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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SHINPAL: Blue Stories (2021)

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

He always succeeds in imposing tricks, musical spells which brings us in his sound webs

1 Graduation 5:04

2 Northern Wind 5:33

3 Changing my Heart 6:08

4 A Hope in Darkness 5:43

5 Dual Wield 5:33

6 True Rive 5:03

7 Perseus 8:56

8 Solaris 7:23

SynGate Wave SP03

(CD-R/DLL 49:22) (V.F.)

(Progressive ambient music)

Graduation features an ambient melody woven into repetitive loops of what appears to be a synth/guitar fusion. Very ethereal, the music delivers these magnetizing loops over a carpet of gamelan percussions. They are triturated by a layer of dissonant, not to say iconoclastic, ambient noises. The violins that destroy the poetry of the staccato movements are like the tip of Zorro's sword signing his Zs in series. One hears the guitar releasing weak meows and especially a nuclear cataclysm effect which radiates an ephemeral silence on this insidious earworm around the 3rd minute. Afterwards, Graduation shines with a new sonic freshness with better defined tonalities in a last 2 minutes where the orchestrations seem to me more intense. A very nice track to start this new album of the Japanese artist on the SynGate label. I had liked Momentary Disappeared Memory and it is with eagerness that I threw myself on BLUE STORIES. The result is an album more complex in the musical finish. Shinpal exploits more the abrasive side of ambient music with grainy textures that sometimes manage to irritate my patience. All in all, it is a beautiful album that requires a few listenings to fully grasp the genre of the musician from Osaka. And like in his previous albums, Shinpal always succeeds in imposing tricks, creative musical spells which brings us in his sound webs.

Northern Wind sounds very Ashra during their tour in the land of the Rising Sun in 1997, Harald Grosskopf in less. The rhythm is formed by a line of sequenced riffs which courts the Indonesian percussions. Nervous, this rhythm gives the impression of having two structures in parallel. One that runs with its little lost feet turning in circles and another made of curtly plucked strings. And with the percussions, the floor gets saturated with rhythmic elements. The mellotron expresses its poetry, exciting the rhythmic framework which becomes spasmodic one minute before hitting the bridge of celestial ambiences fed by and for the mellotron. A nice passage of about 40 seconds, before Northern Wind finds its spasmodic form. Changing my Heart is one of those tracks that are difficult to explain but which find their way, after 2 or 3 listenings, between our ears. The texture is very dense on a circular rhythm whose essence swirls like a fat yogurt. The percussions are very good, and the loops of rhythms beat and confront each other in a melodious lyrical panorama where the quietude is eaten as one eats a cake of the Angels. We get to Hope in Darkness, an ambient track with the textures that make up the rhythmic elements of BLUE STORIES transiting and drifting in place.

Totally opposite Dual Wield throws us a lively rhythmic structure whose musical image can be explained like an old black and white film that is run at a speed faster than its recording level. It gives a movement full of jerks and kicks with these small feet that are now dancing the tap on isolated guitar strings. There's a big drone in the track, that I compare to an anemic version of Timbuktu, from the @shra album. Another ambient track, True Rive rests on its nest of oscillations and reverberating sound graffitis. The sounds form an ambient sound mass, like a large anaconda moving around dragging the weight of the world on its scales. Perseus takes us to dimensions closer of Seven Lives with a good Steve Roach-like sequenced movement that becomes trapped in a storm of sounds whose intensity ends up swallowing the music completely. I found the last 3 minutes unbearable. Solaris saves the day and ends this 3rd album of Shinpal on SynGate with a good ambient track comparable to the hymns for deserts of the famous American musician. Beautiful and lyrical, BLUE STORIES needed it...

Sylvain Lupari (June 3rd, 2021) ***½**

Available at SynGate Bandcamp on June 4th

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