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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SKOULAMAN: Byssed (2021)

There is a backbone of a wonderful earworm hide in this melody out of this world

1 Intro 5:19

2 Illusion 9:34

3 Fata Morgana 13:33

4 Poly 15:24

5 Byssed 15:57

6 Sheltered by a Flash of Rays 12:42

(CD/DDL 72:30) (V.F.)

(Cosmic & melodious Berlin School)

Bas Broekhuis had an excellent initiative last December to make a part of his facilities available to artists who wanted to perform a live broadcast on You Tube. December 12 was the date of the Hans Van Kroonenburg concert. An excellent concert whose melodious ritornello remained hung in one of the corridors of my sense of hearing. After the concert of Ron Boots engraved in the album When it Gets Dark, it's the turn of Skoulaman to present us BYSSED. And the flowery yellow on a sparkling blue background is an inviting front cover for a New Age meditation session! It is however in an environment where the colors of the Cosmos shimmer with the softness of the hypnotic rhythms of the old Berlin School that this show is offered to us on CD and in a much better sound recording.

The echo of some percussive effects is lost in a synth line whose mournful ascension meets the origin of these percussions. Intro says what it means! In a slightly rising sound mass, Skoulaman extends layers of asthenia and bitterness, sounding so much like Jean-Michel Jarre's French School, where stick a melody scattering its arpeggios which will be the anvil point of this album. Already, they resonate majestically in the cosmic Berlin School ascension of Ilusion. The layers that structure its opening are like those caramel and vanilla colors that you stir with your eyes in the void. A line of bass-sequences welds itself to these layers and makes its slow ascensional movement heard. Glass beads crumble an ethereal song that shimmers in symbiosis with the discreet astral humming. Percussive rattles stimulate the fluid ascent of this bass-sequence line that ascends into a sphere nourished by beautiful solos and painted with some sonic graffiti, some of those more daring. The tinkling of the arpeggios, gently banged on a glass anvil, is gentle and its veil of resonance layers an ambient melody with a prismatic ascendancy. The bass-sequence line isolates itself in order to better divide itself, creating a rhythmic approach with heavy, resonant elements that gambol and intertwine before Illusion once again becomes a life-sucking mass of sound before fading away with a rebellion within. From there, BYSSED's melodic heart will reveal itself more and more after every 4 minutes and dusts of its next tracks.

Then, these two sequencer lines come back to make our emotions rise in the solid Fata Morgana. Its opening is more tempestuous and prepares our ears to hear a synth dropping its solos with a fluty tinge. The sequencer resumes its ascending road whose minimalist framework is flooded with good solos of cosmic dimensions. Melodious, this rhythm radiates its presence with a brighter outline that can be heard and even seen. Imagination helping. The feeling that the rhythm is getting a little more vigorous increases when we hear arpeggios imitating its swirling circular dance. For a live album, each track is rescued by being isolated one from the other. So, it is in a new introductory envelope, which still has a link to the previous introduction, that we arrive at Poly, BYSSED's diamond in the rough. Its sonic magma barely stirs. The synth layers and waves of sound tug at each other without really meaning to. Walls of woosshh and waasshh stand in an ambient corridor where those orphaned arpeggios tinkle throughout all BYSSED. And then, that rhythmic engine that we could barely discern in the last segment of Illusion comes back to haunt our ears with more strength in its timbre and velocity. The bass-sequence line and the arpeggios jumping with the grace of keys are sculpting a phenomenal moment of spheroidal dance in a Cosmos that will never have seemed so humanized here as elsewhere. That's it! That damn melody still inexplicable in my hearing springs up with the perfection of its timbre. It extends its power of juvenile attraction in a slow whirlwind where the rhythmic and melodic elements play leapfrog with invisible jerks. These alternating sounds oust the atmospheres of their hopping embraces up until no sounds. This ethereal dance returns after another mismatched opening in the long title-track. While the melody is the same, its setting is altered by more progressive synth solos and a slightly more accentuated speed. But no, I don't find it redundant. It's like climbing the invisible stairs to sleep with the stars. I would have thought that with a track like Sheltered by a Flash of Rays that Skoulaman had some new musical plans in store. What a surprise it was when the arpeggios started to dance solo before resuming their melodic form that has haunted my ears since I watched this show. Now I have it in my ears. And just because I've listened to this album at least 6 times since I reached the conclusion of this review doesn't mean I'm going to change my mind.

Sylvain Lupari (April 21st, 2021) ****¼*

Available at Groove nl

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