“This is a very good album which goes so fast that we try to understand how we already have reached its ending”
1 To Sleep, To Dream 5:42 2 Contemplation of One's Self in the World 7:00 3 August Rains, Were Those Tears? 5:59 4 Amerisynthecana 6:53 5 Floating 6:25 6 Neues Jahr, Alles Klar 7:37 7 The House on Fire (Put Out) 8:02 8 Android Cat Sleeps in the Sun 2:08 9 Amerisynthecana (Extended Version) 10:06 Subsequent Records | SR005-02 (CD/DDL/Spotify 59:54) (V.F.) (Electronic neo folk)
I like comparing the artistic approach of Jim Combs to that of Mike Oldfield. Both are inspired by their folklore and like to forge minimalist structures to which are grafted harmonies and parallel rhythms. AMERISYNTHECANA is an anagram of the words synth and Americana and depicts marvellously the universe of this 5th album of Sensitive Chaos where the American folklore inhales of its charms through approaches as well electronic as eclectic.
The first chords of To Sleep, To Dream lead us into a mesmerizing atmosphere of medieval party. We are right in the middle of Mannheim Steamroller (Fresh Aire project) soils with chords in tones of old acoustic guitar and harpsichord which woo like the old dances in lines from the medieval era. They unite their symbioses to let themselves suck up in an electronic spiral, a kind of night lullaby, which spreads its dusts of sapphire in a delicate ritornello which is perfumed with the aromas of Brian Good's saxophone as the tunes follow one another. Sometimes ambient and sometimes kind of masked ball music, To Sleep, To Dream empties its 5 minutes in an ambivalent structure before being snatched by a more intense finale. A festive finale worthy of carnivals in the tints of New Orleans jazz. Surprise, the procession of Contemplation of One's Self in the Worlds' chords offers a sequence that is very near the Berlin School style. The movement flows on this first line of arpeggios to which are grafted other more crystal-clear arpeggios among which the palpitations and the crisscrossed tones forge a jerked arrhythmic pace. Trying to escape from a storm of drones and a thick cloud of synth breaths, EWI breezes and tears from saxophone which plunges us into the universe of Mark Isham, the minimalist approach of Contemplation of One's Self in the World progresses of its hypnotic gait by storing the necessary harmonies, as well as the unexpected twists, to fight the passivity of its movement. August Rains, Were Those Tears? is an ambiospherical track rich of its ambient structure which abounds of hybrid breaths. Jim Combs is alone with his synth. He draws slither curves and floating lines which interlace in a fascinating ethereal ode where the darkness glides over tranquillity. It's a beautiful moment of ambience, quite as the very contemplative and esoteric Floating and its white noises which sizzle in superb astral synth lines.
The title track is a pure jewel of tenderness and emotivity. The movement begins with manual percussions which drum under the breezes of a meshing of synth and saxophone. It's very delicate and strangely bewitching. Gleaming arpeggios sparkle here and there, all around this enchantress spiritual Amerindian trance. Waving like a feline encircling his prey, Amerisynthecana shows a subtle ferocity while the movement increases of a surprising, and unexpected, crescendo where everything is amplified and where is added an angelic choral to make the hairs breathing for air all over the body. The skin of drums speaks to us, the breaths of the saxophone bewitch us, the twinkling arpeggios dance for our ears and the seraphic choruses wrap us of a soothing aura of contemplativity. This is pure magic and it's undoubtedly worths its extended version which we find on the CD. A version lengthened by a soft morphic intro. Neues Jahr, Alles Klar is a soft movement of ambience. A delicate dance of carillons in tones of glockenspiels which ring and collide in a ritornello of glass blown by lines of synth to hybrid singings. Beginning quite slowly, The House on Fire (Put Out) infiltrates our ears with multilayer of drones which buzz such as some shaman lamentations. A string of spasmodic arpeggios extricates themselves from these vocal breaths which rage among twisted winds while that the rhythm wakes up in a jerky structure. A dislocated rhythm which arches itself in front of the rain of shuddering arpeggios of which the undisciplined kicks are twisting into some soft jerky spirals, while that the saxophone covers and calms quietly The House on Fire (Put Out) of a fragrance of soft solitary blues jazz. Dark with its echoing glass hoops which stumble on temporal bells, the finale is melted in the mechanical hummings of Android Cat Sleeps in the Sun of which the sinister approach is clashing in this delicate musical bouquet which is AMERISYNTHECANA.
The music of Sensitive Chaos reminds me a bag with surprises. We re-know the packaging, the name. If we never can tell what there is inside, we have a vague idea and we know especially that it's going to be good. And AMERISYNTHECANA very good. A very beautiful album in which one becomes accustomed so easily that we try to understand how we already have reached its ending. Delicious and magical.
Sylvain Lupari (May 28th, 2013) *****
Available at Sensitive Chaos