RENE VAN DER WOUDEN: Tangerine Sands (2022)
“Between complex and more accessible Berlin School, it's a great new release from René”
1 Impact Basin in Northern Hemispheres 21:00
2 First Signs on Mars Deserts 8:01
3 Seismically Active 4:45
4 Desert Storm Inferno 8:09
5 Tangerine Sands 19:39
(DDL 61:36) (V.F.)
(Progressive Berlin School)
Strong of his independent career, René van der Wouden offers his latest musical creation to the now famous label Cyclical Dreams. He thus becomes the 3rd artist of international renown, the others being Paul Ellis and Michael Brückner, to present an album-download on the Argentine label. And as this label likes to propose a more audacious electronic music (EM), the Dutch musician-synthesist has created on TANGERINE SANDS a music inspired by the planet Mars and its deserts. Exploiting to satiety his influences of Tangerine Dream on the heavy movements of the sequencer, he delivers an album which equals the vision of its subject on two long movements which encircle more advanced explorations on the music level. And in this very good album nests the most beautiful track that I heard of his repertoire which contains nevertheless some very good ones.
Synth waves of a hybrid nature, both in effects and colors, and absent voices layers adorn the soundscapes of Impact Basin in Northern Hemispheres' long opening. There are vintage sounds and effects, as well as fluty tunes of brassy colors that lead us to that sequencer waddling movement around the 6th minute. The rhythm line is minimalist with a finely undulating texture that is close to the Halloween theme in a less dramatic vision. Reverb lines and drones accompany this peaceful procession of ambient rhythm, which takes on a more dramatic character when big, resonant chords create an atmosphere of anxiety near the 10-minute mark. The resonance of these chords draws creeping shadows that obscure the seraphic voices layer that had taken hold somewhere around the 8th minute. This duel between darkness and its opposite stretches for a little over 4 minutes, before Impact Basin in Northern Hemispheres reaches its first and only transition phase. It's voices that have become sibylline that link the ambient phase of this title to a solid Berlin School movement with sequences as heavy as lively that structure an ascending movement that is as dark as driving with subtle metallic panting effects that add a percussive dimension to a bewiled 5-minute finale. First Signs on Mars Deserts offers a more complex texture and opposes its resonant brassy waves, buzzing like immense chimes, to harmonies of flutes blown as if it were the centaur Newton in The Mighty Hercules. This duel lessens its impact, even with its few jolts, to get lost in a fascinating organic movement of the sequencer in the middle of the 3rd minute. The rhythm is muffled with a line of gurgles, or throat sounds, that remains rather discreet even with its spasmodic oscillations in a reddish Mars setting, like in Antony Hoffman's Red Planet movie starring Val Kilmer.
Atmospheric, Seismically Active follows with a vision of a storm on Mars with violent squalls that do not disturb the cinematic texture of the orchestrations slightly in alert mode. René van der Wouden succeeds in attaching his musical vision to the ambiences of Desert Storm Inferno which really breathes the soul of its title. The progression is slower than in Seismically Active with warm hollow breezes blowing and crisscrossing Mars with hazy orchestrations. The sequencer activates the ambiences with another spasmodic movement some seconds after the 4th minute. The oscillations adopt a minimalist structure with tones that resemble a communication language in the form of beeps. And those last 4 minutes of the track are spent under a stormy sky, as staged with reverberating synth layers and aggressive synth solos in its twists and turns. Honestly!? These last three tracks require a little more love and open-mindedness in order to make a correct association between the visions of the Dutch artist and the meanings of his titles. A very successful connection by the way! This is how we arrive at the famous jewel of TANGERINE SANDS, its title track. Its introduction is fed with usual noises and half-hoops that undulate awkwardly in a sphere that fills up with wah-wah stretched to distortion and with reverberating rumbles. One can also hear synthetic birdsong and modern psychedelic effects...as well as this dull beat that solidifies its presence more and more. Discreet in this panorama of noises, a layer sewn of murmurs and orchestrations emerges to lay down ambient melodies reminding the wonderful universe of Vangelis. We cross the 6th minute that already the first shivers settle. I even surprise myself to hope for a continuation which would imprison our emotions in a kind of emotional bolero. The orchestrations, the whispers, the various harmonies and the flute airs in a musical horizon are starting to make my wish comes true. Tangerine Sands and its rhythm beating the measure like a marathon runner beating the asphalt progresses with a splendid vision of a Berlin School dominated by the immense tenderness of the musician who does not cease multiplying these shivers that make this contact so unique between René and his listener. The rhythm becomes curter, sharper while the flute remains so dreamy until a finale where our emotions meet a knot, if not two, where they momentarily capsize to be finally recovered by the beauty of a track that is to René van der Wouden what I Remain is to The Glimmer Room or what Set the Control for the Heart of the Mother is to the duo Schulze/Namlook; that is to say a classic of modern EM. If only for this title, TANGERINE SANDS is worth the price of its download. Except that there is not only the title-track to warm up our emotions. Another excellent album, from René and Cyclical Dreams!
Sylvain Lupari (March 10th, 2022) ****½*