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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SOFTWARE: Chip-Meditation Part I (1985)

“Computer music structured by computers, Chip-Meditation Part I is the beginning of a new era in the field of Berlin School's Electronic Music”

1 Julias-Dream 8:04 2 Self Similarity-Life 11:19 3 Frontiers-Of-Chaos 5:55 4 Chip-Meditation 13:22 5 Voice-Bit 1:03 6 Byte-By-Byte 7:14 7 Winds-Of-Time 7:24 8 Short-Wave 3:05 IC 710.050 (CD/DDL 57:26) (V.F.) (Ambient beats & New Berlin School)

The universe of Software is made of sound spots, of electronic cells which metamorphose into phases of near-ambient rhythms where the dematerialization of the cells generates the birth of protean structures. One looks at the artwork of CHIP-MEDITATION PART 1 and one understands straight away that the Mergener/Weisser team takes us into a magical world where sounds have never had such a radiance. As far as I'm concerned, this is the flight of this duo who will still offer some very good albums between 1984, Beam-Scape from Mergener/Weisser, and 1989 and who would change the face of the Berlin School style, turning it into New Berlin School. CHIP-MEDITATION PART 1 is a classic album in its genre. It's an album which had everything to age well! And that's exactly the case, since I'm still listening it some 30 years later with as much pleasure than in the 90's.

Became an unmissable title in the world of Software, Julias-Dream is clinging to our ears with hollow breezes. Their whistling breaths flirt with the walls of a cave and make sounding larvae burst out into another, even more sparkling mutation. A sequencer sculpts an ambient rhythm which comes by jerks, structuring a floating movement which murmurs a cosmic melody in front of a curtain of tones that made open our ears wide at that time. Digital sounds exploited by digital instruments! Pulsations, keyboard riffs and clatters give an accelerator to this structure that now makes us pat the ground softly of our feet. The Teutonic rhythm of Julias-Dream flows more fluidly when ectoplasmic solos float like the tentacles of a giant octopus which whispers cosmic airs. The uncertain steps which form the ambient rhythm of Self Similarity-Life are extricated from a dark gelatinous mass. Delicate, the rhythm is retained by synth effects which develop slowly into chloroform layers. Anesthetic mists also float like Chinese shadows of a fingerless puppet as the pace gradually accelerates the cadence. We don't stomp on the floor, but we enjoy these solos armed with a tone as cold as the cosmos and at once as honeyed as extraterrestrial sap. The sound signals which emerge from everywhere, and this in each structure of CHIP-MEDITATION PART 1 are ears' appetizers that keep us constantly in a state of astonishment. These sound effects and these solos disperse their astral auras into the sedentary rhythm of Frontiers-Of-Chaos, which sounds like a Morse message dictated by computer.

The long title-track leads us into the very abstruse world of Software. Its intro is modeled on the one of Julias-Dream, except that the whispers and the organic effects are more amplified, more fed. Reverberant effects, such as singing waves, adorn this introduction, which also sees the birth of a rhythmic structure out of this lush sound mass. The movement takes the shape of castanets dance which spins like a bunch of fireflies on speed and freed from all artistic constraints. The rhythm makes wide oscillating loops which go at countercurrent of the nervousness of each particle of rhythm while the solos, always so deliciously ectoplasmic, sing like Martenot waves wedged between two rough surfaces, thus giving this exquisite sharpness in the tonality. And the rhythm frolic in an astral dance that really takes off with the addition of other sequences which deploy a spasmodic filament, thus testifying to the impact of Software in the evolution of EM. Voice-Bit finished this vinyl edition, that I had bought at the time, with a short 63 seconds of a German monologue.

A high-resolution CD reissue was published by the IC label in 1990 with the addition of 3 titles and 20 minutes of a highly colored EM. The formula remains the same, only the pace has become catchier! Byte-By-Byte is a good Berlin School, with a spheroidal structure armed of rhythmic and harmonic sequences. A little as if the sequencer would have swallowed the synthesizer, or its opposite. I lean for the opposite because of the solos. Still, it gives two lines of rhythms, even three at times, which explain themselves in a tonal flora. This title will be found in other Software collections. One can doesn't resist the quick and jerky rhythm of Winds-Of-Time, nor its percussive effects that brings us to another dimension of listening. And it's the same for the well-anesthetic and yet acrobatic solos that coo on this lively structure. There is a nice effect of intensity in the rhythmic evolution of this title which is one of my favorites from Software. Short-Wave concludes the CD reissue of CHIP-MEDITATION PART 1 with an armada of chloroform-cosmic layers on a structure which looks a lot like Robert Schroeder. A compelling and a flagship album of what reviewers at the time will call from now on; the New Berlin School!

Sylvain Lupari (February 13th, 2019) *****

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