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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Subdream A Tale of Distant Stars (2022)

A great album of dark ambient music with slow beats and celestial melodies

1 Alpha Aurigae 8:36

2 Beta Bootis 8:02

3 Gamma Cephei 10:20

4 Delta Draconis 10:07

5 Epsilon Equulei 10:22

6 Zeta Fornacis 8:06

7 Eta Geminorum 7:13

(DDL 62:49) (V.F.)

(Dark ambient music)

Oh, how beautiful it is! Beautiful and especially very good! Some of my readers will say that I get carried away! Well, I assume my emotional side. Subdream is another exquisite find that I owe to Chris Bryant's label, Synphaera Records and its sub-label Exosphere. It is the project of a German musician-DJ better known under the nickname MIC, abbreviation of his name Michael Schubert. This rather discreet musician officially appears on 2 albums that were released on the Texan label Mindspring Music, known for its catalog of psychedelic electronic music that does in psychill and trance genres (did you know that they love this musical genre in Texas?). These albums are Beacon, which is more into psychill, released in 2018, while it is more into psytrance he did with the band-musician-project Gateway 721 and the album Trancendental Departure released in 2022. Those who have been following the California-based label's activities since its inception in 2016 have had the chance to hear Subdream on the extremely well-selling Starseed compilation, where he offered the track Almost Awaken in 2016. A very different track from what we will hear in A TALE OF DISTANT STARS with an ambient structure that shifts to a pulsating beat very close to the borders of EDM. This new adventure in the astral meditation territories of Subdream results in a very beautiful album of a serene calmness that will cut your stress into a thousand pieces. It's a true incursion into the lands of Steve Roach and Michael Stearns with ambient rhythms, melodies struck on lyrical glass and heavy clouds of sonic drones where the orchestrations are likely to give us doses of chills that are counted by the dozen through the 7 chapters and 63 minutes of this simply stunning album.

Alpha Aurigae presents itself with a reverberating wave that moves slowly. From these muted rumblings, a partial shadow emerges that makes one hear a humming ode as pious as monastic prayers. One perceives quite early this duality between the passive dull hums and their slightly less opaque reflections, as a more hyaline texture emerges from this cloud of sonic radioactivity to offer one of the many aerial chants that fill these corridors of ambient dark music that lead us to the 7 stages of this amazing album of ambient music. A music that becomes a real portal for meditation. Beta Bootis is a track in the lineage of Steve Roach's atmospheric melodies, think of Structures from Silence as an example. Its movement follows the slow pace of Alpha Aurigae with a mass of dark drones that moves like a cosmic turtle. The pianissimo of a twinkling stars symphony illuminates an improbable melody struck in a lyrical glass from which the tinkling stigmatizes a moment of ecstasy. This is the beginning of A TALE OF DISTANT STARS splendors which continues with the sublime Gamma Cephei. Its mass of reverberations is more musical, almost diaphanous. A subtle duel between the colors of the abyss and the passive drones releases a more musical texture, almost lyrical, and its air radiates around this mass of drones whose reverberations undulate like an invisible caress. We are in Michael Stearns' visions here when a choir of submissive specters hums an absent tune. Veiled arpeggios leave the imprint of a ghostly melody as the music stumbles over a bass breathe, creating a splendid modulation effect that sends a first dose of chills into the soul. And that's the richness of this track! Its melody weeps over these inflections of a bass layer as the spectral choir hums its contrasting melody. A first rhythmic element settles in around the 6th minute. The movement develops into an electronic staccato, with a rhythm whose chaotic effect meanders through the many musical and sonic delights that flow from a music conceived to dream near the stars.

Very intense, Delta Draconis walks in the paths of Gamma Cephei by presenting a track driven by the modulations of the bass layer. Its ambient rhythm is adorned by translucent filaments that twirl around creating hypnotic hoops and whose distant echoes are transposed on a more compact fog layer. A mass which vibrates under the weight of the increasingly heavy intensity of its buzzes. The astral voices are dominant on this title and also gives us a good dose of shivers. We are in the heart of A TALE OF DISTANT STARS charms with these 3 longer tracks which develop with intensity, as much in the ambient rhythms as in the celestial chants. Although less rhythmically articulated, Epsilon Equulei is another little gem of meditative music where stagnant stars make their distant chimes shimmer in the dense buzzing mists with long emotional undulations. We have a heavy heart, a spleen in our mood? Well, the slow orchestrations that float like waltz movements in the dark cosmic ocean seem to be woven in the shadow of Subdream's sorrows. It is very beautiful and above all very striking! Zeta Fornacis is also built on these slow orchestrations whose invisible strings sign a slow agonizing waltz. Melodious filaments of a rather sober synth illuminate the course of the title which proposes a second more stirred part. Eta Geminorum ends this album-download with a rhythm structure that hops over a huge cloud of drones. The echo effect creates a kind of rhythmic canon from which luminous circles stand out, bouncing and twirling in a perfect state of weightlessness. The chant of the stars merges with this seraphic choir that perfumes the dimensions of the album. And throughout, the music and its rhythm develop into an emotional crescendo with a bass layer that releases inflections resonating like sly charges on the walls of our emotions. The movement is almost of the ambient stroboscopic kind, and this spherical melody continues its ascensional journey in these orchestrations that have the gift to lift our emotions. This track is like the finale of a love movie where two lovers meet again after a long and incomprehensible separation! What a way to conclude an album that I classify as a must-have in the ambient music sphere. Wow! A TALE OF DISTANT STARS is quite an album my friends!

Sylvain Lupari (February 21st, 2023) *****

Available at Exosphere Bandcamp

(NB: The words in blue are links you can click on)

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