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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

REALTIME: Lights of the Universe (2007/2014)

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

A bit more daring, Lights of the Universe embraces a kind of sweet Daliesque moods of the 80's

1 Sunlight Reflections 9:52

2 Stardancer 7:12

3 Tranceflight 9:22

4 Rotations 4:33

5 There's Nothing like the Sun 7:40

6 Spacerider 5:00

7 Lights of the Universe 14:15

8 Lunar Habitat 5:54

9 Up up to the Sky 6:08

(DDL 69:56) (V.F.)

(Ambient prog New Berlin School)

Reissued in the same stride as Journey into Space and following the success of Solar Walk among the fans of New Berlin School who dreamed on the music of Software, LIGHTS OF THE UNIVERSE is the second album of Realtime. Also recorded and released on SynGate some three years after Journey into Space, this 3rd digital life (2007 and 2010), which is only available as a digital release on the Bandcamp page of the German label, comes too with a new remastered which includes 2 bonus tracks and always offers these attractive patterns of rhythms, as melodious as lively, which are the cornerstone of Realtime's musical universe. I do believe that it's a good initiative if we consider the success of Solar Walk and that these first two albums of the musical project from Thomas Bock and Norbert Hensellek were all sold out a little time after their releases.

A choir of angelic voices is mixed to glistening synth lines to open the first seconds of Sunlight Reflections which offers its rich ambient intro to a thin line of sequences weaved by uncertain circular beatings. These jumping keys, dancing in an imperfect spheroidal figure, escape the lack of coordination of the main line to force a movement of upward ritornello from which the minimalist circles grow rich of their shadows and hiccups with a light movement of delay. One of the big charms of the band is this way that the duet embroiders their ambient rhythms with sequences which are subdivided to create two lines, sometimes even three , of adjacent rhythms which follow each other or stick or yet dissociate themselves just with a little of delay in their beatings. And when some light strikings of percussions pepper the whole thing, it gives rhythms as fascinating as attractive. These sequences and percussions are the strength of the duo from Cologne. So much that we forget the impact of the synths which are real machines diffuser of thick clouds of mist, as cosmic as mystic, which grasp this swarm of hypnotic rhythms. We also forget solos and cybernetic dialects. Like on Stardancer, as well as on the kind of ambient techno that is Tranceflight, where the heavy rotatory rhythms offer their keys and their syncopated copies to more musical synth lines. Synth lines with industrialized perfumes which drop some rather robotics harmonies and where the influences of Vangelis get lost in the boldness of Baffo Banfi, like in Tranceflight and its long sinuous and nasal solos, and brief laments stridencies of which roam and swirl around the very vaporous narrations of Thorsten Sudler-Mainz (Art of infinity and Deep Imagination) on Stardancer. The latter also lends his very hollow voice on the somber There's Nothing like the Sun, of which the jerky and dreamy structure is similar to Stardancer, as well as on the title-track. The short Rotations offers a variance in the harmonies with a good line of flute which sings on a kind of cosmic tom-toms pattern. Spacerider does honor to its naming by a movement of sequences which adopts literally the trots of a horse. The knocks of percussions act as whip lashes and fire a pace which gets livelier and livelier. The synths are drawing some floating waves, whose spectral singings are staging a real horse ride in a cosmic desert. This track sticks to the ear straight away, contrary to the title-track which proposes a more complex structure with keys bouncing of their jerky promptness in the abstract harmonies with bewitching souvenirs of Baffo Banfi's Daliesque universe. Lights of the Universe may need more than one listening and you will get caught because each new listening demands for another one! Lunar Habitat and Up up to the Sky are the two bonus tracks which come with this digital download release. Both tracks oscillate between the universes of Solar Walk and LIGHTS OF THE UNIVERSE. If Lunar Habitat offers a kind of ambient bolero with a delicate sequenced velocity, Up up to the Sky proposes a livelier rhythm, although always rather ambient, where the keys always dance with their shadows under a sky painted of astral luminosities.

I like the music of Realtime, whose minimalist rhythms remind me a very ethereal Kraftwerk's hypnotic dance. It's easy to tame, beautiful and properly done. Certainly that their structures of rhythms seem to be a multiplicity of a kind which is alike in each track, except that the fine and subtle nuances, as well as a more audacious use of the synths, compared to Journey into Space, leads us towards spheres until then unsuspected from the German duet. These new reissues are mainly intended to those who liked the Teutonic rhythms of the 80's which are soaked by orchestral and cosmic synth pads a la Software. Software, Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre, Gottsching and Banfi are so many perfumes of reminiscences that will fill the ears of those who have succumb to those first 2 works of Realtime. You have enjoyed Solar Walk? Well, Journey into Space and LIGHTS OF THE UNIVERSE are then true values for your wallet and purse.

Sylvain Lupari (July 10th, 2014) *****

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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