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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SAYER: Artificial Intelligence (2022)

AI features 9 long tracks of narrative EM that are in constant motion

1 On Being Human 9:24

2 Awakening 8:10

3 Essence 10:51

4 Cybernetics 9:24

5 Dynamics of Emotion 7:50

6 Theory of Mind 9:03

7 Ontologies 8:43

8 Autonomous Motion 7:52

9 Do Androids Love? 6:05

(CD/DDL 77:27) (V.F.)

(Electronic & Cosmic Rock)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE contains over 77 minutes of melodic and energetic electronic music (EM). You can't say that Sayer Seely is wrong! Yes, the beats are energetic with a creative sequencer that is paired with good percussions while the synths are full of harmonic concepts while cutting out scorching solos, both in sonic warmth and in projected emotions. You guessed it; I fell in love with this latest album from Sayer who keeps on raising his music a notch with each new album. Available in both downloadable and in manufactured CD formats, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE features 9 long tracks averaging 8.5 minutes in length that are in constant motion. The structures are essentially narrative with phases that remain difficult to dislodge from the ears. The American synthesist is very inspired in this work where the memories of Synergy and Michael Garrison supplant the influences of Jean-Michel Jarre.

The opening of On Being Human sets the tone for this new Sayer musical adventure. A line of arpeggios rises and falls in a good undulating effect with a zest of romance in its sequenced rhythmic ascent. A harmonic line hugs this rhythmic structure with layers that waltz freely over the subtle variations of the rhythm. The synth tone has a similar warmth that reminds me of Larry Fast's philharmonic structures. Another line creeps in, adding depth with arrangements that create a sort of musical canon. The percussions, which occur around the 2-minute mark, do not really have a rhythmic impulse. The sequencer and the synth momentum, not to mention the rich solos, carry On Being Human along on a continuously changing structure. A big 9 minutes of powerful cosmic rock. And so, it goes for every track! Sayer adds surprising and charming changes with tangents that are in symbiosis with the main melody line. And the synth, a real musical empire that weaves line upon line, has a tasty analog tone that warms our ears throughout this latest work of the Texan musician. Awakening also adopts this ascending structure over a pool of chirps. The rhythm is perhaps less lively, although the sequencer has fun in making dribble around the jumping keys and structuring harmonic rhythm phases. The impact of the synth is simply phenomenal here, both in its harmonic vision and its rhythmic support, with voice layers walled in its rich layers and solos that stay in tune with the track's approach. Essence is in ballad mode with a zest of White Eagle from Tangerine Dream in its inspiration. The movement remains always leaning on these ascending synth flights which seem to be the coherent link of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. Except that this essence of White Eagle vanishes at times when the music adopts new horizons. In the end, it's a very nice electronic ballad! Cybernetics moves away from this rhythmic tangent by offering a bouncing structure that is fed with very good synth solos and metallic percussive effects. The solos come in a series of double layers on this slightly spasmodic rhythm which takes a much more jerky tangent in the second part.

The synth charges are almost more effective than the sequencer in modulating the rhythms and Dynamics of Emotion is a perfect example. Displaying the same dynamism as in On Being Human, the synth carries the music with good impulses that rely on a more sober sequencer here. Theory of Mind is another splendid ballad that starts with arpeggios jumping like a cat's paws on a frozen pond. This rhythmic ritornello is followed by another sequencer movement before being enveloped by slow synth flights. As soon as a bass line starts to bounce more frenetically and the percussions dock, the rhythm takes off between the aerial flights of the synth. Narrative, the music returns to its intro rather quickly to re-fly into a longer, more spasmodic rhythm structure as the synth continues to coat Theory of Mind with a series of harmonious layers. After the track Ontologies, which is bickering between one stealthy structure and the other in circular movement, Autonomous Motion falls on us with the impression that it is the best track of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE which contains however several. Here the flow is as jerky with more fluid phases that are always guided by the always harmonious synth flights. Between Synergy and Garrison, the track offers a perfect balance between its changing rhythm and its harmonious phases. The kind of track that you can listen to over and over again because there is always something interesting to propose. Like, good synth solos, good percussive elements and a rhythm that forges an earworm. Great! We will also listen in loops Do Androids Love? which ends this last offering from Sayer with a splendid ballad whose melodious arrangements would make it an instant radio hit. Beautiful EM in all its splendor! This is Sayer's latest adventure as he continues to renew his genre and his music. Excellent album my friends!

Sylvain Lupari (February 7th, 2022) ****¾*

Available at Sayer Bandcamp

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