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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Thaneco Structures on Mars (2023)

A great album of Berlin School style that fans will devour with ears wide open

1 Geometric Patterns in Utopia Planitia 9:46

2 The Face of Cydonia 8:03

3 Ruins of Valles Marineris 6:10

4 East of Euripus Mons 8:47

5 Strange Objects on Tader Valles 6:53

6 West of Bianchini 8:56

7 Discoveries on Argyre 6:46

8 Discs of Pyramus Fossae 9:08

9 The Chronius Mons Relics 9:30

(CD-(R) HQ/DDL 74:05) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

I love it! We read the title, we look at the cover and we have exactly the style of electronic music (EM) we anticipate. Very good Berlin School not always conceived in the easy way. And rhythms made to make our ideas dance and not our legs, although sometimes .... Synth solos. A lot of those! They cut the amazing panoramas of a universe within reach of imagination. And the rhythms, sometimes convoluted, fuel the ambiences of the 9 tracks that compose STRUCTURES ON MARS, Thaneco's last and best effort to date. It is his 4th on SynGate that offers it in downloadable format and in CD-(r) HQ. We are on the beginnings of the Berliner style with long tracks, interspersed by atmospheric phases more or less short, where the rhythms describe their differences on good modulations and elastic impetus, creating this echo effect that amplifies the dynamism of the different rhythmic orientations of the album. We are on Mars, and the synth structures remind us of this by sculpting panoramas where the thread of our imagination easily connects to Thanos Oikonomopoulos'. In short, STRUCTURES ON MARS is the kind of album that pleases at the first listening and that seduces even more at the subsequent listenings. A sign of a very good album that Berlin School fans will devour with ears wide open.

A swarm of jumping keys, fluttering brightly, emerges from the hazy layer of voices that floats gently in the opening of Geometric Patterns in Utopia Planitia. The rhythmic movement shifts into a higher gear, tracing an undulating tangent that stagnates in suspension, preferring the violence of its impact to a more driving effect. It borrows an ascending form that bickers with a slingshot effect whose elastic and gurgling rotations play on modulations finely conceived by the Greek musician-synthesist. Thus, the rhythm attenuates the range of its spiral loops, the speed of its ascents and the power of the sequencer in a structure in constant movement. As much in its rhythm as in its setting. A race against time in a dystopian universe! This is the most beautiful vision that comes to my mind to describe The Face of Cydonia. The flow is curt, almost spasmodic, with an oblong imperfect circular movement. Its setting gathers nice ideas heard in the repertoire of Vangelis; like these muffled explosions, these Gregorian choirs as much carried by hope as its opposite and these synth solos that flirt between the harmony and the dissonance of their acrobatic volutes. Ruins of Valles Marineris is a track more atmospheric than rhythmic filled by effects of astral nebulosity. This track is very much identified with the story of the album with a creative synth in terms of effects and its chords that are coated with a texture of telluric sizzle. The orchestrations are lunar with half-completed waltz movements. Cadenced arpeggios scatter ideas of unfinished rhythms over a Latin rhythm structure, like in Baffo Banfi's Oye Cosmo Va. After an introduction typical to the genre, East of Euripus Mons kicks in with a good Berlin School structured on a pulsating movement of the sequencer. The flow is rather catchy, both for the feet and for the neurons, taking the form of an ascending spiral. The synth multiplies the harmonious solos, like these nebulous haze banks and some absent choirs that hum here and there. The rhythm accelerates its course to offer then a zigzagging structure. Very good!

And if you love synth solos, a track like West of Bianchini, which features a good Berlin School over a moderate elastic beat, is full of them. The synth solos are melodious and creative, like in The Face of Cydonia. Ditto for Discoveries on Argyre which offers a circular and bouncy Berlin School in good chloroformed haze layers. The magic of the sequencer and mellotron fusion brings me back to the era of Pinnacles and Stuntman from the late Edgar Froese. Drawing its rhythmic source from a reverb-fueled opening and buzzing gusts, the rhythm of Strange Objects on Tader Valles is in a Berliner pattern but less dynamic than that in East of Euripus Mons. The sequencer unleashes a more pulsating rhythm line with bouncing chords alternating with cadenced arpeggios that are a bit crystalline. The rhythm plays on the modulations brought by Thaneco in a panorama where the synth multiplies the chloroform mist layers, the zigzagging effects of the reverbs and the more organic electronic effects. Discs of Pyramus Fossae goes straight to the beat in an opening that sticks to the finale of Discoveries on Argyre. Its bouncy rhythm is structured on the contrasting rhythmic colors of the sequencer. The rubbery effect that makes this tonal color resound amplifies the static effect of this track where the synth invents solos that coo over the ochre colors of Mars. The track plunges into a long atmospheric state filled with a cybernetic language before resuming its original momentum. The Chronius Mons Relics ends STRUCTURES ON MARS on a rhythmic structure, at least its first part, which sticks to that of Ruins of Valles Marineris. The music puts more emphasis on a cadenced electronic language that is in symbiosis with the almost chaotic jumps of the round and juicy bass sequences. The last part of the track lives on phases of rhythm and non-rhythm where the synths dominate the ambiences. Again here, the musical and sonic fragrances give me that irresistible urge to hear again Ma, Dolce Vita from Baffo Banfi, one of the many classics of vintage EM.

With these beautiful nods to the musical architects of 70's EM, STRUCTURES ON MARS is a very good album that Thaneco offers to aficionados of the Berlin School genre. The cosmic and progressive touches of the album adds to its dimension of charms which is always discovered a little more with each listening. And as I said at the beginning, we devour it with our ears wide open!

Sylvain Lupari (May 24th, 2023) ****½*

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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

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