SAYER: Terra (2020)
Updated: Oct 4
“It's great E-Rock with intelligent rhythm variations that give us the impression of hearing 2 to 3 rhythmic and/or melodic levels in each track”
1 Hidden Waterfall 6:29
2 Eagle's Flight 8:23
3 Rainforest 7:10
4 Himalayas 7:27
5 Starry Night 5:43
6 Hallowed Ground 7:53
7 Snowfall 9:23
8 Mountain Stream 9:41
9 Highlands 7:03
10 Autumn 7:09
(CD-R/DDL 76:27) (V.F.)
(Melodious E-Rock, Berlin School)
I often wonder when I read information or notes from an artist in relation to his latest creation. Take this TERRA from Sayer! We read that since the making of Oceans, in March 2020, he has encountered a wall. He had difficulty concentrating in order to compose music that would have had a connection with this album, or any form of music. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the social as well as political unrest in his country, there was no longer any source of inspiration. There have been a few attempts, but nothing came out. Zero inspiration. So that means that between April and let's say July, the source was dry! Pfft! Let's say it just doesn't sound like it after listening to the album. Let's start with Hidden Waterfall which is the title that triggered the TERRA project. Its necklace of arpeggios let slip some chords which sparkle and undulate with grace. A synth layer, a bit orchestral, covers the introduction which already crumbles its last melancholic finds after 70 seconds. The powerful rounded sequences replace the arpeggios in the same context of rhythmic harmony, while the synth brings a heavy presence more sibylline than orchestral. The envelope and the sequencer have already changed tones! The sequencer makes its keys leap which are heavy and juicy, percussions arrive in rhythmic reinforcement while the synth replaces its emotions with this veil which has become a powerful melodic link in Hidden Waterfall. And just like that, in not even 4 minutes, the title is returned to a 3rd shifting form. More amplified with each new skin, Hidden Waterfall attacks its final stretch with more power and emotion for a finale modeled on its introduction. What we notice with this title is the power of the sound. The synth dominates in all aspects with melodious layers that are powerful and enveloping. The title changed its emotional identity with more intensity, never derailing or embracing another form. And yet, our ears feel like we've heard three developments in Hidden Waterfall. It's TERRA! It's Sayer magic! Continuing on the momentum undertaken with Future City, the Texan synthesist offers a dozen tracks built on rhythms trained by a sequencer and its palette of tones as well as by percussions which activate the speed of the changing rhythms and sometimes melodious and sometimes rhythmic arpeggios. The whole thing is covered by a highly creative synthesizer at the level of the ambiences and especially for the construction of the lines of melodies and solos flirting with these lines. In short, a beautiful 77 minutes of EM served in a good American E-rock, unique to Sayer in this more lively than exploratory universe of TERRA, an 18th album for the musician-synthesist of Sugar Land.
Eagle's Flight offers an opening of scintillating tones which zigzag in a good harmonious vision. Reverberating breaths build a background of mystery while the sequencer and arpeggios dance in a beautiful palette of tones. The sequencer moves away from the model and restructures the rhythmic tangent a bit in order to make it circular. Here, the music and the structure change skin with a progressive rhythm which follows a nice progression to reach the creative level of Jean-Michel Jarre. In addition to the atmospheres and effects, the synth releases good and very melodious solos with an intense perfume of Tangerine Dream. A great evolving title. After an opening customary for its name, Rainforest reveals a nice panorama and a hopping rhythm, always scintillating, in a harmonic structure à la Johannes Schmoelling. The rhythmic colors manage a gentle evolution with variations well followed by good percussions. The synth remains in melody mode with great solos on the front line and good vocal effects. The melody is minimalist but so catchy… Himalayas is more in electronic rock mode with a nervous and fluid sequencer in a tension film ambience. Despite the repetitive view of the secondary rhythm, there is a nice evolution in the contrasts between the arpeggios, which even have time to nod to the Halloween anthem, and the jumping keys remain powers of attraction. Starry Night is a nice ballad with a catchy rhythm. A rhythm divided between hopping sequences, percussions and melodious arpeggios. And the more this intoxicating circular rhythm advances, the more Seely grafts harmonies that give those little chills that tell us that the music is simply beautiful. Regardless of its spheres!
The spirit behind the music of Hallowed Ground respects the scope of the title with an approach worthy of a horror film. An earthly exhalation throws a dark and intriguing aura as deep, reverberating chords weave a vision à la The Keep. A trumpet of fear whines in the background, initiating a soft and organic rhythmic approach. This rhythm crawls under different bursts of dull lights and murky sound effects. Percussions add vitamins to this circular approach that the sequencer supports with a stroboscopic rhythm line. The synth flows spectral tunes, the signal to animate a line of fluttering sequences. So strong in TERRA, the synth signals its dominance here with heavy tunes and a dimension of spectral dread that clings to the rotating circles of Hallowed Ground. A big title in this album. And it continues with the snowflakes which are more edgy and fall more sharply into Sayer's Snowfall. The rhythm is jerky and lives through two contiguous sequencer lines and solid percussions. The arpeggio ceremonial is melodious whereas the synth takes care of the harmonic portion while being in charge of great solos and cosmic effects. Mountain Stream also offers a decor in keeping with the title. The evolution of the title is tasty here with a first New Age vision which gradually melts into an electronic decor focused on the modulations and dribbling of the sequencer. The rhythm remains uncontrollable with a synth more in withdrawn. A synth with dark tunes in a scent of the Green Desert years of TD. Highlands is in the heavy, slow rhythm category that I love. The synth is powerful and creative with an amazing computer language, except my ears stick to this heavy, slow beat. With a nasal synth simulating a snowfall, more authentic than in Snowfall, Autumn slowly evolves before leading us to a proposal of rhythm and melody that we cannot refuse. It's the kind of thing, with the melancholy stuck to a nice sequencer, that makes us say; Damn how good this Sayer album is! And so, it's quite true.
It's great electronic rock with good and intelligent rhythm variations that always give us the impression of hearing 2 to 3 rhythmic and / or melodic levels in each track. It's hard to target a title and identify it as the best, they're all good. And say that it all started with Hidden Waterfall! I don't want to be mean Seely, but I wish you another lack of inspiration 😊
Sylvain Lupari (April 23rd, 2020) ****¼*
Available at Sayer Bandcanp