coos in the vertiginous furrows of its turbulence. A synth which also releases twisted solos and which plunges us into the world of Klaus Schulze (Body Love). And it is in this very Schulze ambience that Wind, Rain and Thunder land in our ears. A synth pierces the opacity of its nebula intro, releasing whistled harmonies that turn in loops. The memories of the forgotten melody in Past resurface. It charms with its ethereal approach which is lost in the violent torments of an orchestral movement in staccato where the bows plow a heavy static rhythm, leading this polyphase title in another electromagnetic storm. Remnants ends the 2nd verse of VOYAGER with another heavy technoid approach. The percussions tumble there with agility. Thundering in the resonances of a powerful hypnotic pulsation while the melodious portion is subjected to bizarre synth lines which chant an electronic dialect in a heavy ambience where twirl scattered chords, harmonic layers and fragmented lines.

Future is the cornerstone of VOYAGER where the first 45 minutes have constantly titillated our hearing with this melodic approach which has always refused to blossom. The intro of Visualities Labored for Thousands of Years is embroidered in suspense with waves of synths that welcome a fall of cosmic waves that float around other more undulating synth lines. A limpid chord rises between this cluster of lines, amassing in its echo a string of other chords which form a sequence of charming keys jumping in a soft harmonic cacophony. And quietly the rhythm gets forged. Fluid, it is harpooned by a bass line whose heavy chords run in counter-harmony, creating a soft musical paradox that melts in the ear. We are charmed by this bazaar of sequences and bass pulses that circulate in all directions, creating a perfect spheroidal symbiosis to which is added percussions whose scattered bearings amplify the ingenuity of Visualities Labored For Thousands of Years which will reach its peak. with the powerful technoïd rhythm of Final: Voyager. And that my friends, this is one of the great moments of EM. It's like reaching a violent orgasm after 1 hour of languid sensual lovemaking. I love it and it's more than awesome. And this is where the taste for listening to Sebastian Im Traum reaches its peak. Dreams and Darkness, one of the two titles offered as a bonus on this reissue of SynGate, prolongs the very melodramatic finale of Final: Voyager with powerful orchestral elements including a superb violin that takes us into the fantasies of Elohim and its Berber tribal approach that oversizes and stretches a grand finale that one would like without time limit. I buy because it suits the genesis of VOYAGER very well. A superb Rainbow Serpent!

Intense, dramatic and cinematic; the 4 chapters of VOYAGER form a long electronic musical fresco where the universes of Gerd Wienekamp and Frank Specht collide in an impressive futuristic vision specific to an imagination without borders. It is an intense musical work which takes the listener among a tangle of rhythms and ambiences whose subtle variances orbit around the same melodic pattern, drawing a form of long coitus which inevitably brings us to a superb auditory orgasm. Superb! Each listening worth the precedent, and it makes you want to listen to Sebastian Im Traum again each time, thus merging two superb odysseys that form one.

Sylvain Lupari (December 9th, 2012) *****

Available at SynGate

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