RENÉ SPLINTER: Almery (2010)
“A newcomer inspired by Tangerine Dreams' Schmoelling era? Why not, when it’s well done! And this one is very well-done”
1 Tunnel Vision 7:49 2 Encom 8:05 3 The Flight of the Pterodactyl 4:08 4 Almery 8:11 5 The Laughing Magician 28:00
(CD/DDL 56:06) (V.F.)
I discovered René Splinter's music thanks to the compilations of Groove; E-Day 2011 and Dutch Masters Vol. 1. One couldn't deny, still less keep silent, the obvious influence of Tangerine Dream on the musical orientations of the Dutch synthesist. It was in 1977 that this Dutch musician native to The Hague met EM on his personal growth path with the album Oxygene from Jean-Michel Jarre. Gradually, the genre invaded his artistic vision. He began strumming on a Sequential Circuits Pro One in the late 80's. He composed and recorded his music by re-recording on a cassette recorder. And at the end of the 90's, he had composed a first album, ALMERY which was only available in a cassette format. Some 20 years later, this first album is finally available on MellowJet Records. And if the influence of TD emerged in the tracks offered on the Groove compilation- albums, it's nothing compared to this album which is a real immersion in the worlds of the Dream. From Exit to White Eagle, without forgetting Hyperborea and Poland, René Splinter voraciously exploits these sequences which sound like arrows shot from a crossbow, these iridescent synth riffs as well as these harmonies which have a clear penchant for Le Parc. All in all, this is a superb album for nostalgic where the synthesist from the Netherlands pursues this road which nevertheless seemed to be a musical dead end to believe the many critics.
Tunnel Vision starts this little discovery with chords resonating like bells. The vision of Tangerine Dream sets in with a bass line with boomerang chords, like in Le Parc, and these layers of melancholy mist. A carpet of sequences rolls with rattlesnake tones, gradually initiating a latent rhythm. The music takes off with this audacious play of sequencer which is coated with a synth with vaporous curves which also drops its jets of metallic mist. The rhythm is minimalist pulsating and is propelled by good electronic percussions. It accentuates its hypnotic grip and rushes in at high speed accompanied by a synth with a catchy melody and whose iridescent flute breaths are like a breathless saxophone lamenting over furious and brilliant sequences. Quite a start! After a short nebulous intro, Encom takes the shape of a boiling electronic rock with percussions which hammer a hard-rock rhythm surrounded by symphonic layers of the synth. A crossing between Exit and White Eagle, Encom encounters a delicious and explosive turbulence of sequences and percussions before resuming its rhythmic route on a heavy, hypnotic and stubborn tempo which is always coated with these synth pads with TD's signatures all over them. It's still just as good! Short and melodious, The Flight of the Pterodactyl is more centered on synths than movements of sequencers, although the rhythm is always heavy and hard. The more we move in, the more the bond that binds René Splinter's music to that of Tangerine Dream is inseparable. So, the title piece is a superb ballad whose sweet ethereal refrain strangely resembles that of White Eagle.
The Laughing Magician is the headline on ALMERY. It's also a skilful mixture, or kind of remix, of different harmonic visions of this period strongly anchored in the influences of Splinter. With these voices with freezing whispers which pierce the choreography of metallic cymbals, we are in the middle of the Majove Plan period, while the sequences and synth riffs plunge us into that of Poland. Both methodical and daring, René Splinter injects his layers with scents of blue metal in the percussion rolls, the riff lines and the synth strata with iridescent colors. A rich sound universe unfolds this inviting tempo where the arrival of spasmodic sequences forges a jerky structure. And the illusion of the Dream is more than perfect. We have the feeling of hearing a title that has not found its place in the mega-compilation The Dream Roots Collection. Except that Splinter doesn't only copy the style of Tangerine Dream. No! He traces his melodies and ethereal layers on sharper and better defined rhythms and with synth strata that roar like Froese's guitar. This haunting rhythm follows its hypnotic tangent in an incredible harmonious richness before plunging into a sea of eclectic sounds. It floats among anvil shots, electronic gas jets as well as in this mist and these metallic breaths which have replaced the mephistophelic envelope of the analog years. The rhythm evolves with its play of sequences and electronic percussions which demonstrate the originality of Splinter towards his influences, more particularly here for the disheveled final of Horizon of the masterpiece that is Poland. The Laughing Magician therefore dies out in a psychedelically frenzied finale where the metallic din and the crystallized synth breaths are tied to episodic rhythmic jolts which deliberately cover the magic concert in Poland, but with a more personal vision of René Splinter.
By aiming for the glorious era of the Franke, Froese and Schmoelling trio, while insisting on Poland, the Dutch synthesizer strikes in the middle of my magical period of Tangerine Dream. I thus loved ALMERY. I see more than an imitation of my cult band. I hear a music which has delighted me, and which definitively hooked me to the superb universe of EM where the sounds and the sequences weave evolutionary structures that the craftsmen skillfully dress with good layers and synth solos. And this is what René Splinter offers us on this ALMERY which in the end is a superb album and a pure delight for the ears and for this nostalgia that has makes us obsessed with a musical period whose many enchantments exceed all this excess , this devotion that binds us to the Beatles of EM.
Sylvain Lupari (October 28th, 2011) *****
Available at Mellow-Jet Records