ROBERT SCHROEDER: Fata Morgana (2019)
1 Binary Streams 7:53 2 Virtual Traps 11:06 3 Cybercrime 7:43 4 Web Faces 13:32 5 Digital Identities 6:48 6 Dangerous Clicks 10:10 7 The Berlin Code 8:31 Spheric Music | SMCD-2040
(CD 65:41) (V.F.) (EDM & Berlin School)
It's like removing the bathtub plug from the cosmos and the sound waves are sucked up by the drain. By the nothingness, in order to use another texture in a parallel universe. Binary Streams begins the latest excursion into the world of Robert Schroeder's sonic wonders. Pads of all shapes and colors are drifting among abandoned pulsations, evaporating riffs of a cosmic-Hawaiian guitar and sketches of unfinished rhythms. These pads embrace more elongated shapes in their mutations which flirt with synth pads with alien scents. A woodpecker makes resonate his bangs on a synthetic birch, sculpting these bits of immoderate rhythms that come and go in the first 4 minutes of Binary Streams. An electronic guitar begins a phase of blues while percussive effects, like this cockroach language in the film Captive State, copulate with Bongo-like percussions. Binary Streams then becomes a sensual cosmic Blues whose decor is scuffed by slightly garish streaks. And if I told you that FATA MORGANA is the 40th album of Robert Schroeder who incidentally celebrates his 40 years of career?
And like often since his comeback in 2005, the first 3 tracks of an album of the musician-synthesist-inventor of Aachen should not discourage the one who is looking for Berlin School. There is! You just must know how to hear it, to spot it. Once again, this latest album by Robert Schroeder requires some listening and a lot of attention to details before becoming an addict. The 7 structures present are constantly evolving with phases of evanescent rhythm that rise under a sheet padded effects of an incredible sound diversity. The percussions are always very spicy with this striking tone of our friend Robert who also adds the language of giant cockroaches and their broken vocal cords. In short, an album still as amazing and as good as its last; Spaceland! Let's take the beginning of Virtual Traps! One can't have more Berlin School than this movement of the sequencer which agitates its keys in continuous and imperfect rotations. Cymbals tickle the scene while the synth layers add romance and serenity. The percussive language of the giant cockroaches is always so delicious. After nearly 4 minutes of a movement that breathes that of a more daring Tangerine Dream, Virtual Traps enters an ambient phase. A peaceful phase with nostalgic guitar chords and crumbling solos. The synth pads hang onto the rustling of the cymbals, adding a scrape tone effect to the serenity of the moment. There is a nightingale in the synth! His songs make attractive pirouettes in a mass of layers and pads filled with of anesthetic mist. And some dark voices add to the surrealism of a cosmic setting so dreamlike and soothing. Sound beams that spread circular thin lines and stationary sequences which flicker in these lines became orchestral, Cybercrime transforms its approach as these ascending rhythms of Robert Schroeder's analog era. Pads of mist throw psychedelic prisms whereas bass pulsations give tonus to the music. Synth solos fly over this Neo Berlin School looking for a new sound identity. We recognize the signature of the German musician with these percussions from elsewhere which thunder while reshaping the rhythmic surface. Synth chirps, layers of voices and a new synth dialogue give renewed energy to the harmonic envelope that follows the course of this rhythm which goes for a good up-tempo at its last moments.
We have just passed the trickiest part for those who expected Robert Schroeder's real Berlin School. The next 4 tracks bring us to another level of astonishment from a musician who always knows how to renew himself. And how to describe this little masterpiece that is Web Faces? Accepting the sonic ashes of Cybercrime, a wave rises with the effects of jerky bursts. The sound wave is built with many sound effects, including the splendid voice of a Diva. Drums thunder and crossbow effects pulling rhythmic arrows that resonate on hardwood support them, while the synth extends his solos that are duel with this voice of Maïwenn (The 5th Element). Playing hide-and-seek with our senses, the rhythm goes out and comes back in a form of Propellerheads' History Repreating. It must be detected, but the elements in place are in the form of Decksandrumsandrockandroll. The percussive effects and the electronic percussions are at the heart of a structure which always plunges into the ambiospherical unknown before returning to a more lascivious form in the finale. Finale that flows into the suave Digital Identities and its Chill Ambient identity. At first the pace is like on an artificial respirator. A guitar pinches its notes for a serenade that is fixed and lost in a line of skinny bass which crawls with good purrings. Dangerous Clicks also offers this pattern of sequences and their heavy oscillations that come and go, disappearing in an ambient tumult that makes work my speakers and my ears. Under strident synth pads as announcing an imminent threat, the rhythm emerges after the 4 minutes. The percussions, the tsitt-tsitt of cymbals and the electronic drum carve a rhythm where the sequencer manages to put a line there. The synths forge siren pulsing wave in a boosted electronic rock for at least 4 minutes. The work at the level of the electronic percussions is amazing here, more than elsewhere in the album. And comes The Berlin Code! Lines of oscillation run through ambiences frozen by metallic resonances. Ska-style percussions add a velocity that the oscillating waves follow without problems, giving an aura of electronic rock which fools the good old Berlin School style centered on the oscillating filaments which lead us into a rhythmic carousel as much furious as a good roller coaster. And it's the end!
How to label the music of FATA MORGANA if only by Schroeder School music? FONTA MORGANA is a fountain of sound mirages that constantly reinvent itself on 7 tracks in constant movement. Navigating comfortably between EDM and Berlin School is more than a pretext to spread the know-how of Robert Schroeder who imposes his visions with catchy rhythms, explosive percussions and of synths charmers for those ears who are eager for daring and creative EM. Ears hungry for new things too! In the end, it's very good from beginning to end with moments that justify this admiration I have for Robert Schroeder whose footprints are everywhere in the world of EM.
Sylvain Lupari (June 2nd, 2019) ****½*
Available at Spheric Music & CD Baby