ROBERT SCHROEDER: Velocity (2017)
“Was I a bit disoriented to the first listenings of Velocity? Absolutely and that's proper to the contemporary opuses of Robert Schroeder and without effort I ended by liking it”
1 Velocity of Flow 11:27 2 Strength of Pressure 8:44 3 Xpress Yourself 7:54 4 Aftertouch 7:28 5 Velocity 9:36 6 Ribbon Control 8:37 7 Psychedelic 10:35 Spheric Music | SMCD 2036
(CD 64:21) (V.F.) (EDM, Berlin and New Berlin School)
In music, the term VELOCITY refers to the pressure, the speed and the length of a pressed key in an electronic keyboard instrument. This can be used to influence sounds, from very sensitive to powerful and aggressive. So, such a signification leads to suggest to an album at both sensitive, powerful and, to the limit, aggressive? Not really! In fact, this 36th album of our dear Robert Schroeder is a collection of titles surprisingly romantic where the brilliant musician and designer of musical technology shows off his talent with a surprising precision to fetch the chord and the effect which explains the bewitchment of his fans for his music. You remember the label IC? The Software years and more precisely of Double Fantasy's Universal Avenue? It's straight to these paths that the musician of Aachen, who received Schallwelle Award for his whole work and contribution to EM the exact same date as the release of VELOCITY (February 18th, 2017) drags us with an album that I would qualify of amazing, both for the wealth of its music and by the completely unexpected impact of a style for that nobody expected, even if all of us hoped for it.
Velocity of Flow displays the wealth of the music here with an introduction decorated of blast of air and of layers of voices of which the floating fluctuations are of use as cradle to some chords in search of harmonies and of electronic effects signed Schroeder. The nature of old Berlin School meets that of the generation of the 80-90 years with sighs of violins which drift among sonic stars in constant quest for sounds. Percussions of a Jamaican kind resound all around our ears, beating up a tide of vertiginous synth solos which whistle from everywhere with tints as different as a good duel between a melancholic Bluesman and a lonesome saxophonist at the agony. This ambient decoration and richly crowded by tones and by contrasting effects as well as by an avalanche of percussions without rhythmic ties remains in suspension for the first 6 minutes of Velocity of Flow. From this point, the rhythm takes off like an electronic rock ornamented by a festive approach where the Groove and Funk try an immersion. It's a fluid rhythm where the balancer of sequences pours between layers of mist and of voices as well as solid Caribbean percussions and around magical twisted solos which are the highlight of an EM rich of its researches and of the imagination of his supplier. Velocity of Flow sets the tone to a light and refreshing album which respires these festive vibes of the Californian beaches of the 80's and where the ingredients of the various stages of Berlin School are scattered with intelligence. A lonely saxophonist, comfortably installed on a quarter of the moon, sighs his bitterness while looking at the celestial bodies which whistle and shine at the opening of Strength of Pressure. Effects of manual percussions make a little bit oscillate the moods whereas a vocoder speaks to us of a voice also muddle that its spluttering. The ambiences remain rich with a cosmic soundscape closer to our ears than the stars and gradually Strength of Pressure slightly touches the style of ballad, just like Aftertouch, just with enough velocity so that our hips begin to sway. The Californian atmospheres are extremely present in VELOCITY with a retro touch completely soaked of modernity. It's truer in Aftertouch than here. Robert Schroeder accustomed us in each of his album of his impressive career of at least one pearl of hidden. Xpress Yourself is a pearl here, the others being Velocity of Flow, the title-track and Psychedelic.
The movement is fluid with two lines of sequences which oscillate in parallel. Percussions adjust the rhythm of Xpress Yourself, which is more in the kind of smooth like a fluid Groove, whereas other effects of percussions always impose this Caribbean signature over this musical panorama. Thus, so well begun! The structure of rhythm welcomes electronic effects, ringings, mists of astral voices as well as solos which add a romantic and melancholic touch, like at the time of Double Fantasy, to Xpress Yourself. We drum of our fingers with the fluid movement of sequences of Aftertouch and its splendid solos which bathe in a very Berlin School atmosphere. After an introduction full of mist, of industrial effects of vapors and of chthonian voices, the title-track offers a structure very Electronica, like a Hip-hop, with elastic chords full of organic velocity which hang themselves onto percussions of the EDM style. The beat is jerky but with just enough roundness so that it flows without too many abruptness. A tempo which limps like a duck cackling in an electronic landscape illuminated by the magic of Schroeder. After an introduction loaded with another very rich sound decoration, Ribbon Control presents the structure of rhythm the most livened up of this new Robert Schroeder album. We close the eyes and we imagine to be in a train, propelled by percussions and line of bass sequences, which rolls below the multiple delights of a sonic fireworks. The synth solos are awesome here. A very underestimated title (because of its long introduction?) on this album. Psychedelic doesn't really need a presentation. Its signification says it all! The introduction is very good with an approach which is similar to an attempt of dialogue, in music, with aliens not very fast on the gun. It's very cosmic moods for the first 6 minutes and the rhythm which hatches out of it is of an incredible similarity with that of Jean Michel Jarre in Magnetic Fields Part IV.
Doubtless Robert Schroeder's most accessible album during the last years, in particular because of this closeness with the electronic hymns of dance, VELOCITY has this peculiarity to address a wider audience while keeping his fan base from the very beginning. Was I a bit disoriented to the first listenings? Absolutely and that's proper to the contemporary opuses of this brilliant artist who has never stopped to renew himself and give new direction to EM of the New Berlin School style. But in the end, and as always, I ended by liking it a lot....
Sylvain Lupari (July 7th, 2017) *****