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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

THORSTEN M ABEL (featuring Martinson): RAL 5002 (2013)

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

TMA delivers in RAL 5002 a strong album as high as our expectations and the bar was quite high after Sequentrips

1 Arctic Voyage 8:30

2 Clouds 7:28

3 Before Midnight/Luna 8:42

4 Sequentum P 10:09

5 Kristallin 10:43 

6 Birth of New Light/Sol 7:30

7 Trip to New Shores 7:02

8 Deja Vu/ Reprise 4:18

(CD-r/DDL 64:22) (V.F.)

(E-prog/rock with a zest of New Berlin School)

After a rain of iridescent breaths, Arctic Voyage takes the cradle of its rhythm on puny sequences keys which cavort in a puzzling rhythmic axis. The seraphic synths and the hopping sequences bring us back in the time of Tangerine Dream. Illusion even more pronounced with the discreet riffs of guitar which rock in the shade of synth and sequences fusion. The jingles of cymbals announce the strikings of percussions which plunge the track into an electronic rock. Floundering on its bed of sequenced balls and of their rhythmic schizophrenia, Arctic Voyage rages on a heavy rhythm fed by hatched riffs and by philharmonic synth pads before kissing a short ambiospherical phase and re-biting a rhythm decorated this time with melodious keyboard chords and incisive guitar solos that Martin Rohleder peels with a melodious assassin approach. We cannot say that Torsten M. Abel is trapped in his style or his influences. Behind the powerful PPG Wave 2.3, the German synthesist teams up again with the guitarist Martin Rohleder to offer an album which tergiversates constantly between the Berlin School paths of the digital era with an analog sonority. RAL 5002 is an album created in all the subtleties of the PPG Wave 2.3 which returns some tones as much analog as digital while having several phases of rhythms forged by intense lines of sequences with furious movements. The result is a great and beautiful album that will please undoubtedly to those who love progressive rock and especially the fans of Mind Over Matter, because it's what indefatigably comes to my mind as RAL 5002 feeds my bewitchment.

Clouds offers an approach more moderate than Arctic Voyage while keeping the same musical ingredients. It's a kind of ballad which allies marvellously these undisciplined sequences to some more orderly percussions, shaping a two-phase rhythm which limps in the lap of beautiful synth layers in the harmonies of mists of which the dreamlike circles are flowing into our ears as a carousel of innocence. Discreet, the guitar frees its solos which mould a sky of harmonies that we hear sparkling here and there in the background. Before Midnight/Luna brings us in a swampy universe where the bass sequences draw up a furtive rhythm which pound in an arthropod fauna with its singings of locusts which live among guitar solos and of its shrill harmonies split in the lunar winds of the synth and of the singings of wolves. A little bit and one would believe to be in Mind Over Matter's universe, especially with the progression of an ambiospherical rhythm which feeds on the scattered rotations of percussions. We are always in a cosmic broth of MOM with the too good Sequentum P and its carpet of sequences which pound furiously like some hundreds of balls rolling to lose brightness on a wonky conveyor. The chords of a solitary guitar are strolling with the breaths of a dreamy synth while that the rhythm is fading out to be reborn again under a more undulatory shape with buzzing sequences which crisscross in a heavy rhythmic vaulting, bringing Sequentum P towards a more rock approach with good percussions and a guitar which bastes its twisted solos among notes of an acoustic guitar that one pinches with a Hispanic dexterity. The rhythm becomes as much furious as heavy with these fat sequences which gurgle of an organic aura on the shadows of some strong percussions and the ethereal mists of a synth which place more of its harmonies than of its solos.

Kristallin caresses our ears with a gleaming line of sequences which makes waltz its keys in a kind of ritornello mi diabolic-virginals. Tribal percussions brush the innocent electronic riddle that a synth and its seraphic voices is covering of its prismic charms. A bass line with resounding chords dances out of time on Tablas percussions while that the rhythm takes root in its morphic sands dance that a synth adorns of an angel dusts. After the swamps of Before Midnight/Luna, Birth of New Light/Sol brings us near some restful oasis where birds are chirping and synth waves are floating and of which the combined harmonies is flowing in the shade of monasteries bell towers. A synth line, and its singings as jerked as a break-dance rhythm, extricates itself out of this rural serenity, introducing a curt rhythm where some fluty breaths are kissing the solos of a guitar a bit jazzy. Heavy and powerful, Trip to New Shores turns our ears upside down with a structure of strong e-rock which denies any shape of meditative poetry. It's powerful and heavy, with a meshing of hard electronic percussions and oscillations of sequences which structure a furious rhythmic ride and keep up a beautiful melodious approach à la Tangerine Dream, periods Johannes Schmoelling to Jerome Froese. Deja Vu/Reprise spreads its air of déjà vu with a more electronic approach than on Sequentrips. Omnipresent, the guitar of Martinson splashes a nostalgia with plaintive solos which cry on the resonances of chords closer to a metallic harpsichord that of a melancholic piano.

Even with its title of space laboratory, RAL 5002 is an album very earth to earth. It's a powerful album, gnawed on by rhythms and atmospheres, very short I have to say, as much intense as the spirit of musical adventure and of exploration which are within the reach of an instrument so much versatile as the PPG Wave 2.3. Torsten Abel resuscitates a genre that Klaus Hoffmann Hoock had buried with the deceased Mind Over Matter; either some e-rock fills by surrealist atmospheres which live marvellously with blazing rhythms. But what matters most is that TMA delivers an album as high as our expectations. And the bar was high after Sequentrips!

Sylvain Lupari (May 22nd, 2013) *****

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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