STAN DART: Ecclesia (2017)
“The wide range of rhythms we find in Ecclesia is largely dominated by vibes a la ERA and Enigma, but also by these obsessing melodies which are Stan Dart's signature”
1 Ecclesia I (The Church Part One) 6:33 2 In Nomine (In the Name...) 4:56 3 Vita 7:26 4 Deus Misere (God Have Mercy) 7:09 5 Malum (The Evil) 5:31 6 Hora Tenebrarum (The Dark Hour) 11:10 7 Ascensus (The Ascent) 5:29 8 Hiems (Winter in the Heart) 5:58
CDII 9 Lacrimosa Caeli (The Lord is my
Shepard) 5:57 10 Exsurge Domine (Arise, O Lord)
6:24 11 Via Laboriosa (The Ardous Way) 6:18 12 Vox Praeteritum (Voice from the Past)
6:17 13 Sanctus 8:16 14 Ecclesia II (The Church Part Two) 8:01 15 Via Laboriosa (Instrumental) 6:22 16 Malum (Instrumental) 5:31 17 Vita (Alternative Version) 5:53
SynGate Records | CD-r SD03 (2CD/DDL 113:11)
Realized on SynGate Wave, ECCLESIA meets the expectations of the German label division with an impressive visit in music of the Cathedral Saint Gilles of Graz, Austria, that is written by Richard Hasiba, better known under the name of Stan Dart. Recognized for his very melodious approach, Stan Dart is at a second album in solo. And I must admit that's an impressive tour de force with about 2 hours of music which flirts with a New Synth-Pop, New Age and a rather comfortable EDM which is ideal for ears a little less adventurous. It's while working on his first solos album, Hometown Memories in 2016 which is inspired by Stan Dart's hometown (Graz), that the Austrian musician plunged into the mysteries of this impressive cathedral with a very Gothic architecture. EM inspired by a church? That's the question asked by Stan Dart. And why not? The aficionados of Berlin School, as the England School (Robert Fox's Cathedral to name only this one), are used to the cathedral moods which encircle a sequencer-based style EM. Except that here we are not in the borders of Berlin School but rather in those of Enigma or yet ERA with, here and there, a weak but a weak link which ties to the atmospheres of the old German model of EM. And I tell it to you frankly, I spent a very good moment to savor an album which didn’t tell me that much at its first listening and which hides however some very beautiful moments.
It's with a tick-tock from a clock that the ambiences of Ecclesia I infiltrate our listening room. The rhythm which comes of there is rather lively with a structure of mid-tempo where spin some slow stroboscopic effects and float murmurs of angels. There is a little suite of melodious chords which hangs onto our sense of hearing and which gets lost as the music wins in a techno rhythm pushed by violin wings. This melody will come back farther haunting again my listening which got lost when the music changed of register. In Nomine (In the Name...) follows with the same skeleton but in an approach more in the kind of New Synth-Pop, otherwise of good EDM. The breathes from the synth are rather attractive and drag us out of a universe which begun to graze my ears. But we always stay in the light and easily edible thing here. Vita changes the situation with a structure which is very near the IDM of Moonbooter. One likes it? You shall doubtless love Vox Praeteritum (Voice from the Past) which stars Lukas Hasiba on guitar, as well as the very EDM track Sanctus. Deus Misere (God Have Mercy) is the first thing that caught my attention in ECCLESIA. The rhythm is slow and sways to the beatings of the tom-toms. A very beautiful melody, attached by a delicate piano, pierces my eardrums and stays encrust deep there with its musical itch. The whole thing is wrapped of very nice beautiful ambiences which seem ideal for an evening fire in the Sahara. The Gregorian choirs a la Enigma, which are omnipresent in this double album, are concealed by a very beautiful melodic approach. It's a very mesmerizing title, as the mysterious Hora Tenebrarum (The Dark Hour), whose movement of sequences does very Berlin School and which also lay down a melody strummed in vibes deliciously mysterious.
Between those two tracks there is Malum (The Evil) where the more or less ambient rhythm evokes a union between Synth Pop and New Age. The voice of Petra Bonmassar is in the tone. We also find it on Via Laboriosa (The Ardous Way) which is more theatrical and slightly more lively. To my surprise, the versions proposed without her participation, farther on the CD 2, have less flavor. Ascensus (The Ascent) is a track filled of very lugubrious moods, with strange gurgling, which gives cold in the back. Hiems (Winter in the Heart), which stars Mark Dorricott on piano, is a beautiful ballad in the pure style of Stan Dart. One gulps down easily, and the melody eats our eardrums. Lacrimosa Caeli (The Lord is my Shepard) begins the 2nd CD of ECCLESIA with a liturgical slow tempo wrapped in a rather cinematographic envelope. The atmospheres are rather sober in a mixture of ERA and Enigma. If the monk chants are in Latin, the psalm is murmured in German by Hans Pock. Exsurge Domine (Arise, O Lord) is a nice little delicious title which mixes the mysteries of a Latin psalm in very Vangelis moods. The chants annoy me, but the music and the moods a la Blade Runner, a movie which is at the origin of the album Midnight, get the upper hand fast. Ecclesia II ends this opus with ecclesiastical character by an approach a little livelier than Ecclesia I. After the instrumental versions of Via Laboriosa and Malum, Stan Dart proposes a clearly more lounge, even sensual version, of Vita, so concluding an album of which the diversity in the rhythms of EDM is dominated by this very Enigma / ERA approach and also by these obsessing melodies that are Stan Dart's signature.
Sylvain Lupari (July 27th, 2017) **¾***
Available on SynGate Bandcamp