TONAL ASSEMBLY: Meditation No.1 (2020)
“This is a fascinating ambient music album filled of bits of melodious themes that are going repetitively without never annoying our sense of listening”
1 Meditation No.1 - 1 17:23
2 Meditation No.1 - 2 16:29
3 Meditation No.1 - 3 24:34
(CD-R/DDL 58:26) (V.F.)
(Minimalist Ambient Music)
It is Tonal Assembly, like not quite! Rather, it is Dr. Taede A. Smedes who presents a short story from Tonal Assembly that presents a new artist, not a new project. In fact, it is Tonal Assembly which presents The Arkhive: MEDITATION No.1. A little confusing !? Let's clear it up… MEDITATION No.1 is a side project to that of Tonal Assembly which took shape one night when Dr Smedes was trying out stuff with piano plug-ins when he saw that there was something special in a series of chords. He worked out this beginning of something that took shape in his subconscious until he found these snippets of disillusioned melodies that will charm you throughout the three chapters of this album. Seeing potential in front of these piano verses, there followed a period of fertilization where Smedes sought a way to integrate sounds around what he called the supernatural beauty of minimalist music. Hey, no… nothing here sounds like Lost And Found In Imaginary Landscapes.
It's with a delicate series of notes winding the tops, since a delicious apple dangles at the end of a high branch, that Meditation No.1 - 1 begins. From then on, electronic cui-cui are humming and their effects of reverberations become distant hoops that are molded to another series of notes of this pensive piano. These synth effects, fluttering like these monarchs in search of winds or simply falling without ever reaching the ground, accompany the silent march of the piano that Dr. Taede A. Smedes carries around in his moments of melancholy. These pensive notes live with timbres which are sometimes illuminated, as if austere, playing on the strings of melancholy as on those of these ephemeral pleasures. Sometimes following the current of integrated sound effects or playing against these currents, the melodies have from time to time this lightness of living like these aphasic heaviness of the darkest moments of a day. While on the one hand the sound effects are meant to reflect the piano, sometimes they are very south of it. These imbalances are what makes it possible to listen to the 3 parts of MEDITATION No.1 without feeling too much the effects of redundancy which are even absent after listening in loops of this surprising album.
Especially since Meditation No.1 - 2 adds some extra notes to these melodic bits of life and uses more of the motion layers of piano on top of layers of piano. In doing so, we find the best moments of this album there while Taede Smedes literally makes his fingers dance on this false piano that he makes articulate like a real one. More passion also means the same for the sound effects which obscure the magical sky of Meditation No.1 - 2 with moments of infinite tenderness, thus giving goosebumps to my heartbeat. The only beat I heard in MEDITATION No.1! There are times where I had this impression of hearing a cross between Philip Glass and Raphael, as experimentation and New Age melody clash in the darkest corners of this second part. And if we felt that the end of Meditation No.1 - 1 would inject breath into Meditation No.1 - 2, the same principle applies to Meditation No.1 - 3 where the scents of Mannheim Steamroller and his magnificent Interlude series fill my ears of nostalgia. Darker and much more esoteric, this third part is also the most explosive with its bursts of passion that occur in intense phases of restraint that go beyond the petticoat too easily.
A second part is already in motion for the new minimalist adventures of Meditation. I have nothing against the idea since it is indeed incredibly beautiful. It would be just too bad for Taede A. Smedes to focus only on this project instead of that of Tonal Assembly which had been one of the good albums in 2019.
Sylvain Lupari (October 29th, 2020) *****
Available at Groove nl