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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

RAMSAYGEE: Ways (2011)

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

A cross between Synth-Pop and melodious New Age, specific to AD Music's visions

1 Vortex Ethnicana 3:33

2 Universal Nomad 5:33

3 Island Flowers 4:18

4 Homelands 5:26

5 Loona Faze 4:41

6 Love Mirage 4:25

7 Tennis 5:21

8 Vocuitar 5:18

9 Zeros and Ones 5:59

10 Ways 6:35

11 The Path to You 6:00

(CD-r/DDL 47:14) (V.F.)

(Synth-Pop, New Age, World Beat)

With Exotique, released in the summer of 2009, Ramsaygee offered us a bouquet of musical freshness with tribal rhythms specific to African cultures. In WAYS, the musician-synthesist from South Africa repeats by offering an album with tribal essences but with a more universal approach. On rhythms always as sweet and bubbling we can hear bouquets as diverse as Oriental, Mexican, Latin and/or African. A bit like in Exotique, Gareth Ramsay plays a lot on the diversity to offer 11 tracks whose tribal flavors often flirt with moderate techno and synth-pop full of colorful samplings. I smell a curious attraction for Software's music, Digital Dance period, and even Jean-Michel Jarre, at the level of the rhythms, with brief intrusions in the spheres of DJ's and their nasal voice effects which lean a little on the ease of the Teen-pop. But rest assured, the musician has kept his sound-running spirit intact.

Bass resonant chords sliding on mixed sounds open noisily Vortex Ethnicana. A lot happens on this short 3:33 track! And that's kind of how WAYS goes; a lot of sound and energy in a short period of time. The rhythm is built around heavy syncopated sequences that twitch among heavy, curt synth riffs and JMJarre-like metallic percussions. A rhythm that is softened by brief insertions of Latin guitar and a good passage of tribal percussions in Arabic style. Let's say that it starts on the right foot. More exotic and strongly tinted with samples of oriental chants, Universal Nomad turns on a circular rhythm with ascending sequenced structure. There are good orchestrations among these amazing samplings of nomadic peoples and beautiful layers of mellotron winding around this spasmodic rhythm that maintains its pace while being accompanied by a tender melancholic violin. The multiplicity of sounds on very easy to like phases finds all its sense on Island Flowers which begins by chimpanzee cries. Screams that cross a heavy sequence and percussions that pound a steady beat. The whole being topped by a subtle mellotron synth, a muffled and nasal synthetic voice that shows up with whale cries. Island Flowers stumbles over this abundance of sounds on a very catchy beat. The kind you hear everywhere these days on commercial radio. It's not that bad, but it sounds very Teen-pop mixed in a tribal samplings' fauna. Love Mirage is in the same vein but a bit softer, languorous and exotic with its heavy sequence that pulses among synthesized voices and gypsy violins.

Homelands is a beautiful electronic ballad where sequences and percussions structure a slow hypnotic rhythm that a fluty synth accompanies towards more fluid rhythms. A good track that turns from a ballad into a synth-pop on a circular and finely jerky rhythm. The flute is particularly beautiful there, especially in duel with the acoustic guitar. I could see this track as a soundtrack for a documentary about the African savannah, just like Loona Faze which flows smoothly on a fluid rhythm with strong African tendencies. Tennis is a very good track that brings us back to the Software era with an intro filled with sequences fluttering in a gyrating motion when the percussions fall with the Arabian flutes. A good introduction where the acoustic guitar is grafted to this musicality which deviates to borrow a Kraftwerk Teutonic rhythm with the use of a vocoder. The nasal and robotic voice chatters on a nervous structure fed by jumping sequences and slaps that clash like balls on a tennis court. And the suave musicality of the intro reappears to sink again to an even more percussive and robotic technoïd rhythm. It is a very good track on WAYS, just like Zeros and Ones and its heavy rhythm on a jerky structure with the very diversified musicality that we find on WAYS. Vocuitar is a good electronic ballad on a languorous rhythm. After a dreamy soft intro, where a synth undulates over bells and a pleasant sax/synth spreads its melancholy, the title-track borrows a sweet Arabian tribal perfume. Percussions drum with bass-pulses as the pace aims for a tribal techno worthy of good World Music. The Path to You concludes the album with a more evolutionary track. A kind of ballad on a rather heavy rhythm that turns into a more pop vision in the Mike Oldfield style.

I liked the music of WAYS, just as I had enjoyed the music of Exotique. Ramsaygee is forging a style that stands out in this very fluctuating world of EM. We are very far from Berlin School with a cross between Synth-Pop and melodic New Age, which is specific to the visions of AD Music label.

Sylvain Lupari (June 8th, 2011) *****

Available at AD Music

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