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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SAYER: Sounds of Atoms (2014)

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

“Heavy and powerful with structures of rhythms in half tints and melodies that will hook a smile to your bank of souvenirs, Sounds of Atoms will blow your mind off”

1 Sounds of Atoms 10:34 2 Subatomic Particles 7:40 3 Kinetic Energies 6:00 4 Cyclotron 11:42 5 Oscillating Fields 8:07 6 Retrospection 6:14 7 Cosmic Rays 5:27 8 Angular Momentum 8:30 9 Particle Beams 5:18 10 Atomic Age 8:08 Sayer Music

(CD-r/DDL 77:40) (V.F.) (Driven Based Sequence EM)

Oh boy! SOUNDS OF ATOMS is a real bomb for those who like the kind of driven sequence-based EM style. A music which abounds of furious rhythms and of catchy melodies. Sayer is an American musician/synthesist who is in the field of EM since almost 25 years as producer and, at his hours, composer. His vast experience brought him close to all the musical currents and gave him the chance to seize all of its nuances. In so doing, his music is surprisingly well structured for a new name in the sphere. A newcomer? Not really. This is his 3rd album after a silence of 12 years. Either after the release of Past-Present-Phuture back in 2001. In all, Sayer has produced about ten albums which brush all the spheres of modern EM. Released in January 2014, SOUNDS OF ATOMS is a real gold mine for those who like an energetic, heavy and dark EM that won't sacrifice at no moment a melodious approach embroidered in the corridors of cosmos. It's heavy. It's powerful! There is a clever mixture of all Tangerine Dream's periods, in particular at the level of sequences and melodious synth pads, and of Jean Michel Jarre, for the rhythms, the percussions, the melodies, the cosmic atmospheres and the synth solos on this album that amazes us at each track, at each musical bend.

The title-track starts with a stream of oscillating sequences which parade in swirling. Percussions click and resound, redefining so the ambient rhythm of Sounds of Atoms towards a soft and morphic down-tempo. Pleasant and lively, the rhythm cavorts slightly below a shower of organic chirpings, of cosmic tones as well as of rippling synth layers which caress it of a harmonious tenderness. The structure follows a soft evolutionary bend introduced by a succession of jumping keys which hang onto the shadows of the others. The rhythm gets heavier, more hopping with strikes of more accentuated percussions. Then sequences get loose, some with tones of Vocoder's organic effects, in order to forge an adjacent movement which paints some gangly stroboscopic lassoes. The oppositions of the phases are well balanced and represent one of the charms of this album. Another one being the melodies. As on Subatomic Particles which attacks our ears with heavy, dark and lively sequences. A track weaved on multiple jumbles of sequences and good muffled percussions, Subatomic Particles throws at us a great cosmic melody that is going to feed the Gigabytes of my I Phone. Two harmonious phases are present on this track, as well as on many others, which bubbles of its hyperactive sequences. One is coming from the synth, that is simply superb both in the solos and in the melody, and the other one is built on sequences which isolate a segment with arpeggios that are clinking like knocks on an anvil finely banged over a structure of rhythm very lively. This is great! And the more we move forward and the more we collapse under the weight of the heavy and very lively rhythms from Sayer. Kinetic Energies is going to bite your eardrums with this meshing of sequences, percussions and pulsations that have made my walls shudder since that the title-track got loose from my loudspeakers. The rhythm here is wild. Battered with ferocity, it also changes of skin while the synth, its solos and its melody, is just as much effective than in Subatomic Particles. Sayer multiplies the lines of rhythms with movements of sequences as heavy than agile. So the rhythms change constantly of suit, raising beautiful cosmic soundscapes.

One stays in the field of the heavy e-rock, but in a more dancing shape, with Cyclotron and its multiple changes of rhythmic skins which switch shapes without ever reaching the threshold of ambient music. The sequencing is rather impressive. There are hopping keys which flutter around, some which hiccup while others disguise into sneaky pulsations, weaving a structure of rhythm that bursts under the charms of a synth and of its very catchy solos. Certainly, the rhythms can take a kind of ambient phase, like in here, but they remain lively and lapidary. Oscillating Fields moderates the ambiences with a ritornello of crystal-clear sequences which dance lightly and oscillate with a fascinating delicacy. There is percussions with tones of gas, cosmic effects, chirping of sequences and organic reverberations which always remain present in the sound decoration of this album, giving to each track a depth that hypertrophies its initial conception. We fall a little in the synth-pop style with Retrospection, which is very Jean-Michel Jarre but not as much as the very surprising Particle Beams which is closer to London Kid with good synth solos flying over a rhythm that is jumping up as a thick cloud of kicks. The beat eventually softened its pace to move in a beautiful and very harmonious ethereal gallop a la Tangerine Dream. Cosmic Rays is heavy and nervous. It's a strong piece of EM forged in this dynamism of sequences and percussions which tug the rhythms in SOUNDS OF ATOMS. Angular Momentum leads us towards another level of EM; a soft and ambient ballad that is evolving slightly with sequenced arpeggios of whose hesitating steps draw an ascent towards a cosmos decorated with bright perfumed by vintage cosmic analog tones. It's very beautiful, almost oneiric. The structure increases appreciably its pace and preserves all of its innocent charm. After the rather danceable structure of Particle Beams, Atomic Age ends Sayer's 9th album since Origins in 97-98 with a structure which gets closer to Angular Momentum, but with more restlessness in these rotary half-impulses.

Heavy and powerful with structures of rhythms in half tints and melodies that will hook a smile to your bunch of souvenirs, SOUNDS OF ATOMS is what I call a very nice discovery. I don't remember having heard a so voracious EM album in a CD of 77 minutes that has no respite, and which doesn't hit you on the big nerve. The rhythms, as furious and lively as they are, never diminish these nice cosmic melodies hanging around an interstellar sound decoration. Jean Michel Jarre, Faber and Tangerine Dream! Points of references and of nuances which explain a little better why I was so much charmed by this Sayer album. I would even add Synergy for the rhythms of the Cords period.This is quite a sonic cocktail that explodes deliciously in your listening room.

Sylvain Lupari (March 24th, 2014) ***½**

Available at Sayer Bandcamp

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