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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ROBERT SCHROEDER: Spaces of a Dream (2022)

Yes, an excellent album and the best Robert has offered us in ages

1 Dream Theater 6:52

2 REM Phases 7:09

3 Daydreamer 8:04

4 A Spiritual Journey 7:50

5 Delighted Experience 9:29

6 Mind Recorder 7:09

7 Neuron Transmitter 6:06

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

(New Berlin School)

It's with nice percussive elements that the opening of Dream Theater starts to propose its evolving structure. Clanking and finger snapping tinkle among bursts of percussions resonating beneath a brassy synth wave. This typical Aachen musician's opening progresses with a chill-out vision over a 2 minute period before more percussions break in to structure a frenetic rhythm for neurons only. An ascending rhythm sequence as harmonious as in the great Tangerine Dream period invites itself, while the percussive flora remains as bright as ever. The synth throws then a fluty melody that sings on this sequence, while Dream Theater quietly approaches its transition zone after the 4th minute. The percussions are still doing their rambling game under scarlet streaks of the synth and other vocal effects. The sequence reactivates itself 60 seconds later, structuring a very Berlin School finale under these layers of absent voices humming the same chthonian orations of Robert Schroeder's repertoire.

I have listened to this SPACES OF A DREAM over a period of 4 days, and each time I came to the same conclusion; less groove and dance steps in an album where the one to whom we owe Harmonic Ascendant comes back to his first love. This 43rd album is still based on an excellent flora of percussions and the multiple effects, both cosmic and purely electronic, of a synth with copper layers and celestial trumpet harmonies. What has changed is that the rhythms are semi-ambient or in the ascending mode typical of the Berlin School in atmospheric textures that are closer to Robert's first albums. One spends an excellent 54 minutes there without that the bursts of rhythms make us wince, so much everything is in Berliner mode. Coming directly out of the mists of Dream Theater, REM Phases brings out a line of heavy and jerky sequences that vibrate like in Pulsar, a classic of EM by Vangelis from his album Albedo 0.39. This line buzzes under colorful synth attacks and aggressive voices over a distance of 2:30 minutes. From these voices emerges that of an electronic Diva who whispers as if she were screaming on a circadian rhythm à la Pink Floyd, one thinks of Time, until these percussions get lost on orchestral synth pads. This second phase transits into a Cosmos that fills with guitar-like wailing synths. These cries merge with the Diva's odes and lunar orchestrations that lead REM Phases to its finale.

The synth starts wailing again as soon as Daydreamer approaches the 2 minute mark of its hazy opening. The beat of the bass pulsations proposes a structure of circadian rhythm, and by moments arrhythmic, under beautiful layers of a synth which multiplies its waves of orchestrations floating under the resurrection of the percussive flora. A flora moreover which fills our ears to the rim in this album that I appreciated as much with my loudspeakers as my headphones. In the end, Daydreamer is a good slow tempo while the evolving percussions in A Spiritual Journey develop a lively structure of rhythm which makes groove the neurons.

On a structure quacking and walking like a duck, Delighted Experience is a splendid track that takes us back to the good old days of Mosaique and Computer Voice. I still have chills after the 12th listening... Let's add a little more speed and it gives a track like Neuron Transmitter which closes this excellent album from Spheric Music. But before that, it takes about 3 minutes before Mind Recorder offers a downtempo track sprinkled with that trumpet texture of the synth and boosted by sudden bursts of percussions. There is a nice melody that charms us a bit after the 4th minute, completing a musical structure in continuous movement. Its setting is the closest to Robert Schroeder's previous albums. Yes, an excellent album and the best Robert has offered us in ages.

Sylvain Lupari (March 8th, 2022) ****¾*

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