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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Tone Science Module No.6 Protons and Neutrons (2022)

Updated: May 10, 2023

No doubt here, this is the best of the 6 volumes

1 Prisms (James Bernard) 8:11

2 Vänta (Elin Piel) 6:59

3 Eddy Currents (Field Lines Cartographer) 8:54

4 Contradictory Forecasts (Sarah Belle Reid) 8:23

5 Waving in Harmony (Adrian Beasley) 7:15

6 Upward (Elinch) 7:28

7 Random Possibilities (Steve Roach) 6:29

8 In the Shadow of Giants (Ombient) 6:32

9 The Mutation Trio (Doug Lynner) 9:01

(CD/DDL 69:28) (V.F.)

(Experimental, Ambient, Upbeat)

The Tone Science Module series from the DiN label is a great success among electronic music (EM) lovers who are interested in the sound experiments of modular synthesizers. And each new volume attracts a more and more curious public by a democratization of this fascinating music which has all the assets of a music more experimental than melodious or rhythmic. And if Integers and Quotients was more seductive than Form and Function, we can say the same thing about PROTONS AND NEUTRONS which is even more seductive than the 5th volume of a collection that always impresses a little more. Get your ears ready, because this 6th edition, always so well arranged and edited by Ian Boddy, includes little jewels that will make you fall in love with the music.

The illustrious American musician James Bernard has the honor of opening this 6th encounter of a 3rd type of sound from DiN. A synth wave rises up to the horizon of our ears with fine repetitive loops that have broken off. They form an ambient rhythm structure where another synth line perches with a tone closer to a mix between an organ and an accordion. A rubbery pulsing bass line is grafted onto this sonic bloom, amplifying this resonant but also very musical, if not melodic, ambient rhythm. If Prisms' music doesn't have the colors of its title, it has the sparkles that form harmonious loops in a good soundscape whose melodious meditative rhythm recalls the most beautiful lunar lullabies of Steve Roach, also present on PROTONS AND NEUTRONS. With static cracklings on a synth wave that refuses to rise, Elin Piel also reserves us a nice surprise with Vänta. In a slightly more animated cadence, the music marries that of a lullaby that spins like a ballerina in her little musical box. The shadow of a bass resonates in this bucolic setting, giving a tonal warmth that enhances the melodic vision of the minimalist movement of the sequencer. In a sound envelope walled in by the refractions of an invading bass layer, Field Lines Cartographer introduces us to the more experimental part of this compilation with Contradictory Forecasts. On a floor of sizzling and unusual noises, sonic beads clash in an organic texture filled by a tonal flora with oriental fragrances. Synth lines are threadbare with scarlet tones while others wail in a rhythmless structure but with seductive percussive elements. I was looking forward to hearing Sarah Belle Reid's participation, of whom much is said in her mastery of her Buchla system. While I must admit there is some careful work in her track Contradictory Forecasts, the music and its organic noise effects, as well as those little steps running all over the place but not all the time, takes on a texture as abstract as it is original. Member of the Airsculpture trio, Adrian Beasley proposes a purely atmospheric track with Waving in Harmony. From a synth wave with reverberating modulations, the ambiences climb the ladder of our emotions with low and buzzing intonations. They accentuate their hold which whirr more and more by carrying out anaemic twists to reach a zone of sound turbulence with the slow elucubrations of a giant bumblebee on the verge to bite our eardrums. Here also, it is not for all the ears.

We go back to a more accessible area with Upward from Elinch, whose creative path can be observed on a YouTube vidéo. The German musician opens the most rhythmic part of PROTONS AND NEUTRONS with a sequencer that unties a gravitational rhythmic movement with jumping keys. Their jerky and synchronized jumps in a perfect balance between each end up developing a good spasmodic structure. A pulsating bass line invites itself, adding a warm texture to this structure that is filled with long lines of guitar riffs that are aggressive with their corrosive drones. Very good and in front of Steve Roach, it becomes one of the highlights of this 6th volume of Tone Science Module. Random Possibilities is a track based on sequenced rhythm lines that meet in a rhythmic crossroads flirting with the early rhythmic sketches of the American musician. The music exposes its rhythm lines slightly out of sync or just a little bit behind each other, creating a mass of rhythms that is well framed by good bass pulse vibrations. A track that may as well take us back to the Skeleton Keys episode in a warmer sound envelope. Ombient's In the Shadow of Giants continues this rhythmic exploration with a spasmodic rhythm line jumping over an organic flora. American synthesist Mike Hunter's music is highly creative and driving with a mesh of rubbery percussion and a line of limpid sequences that waddle through a rhythmic structure awash with sound effects that are familiar to the followers of the genre. Elin Piel, Elinch and Ombient are very good discoveries that deserve to investigate a little more the musical universes of these artists. We return to the abstract art of the modular with The Mutation Trio from San Francisco musician Doug Lynner. The play of the marbles in its opening reminds me of Eddie Jobson's brilliant Theme of Secrets. The comparison stops there, as the music takes an avenue as experimental, even abstract, as Sarah Belle Reid's, with grotesque reverberations on synth waves in the shapes and colors of an aurora borealis in its more atmospheric phases.

Good discoveries, a creative EM and a flawless production by Ian Boddy, Tone Science Module No.6 PROTONS AND NEUTRONS manages to seduce even more easily than the previous volumes. Which is an understatement! There is a nice atmospheric and rhythmic diversity in the organic settings and bass textures that provide a fascinating warmth for an EM of this kind. The few more experimental tracks always end up seducing, thus testifying that audacity always finds its place when well done. No doubt, this is the best of the 6 volumes.

Sylvain Lupari (March 5th, 2022) ****¾*

Available at DiN Records

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