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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEPHEN PARSICK: Traces Of The Past – Redux (2007)

“Like a book of musical tales, Traces of the Past is an album that will certainly please to fans of mellotrons”

1 Submerging 6:59

2 Close Beneath the Surface 10:35

3 Cosmic Jellyfish 1:51

4 Green Depth 2:55

5 Hydra 7:21

6 Ashram 5:36

7 Totem Poles 16:45

8 The Keeper of Time 3:00

9 Quicksilver Sea 9:25

10 Traces of the Past 10:30

Doombient.Music (CD/DDL 74:59)

(Dark ambient EM) (V.F.)

Here is a very nice album that finds all its freshness, and its nobility, following an excellent remastering. TRACES OF THE PAST - REDUX is the kind of album that any EM lover must have. Why? Because there is a nice analog essence linked by the Novatron Mark 5, which belonged to Edgar Froese, and the Mellotron m-400, which belonged to Peter Baumann. And these two mellotrons had inside their gear some tapes' effects from Klaus Schulze and Chris Franke that are used in this album. In addition, Klaus Hoffman-Hoock plays guitar and mellotron. This essential album for mellotron lovers has indeed visited the traces of a past located between 1994 and 1998, a period where the MIDI has chased the analog flavors away. But not for Stephen Parsick or Cosmic Hoffmann where the two genres cohabit with a clear propensity for analog synths and sequencers. This is how Klaus Schulze's old perfumes flirt with the modernity of Jarre and Software, while floating around the more spasmodic rhythms of Manuel Göttching.

It's a cosmic wind that opens the first breaths of this compilation that is not really a compilation. Submerging is a slow movement, a rather melodious ambient movement that progresses on pulses of layers with floating and harmonious reverberations. Eclectic sounds float in the void lit by sound particles and flutes of mellotron rocking on fine astral streaks. Some lost riffs trace the path of a heavy sequencer and its spiral assets that burst and spin on Close Beneath the Surface. A heavy title where the synth and the guitar tear the galactic opacity by solos sometimes strident and by jerky chords on a steady rhythm which grows around orchestrations and mellotron's violins. Pompous and symphonic, this title is incredibly heavy and shows that EM doesn't have to blush in front of a big rock semi-slow. After this rather powerful title, the short Cosmic Jellyfish and Green Depth plunge us into the melancholic waves of an ambient EM. The mellotron, supple and soft, bends to the whims of a fluid orchestration whose flute sound will cross the more rhythmic lines of Hydra. This is a nice title with a moderate but constant flow that recalls the great moments of Software on Electronic Universe.

Ashram for Ashra? We would be inclined to believe it. The rhythm is more techno with riffs rolling in spiral loops from a guitar à la Manuel Göttsching and a wraparound synth that seems to suck all the energy of an inventive six-string. One would think to hear a tribal rock on chords of an Arab world in full techno culture. Another great title, just like the strange Totem Poles. This electronic ceremony is inspired by Klaus Schulze's Totem where the synthesized spirals waddle on abstract tabla's percussions, reflecting a sound arc with sclerotic prisms. The tempo is blurry and zigzags with an astonishing fluidity on bass sequences, accompanied by a synth with acidic and nasal loops that are still surprisingly harmonious. All along, we are frozen by this strange solar incantation that seems to emerge from the cultures of the Mayan people. An epic title that changes the musical orientation of TRACES OF THE PAST. The Keeper of Time is a short ode on mellotron. Compact and dense, she travels on a floating structure like a ship that follows the curve of the stars. Another title that is very Schulze. Quicksilver Sea is an atmospheric quietude filled with orchestral undulations that harmonize with a tender cosmic guitar. Just as nebulous, the title-track ends this album on a spectral note where the celestial winds cross a good mellotron filled with choruses haunted by a melancholy sadness.

Like a book of musical tales, TRACES OF THE PAST-REDUX is an album that will certainly please to fans of mellotrons. Stephen Parsick, supported by the brilliant Klaus Hoffman-Hoock, offers a work of a very beautiful serenity that is matched only by the passion that the two musicians have for old analog instruments, especially the mellotrons. It's a very nice opus of EM which opens the door of our sleep towards the stars.

Sylvain Lupari (August 13th, 2007) ****½*

Available at Stephen Parsick Bandcamp

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