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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Synth Replicants Cyclus TWO (2023)

Updated: May 26, 2023

TD vibes in a non TD music that will catch our interest if your are found of the late 80's TD universe

1 Song of the Faun 11:26

2 Silence in the Distance 5:11

3 Floating Tangerine 9:26

4 Let the Dream Live 8:30

5 Born by the Waterfront 6:48

6 The Quest 4:34

7 Cyclus TWO 5:23

8 Kiev in the Winter 8:00

9 The Girls from Liberty City 8:00

(DDL 67:20) (V.F.)

(E-Rock, New Berlin School)

One talks a lot about Perge and Arcane for artists who shine in their very Tangerine Dream musical visions of all periods, but particularly that of the 80's. To this, we have to add the name of Synth Replicants, from whom it's his 4th album in a row that takes my ears into ecstatic territory. CYCLUS TWO is his musical journey inspired by the RockStar Games and by GTA V. And Per Thomhav, the one-man band behind Synth Replicants, offers electronic music (EM) that sticks to the Dream's structures of the second half of the 80's. And even a little beyond, in other words, the Seattle period, if only for the tone of the electronic percussions. While the music displays the influences of Edgar Froese's musical vessel, it's quite different in musical terms. Sure, the percussions, the sequencer and the musical breezes tinted with that fluty tone from albums such as Le Parc and Underwater Sunlight bear the Dream crest, but the composition structures and the arrangements bear the progressive cachet of Synth Replicants. Giving as result a tasty blend that will bring your ears to where mine nested the time it took to listen to this beautiful CYCLUS TWO.

A line of cadenced arpeggios emerges from a nebulous opening dominated by the musical shadow of a mellotron and a scarlet synth wave that signs astral acrobatics in the vibratory effect of a bass layer. Song of the Faun thus comes to life, around the 100th second, with a zigzagging rhythmic movement. The sequencer frees leaping arpeggios in a 2-part rhythmic choreography where the zigzagging approach blends with a more ascending gyratory motion. The influences of Edgar Froese and Chris Franke are clearly dominant. Per Thomhav adds electronic percussions. Their strokes have that elastic texture that feeds an echo, giving more depth to this track which migrates to a more melodic phase around the 5-minute mark. The flow of the percussions becomes more accentuated, as does the color of the strokes. This combination of sequencer and electronic percussions, and the modulations in their timbres, forms the basis of CYCLUS TWO's 9 structures. Synth Replicants adds a variety of percussive elements for our listening pleasure. Here, organic effects such as cadenced croaking are added, along with keyboard chords that sing and dance as they try to match this rhythmic structure, which is sometimes fluid, due to the percussions, and sometimes jerky, due to the alternating jumping keys. The synth throws these snatches of harmony that have that fluty essence that will charm us at several points in the album. Their short arias caress this shadow of vibrating bass, of which the dark aspect forms the basis of Song of the Faun's panorama. Silence in the Distance follows with an electronic rock approach structured much more on the percussions, in an 80's synthpop style, than the sequencer. Admittedly, a line of arpeggios jumps around in a long serial string with a tight alternating effect. But the percussions dominate this structure, where electronic effects, both percussive and ambient, enhance the rhythmic value. The keyboard scatters a harmonious vision in the second half of the track, which also features a Greco-Roman choir. Floating Tangerine is a good track if you like the mellotron's grip over the rhythm. The sequencer forges a lively and jerky flow with a good dribbling effect in its flux, sounding like if the jumping keys are stumbling, which is slowed down by a thick mellotron veil. From gothic haze to enchanting flute tunes, the mellotron exploits its full richness on this rhythm tightly wrapped, even with the addition of percussions which are more sober here. Let the Dream Live has a light, ballad-like rhythm. A quiet rhythm with a slightly tinted vision of the mysteries of the American West. It sounds like TD's attempt to seduce this audience at the turn of the 90's. The Seattle years! Except that here, the music has a lovely lyrical warmth with a synth that unleashes harmonies that float in a slightly New Age structure and are perfumed with that delicate and seraphic flute texture.

The first half of Born by the Waterfront is more atmospheric than rhythmic. Yet, the percussions and cadenced chords clatter, resonate and somehow respond to their echo. The synth multiplies harmonious airs that are more nostalgic than playful, even if an emotional diapason is clearly present. The sequencer secretly knits together a rhythm line that can be heard as early as the second minute. Its discreet movement is undulatory. It picks up the pace a minute later, structuring this crossed movement conceived on the zigzag and the dribble of the jumping keys. It becomes more fluid as the synth and keyboard harmonies become more lunar. It's with a gothic air from the mellotron that the short but very seductive The Quest exposes the heavy, the resonant rhythm of its percussions. The opening is very Tangerine Dream from the Stratosfear years. The sequencer unravels sequences that scroll by in short zigzags. This pairing of percussions and sequencer creates two structures in rhythmic opposition, while the mellotron, with its haze and fluty harmonies, leads us into a cinematic vision of a kind of The Keep, but in a more analog tone. Less tenebrous and fed according to the precepts of this sequencer and percussions pairing, the title-track offers a fine structure of fluid rhythm with a good dribbling play in the jumping keys beneath a musical firmament drowned by the ethereal, almost New Age, fluty harmonies of the mellotron. Kiev in the Winter offers a nebulous opening woven in the penumbra of cold winter nights. We hear guitar chords sporadically strumming the wall of ambiences in a long atmospheric introduction that reminds me of The Alan Parsons Project and the track What Goes Up... from the Pyramid album. The track develops into a good, driving electronic rock with a more coherent, melodious rhythmic pairing. Misty synth pads, various sound effects and the wandering chords of what appears to be a guitar complete a setting that sticks pretty well to the meaning of its title. After its short introduction (more or less 30 seconds) carried by bursts of drones, The Girls from Liberty City offers nothing less than CYCLUS TWO's catchiest track. The cadenced arpeggios have a delightful xylophone texture and fit in well with the lively electronic percussions, which has that synthpop and Miramar-era tone. And so does the synth. It scatters some very good solos over a moving rhythmic structure that always maintains the cadence of good electronic rock, nicely surrounded by melodious synth solos and harmonies that lean towards an Arabian hue.

I love the Synth Replicants sound and universe! And I love even more the way Per Thomhav blends his influences into his melodious, well-sequenced style, without affecting his vision, which is always a little more daring. And that's exactly what CYCLUS TWO is all about, where the interest in certain tracks grows at each new listen.

Sylvain Lupari (May 26th, 2023) ****½*

Available at Synth Replicants Bandcamp

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

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