S1GNS OF L1FE: The Age of Cymatics (2021)
Updated: Feb 13
“A new EM which gradually modifies the axis of the Electronica genre by uniting it to the rhythms of the Berlin School style”
1 The Age of Cymatics 7:22
2 Dimensional Shift 7:34
3 Astral Alignment 8:46
4 Genetic Memory 7:50
5 Particle Complex 7:48
6 Synesthetic State 7:36
7 The Cosmic Ocean 7:50
8 Collective Awakening 8:20
(DDL 63:06) (V.F.)
(Électronica, Berlin School)
I was expecting this next S1gns Of L1fe's album after reviewing the excellent Celestial from the Starterra duo. Chris Bryant has emailing me to this effect. And so was this Celestial album and so is THE AGE OF CYMATICS! We are in a universe where the psybient is barely perceptible in front of these series of sequenced rhythms which flirt between the different scents of Electronica. In fact, we put the latest works of Martin Stützer and the latest Stefan Erbe side by side and we have this latest work by Chris Bryant in a less gloomy vision. In my opinion, the Berlin School has never been so close, the very catalyst, to this universe of morphic dances, where the work of sequences and of percussive effects, not to mention these synths layers chloroformed by celestial beings, as on this latest album from S1gns Of L1fe.
After an atmospheric opening, The Age of Cymatics struggles with a lively zigzagging movement of the sequencer. Percussions and a line of bass-pulsations stabilize the rhythm in a dub electronica vision while the lines of rhythms, stuffed with thrilling sequences, crisscross, come and go up until the mouth of an ambient phase around the 3rd minute. We feel the thickness of the euthanizing mist by the muffled tinkling of isolated arpeggios and by this muffled bass-pulsation which reactivates the rhythm and its stroboscopic filaments under the influence of a creeping bass line. Arched on sober percussions and energized by lines of circular rhythms, Dimensional Shift is a more static title. A kind of cosmic dub with circular and minimalist movements of the sequencer on a bed of quite enjoyable percussive effects. The atmospheric phases are captured by good drone effects which buzz on spastic sequences leaping ardently on the spot. The bassline is even more enslaving than the percussive noises as it flows through our ears with lustful hugs. The second part of the title is much better nourished, in particular with a very nice sling shot effect from the sequencer. Astral Alignment is a very good evolutionary track which blooms in a dense tonal fauna made up of grainy and whistling wiishh, suspended arpeggios, evanescent sequences, a beautiful very moving synth layer and a shadow of creeping bass. There are some moving moments in those first 120 seconds. These elements cling onto percussions of an ambient dub type for a beautiful down-tempo where the synth pads have this delicious harmonica scent. The chills run over my arms! The 4th minute calls for another change of direction as Astral Alignment is harpooned by a sequencer and its jumping keys while zigzagging like stroboscopic elements whose mission is to make us even more enslaved to the evolution of this excellent track. The introductions may resemble each other as much as the primary structures of rhythms, each title in THE AGE OF CYMATICS bursts with its own musical aestheticism. Genetic Memory offers an agitated rhythmic framework of percussions with curt and rolling strikes. A magnetic mat to hear the synth coils unroll their fantasies above the arpeggios that dance and sparkle with elements of the sequencer that stretch to the maximum the rhythmic illusion of Genetic Memory which also becomes more energetic after its phase of futuristic ambiences.
There are openings more successful than others. That of Particle Complex is as poignant as Astral Alignment. The rhythm that came out is the most violent of the album. The sequencer dance begins after 140 seconds of astral meditation. Its movement is spasmodic and made for the dance of dislocation of the main bone joints of a soft body like a disjointed puppet. This convulsive movement receives the support of an armada of percussions whose surrealist flow is as attractive as its percussive fauna. It's as much demanding for the feet, which are called upon to perform an extraordinary choreographic break-dancing, as the ears which receive the backfire of the wood percussions' relentless grapeshot. Let's say the little atmospheric break is needed here. Despite its noisy industrial envelope, Synesthetic State offers a good Electronica rhythm enveloped by synth layers haloed by astral voices provider of chills. These layers are legion in THE AGE OF CYMATICS and are the essential answers to this collection of assorted rhythms that flirt with the collective frenzy that shows up here and there in the album. Apart from these layers, the synth weaves musical streamers which undulate with their assorted colors. They sing a futuristic Soul style over a battlefield that can even be compared to a decimated Particle Complex. So much the sound specters try to reform. The sequences act quite early in the opening of The Cosmic Ocean. Their series of circular jumps, slightly inclined in stroboscopic vision, compete with the ardent synth waves in a universe where the cicadas buzz with their brassy chants. Deliciously spasmodic, the rhythm is driven by a series of bass-pulsations which give it a form of Techno lunar. The synths chirp, the percussions have their crossbow tones and the synth blades are enveloping! All this cocktail brings us to the ambient phase which becomes a fireworks display for lines of synths, drawing arches and loops in a suspended universe which seems to belong to a colony of giant cicadas. The second part is as delicious as the first and it's the same in the 8 tracks of this album which ends with Collective Awakening. A title as solid as the 7 others and which lives on their aesthetics, both musical and in sounds.
There is a natural connection between the sequences, percussions and percussive effects on THE AGE OF CYMATICS, which is a solid album of EM. A new EM which gradually modifies the axis of the Electronica genre by uniting the rhythms of the sequencers to the style of the Berlin School. The rhythms, although very ingenious at times, are not the only strength of this album. The very Berlin School synth and layers intervene in the middle of each title, linking even more the universe of Synphaera to that of Berlin School. A very big album my friends ...
Sylvain Lupari (February 12th, 2021) ****½*
Available at Synphaera Bandcamp