ROMERIUM & THANECO: Machine (2022)
“Machine is all about rhythms and its percussive elements”
1 Machine 1 7:54
2 Machine 2 7:40
3 Machine 3 8:50
4 Machine 4 9:14
5 Machine 5 8:00
6 Machine 6 7:56
7 Machine 7 9:15
8 Machine 8 7:10
(DDL/CD(r) 66:00) (V.F.)
All in rhythms is MACHINE! Don't expect long atmospheric openings, nor slow evolutions towards these rhythms. No. It's an album full of rhythmic ardor that Romerium and Thaneco offer us. The Greek-Dutch duo fills our ears with electronic rhythms that are seasoned with percussive elements of rhythm. From Jean-Michel Jarre, for the futuristic Electronica vision, to Robert Schroeder, for the vocal and vocoder effects of the synths, MACHINE unveils 8 very good rhythmic structures that flirt with as many possibilities in terms of styles. The synths and keyboards also inject percussive elements that oversize the rhythmic scope of the album. Offered in downloadable format and on CD-r, this 5th collaboration between Thanos Oikonomopoulos and Rene Montfoort has a percussive adrenaline in a great sound envelope, testifying to the very good quality of the mixing and mastering of these two studio beasts.
The ball of charms reveals its content with the superb opening of Machine 1. Cadenced claps resonate in stereo, and the sequence of these effects structures a skeletonless rhythm that seduces from the start the ears eager for percussion elements. And brace yourself, there are plenty of them in this MACHINE! A robot with a sore throat articulates hoarse words in the resonance of these percussion effects whose texture sniffs a vision of industrial mechanism. It's at this point that the synth releases oscillating waves that come and go with a kind of machine dialect in a structure that gets heavier with the presence of a bass line that is voracious for our eardrums. The rhythm crawls more than it rolls like an uncertain rock, with drum hits that give it a jerky cadence. A little more and we are in cosmical hip-hop. As I wrote at the beginning of the review, the synths also create rhythmic effects, and it is with frenetic successive rubbing that they initiate Machine 2. It's like imitating a train with mouth noises and whose ascent is tied to cosmic funk effects and a more fluid electronic rhythm structure. We're on our way to a good Berlin School driving beat with its array of synth chirps before some solid percussions harpoon this ascension to structure a big electronic rock a few seconds before the 3-minute mark. Glued to this exhilarating rhythmic structure, our ears hear these synth layers flying against current and giving that melodic effect trying to slow down the dynamics of the rhythm. These layers adjust their ethereal aims to a darker texture in the ever-dynamic last part of Machine 2. In addition to these layers that seek to temper the rhythmic explosions of MACHINE, the synths multiply these sound effects proper to Schroeder's style of cosmic funk music while elaborating harmonic phases that are sometimes in symbiosis with the different rhythmic structures proposed in this album. Machine 3, for example, features an upbeat rhythm with percussive elements slamming behind a very vocal synth. The chthonian texture behind the music adds a cachet to its discovery and ultimately its listening. The percussive elements add up along with the synth vocals. A very good track that offers nice surprises with each new listening.
Machine 4 goes for a more electronic rhythm built on keen oscillations that twirl in a circular structure. This rhythm draws its excessiveness with slamming percussion effects and swarms of small steps of bass-sequences that stomp on the spot. The formula espouses a kind of cosmic breakdance. The synth is in symbiosis with the rhythmic elements. In addition to its cybernetic language, it throws an armada of electronic effects similar to rhythmic chirps. Machine 5 starts with a slow rhythm that increases in power to adopt a Cosmic Funk structure. The synthesizer cackles like in the universe of Robert Schroeder. Machine 6 proposes an industrial Electronica rhythm of a Jean-Michel Jarre kind. The load of the percussive elements add a rhythmic adrenalin to this track which, will-won't, is really catchy. Machine 7 offers a fine and subtle circular stroboscopic texture behind a barrage of percussive rolls and beautiful harmonious synth lines. Machine 8 ends this barrage of rhythms with a percussive, spastic rock in a futuristic environment because of the synth's cybernetic language. Another synth flows a more harmonic language into this structure where the lively orchestral harnessing adds polish to the listening experience. Big, slow and heavy electronic rock with a subtle harmonic sparkle...just as I like it.
Rhythm, just rhythm! With its 8 rhythmic figures set in an electronic environment that flirts with a futuristic and industrial vision, MACHINE is pure candy for those who like a lively electronic music (EM) that does not abandon the very creative aspect of Romerium and Thaneco. A stunning surprise from this duo that, album after album, continues to destabilize, for the better, an audience that is very aware of their ability to exceed expectations.
Sylvain Lupari (August 25th, 2022) ****½*