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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

THE AMNIS INITIATIVE: Alternate Timelines (2021)

There are contagious tracks and melodies to give gooseflesh to a rock in this album

1 Singularity 4:58

2 Hunted 3:08

3 Pale Blue Dot 4:53

4 Crossroads 5:50

5 1978 5:07

6 Charged Particles 5:04

7 Shimmering Waves 3:44

8 Destination Unknown 5:17

9 Epiphany 5:30

10 Duality 4:09

11 Evening Shadows 3:23

12 Anemoia 7:47

13 TX-500 4:07

14 Welcome to the Blue Zone 4:01

15 Burning Sun 2:36

16 1991 6:01

(CD/DDL 75:35) (V.F.)

(Soundtrack, E-Rock, EM)

I had been enormously seduced by Ejection last year. But still, I found some difficulties to join the electronic symphonic rock style of ALTERNATE TIMELINES. Built around the probabilities of time travels, this new album of The Amnis Initiative has the attributes of its ambition. A very good melodist, Dennis Lodewijks creates an incomparable science fiction soundtrack where the soul of his compositions flirt with the last 4 decades well-orchestrated by the immense possibilities of synthesizers. The strength of this album lies in its musical architecture with powerful arrangements and sounds in every nanosecond. The percussions and percussive effects are the cornerstone of the rhythms that also rely on the work of the sequencer and this orchestral tissue worthy of the great symphonic rocks. The album is lively with a panoply of rhythms whose roots go back as far as the first experiments of Synergy, with a fascinating nod to progressive rock bands while touching on the arrangements of the synth-pop years, without forgetting the roots of Vangelis. In short, a lot of styles, big driving rock and beautiful eardrum-eating melodies await us in the corridors of ALTERNATE TIMELINES.

And to entice his audience, Dennis Lodewijks inserts 4 to 5 tracks that hook us instantly, like Singularity that starts with a solid cosmic rock propelled by a mesh of bass-sequences and sober percussions. The track offers a good intergalactic vision with passages fueled by weird voices, probably relayed by a faulty vocoder, and others that are filled with interstellar noises and sound effects, if not some very good synth solos. Taken from the Terminator Revisited EP, Hunted is another electronic rock track that comes to life some 30 seconds after church bells ringing. More electronic with a heavy bass-sequences line that starts to oscillate from ear to ear, the percussions that harpoon it adds more depth in heaviness. The howls that charge towards its finale give it a more cinematic feel. Vangelis being at the heart of The Amnis Initiative's influences, it should come as no surprise to hear tracks that plunge us squarely into that universe, like Pale Blue Dot which is as beautiful as Italian Song from the Private Collection album. Crossroads is a track with a slow and orchestral progression whose melodious impulses increase its intensity. One could say that it is a ballad set on a structure interspersed of meditative phases filled by beautiful harmonies that shimmer in place. The electronic bolero revives at each turn with an emotional velocity that reaches its peak in a slightly dramatic finale. A track like 1978 is candy for my ears. Driven by a splendid set of percussions and percussive effects, the track progresses with a ghostly velocity. The bass feeds mainly a progression maintained in a static state on laments of a synth with prismatic perfumes. A splendid title which makes me think of Michael Garrison, if not Jean-Michel Jarre. Charged Particles doesn't waste time to launch into a technoïd rhythm wrapped in morphic layers. The sequences flutter like arpeggios put in boxes while the big boom-boom make vibrate the sails of our eardrums. This hellish rhythm keeps an electronic prose close to Element 4's style, while Dennis Lodewijks sculpts synth solos that keep this cosmic dimension of ALTERNATE TIMELINES still intact. After this infernal rhythm, what could be better than a beautiful atmospheric track like Shimmering Waves and its effect of musical canon which makes its harmonious layers climb in intersidereal winds.

There is intensity to the square inch in Destination Unknown. The bass-sequences bounce under layers of synthesizers whose melodious tone shines until reaching those layers that Vangelis exploited to imitate the taciturn sky of Blade Runner. The rhythm whirrs and pulses more and more heavily, while The Amnis Initiative introduces percussive elements in a decor whose emotions sound rather like Thierry Fervant in his album Seasons of Life. The music progresses and reaches this unavowed goal of injecting us a good dose of shivers in an intensity that gives gooseflesh. A great track whose discreet melody serves as a backdrop for the beautiful Epiphany. This romantic track exploits those unique synth groans of the Greek musician's signature. It sounds very much like a film score featuring an opera singer, so much the melody lends itself to it. Superb, I'm sure I've heard this somewhere else...Possibly on a trip to another time. But damn it, it's beautiful! After such a dramatic sweetness, what could be better than loosening the legs in a good EDM structure? Super catchy, Duality is a good cosmic rock & dance propelled by orchestral synth riffs and percussions whose din doesn't reduce the charms nor the melodies of the synth, nor of its solos that sing like those of an electric guitar. It's a track that catches on from the first listen and is followed by a sad meditative melody in Evening Shadows, personified by a violin releasing its sighs in a starry night. Built on the intensity of its choir, mostly female voices, Anemoia is symphonic rock that offers a light rhythm sitting well on sober percussions. We don't write to mom, but it remains light and catchy. Second and last track to be included in the Terminator Revisited EP, TX-500 proposes a military march made on a slightly faster pace. It is a mixture of Synergy and Vangelis with an electronic envelope rich of its versatility and its solos camouflaged in a heavy and intense rhythm with a good cinematographic vision. We reach Welcome to the Blue Zone and its progressive electronic rock à la Emerson, Lake & Palmer in Works or Geoffrey Downes & The New Dance Orchestra, I think of the album The Light Program. The synth harmonies are hyper melodious and easily give a fierce musical itch. More dramatic and cinematic than Evening Shadows, Burning Sun also features a violin, gypsy-like this time, and its Arabic melody. Another leap in time comes with 1991 and its procession driven by bass-pulsing jumps and percussion shaped to support a passive flow. The orchestrations sculpt staccatos of the synth-pop years that furnish this texture of electronic symphonic rock lacking a little punch to be a title that would conclude an album of this scale. Good, nothing more!

Honestly! I was immediately charmed as soon as I sat down to listen to this ALTERNATE TIMELINES. The reason is that there are hyper contagious tracks and melodies to give the gooseflesh to a rock in this new album from The Amnis Initiative. There is also this tangibility of making us travel in the musical years, in concert with the concept of the album, which enchants, since indeed we feel this gap of the styles well scattered in the 75 minutes of an album available in CD manufactured, in download and in 5.1 Surround Sound. An excellent album that will give you hours of pleasure to discover it under all its angles.

Sylvain Lupari (September 23rd, 2021) ****½*

Available at The Amnis Initiative Bandcamp and on Groove nl

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