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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

RENÉ VAN DER WOUDEN: Stargazer (2015)

A handful of little treasures in a sea of subtleties! I now understand why Stargazer is a pillar album in REWO's discography

1 The Observational Astronomer 10:19

2 The Blue Lights 19:44

3 Stargazer 14:57

4 Galaxy Floating 14:44

5 Mosaic of Stars 7:08

(CD-R/DDL 66:44) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

Maybe because my ears are constantly soaking in it, but it seems to me that I never grow tired hearing René van der Wouden. And I think I still came across a very nice album with this STARGAZER! It's in the wake of the last achievements of the Dutch synthesist, Return to the Stargaze and Astromen, that REWO sent me this album which is the beginning of a trilogy that began 5 years ago. I have not heard that much links which make it obvious to a prequel to Return to the Stargaze, but I rediscovered this artist always preoccupied with his signature and sound aesthetics.

STARGAZER! The adventure takes place in the Cosmos. And so, each track is presented in atmospheric envelopes filled with cosmic violins, unusual noises and morphic layers. This is how The Observational Astronomer gets installed in my loudspeakers. Chirps, twists of reverberations, wooden and non-metallic thunders, etiolated electronic languages and chthonic voices are among the ingredients that adorn its long introduction which exceeds two minutes. The movement of the sequencer is nervous with a bouncing and spasmodic first line, and a second line lives in parallel with a more exploded tone. This crisscrossing movement floats under a flickering line of wooshh. Another two-keys sequence gets onto the structure, creating a mishmash of sequences under synth layers which have become more musical. The percussions arrive after the 6 minutes mark, structuring a good cosmic rock surrounded by spasmodic rhythmic lines. The synth whistles a very beautiful melodious approach with a breeze of fluty tone whose tremolo installs its dose of shivers as much as the melody weaves its earworm. Brilliant in the exploitation of his minimalist structures, REWO carries around this delicate melody in his rowdy atmospheric strategy of the opening. A delight! The Blue Lights offers a hypnotic structure centered on electronic percussions which are sober and catchy. A series of loops settle with this auditory venom that makes us simply addicted. The ambient panorama is made up of huge synth layers having a nice dose of orchestrations, which sometimes become moving, and whistling wiishh with an acid taste of distortions which shelter the chirps of synthesized sparrows. The tam-tams are invited around the 12 minutes, giving more rhythmic depth to a title altogether banal but which has its effect.

The title-track exploits a very long atmospheric opening. We are talking about more than 6 minutes of cosmic sound panorama and its electronic snacks. René layers a good sequenced structure after it. The keys are fast and follow one another in a dizzying alternation. The effect sculpts a rodeo with alternating kicks over a period of plus or minus 2 minutes before another atmospheric envelope, shrouded in a beautiful mellotron, put an end to this static activity. Richer and more musical with a xylophone and its lyrical chords of glass, this second atmospheric phase lasts only a moment in a walkway where the intensity and the phantom rhythm weave a good complicity to give new impetus to Stargazer. A momentum where the rhythm returns with this alternated movement of the sequencer which has become slower, the time to let these xylophone tinkles parade, before resuming its dizzying flow in a horizon without atmospheric mess. Let's say that the sequencer and the xylophone also have a great effect. If you like the New Age side of EM, Galaxy Floating will captivate your emotions. Beginning with a shower of scintillation sparkles which glitter on a synth pad waterlogged of a peaceful celestial voice, Galaxy Floating lets itself go on a carpet of delicacies until docking with a phase of living rhythm by a fluid alternating movement of sequenced keys. Hypnotic, the rhythm remains stationary with these harmonies weakened in this concept of static heaviness. We also hear them shimmering in a wave of absent murmurs and a mass of chords which enclose the leaps of the sequencer which are now supported by freshly arrived percussions. There are dozens of little things in this title! Things that I cannot define or explain, because they'll be too long to describe, which make of it a very beautiful piece of music. And we get to the short Mosaic of Stars and its atmospheric opening which swallows up nearly 3 minutes of its overture before a fascinating rhythm spreads its majestic figures of 8 in zigzags. There is a level of intensity, which is added before the electronic percussions, at the level of the synth layers which make very Tangerine Dream. These layers become the essence of this melodious approach which tries to control the spasmodic frenzy of a rhythm which won't say no to helping hand of the xylophone. Looks like TD on 86 tour. Really good electronic rock here.

A handful of little treasures in a sea of subtleties! I now understand why STARGAZER is a pillar album in René van der Wouden's discography. There are elements that have crept rather well between the ten albums separating STARGAZER and Return to the Stargaze. And now, let's attack Astromen.

Sylvain Lupari (February 10th, 2021) ***½**

Available at REWO Bandcamp

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