SAYER: In Search of Alfheim (2019)
“This is a very good Sayer with patterns switching from ambient to e-rock in a very good synth cortex with fragrances of Jean-Michel Jarre”
1 Grand Views 7:07
2 Under Cover of Night 6:43
3 Deep Waters 8:02
4 Cascades 8:34
5 Lost Woodlands 6:58
6 Of the Light 8:04
7 Mountain Peaks 8:21
8 Ancient Writings 6:46
9 Secret Caves 7:50
10 Homeward Way 7:04
(CD-r/DDL 75:29) (V.F.)
We don't say no to a new adventure in tones from the American synthesist, Sayer. His energetic style is transposed from album to album with a rich sound that is constantly reinvented. Making of each album a something to hear. Built on the basis of a concept album, IN SEARCH OF ALFHEIM is a musical expedition in search of this mythical country of the Elves which was given to the God Freyr. Thus, the musical realm of this album is built upon some great sequencing patterns which evolve in symbiosis with its multiple lines of rhythms that put down rhythms of good and daring electronic rock. The influences of Jean-Michel Jarre are omnipresent at the level of the primary rhythms, since these rhythms are still evolving, and at the level of the synths and other cosmic gadgets such as good cinematic arrangements. Each title here are completing without touching each by proposing structures that make good transitions between rhythms and phases a bit more ambient before returning with more strength. If the sequencer is as dominant as the percussions, the percussive effects energize their peaks and are surrounded by synths and their multi layers, as of ambiences as their harmonies. The parallel forces get balance in a seductive album that increases our pleasure listening after listening.
Grand Views puts our ears in an appetite with an opening encrypted by the psalms of an Elven choir. Synth pads erect a wall of arrangements that reaches a new level of emotion with each new momentum. Intense and cinematographic, I see in the distance the plains and the Alps of the Elven country, this introduction soothes its grandiloquent vision around the 2:30 to give place to organic chirps that seduce on the bed of electronic snoring. A pulsation installs a lead line of rhythm that unfolds itself of a line of sequences with vivid leaps, structuring a static rhythm in a heaviness cortex. Another line of sequences emits a livelier rhythm that will make our fingers dance even more than our feet, while the synth scatters harmonious chants with a slight hint of the old lands that make the legends of our childhoods. In 7 short minutes, Grand Views offers many changes, subtle ones but changes, which are announcing an album in motion and keeping the listener on the alert. Pharaonic pads surround the unbalanced and circular rhythm of Under Cover of Night which quietly drifts into a cosmic cortex before fleeing with a heavy and lively structure of a sequencer in mode Arc or Redshift. The dull explosions feed the dantesque vision of this title as much barracked as a powerful headbanger. This track is the least subtle one here. Deep Waters clings to the ear with two lines of intersecting rhythms that electronic percussions add dynamic. In a modest soundscape, the rhythm evolves with two or three changes in its pattern, dancing like a disjointed skeleton. The synth adds harmonious layers with a slight level of emphasis, leaving room for a catchy and pleasant rhythm to hear. Cascades is a little gem, and it revolves around a zigzagging movement of the sequencer that stretches its loop with subtle variations, shifting the perfection of the 8. The percussions come with a bit of din while the synth extends a melodious line and floating pads that scent the sound fragrances of Tangerine Dream. The music plunges into a phase of ambient discord around the 3 minutes in order to return to a more intense phase and with percussions starved for big and heavy electronic rock. Lost Woodlands offers a floating rhythm with heavy synth pads that exude an aura of mysticism. The orchestrations are sharp while the rhythm swirl in a pattern of an 8 equally nebulous. These floating elements are transformed into another big rock surrounded by a synth and its layers filled of orchestration residues and the effects of a society of musicians of the former days and good harmonious solos. It's very Jean-Michel Jarre!
Ditto for Of the Light and its slow cathedralsque impulse unlocking on another structure of rhythm that is distinguished by the percussions beating on a line of sequences well finished but not completed, if we judge by the addition of other sequences that leap into contradictory paths. This constant meshing and bickering between the many lines of rhythm are the weavers of the convoluted structures of IN SEARCH OF ALFHEIM. Mountain Peaks is a good e-rock sober but with good Latino arrangements. Gurgles and electronic effects build the rhythm, with a very retro touch, of Ancient Writings. Its imperfect rhythmic circle spits out harmonic keys and trifles of rhythms whose symbiosis shapes a fascinating spheroidal march on Arabic arrangements. Gradually, this rhythm acquires enough velocity to palpitate with two lines of sequences and percussions, while arpeggios, a little offset from the rhythm, ensure a harmonic portion that blends well with the moods. Here, as all around the 10 tracks of this album, the rhythm structure reinvents its domination by reaching this time a final that breathes Synergy's creativity in Cords. Secret Caves offers a short nebulous introduction before offering a frank pace that hobbles fiercely beneath sound spikes that are the percussive and the electronic effects. The percussion enhances the nonchalant cortex to restructure the whole thing into a solid cosmic rock. Homeward Way ends this album with a nightmarish vision of the 80's, where the horror cinema re-emerged from darkness with its pastiche musical themes. The rhythmic structure, finely attached to the filaments of the melody, swirls like these dizzy circles ran by feet without bodies. The sound has the colors of its atmospheres with a greenish sepia tint that lurks even more distracted feet. In short, and it all depends on our point of view, it's a lively, creative and catchy EM that is like all the music of this IN SEARCH OF ALFHEIM.
Sylvain Lupari (September 21st, 2019) *****
Available at Sayer Bandcamp