REMY: The Other Side (2020)
Updated: May 26
“Everything is top notch in this concept album where Remy piles up these orchestral vibes that bring us in wonderful zone of discomfort”
1 A Different View 13:05
2 Everything is Distraction 22:59
3 The Perfect Dream 18:24
4 Lost in Reality 22:53
(CD/DDL 77:11) (V.F.)
(New Berlin School)
The rhythm caught our attention from the start of A Different View. Defining its spasmodic limit, it hops with nervous sequences between the percussion's booms. This inviting structure is covered with this disturbing atmosphere that has followed Remy's journey since 1999. Synth layers fleeing like these invisible beings covered with a white shroud surround this mass of rhythm swarming of nervousness where the orchestral pads foil our attention with this appearance of filtered voices. I hear these ghostly cries which follow Remy's nocturnal dreams since Exhibition of Dreams. Samplings of Opera voices slip here with groans that get lost in the nocturnal madness of a herd of specters wallowed in dilapidated walls. The rhythm remains as convulsive up until the 8th minute. A short moment of seraphic atmospheres imposes a truce in the rhythm for some 40 seconds where tinkles adorn the hums of the Astral Elves. The rhythm that emerges is like that of a metronome that we test the limits of an electronic rock filled of good sound effects. This rhythmic bull runs head down, making its way among different layers and effects to arrive where a big nothing exists anymore. A Different View kicks off THE OTHER SIDE, Remy Stroomer's latest album. Forget the ambient experimental style of First Day of Spring, Mäläskä's latest album, because the Dutch musician revives his style that has made him famous since 1999. The production is flawless with an excellent mastering by Wouter Bessels. And who knows Remy's music, knows how much the mastering must be up to these nightmarish overlaps woven in orchestras running faster than rhythms. Everything is top notch in this concept album which focuses on how to illustrate in moods and in music the other side of everyday life. The other aspect of a story, a photo and all these things that feed our daily lives and of which we only see one side; ours. Admit that the idea flirts pretty well with the majestic Exhibition of Dreams. If Remy Stroomer cannot escape his pivotal work which pursues him at each new album, he rather dodges the subject with 4 long titles where the other side of each thing sparkles in this solid opus which still manages to make me say; damn the guy is awesome!
Crackles and strong winds are at the origin of Everything is Distraction. Remy narrates a short text about everything being distraction. Plays of violins float in its ambient introduction where scattered booms are buzzing on a lento to make our soul to sigh. The music projects a kind of desolation onto a land devoured by fires or radiation. The slowness of the violins is overwhelming, and their laments are pecked by the radioactive particles and the white noises of the wiishh and the wooshh. The sequencer tinkles a key which wanders hesitantly, while the synth weaves a harmonic veil with jerky effects which fit to this hesitant rhythm. Everything tumbles from this point. The rhythm is now sculpted by hundreds of lost steps which skip and run in all directions, creating an illusion of anarchy while a melody insidiously took possession of my ears. In fact, I would rather speak of a pleasant earworm which keeps coming back, being hummed by a synth with a slightly nasal tint. The percussions chat and twirl, establishing a close link between these lost steps from the sequencers. The percussions tumble after the 10th minute. Bas Broekhuis' play succeeds in redirecting Everything is Distraction towards a fiery and powerful electronic rock whose frame remains puny. Remy redirects his structure towards a passage where the sequencer makes its keys flutter in a drifting phase which, three minutes later, becomes again this big rock that B.B. had hammered with his agile arms. A phase where this time Remy throws his most beautiful synth solos in THE OTHER SIDE.
It's from far away that we hear 4 chords spinning like a luminously hypnotic carousel. There is a gap between the tinkling of these glass chords. There is also this difference at the level of tones and these imperfection stirs my hearing which likes when the order is shaken by a louder tinkling note or by a sequence which has just jumped badly. A bass spreads out 4 devious chords which skip in a morphic heaviness. And the two entities gradually awaken the ambiences of The Perfect Dream which constantly bring me back to this pivotal work of the Dutch musician. Here the movement of the rhythm is braided in these series of 4 repetitive chords of a keyboard, of a sequencer and from the bass line. The latter takes the guides of the rhythm which exposes a moderate velocity with this stubborn structure which turns in circles. The piano adds a little of spirit by releasing this melody which dances against the current. Like a Jazzy approach which makes runs its notes to add another crack in this system of circular rhythm, accentuating even more this perception of dissonance which is at the base of The Perfect Dream. The last portion comes from the left field with an acoustic guitar performance which makes runs its notes too, like the piano, on a slow and heavy rhythm struck by the hammer blows of the keyboard and the sequencer. The guitar is magic, and its virtuoso makes her speak in a final impregnated with a layer of ambiences where my ears hear deformed whispers. The slow staccato that starts Lost in Reality stretches its charming coat with a jerky fluidity where spread a layer of mysterious mist . A cello adds a dose of nostalgia to these ambiences with its slow embraces which awaken an acoustic six-string always well lit on the atmospheres of The Perfect Dream. A line of voices in cappella adds to the mysteries of what I consider the best title of THE OTHER SIDE. The approach is still dominated by the minimalist visions of Remy who takes the opportunity to add other chords from different instruments. This is how you sew the attention of a listener to your music! The rhythm is ambient, but not too much. He hops and hobbles on a series of 3 redundant chords while synth solos tame this palette of chords and of instruments weaver of these atmospheres become difficult to penetrate from Lost in Reality whose rhythmic fabric collides between its elements in order to add heaviness and velocity. The cello takes the place of the synth by stretching its laments where a piano makes its notes dance in the short elastic momentums of the bass line. We are in Klaus Schulze's In Blue years when this fascinating symbiosis dies out at the 13th minute. The acoustic guitar then dances in duet with this bass line whose elasticity brings together these rhythmic elements which follow one another in clashes, now that the voice of Judith Wesselius adds its layer of charm and that of Joost Verhagen recites a text while singing with a voice grave and serious in a fascinating movement where the contrasts, these disturbing elements that are on the other side, end up meeting in a finale that comes too quickly. Like the album by the way…
Sylvain Lupari (May 25th, 2020) ****½*
Available at Remy Stroomer Bandcamp