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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STARTERRA: Transformation Cycles (2022)

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

A very beautiful opus full of ambient rhythms that keep the neurons awake

1 Stellar Arc 10:12

2 Metasync 10:04

3 Parsec Division 9:42

4 Celestial Intellect 9:34

5 Subterrestrial 8:58

6 Frequency Source 10:26

7 Nodal Shift 8:42

8 Vega Point 10:16

Exosphere‎– exo31

(DDL 24Bits 77:54) (V.F.)

(Ambient Berlin School Psy-Chill)

It's in an environment of industrial dust percolating in a cosmic base that Stellar Arc hangs onto a slow and heavy pulsation of a resonant bass line. The sound envelope is dense and gets even more so when a sequencer movement filters a line that comes and goes without rhythmic vision. The synth weaves scarlet streaks on this stationary structure which becomes disrupted by the sudden agitation of the sequencer which now sculpts a line of ambient rhythm that takes off like a helicopter. Seductive, these rhythmic sketches abound in the world of TRANSFORMATION CYCLES, the 2nd album of one of Chris Bryant's many musical projects, Starterra. Jumping balls coated in musical absorbent cotton are forming circles around chords falling with a dramatic resonance. This stationary rhythm structure approaches a more atmospheric transitional phase around the 5 minute mark and then quietly resumes its journey into a vision of passion that gets timorous as Stellar Arc reaches its finale. So is this first track and so will be the 7 next ones on this new 24 Bits album-download released by Exosphere. I had been totally seduced by Celestial in 2020, and this new album from one of the founders of Synphaera Records still has several assets that will charm the fans of ambient and nebulous Berlin School that cogitates in more contemporary cosmic spheres. Beyond a lush tonal flora, I love these synthesized streaks with those airs of celestial trumpets and this delicate perfume of moderate psybient, TRANSFORMATION CYCLES proposes nearly 80 minutes, for 8 tracks of an electronic music (EM) flirting with chillout and Berlin School. In addition to seductive percussive elements, the one who also guides the destiny of S1gns Of L1fe proposes a series of similar movements that unfold with a polymorphic vision in a lunar texture, like morphine and Moon powder, that brings our ears in sound lands soaked with memories of Schulze/Namlook in the 9th part of The Dark Side of the Moog, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Mother.+

Metasync lays down a beautiful introduction with synth waves soaring among percussive effects tinkling like marbles clanging. Effects of trumpet and more dramatic pads guide this opener which undergoes a shockwave seconds before the second minute. A pulsing bass line accompanies this synth that throws loops that govern harmony and ambient rhythm over a finely spasmodic sequencer structure. The marbles come and go as the loops continue to haunt the listener until the track goes into a long 90 second transitional phase and gradually returns to its introduction. The movement of Parsec Division is in the pure tradition of a floating Berlin School. The rhythm is circular with two layers of the sequencer whose contrasting tones climb a firmament where the stars shine and sing. A big title without meditative phases on this TRANSFORMATION CYCLES. Celestial Intellect is not outdone by proposing a similar structure but slower, making the work of the sequences more jerky. The sequencer tones also vary while favoring a vision of parasitic noises. A good bass line gives a chill-out boost and supports this gyrating movement that turns limp in a dense sheet of fog and of absent voices. Subterrestrial is also slower and unfolds its circular rhythmic membrane in an even more jerky way for a dystopian setting. Distant sirens can be heard far behind a metallic dust where angelic voices hum. The movement gains in intensity just before encountering a short transition zone. A phase that reinvigorates the rhythm, still ambient and circular but stronger and more powerful, giving it this vision of a huge giant centipede looking for food. And yes! I'm on painkillers 😊!

Frequency Source makes us waltz in Cosmos with a percussive texture that meets my taste. We hear effects that sound like marbles hitting each other in the manner of Stellar Arc. Sonically, the texture is dense with layers of a wispy haze where sound probes resound while other effects are very Tangerine Dream from the White Eagle to Poland years. The movement of the sequencer is polymorphic with a slight echo effect that oversize its depth. These rhythmic lines take tangents that follow each other like shadows or that detach themselves to approach a more bouncy structure in parallel of this slow rhythmic whirlwind. A maelstrom well wrapped up in this mixture of haze and industrial dust of a drifting space station. Slow and deliciously anaesthetizing, Nodal Shift proposes an atmospheric structure lying on heavy and resonant beats. The resonance of these beats is lost in a tonal flora garnished with coppery streaks and psybient effects as well as sequences that flutter and flicker on fake rubbery stroboscopic's impulses. After another haze opening that grows with a dramatic ideology, Vega Point concludes this album with an ambient rhythm structure that emerges about 20 seconds into the second minute. The sequencer weaves a long biphasic ascending movement with tonal colors ranging from dark to sizzling in a movement that intensifies a progression whose purpose is to make our neurons dance. We find a decor quite similar to the other tracks of TRANSFORMATION CYCLES as well as these bass-pulsations whose resonances cement the adjacent and parallel movements of the sequencer in this new album-download of Starterra. A very beautiful opus full of rhythms that keep the neurons awake, leaving this opening needed to appreciate its abundant sound flora.

Sylvain Lupari (March 15th, 2022) *****

Available at Exosphere Bandcamp

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