top of page
  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TONAL ASSEMBLY: Four Pieces For Sonic Solitude (2022)

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

Driving and evolving rhythms and melodies as catchy as its rhythms

1 Voyager - First Movement 12:05

2 Voyager - Second Movement 5:29

3 Voyager - Third Movement 9:12

4 On Our Way 25:48

(DDL 52:35) (V.F.)

(Sequencer-driven Melodious EM)

Oh there is so beautiful electronic music (EM) is dying to be heard and discovered lately! After the incredible odyssey of Micado and friends in One Week in Heaven, it's the turn of Tonal Assembly to offer a beautiful EM download-album that combines melancholic melody to magnetizing rhythms. The similarity ends here! Because instead of complex and melodic EM, Taede Smedes offers a good harmonic vision on Teutonic minimalist beats. A bit like E-Tiefengrund if there is a comparison to be made. That said, the essence of FOUR PIECES FOR SONIC SOLITUDE goes back as far as 2012 when the Dutch musician was inspired by the Voyager 1 journey. The music was stored in an old computer. It was only recently that he found this music which occupies the first part of his new album. The second part, On Our Way, was originally a personal meditation music for Dr. Smedes. All this music has been reworked with the latest technology and appropriate synth software, except that vestiges of the past (pops and clicks) remain stuck to the structures. Impossible to remove them all without altering the music a little bit, giving a little something unusual compared to the first two albums of Tonal Assembly.

Crackling sounds can be heard, a bit like a heavy rain, from the opening of Voyager - First Movement. Metal doors are heard creaking off the hinges in an environment filled with rumbling and threatening synth waves. Voices, possibly from NASA, come out of my speakers as the rain crackles with a percussive vision. The drones thicken the tonal sauce, entraining stardust that flickers over warmer synth waves. A beat emerges from this mass a little after the 3rd minute. Its cadence vibrates more and more as arpeggios start to tinkle in a melodic vision that flirts with our goosebumps. Voyager - First Movement takes off smoothly. Hooked to cosmic haze-drenched synth layers that hover and contort in lascivious movements, these arpeggios offer a catchy melodic perspective over a resonantly pulsating beat. And when the synth solos fall after the 8th minute, this minimalist track takes refuge in these long finales where the Cosmos vibrates of its dark eye and where these sibylline voices sing. Shorter, Voyager - Second Movement doesn't waste time by letting go 3 chords that answer each other in a misty echo. Harmonic, the movement remains ambient with good solos where we feel this pain in the melancholic melodies invade our senses that detect light beats carving a procession in the last minutes of the track. It's by a big thunder on oceanic waves that Voyager - Third Movement releases an electric piano. Falling and echoing in suspension, these chords lull on the waltzing movements of the cosmic mist and eventually fall on a rhythm structure galloping through many sound effects. It's a good track with its dreamy melody and driving rhythm.

On Our Way is the epic track from FOUR PIECES FOR SONIC SOLITUDE. It starts with the uncertainty of the synth layers that have to deal with crystalline arpeggios that fall with a delicate harmonic vision. The rhythm does not waste time to settle. Built on a mesh of pulsating bass-sequences and muffled explosions, it jolts with a stunning gait that draws the synth to lay down a Robert Schroeder-like narrative tune. The rhythm gambols along, picking up a nuance here and another there, all the while adding effects that only further inflame our magnetized listening. Synthesized words come in, like a cosmic duck squeak, as well as rock noises that add a surreal touch to this long track. It's at the 15th minute that we reach the transition point of On Our Way. A light atmospheric passage where the percussions play tap in a void that fills with hazy layers, explosions and good synth solos that have that analogous warmth. The structure slowly takes off again 3 minutes later with the same vision and setting plus the solos. A stunning track that I enjoyed with my headphones as much as with my speakers.

FOUR PIECES FOR SONIC SOLITUDE shows that minimalist EM still has its seductive power. The music is well programmed for driving and evolving rhythms and melodies as catchy as its rhythms. And a track like On Our Way is worth its weight in gold for the ears. In the end, it's another nice album from Tonal Assembly.

Sylvain Lupari (February15th, 2022) *****

Available at Tonal Assembly Bandcamp

682 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page