Sonic Research Society: Drifting Forward (2021)
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
“A percussive album that we discover and taste more and more at each listening”
1 A Cold Drink in the Sun 4:38
2 Chasing Bits 4:00
3 Promises 6:12
4 Oriental Trails 5:58
5 Nightlight 3:45
6 Lateral Thinking 4:54
7 Drifting Further 3:53
8 Burning Sun 4:29
(CD-R/DDL 37:50) (V.F.)
What can we expect from a musical union between Godfried Stockman and Christian Fiesel? Contemporary electronic rhythms versus chthonian atmospheres! On one side, Stockman whose two albums on SynGate, Experiment 545 in 2012 and Part of the Industry in 2014 were little jewels of electronic rhythms with an avant-gardist vision sharpened by state-of-the-art instruments. On the other side, Christian Fiesel whose latest album Follow me South on Cyclical Dreams is an ode to Dark Ambient with an enveloping mellotron, while another album heard, Hagen's Delight, aimed at the Berlin School style. So, two artists on tangible opposite sides of the spectrum who have come together under the name of Sonic Research Society. And what can we expect from DRIFTING FORWARD? The answer lies in a short album of an incredible rhythmic depth stimulated by a percussive fauna that keeps us constantly on our toes....
You can feel the rhythm of A Cold Drink in the Sun coming from afar. At first sight bouncy, it galvanizes our ears with a first vision that makes rather psychedelic of the 70's, like Norman Greenbaum and his Spirit in the Sky. The keyboard chords are fat with bass juice and parade in a pulsating mode under waves of synth rather sobers. It is the dynamics of the percussions which makes the richness of A Cold Drink in the Sun! Tssitt-tssitt cymbals, elastic chords, melodious metallic knocks, small lost steps, echo effects of violent knocks on wood and other adjacent elements hard to identify are forming a New-Wave-like structure that reminds me of the second album from the English band Magazine. After a muddy start, Chasing Bits proposes a rhythmic structure sewn in improbability. The same goes for the melody aspect which is assumed by an organ disguised like an accordion! Beyond the beep-beeps, the percussive fauna is too numerous and of a rich versatility to make a nomenclature of it. But it's alive and catchy like industrial dance music. A more experimental track, Promises offers a rhythmic structure with stripped down chords that zigzag in a gestating sound form. A track that requires patience and curiosity! Oriental Trails brings us back to a rhythm structure supported by rubbery pulses in a modern and industrial psychedelic vibe. Its framework privileges a spasmodic robotic vision with futuristic bolo effects and hands claps whose echo fills a complex rhythmic flow chart where we can also identify the gurgles of a beast resulting from a crossing between wood and mud. Stripped of all these artifices, it would probably be an Electronica dance-music track.
Nightlight is an intense, boisterous track structured on a mismatch percussive fauna. An ear-eating melody is laid down by innocent arpeggios that are still buried by dryly falling synth pads. There are huge rattlesnake effects digesting its prey that crawl among the fat and juicy chords coming from a heavy resonant bass that draw a strobe-like figure. There's heavy percussions that crash in glitch effects. It's so intense that the structure ends up crashing for a few seconds only to come back with those chords forged in an anvil. The main rhythm structure of Lateral Thinking respects the idea behind its title by running chords up and down with a fluidity that we lose by ear in dense orchestrations, a piano line and urban life samplings. Patience and curiosity here as well, but more accessible than Promises. Drifting Further is a beautiful and fascinating ballad led by sober resonant chords that wander around in an ambience as unreal as the landscapes of Alice in Wonderland. Burning Sun concludes this daring Sonic Research Society album with a Pac-Man-like rhythm structure that keeps chewing and eating its stuff while circumventing its obstacles.
I won't conclude my review by saying that DRIFTING FORWARD is for all ears. On the other hand, it is an album full of danceable rhythms in an atmosphere energized by percussions and percussive effects coming from a progressive and psychedelic research. There is pleasure to the square inch in this percussive album that we discover and taste more and more at each listening. And in the end, 38 minutes are more than enough for an album of such magnitude.
Sylvain Lupari (October 2nd, 2021) *****
Available at SynGate Bandcamp