RON BOOTS: Acoustic Shadows (2006)
Updated: Mar 1
“This is a colossal work and an album where melody flirts with melancholy on a Berlin School style in what is purest”
1 The Unknown Soldier 11:37
2 The Battle of the Somme 17:23
3 Acoustic Shadows 13:47
4 Assault 10:04
5 Desolate Fields 8:42
6 Dresden 9:24
(CD/DDL 70:56) (V.F.)
(Berlin & Netherlands Schools)
I should be ashamed of myself. All this time I took before I write something about Ron Boots… Sorry! Ron Boots is one of the most important and influential figures of the new generation of sequencer-oriented Electronic Music. What we call Berlin School! Or the New Berlin School depending on the content of the sound and its equipment, mostly digital. But this is not the case with Ron Boots who is very active in the EM spheres, especially in Holland his homeland. Since the end of the 80's he has been involved in electronic music in the Netherlands, as much as an artist-composer as a producer and director. He is one of Groove's founders. ACOUSTIC SHADOWS is his 29th album, including the cassettes and his collaborations. And don't be fooled by the title, there is nothing acoustic here! The expression Acoustic Shadows is linked to war. It's a rather particular sound phenomenon. It's explosion from a cannon that people were able to hear from distance. However, those who activate the cannon or were close to it couldn't hear it. It's a one of many atrocities from war! Closer to our time, ACOUSTIC SHADOWS is a last musical offering of Ron and denounces wars and is intended as a tribute to all warriors, of all periods.
And it's with a solid strike that begins The Unknown Soldier. Grave, the first sequence is buried by a synth layer which harmonizes through the winds which sometimes sound like artillery jets. Subtly, this first arrangement is transformed into a superb melody guided by a pompous synthesizer and a frank playing of percussions. The Unknown Soldier is a very melodious title which leaves its traces in the ear. The kind of track that is rich and with unexpected directions that we want to hear again before it ends, because we have the impression of having missed something somewhere so much there is sounds and tones. Between each title, a male or female voice is telling us brief moments of history. The Battle of the Somme follows on the ashes of The Unknown Soldier with a Mellotron intro. A thin bass line emerges on the horizon, like this floating cloud left by the explosions on a battlefield. You can see it and feel it, testifying to Ron Boots' incredible talent as a composer and producer. The ambience is sad and gradually dissipates on this line which comes to life more and more on a disjointed rhythm. The synths are enveloping and court this rhythm in perdition, giving a disproportionate dimension with regard to the main line. The effect is strange and haunting in a long title with a little sad ambience. The title-track follows on the same step, but not for long. The percussions get lively with the keyboards' keys. The blows are heavier with long-lasting effects. The rhythm comes alive and seeks for itself among strikes on percussions' tight -skins and a beautiful strong textural and enveloping synth. Long laments escape from it with grace and richness, giving a wavy direction which seeks to unwind on percussions which take more and more control. Precision work, highly developed and worked Electronic Music. Progressive EM!
After the theoretical explanation on acoustic shadows, Assault kicks off with a bang. A nervous and feverish sequence whirls among highly dosed percussions. The two elements intersect and dither while waiting for a bassline to get more excited. Like a planned flight, the elements of rhythms twirl and intermingle with harmony on increasingly thick synth layers. And, in order to properly nourish the decor, another more prominent synth line revolves in a powerful loop, giving Assault a depth and a rich sound of the most melodious. Another great title! Desolate Fields is just like its title. After a rather pathetic, if not horrible, narration on the effects of war and of its wounded, a synth releases a floating line over an already dark and striking one. Once again, Ron Boots makes us see through his music. We see the wounded, the scenes narrated before. All this to music that smacks of desolation and exudes a deep respect for the combatants. With the arrival of the allies, the war ends as well as ACOUSTIC SHADOWS with Dresden. A nervous and nourished track with the effects of big riffs on spasmodic chords which flutter over the keyboard with ease. The percussions are fierce and make the fight against good synth solos which mix with the aromas of a false six-strings' guitar.
Finely polished and well supervised, ACOUSTIC SHADOWS is a colossal work. An album where melody flirts with melancholy on a Berlin School style in what is purest. A more modern Berlin School with an essence of the Netherlands School through its heaviness and rhythms directed by electronic percussions. With his creativity and his studio work, Ron Boots succeeds in making us see and feel his music. He takes us where he wanted. Only a refined and mature talent can get to this stage. He touches us and moves us on a subject that is always difficult and unfortunately too often topical. Didn't I tell you that it was a great Ron Boots album?
Sylvain Lupari (June 28th, 2006) *****
Available at Groove NL