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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Romerium Apollo (2020)

Updated: May 22, 2023

The more I discover the world of Romerium, the more I love what I'm discovering!

1 Mare Tranquillitatis 7:20

2 Oceanus Procellarum 15:23

3 Fra Mauro 9:00

4 Hadley Apennine 5:32

5 Descartes Highlands 11:20

6 Littrow Crater 9:33

(CD/DDL 58:02) (V.F.)

(Hard Rock EM & Berlin School)

The more I discover the world of Romerium, the more I love what I'm discovering! APOLLO would be a 13th solo album for the Dutch synthesist. An album available for download on his Bandcamp site and on CD manufactured by Groove. The Bandcamp album offers an additional track which was composed by Image not Found, Crossing The Line. A more Jazz track which, heard separately, doesn't really seems to fit in this album. But it's quite the opposite. In fact, what is it that connects the 6, or 7, titles in APOLLO? Yes, the album is a tribute to these space shuttle flights of which each landing sites, six in all, are represented in the titles. But we are far from a drifting cosmic music here. In structures where the level of the percussions sounds specific to big hard-rock, APOLLO's music is anything but cosmic ...

And Romerium is not wasting his time. Percussive sounds leaping like a horde of fingers on the same chord are moderately hammered over a one-chord keyboard to create a compact minimalist structure where a simplistic melody woven into musical silk forms the charm's source of Mare Tranquillitatis' placid overture. A kind of flute releases this melody felt by synth pads that one manipulates gently. Nothing to do with the texture of rhythm which receives the support of mechanical colleagues and other percussive tinkles which form a thick curtain of rhythm while the melody must clarion with a tone of guitar and solos a little less musical. The din will be the agony of this structure which receives rays of corrosive reverberations and which suddenly, at the dawn of NASA telecommunications, is transformed into rock & dance with a horde of wild percussions. Get used to it, as the percussions and percussive elements are clubbing every inch-square here, except in the more ethereal structure of Hadley Apennine. There is something surprisingly captivating about Oceanus Procellarum. The wooshh are cut out to reconstitute themselves in felted drops which join the others which are more in an opaline hue. These knocks echo in Tibetan silence. Chords fall at the same time as the clicks on cymbals awaken a percussive fauna with percussions which strike our eardrums. The strikes are curt, almost militarized, and resonate with a voracious rhythmic appetite which does not however frighten the prose of a Teutonic melody settling down slowly. The pace is slow and strong. A down-tempo forged in the rough while sequences line up like accessory riffs that make a train roll. Naively, the electronic fauna rumbles to form a naughty melody that seems to want to flirt with out-of-field voices. NASA dialogues that always go well because they join this armada of artifices that embellish this musical palace which takes advantage of its 15 minutes in order to always go further and more rhythmically. Fra Mauro's opening percussion riffs remind me of Pink Floyd's Run Like Hell. This electronic percussive ebb is enveloped by a mellotron hand whose serene air constantly combines with this rubbery effect of percussions. And a few seconds before the second minute, Fra Mauro is ferociously harpooned by percussions to become an electronic hard-rock well nourished by various percussive elements. There is always this melody line from the beginning which bursts and takes its place with a strummed momentum which gives some slight chills.

We go on with Hadley Apennine and its synth pads drifting in a cosmos and his beep-beeps that announce the communications of astronauts. Musical, the layers play on their modulations to make hear a lunar orchestral side with streaks of astral voices whispering in a keyboard and its harpsichord side, for a moment. We feel this note which would like to attract rhythm, but instead, the synth wakes up and draws good solos in this calm structure, considering the different contexts of this APOLLO. Undoubtedly for a story of rights, Crossing The Line does not appear on the Groove CD. Descartes Highlands begins with a panoply of effects, both cosmic NASA voices and synth, and undulations of synth lines which also let some astral chants pass that remind me of these unique sounds of Adelbert Ven Deyen's Farfisa. One pulse calls for another before the 3rd minute is displayed on the meter. It pulsates non-stop, letting other NASA dialogues pass and a layer of voices that rises some 50 tick-tocks farther. The voices come in packs of 12 and create the mood of a heavenly choir with high voices and lower ones. There is a fairly unique phenomenon happening on this track; more than 5:30 minutes without percussions. And when they fall, it's to flatten our eardrums which also bring in resonant chords like sitars that one plows with lobster claws and finally big organ layers from the patchouli years. Ah, I forgot, the pace is fucking catchy! Littrow Crater is arguably the most electronic title here. The sequencer and the arpeggios frolic in an evasive rhythm structure. Very often, it 's after telecommunications from NASA that the percussions get activated. This is what happens with Littrow Crater which remains in return in its cocoon of vintage EM with good synth solos, warm tones and harmonic modulations. The second part is more experimental and maintains the level of excellence of this album whose only flaw is that it goes too quickly. An excellent production of Groove and great EM from Rene Montfoort's Romerium!

Sylvain Lupari (November 2nd, 2020) ****½*

Available at Groove NL

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