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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Subdream Nameless Constellations (2023)

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

The music flirts between Dark Ambient and cosmic Psychill

1 Approaching Gaia 8:10

2 Sanguine Sunset 8:40

3 An Eerie Night 8:56

4 The Crystal Meadow 8:12

5 Nameless Constellations 8:38

6 Prismatic Forest 9:15

7 This is Home 8:03

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

(Dark ambient Psychill)

This second album of Subdream on Exosphere Music, NAMELESS CONSTELLATIONS, is in the same vein as A Tale of Distant Stars. Minus the element of surprise! Michael Schubert has drawn on the repertoire of his first album to weave the broad canvas of an album of minimalist structures where each track develops itself slowly with the addition of layers of drones, orchestrations, astral voices and embryonic melodies as secretive as ever. The music flirts between the origins of dark ambient music, with waves of nebulous reverberations that vibrate while multiplying those muted impulses that are the source of rhythms as slow as they are ambient, and the cosmic psychill rich in its decor of sonic unusuality. And it's not just the tracks that develop slowly! The whole album follows this tangent to reach a pinnacle of emotionality with the beautiful title-track, whose charms ignite the rhythms for the final tracks of this very good second effort from Subdream on the Californian label.

A synth pad extends its brilliance in the buzzing opening of Approaching Gaia. Linear, this drone wave lends a tenebrous texture that the diffraction of the pad makes a little more astral with its slow, serene unfurling. Very discreetly, a line of sequenced arpeggios can be heard flickering behind a stellar choir. If the mass of drone lives of its muted impulses, this sequence quietly emerges to structure a passive rhythm in a panorama where a few twinkling stars sing. NAMELESS CONSTELLATIONS' first track is easily recognizable by the touch of secret melody that the German musician-synthesist lyrically concealed in A Tale of Distant Stars. Sanguine Sunset follows with a wave that rises towards a heavy layer of drones. Arpeggios tinkle here and there, while an astral choir infiltrates our ears with a peaceful voice humming. Like Approaching Gaia, a cloud of arpeggios forms itself and sculpts the rotating movements of a swarm of fireflies that flutter and flicker in luminous circles. The bass falls heavily, creating an intense dramatic approach beneath this crazy dance of musical fireflies, which will no doubt remind some of you of Tomita's snowflake dance in the title-track of Snowflakes Are Dancing. The bass layer and arrangements are teaming up to create a very poignant moment in the album. With its randomly tinkling arpeggios over a heavy layer of drones, the ambiences of An Eerie Night are close of the title's meaning. The synth bass further sculpts the muted momentums that forge a slow, nonchalant ambient rhythm. The shimmering arpeggios really add an eerie touch to these ambiences. The orchestrations and dialogue effects of robots and of extraterrestrial insects add a psychill-cinematic dimension to the track.

Secret is also the melody that survives the tumult of the hummings in The Crystal Meadow. We're in the realm of dark ambient music here with this mass of drones drifting between our ears. The movement is atonic, without momentum. Only a few threads of orchestration escape, or yet lamentations, sighs from the synth. A line of arpeggios flits secretly in the background. Its spasmodic movement is weaving a vague, cadenced melody inspired by the fluttering fireflies in Sanguine Sunset. The sequencer activates its ascending rhythm as soon as Nameless Constellations opens. Its vertical slalom movement sparkles between our ears, surfing this sea of drones from which also come the mournful chants of a chthonian choir. The track plunges into a reset phase around the 3-minute mark. Arpeggios with a more melancholic texture emerge. Quietly, they form a shimmering melody whose higher, sharper notes turn our blood into tear serum. A superb moment in this album, a pinnacle even, where I found it difficult to contain certain nostalgic impulses. The flavors of psychill are again present with the undulating rhythm of Prismatic Forest and its organic effects that are whining out in a kind of cosmic ambient groove. The rubbery texture of the bass vibrates in this space where a remote tribe of pygmies holds a tribal feast in a forest of prisms that interchange their shards around polyhedral trees. This is Home is the track that comes closest to New Berlin School in NAMELESS CONSTELLATIONS. The sequencer makes tinkling clumsily skipping arpeggios in a mist-filled opening. A mist that expands its dramatic power by dint of the impact of its reverberations. A second sequencer line activates a twirling choreography of sequences with timbres as nuanced as the mathematics of rhythm. The muted throb of the synth bass and the sequencer converge in a conspiratorial movement where the snowy harmonies of Sanguine Sunset weave their way through this string of shimmering arpeggios that unfold with the illusion of a musical canon. There's a touch of Steve Roach in this excellent track, which concludes a Subdream album that should be listened to from start to finish. Track by track. Just to please ourselves...

Sylvain Lupari (December 11th, 2023) ****½*

Available at Exosphere Bandcamp

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

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