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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ROBERT SCHROEDER: Pyroclast (2021)

Pressure starts with the tone of an acoustic guitar imitating a ballad. There is a...

1 Pressure 9:42

2 Plasma 8:30

3 Tephra 4:16

4 Eruption 4:42

5 Inside Out 6:49

6 Fertile Soil 7:20

7 Exothermic Energy 7:47

8 Pyroclastic Flows 4:39

(CD 53:35) (V.F.)

(EDM & Berlin School)

Since his comeback in 2005, Robert Schroeder is regular as a clockwork! He's like a gift from Spheric Music or his own label; News Music when he feels like doing big techno or solid EDM! His last 3 albums, Spaceland, Fata Morgana and C'est Magique offered us a consistency in the excellence of his work. And I'm convinced of the same result, if we go further in time. And besides, how to survive the impressive C'est Magique? By going in a direction that is the complete opposite of it. Structured around 8 tracks totaling barely 53 minutes of EM, PYROCLAST offers a little more ambient and cosmic phases. There is certainly some rhythm. Solid as always and wrapped in a panoply of percussions, as much vintage as solidly contemporary, these rhythms form the foundations of structures more honeyed, sometimes even ambient, and necessarily harmonious than fiercely nervous. The tracks, with a very close link to the volcanic explosions, have this dimension that allows the Aachen musician to develop his vision into music.

Pressure starts with the tone of an acoustic guitar imitating a ballad. There is a slight shift in the path of this guitar, creating a lush echo effect. It's almost like if the texture of the guitar is overlapping. Adorned of a fluty line, the flow is rather lively for a ballad. An initial burst of percussions, around the first minute, doesn't destabilize the rhythm, but the flute is replaced by synth streaks dragging in length. Other percussions = chthonian voices, faster and sharper streaks. It's after the second minute that the music takes off with good percussions and percussive elements, like mocking percussions, framing a very well-balanced structure of percussions. The EDM takes its ease with festive screams, leaving Pressure evolved on a driving rhythm. And if the passing explosions of the percussion rolls meant an increase of the rhythm, it's a different story after the 6th minute where the copious layers of voices and cosmic effects remind us how rich were the atmospheric phases of the Schroeder's universe in his analog years. Youppss! Plasma makes us stumble on a soapy floor! And we drift in this mostly ambient track with its plethora of sound effects as diversified as creative. Amongst them, we count sluggish percussions and piano chords wandering in a cosmic corridor and its howling winds of industrial particles. The different chords tinkle and resonate in the zigzags propelled by these winds, while the synth attempts solos as well as melodies without being able to get rid of its vocal textures. It still moos when a pulsing bassline wakes up the percussions and its snares for a brief moment without extracting Plasma from its ambient matter. It's with a good piano and its minimalist vision that Tephra offers itself to our ears. We find there almost the same decor as in Plasma, except the strange voices which buzz with murmurs of cherubs. Here too the cymbal rattles travel between the piano and layers of prismatic voices. The short length of the title makes its beauty, so we don't have time to get tired of this piano which delivers tirelessly the same notes from the beginning to the end. I found it very beautiful! This same piano resounds in the opening of Eruption. The orchestrations that cover it add a touch of suspense with slow staccatos that stretch their phlegm in other orchestrations, adding an intense dramatic moment. The track and its music float around astral vocals before percussion brings it back into the fold of a good, tender cosmic slow-tempo sensually bitten by streaks of scarlet-colored synth. Robert inserts a short phase of experimental psybiences before the 3rd minute. And the last skin of Eruption bursts out again, with a zest of New Age in its decor this time.

Inside Out is a good track whose opening is trapped in a swirling winds, keyboard and synth-guitar chords. The texture of the ambiences is more cybernetic than cosmic with sounds of an artificial respirator breathing in and out in a mosaic of sounds and noises. An astral illumination floods our ears some 30 seconds into the second minute, causing Inside Out to slide into a slow-tempo rich of its strata in form of solos, and solos too from a synth-guitar. A pulsing bass-line supports this ambient melody that is pecked by tap and cymbals. A good track which smells the sun of a cosmic Hawaii. Fertile Soil is a confusing track with an Enigma-like Gregorian vocals that occupy an ambient landscape. Imagine the beauty and phlegm of the duck floating on the water, its restless legs pushing it over the water, and you have this structure where the melody is heavenly beautiful on a bed of nervous percussive agitations. Exothermic Energy is there to remind us of Robert Schroeder's techno side. The percussion work is huge here and hides the technoïd reach of the track while the synth and its effects, its strident streaks pour towards a big electronic rock unique to the signature of the Aachen musician. The 5th minute arrived, and Exothermic Energy is already working for its finale divided between the syrupy floating layers of Pink Floyd and the cosmic visions of Jean-Michel Jarre. Another essence of JM-Jarre lurks in Pyroclastic Flows which takes us back to the Zoolook era, as well as Oxygène (part IV), well decorated by those strident solos of Robert's synths and his palette of sound effects, of reverb effects and of echoes and finally his range of vocal textures.

Without having the scope of C'est Magique, PYROCLAST offers us a big 54 minutes of cleverly constructed EM. Robert Schroeder manages well the rhythms and the ambiances in an album full of unexpected explosions and which do not always give the same result. One of the great strengths of this album whose sound panoramas and the few ambient phases have this more musical dimension that we don't find yet elsewhere. Another beautiful work of our friend Robert...

Sylvain Lupari (June 25th, 2021) ****¼*

Available at Spheric Music & CD Baby

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