“A universe of ambient rhythms in constant motion”
1 Edge of Eternity 12:24
2 Cosmic Drift 10:06
3 The Sigil 9:58
4 Incantation 12:02
5 Terraformation 9:26
(DDL 53:56) (V.F.)
(Ambient Pacific School)
2023 is slowly turning into 2024, and I almost forgot to write about Starterra's wonderful little gem of ambient Berlin School, Pacific School style. Launched on the Aura portal, EDGE OF ETERNITY follows in the footsteps of Transformation Cycles. The panorama is virtually identical, with this vision of moderate psybient and cosmic chillout. We find these jets of cosmic gas, these intergalactic roads adorned with stardust, these buzzing bass beds, these synth airs with celestial trumpets and/or apocalyptic tunes irradiated in a universe of rhythms split into short or oblong movements that are destined to disappear only to return with a subtle change of skin. The result is a diversity of ambient rhythms in which sequencers structure parallel movements that interweave in oneiric choreographies to lull our ears beyond the stars. And so, begins the 3rd collaboration between Chris Bryant and Don Tyler.
A rising synth wave is the source of the title track. We hear strange chirps that are lost over Vangelis-like orchestrations. Gas jets confirm that our ears are at the gateway to the Cosmos, while a few rhythmic chords flutter in suspension. Heavy bass trails resonate as they paint a dramatic cinematic panorama. The sequencer still crumbles arpeggios that hop here and there, trying to join the ends to launch an initial rhythmic duel. Edge of Eternity goes then through a long, atmospheric phase lasting 3 minutes, after the 4th minute. The sequencer then sculpts a stationary movement with softly jumping keys which are alternating between blades of sound effects that give the impression of accelerating its movement. After a typical opening in which drawing in music the Cosmos seems to be an artistic heresy, Cosmic Drift gently awakens to the shimmering motion of a cloud of arpeggios flowing like a river of suspended prisms. The rhythm ebbs and flows, playing on a permutation of sound, from low to high, over a bed of synth bass that adds a tenebrous depth to this oblong cosmic sequencing rodeo. Gas jets, arpeggios that glow like refractory shadows, synth harmonies that roll in loops and organic flickers add an industrial sci-fi dimension to the slow evolution of Cosmic Drift, which, if you think about it, offers music that is in harmony with its title. Another line of this passive rhythm emerges shortly before the 5-minute mark. Its dislocated movement races along, tracing zigzags that swirl in delightful stroboscopic effects for a slow finale always embellished by that scintillating tonal flora typical of works from the Exosphere label.
A more musical drone criss-crosses an ocean of stardust as The Sigil opens. The shadow of the bass vibrates more heavily, while some chords are sparkling in this vast cosmic corridor. Synth laments complete this climate of cinematic tension. Gas jets abound. A delicious sequencer movement emerges a few seconds before the 3-minute mark. Sculpting a minimalist rhythm that restarts the listening experience after a stroboscopic zigzag, this rhythm splits into 2 parts. The second, more in ascending mode, draws a hypnotic astral rodeo, more harmonic than rhythmic, that lulls our senses close to Sigil. The finale has us drifting in a state of weightlessness in a sound universe that respects the heterodox dimensions of the Californian duo. Incantation greets our ears with a bed of droning synth laments. It's a very Vangelis environment, except for the highly industrialized character of Starterra's ambiences. The track then slowly awakens in another of those settings filled of hues and shapes of volcanic eruptions. The sequencer activates a line of lightly cadenced arpeggios that leap limply through this surreal cosmic panorama. The timbre of the sequences varies between the color of the sizzle and the slightly darker tone of the bass sequences. This first interstellar ride guides us towards the 5th minute, when the sequencer lights up the ears and activates the senses with an intergalactic phone tone that echoes over a bed of drones heavier and more percussive than at the start. We drift into a more atmospheric phase before the cosmic beat returns in a more evolutionary dimension where it's transforms its form and tone, always remaining anchored in that vision of Pacific School that runs through the 54 minutes of this Bryant-Tyler 3rd collaboration. Terraformation concludes EDGE OF ETERNITY with a livelier sequencer movement. And this initial skeleton is stationary, and above all a prelude to the sequencer to put on a second line of rhythm. Its minimalist structure has those repeated loops which recall Chris Franke's magical universe. Terraformation develops with a greater intensity. Heavy and lively, with fluttering sequences towards its finale. Reminding us that the Starterra universe is always in motion.
Sylvain Lupari (December 24th, 2023) *****
Available at Exosphere Bandcamp
(NB: Texts in blue are links you can click on)