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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Robert Schroeder Into the Light (2023)

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

A beautiful album all in rhythms where Schroeder sails on the textures of his 5 previous albums

2. Transition to Freedom 5:44

3 Traffic Beach 10:43

4 Out of the Dark 7:22

5 The Sense of Dreamin' 6:20

6 Enlightment 6:36

7 Solar Flares 8:08

(CD 57:17) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

One has to marvel at the fire of creativity that has constantly animated Robert Schroeder since his immortal Harmonic Ascendant in 1979. Admittedly, there was a period of hiatus between the albums Everdreams in 94 and Brainchips in 05, but since then, the 68-year-old synthesist-engineer-musician (he was born on May 20, 55) has been lining up albums at a fairly punctual annual pace. INTO THE LIGHT is his 44th album, including DM.O and Flavour of the Past, which isn't exactly a compilation. What the hell! Over the years, Aachen's synth wizard has managed to navigate between his most relevant styles, Berlin School and electronic groove woven within the limits of EDM and/or IDM. In a concept album that elaborates on the process of awakening culminating in the enlightenment of the seventh stage of life, Robert Schroeder wonderfully blends these groove structures and Caribbean fiestas of Double Fantasy, the forerunner of Food for Fantasy, with the neo-Berlin School style unique to his creative and musical aestheticism. For fans of the genre, Robert opts more for Berlin School in this album which features 7 structures with introductions and finales filled with this fauna of variegated tonalities. The structures are always evolving, no matter how long they last, and are always shaken up by the percussive explosions typical of the Schroeder universe. There are superb synth solos and melodious lines over rhythmic structures that are sometimes meditative, sometimes lively. In short, some very good Robert Schroeder!

Our ears leap without hesitation into the musical threads of Into the Light! Its opening is variegated by reverberating shadows that move like sonic eddies, and synth blades in the screaming colors of despair. A mellotron shadow falls, leaving a cloud of absent voices floating in the air. From there, a synth chant takes shape. Its ethereal harmonies hover over an ambient rhythm built on the progression of the bass, which seems to emerge from the reverberating mass of the opening. The movement is sly and progresses in this universe of tones unique to Schroeder's experiments, as well as under mellotron vapors and voices floating between a chthonian and celestial universe. We even hear the slow agony of a cello. This slow atmospheric opening stretches over a distance of more or less 7 minutes, at which point a dreamy voice emerges and percussions shake up the moods. Caribbean and reggae in nature, they structure a slightly chaotic rhythm that gradually redefines itself, for a brief moment, into a spasmodic up-tempo typical of the 80's. Apart from these multicolored filaments that twist with joy, the synth throws out melodious solos, while the mellotron launches clouds of absent voices. As in all Schroeder's works, it's important to appreciate the electronic noises and effects that are extracted from the modernity and updating of the instruments he develops. They are at the heart of the charms of this track, which ends in a rather atmospheric phase. Starting with an industrial moo and voice samples, the circadian rhythm of Transition to Freedom - 3 beats resonating like suction cups - hypnotizes our senses. The synth unleashes majestic synth solos, some of them so emotional that they send shivers down the spine, while the rhythm quietly shifts to a more moving structure. A kind of languid, sly march, a little faster than in the title track, embellished by the avalanche of romantic solos and the choir of absent voices that still dominate the seraphic circle of moods of the title track and of the album in general.

Samplings of a street bustling with city-dwellers and the traffic, of an awakening sea and its hungry terns are at the origin of Traffic Beach. The percussions already drum up a livelier structure here than in the first 2 tracks of INTO THE LIGHT. The keyboard scatters bass and fat chords that crawl through the background and roar with cosmic groove vibe over a driving structure. The bass line provides rhythmic support. Ditto for the mellotron, which wafts vapors of orchestral mist and of siren voices coming from the heavens. And above all, those arrangements typical of dance music. Everything is in place for the sequencer to unleash a line of heavy sequences whose jerky, strobe-like flow of good electronic rock harmonizes with limpid arpeggios that twirl freely. Other arpeggios, struck as if on an anvil, provide a more emotive dosage with sharp tones that tinkle in symbiosis with the rhythmic progression. Melodious and well-paced, Traffic Beach is intercepted by short atmospheric phases, finally slipping into a more cosmic phase after the 6th minute. A line of bass sequences emerges. Its slow astral gallop progresses without fury under a subtle blend of melancholy harmonies and chthonian voices. An excellent track! Out of the Dark is very good electronic rock, well pounded by the minimalist beats of the sequencer. Organic percussive effects and rhythmic modulations, notable in the second half of the track, are part of its hypnotic charm. The synth solos are superb, and the mellotron is always divine, with its chthonian layers unique to the Aachen magician's style. Built on thunderous percussions and Caribbean tribal rhythms, on the sensual, grooving movement of the bass and the static flickering and spasmodic surges of the sequencer, The Sense of Dreamin' offers another texture of electronic rock that's as tasty as catchy. The mellotron is the master of ambiences, with layers of hazy voices that are quite harmonious. Interesting for certain elements of its tonal fauna, and its finale on a tint of Halloween-style harmony, Enlightment is the only purely atmospheric track on this album, which concludes with Solar Flares, a superb piece of electronic rock that ends with some very airy synth solos.

It's unmissable! Every time I finish discovering a new Robert Schroeder album, I tell myself it's his best in a couple of years. Memory being a faculty that forgets, I do forget how excellent C'est Magique was, as well as all the subtleties that gave depth to albums like Space of Dreams or Pyroclast. These were top-quality works that perfectly fused his dance music style with his highly technical approach of neo Berlin School. It's in these waters that INTO THE LIGHT sails. Arguably closer to the roots of Berlin School than his dance music or cosmic groove style, Schroeder's latest album sails merrily over the textures of his previous 5 albums. Although the music breathes very well through loudspeakers, it breathes even better through a good pair of headphones! In doing so, we drift with ears wide open between two visions that complement each other in a tonal bloom that opens the doors of our perception even wider. Yes, we have to marvel, because Robert Schroeder is like good wine...

Sylvain Lupari (September 20th, 2023) ****¼*

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