“Quieter than Evalake but still very good to listen to”
1 Diamond Dust 12:04
2 Antheia 21:44
3 Theros 19:09
4 Recursive Island 18:03
(DDL 71:01) (V.F.)
(Atmospheric, Berlin School)
Variations on the same theme! It's a bit what it sounds with this new The Polymusicon album AZARAN FORECAST which is available only in download. Graeme Nattress was inspired by the beautiful differences in scenery that follow each change of season in Southern Ontario, as well as in Quebec and the American Northeast. The music is noticeably quieter than in the excellent Evalake released in late 2019 and features similar themes that, like these seasons, change without emphasizing the differences between them. The soundscapes are the same and the variations embrace the softness to which each season settles. The structures are mostly ambient, except for the dynamism of Recursive Island. They host ambient rhythms where a multitude of loops are synchronized in a synth-guitar duel.
A peaceful synth wave introduces us to a rather atmospheric opening of Diamond Dust. Lyrical, it installs a climate of serenity even with these peaks of intensity which come and go around this opening where are grafted hazy effects and celestial voices which prolong the meditative ambiences beyond 2 minutes. The synth releases then a thin harmonic line which cools in loops on a musical shroud dominated by a seraphic voice which little by little stretches its charms. The setting becomes more sibylline with reflections of silver and dark blue merging as the repetitive loops continue their rhythmic migration into more glittering tones that tinkle like a concert of angelic bells. Subtle variations in intonation bring us back to a vision of a Crystal Lake reworked for another dimension. And it's even more tangible around the 5th minute when this meditative rhythm loses some velocity. Less velocity does not equal less intensity as each chord is firmly anchored by nimble, weighty fingers playing this repetitive ritornello. Drones vibrate in the background, preceding a layer of celestial voices that root this sibylline vision of Diamond Lust. A bass wave slows the processional melody around the 7 minute mark. Injecting an unsettling aura, it also redirects the minimalist trajectory that instead lets a silvery sheen ripple through a more moving final phase where more spectral synth waves sigh, and guitar chords fall. You have to like the genre, and I like this impression I have of hearing something that fits between this much more atmospheric and meditative Crystal Lake by Klaus Schulze and the imperial Reflections in Suspension from Steve Roach's Structures from Silence album. And if you like the genre, Theros is of the same mold, perhaps a bit slower with some good growls from a bass wave as well as a lot more guitar textures, and the album download also features a stretched 15-minute version of that Theros. The soundscapes one hears in Diamond Dust goes also for the whole album.
Anthea joins a little more the dimensions of Evalake with a slow atmospheric opening, we are talking about 12 minutes, before the sequencer deploys an arrhythmic structure with a swarm of small pulses frolicking with speed in a too small circle. This gives an electronic rhythm that makes the neurons jump more than the feet. A spheroidal rhythm that rolls in symbiosis with the chords and riffs of a mixture of keyboard and guitar. Little by little, the rhythm intensifies its velocity. It becomes an oblong zigzagging movement where the sequences distance themselves to create a bouncing rhythm in a stroboscopic texture. More enthralling now for the feet than the neurons, the fluidity of the rhythm gets in symbiosis with the harmonies scattered in haste by this always combo synth-guitar which dominates the ambiences of this title whose opening is all in all rather paradisiac. The aficionados of the Berlin School style were well served in the Evalake album and The Polymusicon haven't forget them by offering the excellent Recursive Island. Already, the sequencer activates a rhythm undulating behind the sinuous spectral waves that adorn the intro. These hazy waves zigzag as much as this rhythm that spins in a perfect sphere, stylizing an approach as chthonian as in the 70's. A shadow of this rhythmic sequence breaks away to create a vague nebulous melody, putting even more emphasis on the typical Berlin School setting of the vintage years. Rippling like a threat about to explode, the beat plays hide and seek in a setting that amplifies its hold on murky atmospheres with solid layers of an undulating, menacing haze. It comes out with a superb ascending movement after the 7th minute. The setting is as chthonian as ever with banks of mists undulating through a dark landscape, radiating corrosive reverberations over a structure that takes its real momentum a few seconds later. Keyboard riffs drop in, reminding us of Tangerine Dream's influences on the Ontario musician's music as the sequencer continues its zigzagging course to disappear and reappear in phases, like those sudden changes of scenery when a season is disrupted by a fickle weather.
It's often difficult for a new artist to repeat the feats of a first album. This is the case for The Polymusicon with this AZARAN FORECAST. This being said, it remains a very nice album that shows the more meditative side of an artist visibly inspired by the bucolic beauty of the changing seasons and their contemplative effects.
Sylvain Lupari (September 19th, 2022) *****
Available at The Polymusicon Bandcamp