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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SOFTWARE: Syn-Code (1986)

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

There are good moments and others not so good, but it remains good to listen to

1 Syn-Code-A 22:55

Syn-Rain 2:02

Syn-Voices 3:42

Syn-Awakening 6:20

Syn-Jungle 1:55

Syn-Virgin 2:59

Syn-Emotion 5:58

2 Syn-Code-Z 23:20

Code-Ocean 6:48

Code-Thunder 5:32

Code-Visions 4:13

Code-Life 2:45

Code-Future 4:04

3 Syn-Code-Sunset 9:27

Innovative Communication – IC 710.064

(CD/DDL 55:02) (V.F.)

(Ambient, Orchestral New Berlin School)

A big ambitious project of Software, SYN-CODE is a Symphony for Computers and DNA Molecules that Peter Mergener and Michael Weisser performed in concert with the support of Toni Schneider (flute, saxophone), Herbert Seer (guitar) and Pam Lambert (voice). This album divided the critics as well as the public of the German electronic music (EM) project with two sides, A and B, which showed the best and the lesser good of this mythical duo that put the New Berlin School on the EM scene.

A dark shadow of sound carries Pam Lambert's whispering voice to the first thunder of Syn-Rain. The first arpeggios, disguised like musical pearls, float through this atmospheric introduction to the 3rd album of the German duo that the rain drags to Syn-Voices and its layers of seraphic voices. The flute of Toni Schneider shines with its ethereal tunes. The tonality is however quite similar to the synth layers of the Germanic duo with ambient harmonies that sneak in between various elements of percussions fallen from who knows where. This is how we slide towards Syn-Awakening. Resolutely soft title, an acoustic guitar dominates its first moments. The synth is drawing its false leaves coming down from the peaks, the first hint of rhythm, while keyboard, guitar and flute team in symbiosis, pushing this lunar melody towards percussions that structure an ambient ballad. The synth pads, also unique to Software's sounds, move back and forth, like a DJ's doing on his turntable. One sensed a rhythmic movement taking shape behind this electronic landscape. It takes more space with these undulating movements of the sequencer which manages to sculpt a figure of keys jumping in alternation one after the other. This first phase increases its presence with the robotic percussions and a velocity that makes the movement more poetic than rhythmic. The last moments of Syn-Awakening let hear nice melodies blown by a synth in a universe where everything floats in suspension. Syn-Jungle's introductory mood is very representative of its title with samplings of African animal life and giant woodpeckers carving signals, in wood tones, to the local inhabitants. Tam-tams offer a slow, almost anaesthetizing, rhythm that opens the door to those sequenced pads that come and go behind that upbeat sequence that left its mark on the New Berlin School style. This sequence crosses the boundary of Syn-Virgin, which continues this lunar rhythm with its sparse, wood-tone percussions. The synth weaves tearful solos that a choir takes up with beautiful hummings. The orchestrations invite themselves a second time to weave these nervous and harmonious staccatos in an ambient musical texture to make us dream with the head in Cosmos. Syn-Emotion closes the Syn-Code-A section with this rhythm climbing of its back and forth steps an ambient structure under the laments of violins adjusting their laments. The synth again weaves other good solos that give a little more boost to Syn-Emotion which is a very nice track in the Software universe. It's a pity for its finale and these electronic beasts' screams that cast a little shadow on the evolution of the sequencer, but not so much as these timpani drums that make a titanic noise. And it is in the soft murmurs of Pam Lambert that ends a good first part of this album which takes a very different tangent in Syn-Code-Z.

If everything was flowing with fluidity, it's otherwise in this second part of SYN-CODE. In an introduction conceived for the title, that is to say noises of waves and babblings of cherubs, Code-Ocean proposes a more classical figure with a procession of a jumping chord that the synth accompanies with its harmonious zigzags. The track actually exploits the classical elements of Mergener & Weisser's synths with sudden and stormy violin layers that lose their substance a few seconds after the 3rd minute. From this point on, Code-Ocean stretches out to the shores of serenity with a good ascending rhythm sequence that receives sparse chords as well as fluty harmonies. Another sequenced movement settles in creating an amazing back and forth swirl, as the synth draws these harmonious zigzags that drown in more musical orchestrations here. Let's just say there's some creativity at square-thumb here! On Code-Thunder too, but not at the same level. The track gets lost in a big electronic rock that flirts with synth-pop and easy melody with the presence of Herbert Seer and his wild guitar solos. It creates a strange sound mishmash quite incompatible with the ambiences of this album, but that should please strongly to the crowd in place. Let's isolate this track on another album, and the effect would easily be more pleasant in this rock that sounds very Tangerine Dream, especially since Code-Visions is an ambient track that transforms under the laments of Toni Schneider who is superb on the saxophone. His tunes follow a rhythmic structure that will define those of Digital-Dance. The opening moments of Code-Life offer another soft, more acoustic structure with a piano hesitating to follow a faint flow of a rhythmic flow that fades into good orchestrations paired to ethereal voice layers. Speaking of voices, a rather suggestive sensual one caresses our ears as the music increases its passion, while remaining ambient. An acoustic guitar, at least its tone, took over the finale and made the link with Code-Future, which remained firmly anchored in an orchestral vision that was both beautiful and overly insistent. But the crowd's reaction seems to have appreciated this performance of SYN-CODE by Software and its guest musicians. Syn-Code-Sunset is the last part of this album. It's a monument of orchestral ambient music with passionate bursts of orchestrations that do not spill over into electronic rhythms. It definitely fits into the Syn-Code-Z's webs.

After two solid first albums, SYN-CODE is the first of a series of disappointments that will be on my Software road as I discover its universe. There are good moments and others not so good, but it remains a good album which is quite good to listen to. I remind you that you can now get Software's discography on their Bandcamp page.

Sylvain Lupari (November 14th, 2021) *****

Available at Software's Bandcamp

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