Sophos: MUEON (2022)
Updated: Sep 20
“The most beautiful album of Sophos whose complexity is tame with enchantment”
1 Scientia 9:22
2 Beyond the Limit 9:22
3 So we know 4:40
4 Messier Catalogue 10:06
5 Dark Energy 5:13
6 New Particles 4:29
7 Apeiron 12:03
8 Gravitational Waves 8:30
(DDL/CD(r) 63:47) (V.F.)
MUEON is the union of two ancient Greek words, Mueo: Initiation to the mysteries and Eon: God of Infinite Time. It's also the very recent album of Sophos who proposes here nothing less than an astonishing album of progressive electronic music (EM) that he dedicates to the memory of Vangelis, the main source of inspiration for Ulises Labaronnie. Following the outline of the very good Oceanica album, this MUEON has everything to please the fans of a sophisticated EM with constantly moving structures that play between discontinuous and evolving rhythmic phases as well as harmonious and ambient passages that are divided between a celestial vision and a more sibylline one. The musical textures are always very rich with adjacent rhythmic lines that run in parallel and/or intersect in rhythmic patterns that flirt with Chris Franke's style of dribbling sequences and with Electronica. Ditto for the harmonies textures which are also evolving with passages interspersed by rhythmic regains or atmospheric phases more brief than stretched.
With a rubbery rhythmic structure that slaloms between various chord tones and sequences, Scientia gets this new Sophos musical adventure off to a great start. Settling on a pulsing bass-line, the beat is embellished with tones of empty bottle tinkling before being harpooned by percussions that draw it into a undefined form of Electronica. The synth layers draw a perimeter of melodic haze that encircles the melodic approach of the keyboard. The Argentinean musician sculpts here a structure in constant movement of which the transitory modifications come back to anchor to the first rhythmic structure. These changes arouse the listener's curiosity, especially those short nebulous phases where the impression is that the music and its rhythm are melting in place, as well as those cosmic effects that give it a more progressive, if not psychedelic, touch. Despite these ephemeral changes, the structure remains very catchy with constant reminders that Ulises Labaronnie likes to elaborate convoluted passages, even in his most accessible moments. I like the play of the sequencer which makes dribble its jumping sequences and these misty synth layers which charm like some good old Tangerine Dream of the Schmoelling years. The title So we know seems to come out of the sessions of this track with a rhythmic vision more accentuated towards a melodic approach. A short track which has punch, and which is very pleasant to discover. Beyond the Limit offers a static structure with bass chords and their vibrations that initially drag in a sibylline setting. An ambient, spheroidal rhythmic movement takes shape in the setting, creating a cadenced melody that swirls around, plastering a rhythmic earworm between the ears. Whether it is through sequenced beats, bass pulsing and/or electronic percussion elements, Sophos always links these discontinuous rhythmic phases to more melodic cadenced elements of the keyboard. Gradually, these rhythmic elements are grafted onto this slow introduction that clings more and more to the power of the irregular flow of the animated bass pulsations. The track also exploits an Electronica vision, more in the genre of EDM, with technoïd percussions that pulsate in a more cybernetic musical vision.
Messier Catalogue is a bit of a fusion of MUEON first two tracks. Sophos exploits various alternative rhythm patterns whose changing flow also flirts with a form of EM closer to Electronica. The melodic visions also change aspect with purely angelic phases and others more atmospheric. The synth is more dominant here with good harmonious solos. The envelope of Dark Energy is representative of its title with a murky bass layer that vibrates with a satanic presence. The sequencer activates a rhythm that jumps briskly in place, ultimately elaborating a slow and long circular motion, while the keyboard leaves an esoteric melodic imprint. The creeping movement of the bass line and the sound effects woven into the echo of some chords create an ideal score for a dark suspense movie! Aside from those slow synth layers that idly hang out in MUEON's settings, the slow opening of New Particles is the first tangible element of Vangelis' influence on Sophos. The universe is filled with these little crystals of sound that take us to the edges of Antartica. The rhythm unfolds on a zigzagging movement of the sequencer, a melodious line of pulsating bass and sober electronic percussions to flirt with the driving rhythms of EDM. Apeiron is a purely experimental track with a hint of oriental in the development of its movement that sways between the albums Beaubourg and Invisible Connections of the late Greek musician. It is indeed not my cup of tea 😊! Gravitational Waves ends this new Sophos album-download with a final Vangelis-inspired structure. Exploiting the discontinuous rhythm of MUEON's early structures, the music breathes a little more of this opening to reach a more complex atmospheric vision while docking into a technoïd rhythm closer to electronic rock than dancefloors. The synth sounds like Vangelis while the sequencer exploits the visions of Chris Franke. In the end, it gives a slightly more complex and yet solidly driving track at times, with Vangelis scents over Tangerine Dream ones. How can you not like it?
I would be lying to you if I told you that this MUEON is an album that captivates from the first listen...even the first few listens. Certainly, its initial discovery let's hear beautiful flashes which incites us to listen closely to this last album of Sophos. It's with those listenings, I listened to it at least 8 times before writing on the album, that we discover its richness and that we literally hang on its music. Notice that the short tracks help a lot. It's undoubtedly the most beautiful album of Ulises Labaronnie whose main quality is to be harmonious, at all levels, even in its complexity which is tamed with enchantment.
Sylvain Lupari (September 13th, 2022) ****½*
Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp