TORSTEN M ABEL: SynthsOrganics (2011)
Updated: May 27
“SynthsOrganics is a rich album both in tones and in musicality...”
1 Modulus I 16:49 2 Ghost Whispers 8:16 3 Modulus II 13:35 4 Didge on the Ridge 12:02 5 Dreamland 6:45 6 Steve and the Art of Creating Friendship 6:17 7 Dan's Feeling 6:26
(CD-r/DDL 70:10) (V.F.)
(Berlin School, Atmospheric and World fusion)
Torsten M. Abel is part of a core of unknown artists who enrich each year the cultural and musical universe of the underestimated SynGate label. A multitalented artist and a curious man born in Recklinghausen (Germany) in 1967, TMA was first interested in the synth-pop movement of the 80's with the music of Gary Numan, Human League, John Foxx and Thomas Dolby. It’s through this musical current that a friend introduced him to the world of sequences and hypnotic rhythms of Berlin School, by the music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Ashra. And one thing leading to another and from synth to synth, Torsten Abel built his studio and composes his music. After a first album (Escape in 1993), the synthesist from the region of Ruhr takes a break and sell his equipment to concentrate on photography. But he always interested in the evolution of EM and the world of synthesizers. He slowly starts the creation of his own wall of modular synths; a dream that he cherishes since he discovered the monsters wall of wires of Klaus Schulze and Chris Franke. He is still active in the musical movement with a band named Ambient Circle. It's there that he met Wolfgang Barkowski (Alien Nature) in 2008, a determining get-together that will give a second momentum Torsten Abel with whom he will collaborate for the realization of Medusa. Since then, Torsten M. Abel released Sequentrips in solo and Hydra with Alien Nature in 2010. SYNTHSORGANICS is a more particular project which distances itself from the purely electronic works of TMA and Alien Nature. It's an audacious album where the German musician mixes the tones of his synths and sequencers, as analog as digital, to tones of more conventional instruments (guitars, percussions, didgeridoo and rhombus). The album presents a surprising musical diversity where fragrances of jazz, tribal trances and soft techno pierce the hypnotic rhythms and the melodic approaches arisen from this fusion of a retro Berlin School to the one of the digital years; the New Berlin School from the IC years which saw the emergence of key artists such as Software (Mergener/Weisser), Mind Over Matter and Robert Schroeder.
With its movement of a sequencer in spiral and zigzagging among hoops with metallic resonance, Modulus I offers a very Berlin School introduction. The sequencer chords flicker and flutter in growing and decreasing minimalist lines, creating a hypnotic melodious rhythm that splits its flow with this rhythmic mirror effect of the sequencer so that the sequences collide in the cosmic clouds of a morphic synth. Modulus I then becomes a source of charm with a soft synth that makes singing its solos on a rhythm fed with lines of intersecting sequences. Timid, the percussions come to support these lines which break the metamorphoses of a static rhythm. And casually, Modulus I finally builds on a rhythm become more refined and more complex, even if always so hypnotic and minimalist, with this dance of sequenced keys that intertwine under good solos of synth played by Marcel Dude. It reminds me of the hatching of Innovative Communication's musical universe in the mid 80's. Simply delicious! The movement of Ghost Whispers borrows substantially the same trajectory but with a slight nuance in the rhythmic flow. Slower and more lascivious, the rhythm swirls like a soft, soporific carousel. Frank Makowski carves beautiful laments that turn into synth solos loaded of Vangelis breezes that crisscross a tide of celestial choirs. Some whispers awaken an auditory paranoia that sequences and their delicate melodic volutes are constantly nourishing in an eternal lunar dance. It's as beautiful as it can be mesmerizing! Modulus II continues this exploration of the circular and hypnotic rhythms of the Software and Double Fantasy years, with a spherical motion that revolves around cosmic elements and violins of galactic cathedrals. The intro is full of frayed streamers that parade through sequences whose regular beats, as the timeless ticks, disperse the mists and interstellar choir. The drum is tied to the sequences in order to begin another spiral movement that accentuates the pressure of a rhythm on the pace of a waltz to rush into the furrows of an ascending beat embellished by guitar riffs. And it's on a rhythm with airs of déjà-entendu that the solos emerge. Sometimes from synths and sometimes from guitars, they roam on a rhythm with sweet melodic reminiscences that recall these beautiful years when the Berlin School transited between analog and digital.
Didge on the Ridge begins another musical reflection of SYNTHSORGANICS .After 3 long titles where the majesty of the Berlin School is reflected through beautiful melodious approaches, the second part of the album focuses on a greater musical diversity. Didge on the Ridge is the result of an idea that has long germinated in the mind of Torsten M. Abel; bring acoustic and tribal Australian instruments to EM structures. Although the basic idea has served the world of Steve Roach, the result is still very attractive. After a slow intro where the quirky breaths of the didgeridoos and of the rhombus, cleverly modulated by Jens Mechler, upholster a dark immaterial atmosphere, the strikes of percussion are falling and resounding in the raucous reverberations of the tribal exhalations. The rhythm becomes pure and hard with incisive strikes that fall shorthand on an atmosphere stigmatized by a shamanic torpor. Synth layers float and roam like timid and hideous specters, caressing the strength of the strikes that hammer a bewitching rhythm of tribal trance that the solos of guitars water of great garish flights. This is a very good title that reminds me a bit of the universe of The Leaving Time by Steve Roach and Michael Shrieve, back in 1984. Dreamland continues the hazardous journey between harmonies and sounds of metals crystallized in a toothless grinding machine. The tones are burping with pain, such as twisted metal sheets groans, to gradually melt into a hypnotic melodic pattern fed by guitar riffs and slightly floating keyboard chords, by incisive percussions and sequences a bit crystal-clear. This meshing serves as a bulwark for good guitar solos and hypnotic serpentine fluids that flow from a synthesizer with a harmonious ease. Steve and the Art of Creating Friendship borrows a style closer to jazz-rock with a solid drum with nervous strikes while Dan's Feeling closes this album with a technoid approach where clatter, clicks, cymbals and metallic tsitt-tsitt eroding pulsations with gallops funky- groove.
The heterogeneous universe of SYNTHSORGANICS is of a great richness, as well at the level of the sounds as of the rhythms and the musicality in general. The rhythms are forged around good percussions and a sequencer that boils its jumping keys at good places. The synths and guitars offer good duels, while assuming a nice complicity. The diversity of the genres infuses a particular cachet to this album, which strikes mainly towards the influences of a Berlin School with fragrances of the 85-90 years. These years when the mythical label Innovative Communication saw new artists brought a new dimension to an EM whose new directions imperatively needed a new breath, as with the music of Torsten M. Abel, as with SYNTHSORGANICS.
Sylvain Lupari (February 27th, 2012) *****
Available at SynGate Bandcamp