SKOULAMAN: Mundus in Motu (2022)
“That is a very moving album that makes a huge connection to the works of Schulze”
1 If I Could Speak to my Father Again 13:30
2 Polymodular 10:00
3 Zyma (Winter) 7:44
4 Temnyy (Dark) 11:57
5 Vesna (Spring) 10:08
6 Svetly (Light) 15:24
7 Mundus in Motu 5:36
(CD/DDL 74:21) (V.F.)
The echoing tinkling arpeggios sow a dense veil of melancholy as If I Could Speak to my Father Again opens. The synth layers that waltz without acolytes float in a musical fauna on the alert. Some have a dramatic timbre and others have that soul-wrenching feel in an amazing blend of synth orchestral diversities, especially with that tonal scent of oboe that pours its tears into our ears. Blown into intensity, this nostalgia-tinged opening moves early towards a first rhythmic shift with a trickle of sequences that breaks away from this violin haze that has become a wave of whispers, I hear some Klaus Schulze here, as the title-track that opens MUNDUS IN MOTU heads towards its 4th minute. The sequencer releases a series of arpeggios that follow each other, slightly jostling each other over the pulsations of a bass-sequence line. Bouncing on this layer where the tone of an organ merges with that of an oboe, these little rhythmic balls dance under good synth solos while the bass line amplifies the heaviness of the rhythm without feeding its velocity. Instead, percussive effects speed up the movement of the sequencer and its arpeggios that literally jump on each other, structuring these movements of a deregulated conveyor belt that makes a spasmodic rodeo out of a stationary rhythm. If I Could Speak to my Father Again thus develops into a good, more or less animated electronic rock that is structured on the echo effect of the lines of sequences that come and go in an environment of cosmic haze. The effect multiplies into a form of rhythmic canon. Recorded live in a power plant that was shut down due to CO2 regulations, If I Could Speak to my Father Again kicks off an album that Hans van Kroonenburg dedicates to the people who lost their homes and homelands during the recent global upheavals. Like him, many have lost their jobs and had to reorient their lives. Hence the title MUNDUS IN MOTU (World in motion)! Much like Gert Emmens, Skoulaman is one of those musicians whose musical signature is easily recognizable. Since Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past in 2014 that the Dutch musician-synthesist makes harmonious electronic music built on the basis of minimalist. In a very nice production of Groove nl, MUNDUS IN MOTU does not escape this rule by offering 7 tracks, over a distance of 75 minutes, with these fragile arpeggios that jump on the end of their notes like the grace of these steps of Bambi on frozen ponds. True to his musical signature, he uses his sequencer to trace beautiful routes of rhythmic melodies with fragile shifts in the tonality of his arpeggios that shimmer with a sensitivity to deeply move a big rock. For this album, always well mastered by Ron Boots, the musician uses a modular synthesizer that he recently purchased, thus deepening his rhythmic dimension with very good structures built in such a way as to echo in tasty rhythmic canons.
Polymodular follows with an upward movement of the sequencer that snakes up a sonic web with a cosmic dimension. The rhythm undulates quite vividly with a slight shaking effect and is magnetizing. It fills with seductive percussive elements, a new Skoulaman's thing, and of twisted filaments that get lost in synth layers of chthonian dimensions. I found flavors of Tangerine Dream in this track that accelerates the pace with a delicious echo effect, simulating elastic gambols in the sequencer's momentum. It gives a very good Berlin School with an echo effect of the rhythm that translates into various electronic tones near a digital language. Zyma (Winter) proposes an undulating ambient rhythm in a sound fauna animated by the nasal tone and sharp chant of a synth line radiating the aggressiveness of the steel blue. It sounds very vintage Klaus Schulze. The sighs of the synth, poured on shadows that will become more and more buzzing, adorning the opening of Temnyy (Dark) give it another dimension of nostalgia that the piano amplifies with its notes of a fragile melancholy. This slightly dark sweetness adds a new dimension to Skoulaman's music on this album. The rhythm emerges from this romantic darkness about 30 seconds after the 4th minute, guiding the track towards another structure built on the effect of reverberations and echo of the rhythm like in the opening track. Its envelope, like its velocity, is more intense in the harmonious loops of a synth and its solos as twisted as those of a guitarist on a high.
The ethereal and cinematic opening of Vesna (Spring) is very much in concept with the title! Spring can't be as well defended in music as on this introduction that unlocks on a spasmodic rhythmic vision of the sequencer. The capers are like jolts whose great jumps are getting recovered by a delicious line of bass-sequences, the whole thing does again very Klaus Schulze, in another very good Berlin School flooded with this gothic haze of the 70's. I like the circular strobe effect that adds a nice depth to the rhythm. Hans van Kroonenburg weaves nice weeping synth solos whose sequencer arpeggios fall with aplomb and sparkle. Woven in the same mold, solos in plus, as Vesna (Spring), Svetly (Light) offers a structure more in electronic ballad mode with a long circular movement that is crossed by numerous synth solos with contours sometimes eroded by a psychedelic vision. The mellotron gives off beautiful layers of haze on this track that vaguely reminds me of Edgar Froese's essences in Stuntman and Pinnacles, in its rhythmic evolution. Both in the oblong zigzagging of the rhythm and the counterbalancing of the bass-sequences line and the vocal effects of the mellotron. Again, the synth solos are very good and inspiring. The shortest track, the title-track is also the most dynamic of this album with a more accelerated sequencer. Good electronic rock in Berliner mode!
MUNDUS IN MOTU is another great album from Skoulaman. Although the rhythm sequences overlap with almost identical patterns, the nuances and speed of the added strobes give a unique dimension to each track. I found that the album makes a huge connection to the works of Klaus Schulze, period 76-78, a bit like in his Deepminds album in 2020. A pure coincidence that deserves to be underlined for the fans of the recently deceased musician. In short, a very nice Groove nl album with an even more beautiful musical dimension outside of a headset and which cannot displease the aficionados of the Berlin School and those who already miss the late Klaus Schulze.
Sylvain Lupari (May 15th, 2022) ****¾*
Available at Groove nl