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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Tonal Assembly Lost And Found In Imaginary Landscapes (2019)

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

“Not complicated, or almost not, and rather very harmonious in a sound universe that we master quite well”

1 Rising 6:16

2 On the Shores of the Cosmic Horizon 8:06

3 Above the Clouds 6:42

4 Beyond Words 7:44

5 Blizzard 6:58

6 Runners High 7:00

7 The Voyage Begins 5:00

8 Fragility (featuring Leonie Smedes) 9:55

(CD/DDL 57:41) (V.F.)

(Melodious and rhythmic EM)

Just the name puts oil in my ears! Tonal Assembly is a project of Dr. Taede A. Smedes, a philosopher of the religion, a theologian and an independent writer who lives in his native country, the Netherlands. For some years he has been interested in EM. This led him to musical essays that were presented on various platforms in Holland and to make the acquaintances of François ten Have, Eric van der Heijden and finally Ron Boots who quickly sniffed the talent of Taede A. Smedes. Tonal Assembly describes his music as being inspired by the usual artists who paved the way for the different spheres of EM, namely Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Kraftwerk and the 80's Synth-Pop wave. These ingredients are indeed well present in LOST And FOUND In IMAGINARY LANDSCAPES and make it a very attractive album to explore where the scents of the analog years of EM, I think among other things Space Art and AGE, make its discovery even more interesting. As much I must write it from the outset; I spent a very good 60 minutes, and more than once, to be seduced by this new album from this new artist that is Tonal Assembly. And just the name, puts oil in my ears!...

An oblong synth wave traces circular forms with a reverb tilt in the tone. She furrows the first seconds of Rising and releases also a little thread of astral voice that gradually fades the resonance of its mother sound. A shadow casts a more intimidating tone and a sequencer bounces its keys in a fragile setting that has bit by bit becomes apocalyptic. The dance of the keys, and their shimmering sound, continues with the arrival of fresh force; sequences with bead tones bouncing on glass. But this spastic dance remains immured by deafening layers and veils to finally become the first 6 minutes of LOST And FOUND In IMAGINARY LANDSCAPES. The introduction of On the Shores of the Cosmic Horizon is sewn also of the same thread of atmospheres. Only, the tone is different. Like that of the sequencer which releases a nice series of sequences and which carries out a long ascending harmonic design. The movement is flexible and is built around a minimalist vision of cosmic rhythm that is at the image of the title. Beneath patterns of sequences as radiant as in the Software universe, the 85-90 years, the synths infuse harmonies fragrant of fluted essences that sometimes dance with the rhythm or fly away to conquer the stars. Sober and very good, like in the analog years. Above the Clouds is my first crush! Initiated by a slam coming from nowhere, the rhythm goes into the Teutonic phase with bass pulsations and sequencing patterns rolling like skeletons of snakes running down the slopes with a restraint so as not to break the rest of their bones. This structure will become the bed of an avalanche of percussive elements as much corrosive as seductive throughout Above the Clouds. It's the piano and its melody dreaming over this sparkling nest of sound effects and under nice orchestrations that make all the charm of Above the Clouds. Delicious for my ears! Lighter, and more romantic, Beyond Words survives very well to the dimension of Above the Clouds. Its introduction is a mass of ether from which emerges the choreography of the sequencer and its ballet for sequences. Here again, the perfumes of French cosmic rock and its musical poetry shine on this dance for swans sculpted on sequencer. The arpeggios are rhythmic and harmonic and tinkle in a glass universe with a melancholy and enchanting touch.

The sound effects which open Blizzard give it a cinematographic vision with samplings of steps walking on hard snow. There are breezes, but there is also a sweet melody woven on a keyboard with beaded arpeggios. The structure of the sequencer dances in symbiosis with this spheroidal melody that will let the first synth solos fly on this album and whose stagnant dance is reminiscent of some good Software digital music. Even that some chords ... A nest of sequences always teeming with a disordered rhythmic life is under the contracted harmonies of Runners High which gets away with a good piano lost in what seems to be about to explode very early. A marathoner comes to praise about running and the music becomes a kind of synth-pop which even flirts with the first ideas of Bernd (Moonbooter) Scholl. The Voyage Begins follows this electro-pop tangent that is more in the cosmic mold of Jean-Michel Jarre. It's very well done, and the play of percussion enhances the dance aspect of the title. Longest title of LOST And FOUND In IMAGINARY LANDSCAPES, Fragility is also its jewel, for a bit that we are romantic and emotive. Its introduction is muddle with its half-hatched synth larvae that flutter without panache in a panorama where water flows. The synth becomes more austere, casting heavy shadows that resonate well after the last breath. And it's here that orchestrations and murmurs of astral nymphs will raise the delicate voice of Leonie Smedes. A piano reflects aloud, joining its pensive notes with these murmurs. Gently, the sound fauna gradually builds a nice melody that straddles a galloping rhythm without eagerness. Sound petals fly here and there, putting more emphasis on the sensual effect of this voice that will go and will come throughout this serenade carried by a piano and by the bucolic charms of a synth. The movement becomes a spheroidal rhythm and courts admirably this melodious approach whose tenderness is added to all this wave of charm that is this first album of Tonal Assembly on Groove.

Not complicated, or almost not, and rather very harmonious in a sound universe that we master quite well, LOST And FOUND In IMAGINARY LANDSCAPES is a very nice album for those who search melodies and these rhythms well sculpted by a sequencer in mode charm. There are beautiful jewels in this album whose versatility in the genres and accessibility remain its greatest strengths. Hat to you boys!

Sylvain Lupari (July 4th, 2019) *****

Available at Groove nl

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