REDSHIFT: Ether (1999)
Updated: Mar 12, 2020
“Surely one of the Top 25 of classical and dark EM, Ether is not to be missed”
1 A Midnight Clear 23:59 2 Bombers in the Desert 8:23 3 Static 5:13 4 Ether 27:29 Redshift Music
(DDL 66:05) (V.F.) (Classical Berlin School)
How to survive to a first opus when it marks a generation? The first album of Redshift answered a need; fill a gap that Tangerine Dream has created by going away from his dark moods and sequenced rides in the years of Phaedra and Rubycon. The era where the heavy sequencers and the Moog were king. This time where the slow movements got out of the limbos, on the back of huge ambient and heavy rhythms which progressed with hypnotic sequenced movements and which became little by little unchained on the dark mooings of Mellotron. Redshift had made a success of this mythical approach with a first opus fills of vague hopes. There was of course Node, but the band disappeared in a short time. Thus, ETHERwas expected with impatience. And nobody can be disappointed. Because from its first breezes we are assailed by the Redshift atmospheres. This unique atmosphere which allied slow and sinuous movements of which the fragrances had embalmed the first opus. Undulations of ether which float in a dark atmosphere where the knocks of a big sequencer, a Moog Modular, strike with strength and surprise. Even in concert, the British quartet manages to transpose his dark universe into the heavy steams of the 70's. And we have here the main lines of ETHER where A Midnight Clear and the title-track were played and recorded at the famous Jodrell Bank Planetarium.
A big industrial humming intensifies the introduction of A Midnight Clear which adorns itself of luxurious iridescent synth lines. A chthonian choir embraces these dark breezes which glitter in a sibylline universe. This strange duet floats like spectres in search of a soul whereas the heavy hummings reappear, amplifying this abstruse climate. Delicate ringings emerge a little after the point of 6 minutes. They haven't stop irradiating like a childish singing that a line of lively sequences diverts this fragile approach to transform it into a solid line of rhythm which oscillates through dense fields of the mists of Mellotron. The loops of rhythm accelerate the pace and the and mists undulate like some Arabian caresses. We nod of the head and we make our fingers drumming. In this tumult where the synth pads and the guitar riffs try to take root, the evolution of A Midnight Clear goes by a brief ambiospherical phase and other phases of more or less ambient where only the sequences wave by doing lively cabrioles in a temperate silence. All the sonic arsenal of Redshift is present; synth pads as harmonious as devilish, bass sequences, felted explosions, choruses of satanic monks and lines of flutes accompany the tearings of A Midnight Clear which gradually gives back its rhythmic weapons in order to embrace a more ambient mood. A powerful track! A sonic fresco which allies all the harmonization and the electronic voltage of an era that we considered gone. Following a misty intro, where the harmonies of darkness ooze sibylline breezes, a guitar and a synth are squabbling for the resonant hopping rhythm of Bombers in the Desert. Beneath some suave lamentations of the electronic machines, the movement of sequences weave a heavy and fluid rhythm (one would say that it breathes) which keeps a good cadence under the bites of Rob Jenkins' six-strings. His solos waltz and cut through the ambiences fed by the lamentations of synths and beneath the eye eager of a sequencer ultra heavy which will blow up a wild and indomitable tempo. This is doubtless the first track in Redshift repertoire to have marked our ears of a more accessible approach. Rhythm, non rhythm, the English quartet likes playing with the paces and with the atmospheres without a warning. All in surprise, as in disappointment, similar to a coitus interruptus.
Static breathes as a starving animal which will never feed. It's a pool of pulsations eager for tones where revolve a thick cloud of heterogeneous tones as well as singings of spectres which will always stay in suspension. That's heavy, kind of threatening, and that remains ambient. After these two tracks recorded in studio, the long title-track brings us back to the ambiences of the Jodrell Bank concert. It's a totally delicious electronic movement, as much delicious as A Midnight Clear, which starts with a heavy ambiosonic and ambiospheric intro polluted by an immense geyser of machines' rustlings. The synths and guitar fill a heavy ambient movement joined by a chthonian choir. Delicate ringings emerge a little after the point of 6 minutes (remember the structure of A Midnight Clear?), drawing an electronic melody soaked with a John Carpenter's devilish aura. This line of sequences swirls into nice spirals beneath the bites of a six-strings, which haunt the listening, as well as beneath the muffled implosions of a bass line. This is simply haunting and delicious. Big sequenced keys, resounding and full of juice, skip with heaviness (this legendary heaviness of the Redshift movements), structuring the rhythmic thorn of Ether which continues its eternal sonic ascent beneath the caresses of synth solos and of its neighboring harmonies. The movement amplifies its heaviness, vitamins its growth with heavier and more incisive sequences, flooding on its passage all the sound decoration which accompanied it since the first steps. This is pure Redshift with its heavy and lively rhythm where thrones a multitude of electronic tones, which often are bringing out of hell, and guitar solos as enigmatic as vaporous. And while we imagine a long ambient finale, Ether surpasses our expectations with a more lively rhythm which will crash in superb chthonian singings where the six-strings spit heart-rending solos, where the Melltron continues to place its mystic mist and where the synths continue to decorate an ambiance deserving of Mephistopheles' passions. Like I told you: this is big Redshift. It's among the best, my top 25 list, of classical EM. And those who missed this not that far era, you have plenty of time to catch it. After all, this is what I did!
Sylvain Lupari (December 17th, 2006) *****
Available at Redshift Bandcamp