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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SKOULAMAN: Deepminds (2020)

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

This is a great album with a lot of vibes that doesn't deserve to vegetate like a download and which should please to aficionados of Berlin School

1 Deepminds 8:55

2 Shades of Oceanblue 8:04

3 Four is more Chill Out 11:52

4 Mytilini Intermission 10:56

5 Polymood 12:36

6 Four is More 11:44

7 Unpaved Roads 8:56

(DDL 73:03) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

A brand new composition, the title-track offers a vaporous opening where the spectral mists spread to make a keyboard hear the notes detach from its nostalgia. The mist stretches the strings of its violin, while the synth throws floating airs that were believed to be mist. A bass line extends its bed of reverberations in this dark and ambient decor up until these hopping of sequenced arpeggios, which tinkle like a clock without time, rise from this mist of ether to dance softly. Like silver feathers rolling in loops on a thin framed path, they form this ambient rhythm where mist and silver unite their colors in a silvery sheath. A second bass line projects rhythmic waves, giving a slight tone to a structure that will often be heard on DEEPMINDS. What a beautiful album my friends! For his 7th album, Skoulaman has decided to keep it simple. Getting back to base! To complete his latest album, Hans Van Kroonenburg picked up 4 tracks which have been on YouTube since 2016. Deepminds, Mytilini Intermission and the excellent Polymood were composed in 2019. Skoulaman's son Rik van Kroonenburg comes to perform his customary appearance by torturing his electric six-strings on Mytilini Intermission. The only disappointment of DEEPMINDS which remains however an excellent album. An album which bewitches us with these frameworks of rhythmic lines which are mainly conceived from these ambient and floating rhythms of Klaus Schulze. And his Body Love years to Mirage inspire a universe of enchantment with crossings with the dreamlike vision of Kitaro and that a little more rock of Tangerine Dream with as a bonus a nod to England School and fabulous synth solos… like in La Belle Époque!

Shades of Oceanblue rises from the dark fog breezes. Modulations in the ambiences push the music to the keyboard which makes chords clink in this idle serenity rigged. Everything seems messy in this opening which gradually releases a circular melody with oriental flavors which swirls like a minimalist sequence in a decor where the glass sheets clink under the azure winds. This concerto of chimes is bypassed by these sequences which go up and up without reaching any ceiling, like these minimalist rhythmic naps by Klaus Schulze whose choir of absent voices hum these meaningless verses in this decor where Kitaro wouldn't be lost playing there. The nebulous introductions to the Klaus Schulze are legion here and Four is more Chill Out must also be used to it. Thereafter, it's the very musical dance of various arpeggios and of shimmering sequences. These two elements jump and sparkle in a long endless tube, while all around this Chill-Out concept gets organize with a good soft bass line and sober percussions which are supported by percussive effects, including rattlesnakes resonating like wooden clappers. A great track which leaves its rhythmic traces imprinted between our two ears for a few hours.

What's wrong with Mytilini Intermission? I would probably say the sound of the guitar which seems to lack oxygen! The rhythm movement is typical to Skoulaman and particularly to the moods of the album. Consistent with what the father and son duo have created since Andros Awakenings, the guitar makes itself feel by a discreet presence. Scattering these chords here and there, she becomes confident by weaving canvases of riffs which begin to roar for a few laps of rhythmic sequences further. The peaceful Berlin School becomes an essence for progressive rock whose guitar becomes furious. And then it melts into a blues, and finally into an ethereal memory. The problem is that the guitar doesn't shine and that its partition seems to be subdued compared to the music. It gave me the effect of a bootleg where the part of the guitarist is recorded from afar. But whatever, the guitar seems lonely ... But we forget all that when Polymood develops between our ears. This is an excellent Berlin School with a more rock vision. Skoulaman continues to exploit these Schulze-style sequencer structures from the Body Love years, but with a curt and faster flow, thus giving Polymood a nervous and spasmodic appearance. An organic tone has infiltrated the sequencer which takes on an organic character, a bit like in the style developed by Steve Roach with Skeleton Keys. And these two temporal encounters give a wonderful musical texture of 12 minutes when Skoulaman foils our ears with a discreet cosmic guitar and his synth solos in a lunar decor with stars that sparkle and tinkle subtly. Four is More is the first part of Four is More Chill Out. Unpaved Roads is another great electronic rock, more England School this time, where the visions of Under the Dome and Airsculpture collide in a furious cosmic rock adorned with superb synth solos.

A great album, only available for download, DEEPMINDS should certainly appeal to Skoulaman fans as well as aficionados of the vintage Berlin School genre. An album that doesn't deserve to vegetate on a download platform moreover...

Sylvain Lupari (June 12th, 2020) *****

Available at Skoulaman Bandcamp

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