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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ROBERT SCHROEDER: Brainchips (2005)

Updated: May 12, 2022

Lively and melodic, Brainchips offers more interesting than uninteresting stuff

1 Doo Doo 5:43

2 Wafer 3:43

3 Electron 6:16

4 Heaven 5:17

5 Space-Track 6:01

6 Froggy 4:36

7 Serenade 10:27

8 Login 4:39

9 Hotspot Zone 4:17

10 So Check Me 6:23

11 Passing Streams 6:25

12 Shallala 10:08

Spheric Music SMCD2011

(CD 74:00) (V.F.)

(EM, EDM, Electronica)

It's thus barks of mechanical dogs that one believes to hear in the undulations of coppered synth layers. The opening of Doo Doo is gliding up until percussions give it a slow and languorous rhythmic life under these synth layers with industrial aromas. Our ears perceive swirls effects in this sound mass dominated by good lunar orchestration arrangements that also fill the majority of the 74 minutes of this comeback album for the Aachen magician. These lunar layers start to move like these clouds accelerating in fast forward. This movement is in symbiosis with the percussions which follow the new rhythm imposed by the palpitations of the bass line and these chords of keyboard chirruping while jumping with their structure of organic lisp. Oh how I missed this universe of Robert Schroeder's sounds! Everything fits together as Doo Doo, even a voice whispers those two words, restructures its momentum for a kind of cosmic Funk with the help of those singing arpeggios as if squeaking in a tasty organic texture. It was precisely in 1994, with the live album Everdreams, that the brilliant German synthesist and student of Klaus Schulze took his leave to take refuge in a deep creative silence. Prolific sound engineer, he worked on the development of musical instruments following the new technologies' evolution and recording techniques. And chords have been dropped since then as there have been many changes of style in the wonderful world of electronic music (EM) between his last studio album, Mindwalk in 1993, and this BRAINCHIPS which comes as a big surprise. Nobody expected it and nobody expected an album of this dimension. Twelve years separate these 2 albums and Schroeder does as such by presenting a big 74 minutes of an EM that sticks to the reality and the techniques of today. Already avant-gardist on the treatment of electronic sounds, let's remember the excellent Brain Voyager, he has made an impressive bank of sound samples where our ears struggle even more to differentiate the sources, filling them even more to the rim. In fact, he continues a musical evolution already started with Pegasus by flirting with rhythms closer to the current flavors of Electronica, while the bass play and the chords' tones breathe real life to some tasty Funk and Cosmic Groove. And if you're looking for old flavors of his early years, you'll have to settle for D.MO Vol.1, as D.MO Vol.2 which will follow SphereWare. And why did Sylvain wait so long before writing about this BRAINCHIPS? A misperception (I had heard the sung version in the early 2000's) and an oversight that has been perpetuated over almost 20 years. But that's okay, since I was able to savor this delicious (yes, yes) album without hurry and with two ears more detached. The 12 structures of this album are based on multiple rhythms and harmonies lines as well as atmospheric textures. It's not uncommon to hear on it different EDM approaches built on 2 and even 3 rhythm structures in the same track, bringing this depth to the rhythms that sometimes destabilizes but seduces just as much. It depends on the genres exploited.

The tonal setting, sound mass and rhythm of Doo Doo is very representative of this album which continues with Wafer and this stimulating percussive effect simulating the teeth of a comb being rubbed on hard cardboard. Wafer goes in our ears with a good rhythm well installed on sober percussions which project an echo to give more depth and rhythmic panache. It becomes a good up tempo with Tangerine Dream like keyboard riffs and vocal effects scattered in a semi dramatic envelope, especially because of the guitar riffs. Electron follows with an opening of tones floating in the mists of fragile harmonies, like a leaf falling from its tree, whistled by a synth whose