TRANSPONDER: Beholder (2018)
Updated: Nov 27, 2020
“More moods than beats, there is enough evidence to prove the greatness of the two musicians who will exceed expectations soon”
1 The Eye of Theia 8:52
2 Beholder 7:00
3 Binary System 6:22
4 Faded Signals 9:20
5 Inquisitor 8:00
6 Orb of Witnessing 7:01
7 Backscatter 9:56
8 The Eye of Theia (Departure) 7:34
(DDL 64:06) (V.F.)
(Ambient, ambient beats)
Once the tonal dust settled on disappeared ethereal breezes, The Eye of Theia offers a stealthy rhythm sitting on a bass pulsation of which the echo gets a hold on a bed of ambiences. A cloud of flourishing sequences is going to frolic by fluttering, and this according to the speed of the winds, in a structure that makes our neurons dance and rest our feet. Orchestral pads try to inflate into layers. Some succeed, deepening the charming vision of this rhythm which buries itself more and more under these layers. Strata which have become sound waves in a brief phase of ambiences before being reborn with a nice harp tone. Interesting, and above all quite musical, The Eye of Theia sets the tone for an album that didn't really deserve almost complete media silence. True that we are entering here into unusual spheres with bits of melodies and rhythms in search of their complements through the 65 minutes of an EM that seeks to win an audience through good ambient music. BEHOLDER is the first album of the American duo Transponder which finds its place on the excellent label Synphaera and its Exosphere division. It was while listening to the melodious panoramas of Extraworld, with its Starless album, that my electronic knowledges put me on the paths of this American duo uniting Steve Pierce, and Don Tyler from Ascendant. Knowing the New Berlin School approach of the Particle Horizon album and the ambiences surrounding Starless, I expected to explore a lush musical universe. Instead, I discovered a universe of relaxation music where the semantics on the shapes of tonalities takes a back seat.
Bursts of synthesized waves seek to straighten the title-track which is lying on a bed of radiations. A good sequence, bright and harmonious, stands out. Searching for a sequencer to dance with, she finds an elusive rhythmic line that literally blends into its contact. Alone and graceful, Beholder whirls around, caressing the spaces, waltzing with these orchestral layers to finally tame the rumblings of the cradle of her birth. The beauty of Beholder is to have ignored the elements in order to create the seraphic ambiences which are the threshold of good battles between the light and the darkness of BEHOLDER. Binary System is the perfect example. Stemming from soft hoops vegetating in nothingness, the title rises with this translucent line whose vertical undulations helps arpeggios being at ease and start to ring. From these elements weighty raises a lascivious dance that invites quirky tones, fluty breezes and a series of undulating arpeggios to solidify a fascinating lullaby for astronauts with chords so poignant that our emotions sigh through our ears. Broken and reconfigured, this lullaby may flow in a pool of sticky mud and live through scattered beats that it retains its nobility. It's like finding a rose in a field of mud!
Faded Signals lives up to its title with an ambient introduction where different sound signals come and go as if to attempt an amalgamation which structured an appearance of rhythm. It's 30 seconds after the 3-minute mark that another lullaby, more magnetizing this time, is forged, helping to chase away these soulless signals. It sets up its ambient rhythm which makes our ears dance with its musicality, while the bass pulsations, full of corrosive radiations, ensure to annihilate any other form of intrusion. It's beautiful and it can easily lead us to the gates of sleep. Speaking of sleep, it is not Inquisitor that is going to disturb it, although its introduction can disturb with a Vangelis vision on a universe that rendering souls. The title is very slow with breaths of vuvuzelas which streak the ambiences of Z-shaped stigmata. Heaviness and despondency reign over this title which nevertheless has all the elements to lead us into high-level psybient. Equally ambient with ideas of seismic overflows, Orb of Witnessing floats between hot and cold in a more orchestral vision. A nice ambient title! A big industrial heart makes beat the inert Backscatter, which needs two minutes to get rid of these ambiences in order to offer the first convulsive, spasmodic rhythm of BEHOLDER. Nervous, the jumping keys cavort over the speed of a static shadow, much like Steve Roach's sequencer anthems in Empetus. Sound effects and powerful fluty jets without beauty inject psybient fuel, making more than 2 minutes of sequenced delirium disappear. The rhythm will resume some 3 minutes later… The opening piece was a gem! The Eye of Theia (Departure) is more of an ambient genre like the incredibly beautiful Orb of Witnessing.
I stayed half-fig, half-grape after discovering BEHOLDER. If I found the music beautiful and great at some points, it lacked sauce to coat these bits of melodies, orchestrations and rhythms which also gave this impression of going in circles. But there is enough evidence to prove the greatness of the two musicians who will exceed my expectations with the excellent Hyperion Gate…
Sylvain Lupari (11/26/20) ***½**
Available at Exosphere Bandcamp