RENÉ SPLINTER: Modern Ruins (2013)
“Modern Ruines is an album that will please those of you who like wild sequencing and nice melodies à la Schmoelling”
1 Urbex 9:00 2 Pod City 13:01 3 Scenic Reels 7:23 4 Footprints in the Dust 9:28 5 Regeneration 4:49 6 Modern Ruins 8:18 7 Nostalgia 4:29 8 The Pendulum 6:14 Groove | GR-199
(CD/DDL 62:43) (V.F.)
(E-Rock Exit years)
Make relive the disused buildings. Make speak these ruins by the breaths of their ghosts of time who are the silent witnesses of the joys, the sorrows, births and deaths, the murders, the violence and of the forgetting. The ruins are the vestiges of our civilization. And those more modern will be in the centenaries if the avidity for new buildings won't erode the landscape of desolation which upholsters these ornaments deserted for a call to a better life. For his last album, René Splinter has decided to make speak the bones of civilizations destroyed by the wars or abandoned by their occupants to occupy the ruins of tomorrow. A strange project where the pitfalls are in every corner when we know the very melodious style of the Dutch synthesist. And no, the universe of René Splinter hasn't change at all. Alone behind his keyboards, he always likes to imagine what Tangerine Dream would have become with him. And the result of his fantasies is always so delicious, even if quietly René Splinter begins to look like Johannes Schmoelling. MODERN RUINS is his 4th album and his second on Groove. It's an album which offers another vision of Splinter with many more atmospheres than on his previous works. But don't worry, the rhythms built on sequences and on their echoes in the shape of cascades and the catchy melodies are always there, unique to the musical signature of Splinter. Only, the man decided to be more audacious, like a certain Johannes Schmoelling.
Nostalgic chords clink with the limpidity of glass in winds that whistle through the urban pyramids. Shy of its multiphase rhythm, Urbex hears the murmurs in the rain and the reverberating circles that float from their deformed contours before shaking off its discomfort with sparse percussion strikes. Strikes that resonate like anvil blows and mold a slow rhythm. Chords fall in series of cascades, forming a structure of finely spasmodic rhythm under breaths of very Jean-Michel Jarre's synth. And Urbex is expanding its rhythmic structure. A structure where the sequences jump in a collective neurosis, jostling their echoes to forge a nervous rhythm, like we will find on the powerful Pod City, Footprints in the Dust and The Pendulum. It's a rhythmic structure where the percussions overlap a bed of sequences which sparkle like waves of harmonies in a structure which immerses us in the Virgin years of the Dream and those of a Jarre in his more synth pop years than his cosmic ones. We just cannot not love Pod City! The intro is like the Exit's atmospheres with these opaline mists which float like threats of ether, spreading morphic veils under the gurgling of electronic voices which respond like percussions in oblivion. A superb line of sequences escapes and makes its keys dance in a symphony of quirky rhythms that roll like waterfalls. The percussions fall and hammer a hard rhythm while the layers of sequences radiate shimmering effects, guiding Pod City through its permutations in rhythms and harmonies which run and take breath in an astonishing anarchy. These two titles are bomb whose auras will have difficulty surviving in the minutes that follow.
After a fairly atmospheric title in Scenic Reels, where chimes tinkle in a life upset by waves of noises like tram rolling, Footprints in the Dust presents another structure of polyphase rhythms. At first glance sweet, the rhythm sparkles with its glass sequences. Sequences whose pattern is very recognizable in the harmonic rhythms of Splinter frolicking in cascades, forging a rhythm which adopts the form of a clocked cannon movement. Melancholic keyboard chords trace a great melody in its Schmoelling dress while the percussions hammer this rhythm which becomes as heavy, even jerky at times with a technoïd approach, as the strident synth solos tear from their sharp wings. Let's say that it's a good title that is inspired by Urbex and Pod City without having their depth. A title in suspension with a host of disturbing sonic elements, Regeneration remains of vapor in its approach of metallic cloudiness. Sonic elements that Tangerine Dream exploited in the Exit years and that we find on this quiet rhythm, even if a bed of sequences wriggle there, of the title-track whose structure of subdivided harmonies constantly reminds me of a fusion between the first works of Yanni and Johannes Schmoelling. Nostalgia carries the weight of its title wonderfully with a superb and delicate piano that makes sing its melancholy in the dust of chimes and of iridescent breaths which tremble with nostalgia. It's as much beautiful as its title's name. The Pendulum concluded with a crazy rhythm. Choppy sequences, whose alternating strikes mold rolls of ball which hiccup as on a disrupted conveyor, shape a complex rhythm which spits its temperate explosions in a disorder which breathes astonishing rhythmic coordination. The huge synth waves unfold the swathes of a Dantesque melodious approach which cannot overcome these crazy sequences, alienating and dividing both the rhythm and the melody which are lost in the unbalanced labyrinths of a pendulum hanged in turmoil. What a way to end this other very good album from Rene Splinter!
MODERN RUINS is an album that will please to Rene's fans and also to those who feel at ease with energetic electronic rhythms where the rock and synth-pop are merging with an incredible violence while catching constantly the roots of New Berlin School. If you enjoyed the Virgin years of Tangerine Dream, it would also fit your needs. I like that Splinter goes out of his comfort zone and that he dares to go exploring some atmospheric phases where the emptiness finds a sense. That gives depth to these constant evolutionary phases of rhythms. And from Jean-Michel Jarre to Tangerine while passing by the strong recollections of Johannes Schmoelling's harmonious world, MODERN RUINS inhales the duality between these indomitable rhythms, of which the movements of harmonious cascades push away even more the paths of the sequenced boldness drawn by Chris Franke, and these atmospheres of deaths forgotten in the vestiges of the contemporary ruins.
Sylvain Lupari (June 15th, 2013) ***½**
Available at Groove NL