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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

REDSHIFT: Redshift (1996)

“What we have here is a classic of the vintage Berlin School reminiscences with a wonderful zest of contemporary”

1 Redshift 18:43 2 Spin 8:26 3 Shine 4:02 4 Blueshift 33:05 Redshift (DDL 64:16) (V.F.) (Berlin School, Dark Ambient)

For those who missed it, Redshift's music is on Bandcamp. Redshift is an astonishing extension of Mark Shreeve's universe whose last solo album is the excellent recording of his concert (the album Collide) given on March 12, 1994 at Derby Assembly Rooms; true temple of EM for a new generation of English musicians. Less harmonious, significantly heavier and especially darker than his solo works, this new musical adventure of the famous and taciturn English musician revolves around an increased use of the big Moog which seems to have no secret for the fingering and especially the imagination of Mark Shreeve who assumes all the musical writing of Redshift. Flanked by musicians who appeared on Collide (James Goddard and Julian Shreeve) Mark Shreeve also gets surrounded by the guitarist Rob Jenkins whose heavy riffs and solos add a more progressive dimension to Mark Shreeve's music. The Redshift entity is born. Only the identity is missing! And it's through a dark and heavy atmosphere and rhythms that are so buzzing and trembling that the Redshift seal marks our ears. And the first album is simply amazing. The new English quartet gives us an EM that transcends the limits of imagination, of sequenced rhythms and Chthonian atmospheres. Everything revolves around the big Moog. This big wall of wires, knobs and switches that has been the delight of fans of Chris Franke and Klaus Schulze is found now in the musical laboratory of Mark Shreeve who remains of the few to know the secrets and skills. The sequencer is nervous, stormy and Mark Shreeve is very creative too. The sequencer's patterns of rhythms are complemented by synths' black shadows and chthonic choirs and this mellotron which is the greatness of the colossal works by Tangerine Dream, Rubycon and Phaedra style. It's a whole musical journey that Redshift offers. A journey that crossed the time barriers while keeping the freshness of the 2000's. Here the pace has no measure. It's confusing, even abstract, and everything goes through the Moog ...

Noises from machines open the noisy valves of the eponymous track. Therefore, we understand of what the universe of Redshift will be done. Long laments of sirens of war sweep across a black horizon where souls with deformed lamentations are languishing. A wave of choruses armed with heavenly trumpets rises in order to get a little of black from Redshift which, despite everything, is still soaked with the ashes of the underworld. It's like being in a war. A war between the abyss and the light. There are groans, deep breaths and synth lines in cryptic colors that float like spirits in search of a body. Then a black movement of the sequencer, Rubycon style, emerges and makes dance its riffs that gradually stand out to take a form of more defined rhythm. A heavy, undulating rhythm which runs on a tide of absent choirs to support a superb flute with meditative chants. A Mellotron makes roll its orchestral waves on a structure of rhythm which bathes in an alienating madness. We hear flashes of Shreeve's solo works on a structure that gambols freely from its indomitable sequences and where drag a good Mellotron flute, black and floating synth pads, unreal orchestrations, reverb waves, vaporous guitar riffs and assorted choirs for masses of zombies on modulatory rhythms. Elements that forge an effect of hell. This introduction is highly successful. It sounds like an evolution of Tangerine Dream from the Peter Baumann era. Compared to that, Spin has a more poetic approach. Always dressed in black, the title delicately turns on a structure of sequences of which the fine ends of stroboscopic key are hiccoughing in sibylline atmospheres. And as nothing is done easy in the Redshift universe, Spin gives its delicate rhythmic frame to the storms of synths whose gusty winds disrupt a little the order of things.

Shine offers a slower and darker structure with dark pulsations that accelerate a metronomic rhythm which falls under the charms of a flute whose enchanting breezes are sound out of tune in this chthonic universe. The movement of the sequencer is amazing. It sounds like Chris Franke making his balls of rhythm tumble and stumble on a disordered conveyor. The ambiences are breathtaking with synths that draw pieces of Luciferian harmonies à la Shreeve amid rattles and harsh breaths lost in the eyes of Mephistopheles. An intense four minutes and too short! For many Redshift fans, Blueshift is Redshift's masterpiece. And for a good reason. On the other hand, it's this kind of title where we need to be comfortably seated so as not to miss anything and to grasp all the nuances. After an ambient intro, sprinkled with a slight mellotron flute, metallic noises take form and transform into a mordant sequenced line. Although dark, the movement is serene and accompanied by mocking riffs that come out of the Legion universe. Still magnificently painted, the Mellotron flute spreads clouds of mysteries on a rhythm that gradually detaches itself from its hypnotic structure to crawl like a cerebral threat. Quietly, the keys fade away and drop Blueshift in a sonic universe smeared of thousand heterogeneous noises with hues and shapes as varied as a freezing magma. There follows a long and very striking ambient passage where all the elements form a dark symphony drenched with a chthonic choir that will make the back hairs roll, leading Blueshift in a series of heartbeats (here I'm still trying to understand the meaning) that will last more than 10 minutes. Concluding thus, in a rather enigmatic way I must admit, a superb album full of promises that will satisfy all the aficionados Berlin School style of the 70's.

If you like the Baumann period of Tangerine Dream you will adore this first album of Redshift... as well as all the others. This is guaranteed!

Sylvain Lupari (September 6th, 2006) *****

Available at Redshift Bandcamp

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