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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SOUND COMBUSTION: Magnetic Island (2020)

I really liked this Magnetic Island from Sound Combustion! Enough to tell you about it and pleased to make you buy it ...

1 A Freedom of Choice 5:12

2 Riding the Midnight Train 5:57

3 Now Pat Can Rest 6:51

4 Gas Giants 4:12

5 Magnetic Island 4:02

6 An End to all Games 5:14

7 Masquerade 4:48

8 5052 Days 5:17

(DDL 41:52) (V.F.)

(E-Rock, Melodic EM, Cinema)

Sometimes life makes funny sequences of actions. While I was translating my review about Stollwerck 96', The Freedom to Choose settles on my Cambridge streamer player. I don't pay attention. The rhythm, sat on a mesh of pulsations, sequences and radioactive adrenaline, skips and sparkles while the tolling of the bell of a Christmas fanfare, a kind of glockenspiel, jingles with joyous tunes. The synth goes there for good harmonious solos. In short, it sounds strangely like those electronic rocks from the years 88-92. For me, it's a sequel to the Brainwork and Strange Inside album. There is this weird choir towards the end, but I don't pay more attention to it. The vocals are dreary and add depth to the music. It was when Riding the Midnight Train and its very Tangerine Dream sequence that I looked on my screen to realize that I was listening to another album by a newcomer this time; MAGNETIC ISLAND from Sound Combustion. Marakas is Mark Brougham, an English musician who has a great track record of participating in Conny Olivetti's albums and being a member of the experimental music group Modus Operendi. No, the music offered in his first solo album is far from experimental. MAGNETIC ISLAND offers a very well-structured EM. A well composed music with a rather obvious cinematographic vision but also with good structures of melodies in an electronic context which vaguely reminds me of the style of Peter Baumann. There is nothing random here and everything is programmed in logical sequences where the listener does not lose the thread of the rhythms, nor of the melodies. Speaking of melodies, they are beautiful and stay in the spirit of the titles. This shows a talent as a melodist for Mark Brougham. The rhythms are well defined by sequences with analog tones and an electronic drum machine which adjusts its tones according to the genre offered by Marakas. Ditto for the synths whose roles in no way bring them into a section of wind instruments, something very in during these years of musical influences that led to the writing of MAGNETIC ISLAND.

In short, a good 42 minutes which pass in a gust of wind!

Let's go back to the very Tangerine Dream, Riding the Midnight Train. Apart from the sequence, the pace is set by percussions slamming in mechanical tones with the precision of an electronic metronome. In fact, there is nothing better to say that it sounds like a track forgotten during the sessions of Thief. Composed for his mother who died during the composition of the album and of this title more precisely, Now Pat Can Rest offers a slow rhythm with hesitant keyboard chords under the influence of a background noise of a typist. The rhythm is solemn with impulses of nostalgic synth layers. The solos are very moving with a tinge of melancholy that suits the moods very well. Sometimes they have a slight propensity to sound like a guitar. Percussions, sounding like 4 to 5 pairs of hands clapping together, support this rhythm in his funeral procession. Whispering voice effects like in TD's Exit are released on a couple of occasions as a choir follows the winged movement of the synth pads. If Marakas wanted to move us, he did very well! Gas Giants follows the curve of ambiences of Now Pat Can Rest a bit. Title without rhythm but animated by winged synth impulses, the ambiences are lifeless too with weeping layers and sound effects chirping like mocking finches. A sad and slow track which is literally crushed by the arrival of Magnetic Island in an electronic rock à la Brainwork. The playing, like the tone, of the percussions is quite attractive even if very mechanical. It's a sound effects title where absent voices moo at times. The keyboard contrasts with its playful air.

A End to all Games goes from an ethereal phase, with a tone that reminds me of Eddie Jobson's Theme of Secrets, to a drifting rock. A down-tempo nourished with keyboard chords in a melodious structure also seems to come out of the sessions of this flagship album by Mr Jobson. There are some very good synth solos to conclude the title. Masquerade is a good light electronic rock of which progression imposes some very good surprises. The percussions sound great and are paired with sound effects that bring them to interesting duels. The rhythm is jerky and catchy in a structure which offers good transitory moments which remain quite close to the original rhythm. The highlight is this philharmonic vision with staccato arrangements and interstellar violin waltzes that bring us the eyes, our eyes, filled with memories. 5052 Days ends this MAGNETIC ISLAND gently. Synth layers multiply their flights in a slow ambient movement well decorated with scintillating stars and soft lunar orchestrations.

Available in downloadable format of very good quality, it can also be bought in CD-R on Compact Disc Services, I really liked this MAGNETIC ISLAND from Sound Combustion!

Enough to tell you about it and pleased to make you buy it ...

Sylvain Lupari (December 5th, 2020) *****

Available at Sound Combustion Music Bandcamp

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