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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

[´ramp]: Astral Disaster (2012)

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

“Astral Disaster is an electronic feast where Stephen Parsick's passion for the art transcends the heart of his influences”

First Set - Flatten Them! (37:55) 1 Forever Returning 7:15 2 Blast 11:08 3 Rather Far Out 5:51 4 Halo Inductor 13:41 Second Set - Doomsday Is Family Time (38:32) 5 The Nameless is the Origin 9:30 6 Oscillator Planet 5:20 7 Astral Disaster 8:03 8 Jericho 15:39 Doombient. music (CD/DDL 76:27)

(Dark Ambient, Berlin School) (V.F.)

Chthonic choir breathing in the remains of a fallen society, heavy reverberations floating like an odor of death on ambivalent rhythms and pulsations of diabolical machinery molding inaccurate cadences; such are the sound elements that adorn the mephistophelic universe of ['ramp]. Recorded in concert at the Bochum Planetarium, ASTRAL DISASTER continues in the path that Stephen Parsick traced with the powerful Steel and Steam and Return albums; two albums that appear in my Top 10 of 2011. Although camped behind his panoply of synths and analog equipments, the German synthesist weaves the outline of a black Mass that makes thrill and moan the most incredulous ears, so much it's powerful. So ... powerful!

Flatten Them! begins the performance of ['ramp'] with a distant agonizing breath that splits its decrepitude to release a series of swirling gasps, like oblong apocalyptic lassos. Forever Returning plunges us all into the dark and theatrical Luciferian universe of Stephen Parsick. This title from the Return album is a slow arrhythmic procession decorated with dark waves and bursts of satanic machinery. These shadows and breezes float in a darkness whose opacity is slightly disturbed by a string of luminous hoops flowing in a tide of souls roaring with reverberant sighs. These hula hoops ululate with a clear clarity as the machine blows continue their slow hammering until the heavy pulsations of Blast. And quietly a rhythm settles. A rhythm as heavy as slow with heavy resonant pulsations that struggle to get rid of the influence of chorus choirs. A line of sequences emerges. She makes twirl its chords that flutter frighteningly as the heavy pulsations increase the pace, pushing Blast towards an intense staggering gait. A bewitching mephistophelic melody fosters a harmonic path between these two convoluted movements whose paradoxes will sow a cacophony, both harmonic and rhythmic, that will lead us to the temple of Rather Far Out and its fallen angels that cling to the timeless corridors. Fluttering sequences emerge a little after the two minutes, drawing interlocking loops that flutter in the bowels of the heavy infernal roaring. This neurotic rhythm swirls furiously in a mad spiral from which escape the strands of an abstract melody that separates the rhythm of the arrhythmia in a strange ballet for gnomes with wings of fireflies. Halo Inductor extends its fragile rhythm with fine chords that dance to the ashes of Rather Far Out. Delicate, this rhythm remains uncertain. It makes hop its sequences of black glass on a field of ocher mist where an angelic choir sounds so much out of place in this decor of electronic cataclysm. Rotating in a harmonic carousel, which is propelled by spasms of a discrete machinery, Halo Inductor waltzes with the nobility of its oneiric blackness. No kicks and no impulses. Just a delicate pace that flutters on the spot, surrounded by a string of notes that sparkle in a parallel universe where the stupefying seraphic choir leads it to its last beat in a serene finale to make dream the most rebellious souls.

Quieter, the second part of ASTRAL DISASTER, Doomsday is Family Time, is a long succession of dark breaths, oscillating waves and electronic tones drawn from the antrum of the VCS-3 and of the threads of a mellotron which is darker than musical. It's a return to time when the floating and psychedelicosmic ambiances gather their tones of lanky ectoplasmic lamentations, resurrecting the reminiscences of Pink Floyd in Echoes and Ummagumma as well as the first experimental works of Tangerine Dream in Zeit and Atem. The Nameless is the Origin and Oscillator Planet move and progress like specters crisscrossing the deserts of Doomstown until the powerful Astral Disaster expands its slow vampiric veils on this very dark and ambient part of this concert under the stars at the Bochum Planetarium. As heavy and thunderous as Blast, Jericho concludes this last opus of ['ramp] with an approach characteristic of the slow but powerful rhythms found in the works of Stephen Parsick. Halfway between Redshift's aphrodisiac heaviness and the staggering Arc rhythms, Jericho strikes the surrounding walls with dazzling, reverberant drones, echoed by hybrid-sounding choruses and mellotron mists before bursting out from all its power in a stormy finale. The ears don't hold up in a headset ... but we want more.

Arc, Redshift and ['ramp] are the standard bearers of a genre that few dares to address, so much the risks of losing the listener in a boringness dimension are immense. But you don't get bored, far from it. ASTRAL DISASTER is a feast in the Dark Ambient genre that is empowered sequencer. It's a powerful album where every detail and every line are carefully cleared and replaced in an imposing collage of structures that exude the beauty of its mephistophelic magnetism. It's a captivating work in which the rhythms and moods blend into a superb electronic symphony carved in DoomHell's coat of arms. To add to the collection of Debris, Steel and Steam and Return ... And hurry up, it's available in limited edition of 300 numbered CDs. After years of waiting, it's finally available at['ramp]'s Bandcamp.

Sylvain Lupari (November 21st, 2012) ****½*

Available at ['ramp] Bandcamp

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