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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

['RAMP]: steel and steam (2011)

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

“I'm still stunned and amazed that my ears, as well as my speakers, have held up against this powerful explosion of England School and Berlin School”

1 Zeppelin 9:10

2 node i 6:59

3 node ii 5:55

4 solenoid 9:34

5 [led] 6:54

6 Puppets 16:19

7 steel and steam part i 2:39

8 steel and steam part ii 4:36

9 steel and steam part iii 4:43

10 steel and steam part iv

Doombient Music (DDL 75:41)

(England & Berlin Schools) (V.F.)

The universe of Stephen Parsick is as unusual as the originality of the character; dark artworks with sometimes no images, incendiary and provocative album titles, writings with strange calligraphy and music built in the bowels and fissions of the Earth's crust are the prerogative of the man as black as the ashes of the volcanoes that he has woke up since he wanders the paths of contemporary EM in 1991. Sometimes ambient and sometimes rhythmic, the music of Stephen Parsick resounds of roaring sequences and pulsations in an astonishingly powerful musical world. It's with an old friend, Mark Shreeve, that he awakens the ['ramp] volcano. A volcano put on hold by the very dark and ambient Caverna Larvarum of the Doombient series. And this 11th opus, aptly titled steel and steam, exactly meets the expectations of a Parsick/Shreeve union. An album, according to the German synthesist, that would be the most accessible of ['ramp] and he is not quite wrong. Beyond the powerful sequences, roaring pulsations and unbridled percussions are plotting nice melodies that will charmed and screwed earworms deep inside your ears. But steel and steam is also extremely powerful, even violent, and transcends the traces of debris. And that, in the world of ['ramp], is the equivalent of a bomb!

A strange rolling of iron balls that sounds like a sordid and metallic flute of pan opens Zeppelin which fills with a strange industrial color. Already Stephen Parsick displays the sounds of steal and stream with a sequence emerging slowly from nowhere. It pulsates with its chords nervously fluttering on a furious line of sequencer rippling forcefully among clapping and fluttering percussions and echoes of which melt into the mournful breaths of a choir submissive and lamentations of metal twisted with sadism. Drawn into steel, Zeppelin advances at counter current, following a powerful crescendo that implodes of an uncommon heaviness on a boiling structure. The lines of rhythms pulsate and gallop on the mists of metallic sounds while the synth traces slow celestial movements that waltz like waves slightly tinged with an Arabian approach. These oneiric synth layers are floating to sing their melodies on a heavy and languid structure, blowing a brief movement of tranquility before resuming its infernal heavy march. That's very good! Fine arpeggios sparkle in the opening of node i which blossoms among dark iron puffs zigzagging through boilers and foundries. A rhythm is drawn with fine bells and frolics percussions whose strikes deviate towards a heavy movement with increasing pulsations. node i becomes soaked by a stagnant atmosphere before powerful and heavy sequences, to make the speakers wince, carry the title to a powerful rhythm. A crazy and energetic rhythm raging near the strident howls of the underground sirens and which is submerged by an incredible sound fauna resulting from a metallic fission where percussions and sequences merge in an upward movement. node ii is a hard and pure Berlin School that rolls with its powerful circular rhythm and lives from its heavy, low, resonant and fluttering sequences. Not to mention its din of percussion. The introduction of solenoid throws a little tranquility in this orgy of infernal decibels with soft breaths imbued with an iridescent and menacing haze. Gradually the rhythm comes out of the entrails of twisted metal and ripples with its tetanized pulsations which slam and snap in a silvery echo. Fine electric piano notes emerge. They escape with a superb and unexpected melody that detonates in this infernal racket to slip into the moods of [led] that resumes and ends the journey of Zeppelin.

Puppets introduces us to the Mark Shreeve segment and his big Modular Moog IIIc. The English musician sculpts a pleasant nursery rhyme which follows an intro where heterogeneous sonorities are ululating among corroding breaths and twisted reverberations. Fine sequences emerge and waddle nonchalantly on the ashes of a foundry. Delicate arpeggios vibrate with crystalline tones in a mesmerizing ritornello, like a carousel rolling inside long breathes a bit apocalyptic. It's a marvel that evolves with a slight threatening crescendo to end its dance of imps in the malicious breaths of its intro. steel and steam part i begins with a sweet electric piano that spreads its notes in the soft mist of a waltz waltzing against the current. Another fragile melody survives and keeps this timbre so particular to the works of ['ramp]. She wakes up at its very ending with small rattling and a heavy pulsation pounding and resonating like a huge tam-tom hammered directly from the underworld. We fall into steel and steam part ii where the notes of the piano and the heavy pulsations continue their crusade on a heavy and chaotic tempo. The electric piano adds a touch of progressive rock to a tempo became jerkier and throws itself, open melody, in the abysses of steel and steam part iii. If until now your loudspeakers have held up, they may be letting go here on these extremely heavy pulsations that roar among the slamming without restraints of metallic percussions. We are in an infernal cacophony that fades gradually to plunge steel and steam part iii into a rhythmic indecision, nourished by resonant pulsations and a superb game of sequences, which forges a powerful circular tempo. The rhythm always follows an ascending tangent, we enter the thundering spheres of steel and steam part iv where the undulating movement hops around an intensive pulsating shelling of the sequencer. The pulsations are infernal, and their hyper-resonances ignite the explosions of metallurgical boilers and strident screams of synths. This explosion is full of colorful sounds that bicker a gyratory rhythm and explode like a huge arcade game to finally reach a form of appeasement. And a last filament of the sequencer thrills nervously around this sweet melody which opened steel and steam part i.

Phew ...! I'm still stunned and amazed that my ears, as well as my speakers, have held up against this powerful explosion of England School and Berlin School and the infamous Moogs by Parsick & Shreeve. steel and steam is a marvel that will astonished you as much as it will charm for sure. Simply blasting, steel and steam is without a doubt the most powerful album of the recent years and one of the best so far this year. It's an album of rare violence and of unparalleled intensity where boiling rhythms, sequences and resonant pulsations that draw rhythms difficult to seize and from which are escaping very nice melodious structures. For this, it's really the most accessible album of ['ramp]. And if you're a fan of ['ramp], I'll hurry because the album is manufactory pressed in only 300 copies. After that ... Zip! Word of Stephen Parsick! But finally, steel and steam is available on Bandcamp since 2018.

Sylvain Lupari (August 3rd, 2011) ****½*

Available at [´ramp] Bandcamp

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