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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SON OF OHM: Reflections (2021)

Reflections puts us on the road of the first movements of the Berlin School

1 Reflections I 15:35

2 Reflections II 18:11

3 Reflections III 18:03

4 Reflections IV 12:29

(DDL 64:19) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

A hasty movement of the sequencer emerges from a cloud of buzzing industrial haze with a pearly finish. The rhythm is curt and determined to reign over the 15 minutes of Reflections I. It adopts a minimalist linear motion with variations in tone and speed, much like that steam train skirting tunnels and crisscrossing rugged landforms. Looping chords from a guitar form hoops that are meshed with riffs that graft themselves onto the rhythmic train. The haze of the opening metamorphoses into prismatic synth lines. Its nasal effects don't let these guitar riffs that have grafted themselves to the rhythm go unnoticed. The sequencer unleashes raging keys, after the 5th minute, pushing Reflections I into a psychedelic electronic rock phase and those patchouli scents lurking in the synth/guitar effects. A Farfisa layer adds to these ambiences, while the rhythm takes a circular corridor, initiating the experimentations of a guitar on tape-delay that remind much more of Manuel Göttsching's universe. The intensity brought back to an ambient level for a few minutes, Reflections I resumes its velocity, supported again by the rhythmic riffs of the guitar, for a last third of the title which adds elements of psybient to a rhythmic rise which drowns in its introductory haze. Thus, is Reflections I, thus will be this new album of Son of Ohm who always privileges these structures of hypnotic rhythms ideal to nestle the cradle of his illusions. On 4 long minimalist movements, following more or less the same paths, REFLECTIONS puts us on the road of the first movements of the Berlin School. These movements initiated by sessions of sequencers to which one adds layers of synth, of organ and guitars to finalize the whole in hours of mixes and of remixes of ideas. So much what the artist seeks is still far from resembling what he wishes! However, listening coldly to the 4 chapters of REFLECTIONS we are inclined to think that it is the same, since the basic idea consists in repeating the same rhythmic patterns. And for Son of Ohm, it's like a mantra!

Reflections II offers a more harmonious rhythm with two sequencer shades for its jumping balls. Already, the guitar cuts its riffs to give them a rounder shape, in symbiosis with the sequencer. Leonardo Wijma gives more musicality here to his guitar loops that float as much on the rhythm than on the synthesized melody whose Michael Garrison-like breaths are more developed here than on Reflections I. Again, it's Manuel Göttsching without his Ashra, nor his Tempel. The guitar and its effects are more dominant in the second part, while the thin stream of breaths bring us to these sequences that flutter and shimmer in a short magnetic circle girdled by vintage electronic elements. Reflections III distances itself from the first two movements with a structure that will change skin 3 times before pouring into Reflections IV. In the first moments, it's a bass line which pulls the rhythm, and its sequenced carousel, with a tasty crawling movement. The guitar weaves its loops that spin in symbiosis with the magnetic circle while the synth throws discreet solos that take the form of harmonic laments with an analog flavor. An echo effect is inserted in this procession where the floating layers of the synthesizer push even more this chthonic effect which infiltrates the music of REFLECTIONS. Even if discreet, these solos lead the track towards a first change that slowly takes place when we notice that the movement is slower compared to the circles and it's bassline, a little after the 8th minute. The loops make pschitt-pschitt as the slow effect increases to become almost aphasic. The procession hits a wall of reverberations some 4 minutes later. The effect of elasticity and response to colliding frequencies reanimates the vitality of Reflections III as it struggles through a dense organic swamp where its step becomes heavy to let a sequence become that musical firefly that reaches the mouth of Reflections IV. Already propelled by this firefly, this last part of REFLECTIONS offers a series of ascending sequences that bicker with a line of riffs. The organ spreads a layer in the musical background as the sequences flicker with more limpidity than the riffs as dull as that shadow gurgling in the background. The movement amplifies its sound to better discern that it is the bass that growls, and the synth weaves a silky Middle Eastern melody. The undulating, reverb-laden lines give a psychedelic 60's appeal. They take control of the track around the 8-minute mark where our ears are opened to a new musical flora. Once the sequences and riffs have evaporated, Reflections IV is reborn in its haze for a last procession of riffs and sequences that find their way back to our ears that didn't have to work hard to appreciate the 4 roads of Son of Ohm's REFLECTIONS.

Sylvain Lupari (May 26th, 2021) *****

Available at Son of Ohm Bandcamp

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