TRANSPONDER: Terminae Space (2021)
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
“Soundscapes built in a way to simplify a listening stimulated by variations of sequencers”
1 Atlas 7:30
2 Aegis 4:48
3 Terminus Worlds 6:58
4 Outer Halo 7:22
5 Apollo's Wing 8:52
6 Grid Drone 5:02
7 Observer 6:30
8 Cyclops 6:02
9 Morning Star 9:20
(DDL 62:24) (V.F.)
(Sequenced ambient Berlin School)
A universe of interstellar colors and of sonic journeys into cosmic lands where sounds are recomposed from humanoid remnants, Don Tyler and Steve Pierce have a heavy mandate to get out of the wonderful Hyperion Gate's atmospheres. And this is no small task! TERMINAE SPACE offers 9 minimalist tracks with rhythmic and melodic sequences where you have to take the time to listen to the music which is conceived in the art of extracting the maximum from a chord, a sequence, a reverb layer, a phase and a title. This 3rd sonic adventure of Transponder is built on a panoply of rhythms that don't drive the legs but that stir the neurons. And like in Hyperion Gate, Don Tyler and Steve Pierce have concocted sequences of rhythms inspired by the music of Tangerine Dream and especially of the Chris Franke period.
An organic filament, composed of crystallized lead drops, scrolls like these millipedes filmed in accelerated between bass pulsations without energy. The synth produces a prismatic air that would fit well in the Near Dark soundtrack of Tangerine Dream. In an ambient landscape filled with tonal interjections, Atlas unfolds an oscillating loop whose spheroidal effect rises and falls and multiplies in various forms to form its floating, ascending, ambient movement. Built on 3 rhythm structures, Aegis is also conceived upon the same phenomenon, which is quite recurrent in TERMINAE SPACE, of ascending oscillating loops. The track begins with the pulse of a pulsing bass that releases a Berlin School movement from the sequencer. The repeated strokes of this sequenced bass spread a veil of radiation that eventually forms a vampiric shadow running over the first rhythmic structure of the sequencer. Greedily, the bass engulfs the sequencer as another movement of it forms its sequenced spiral. We are in good ambient Berlin School here! A rhythmic melody, Terminus Worlds fizzes between our ears with a fragile movement of the sequencer and its graceful ballet sculpted in the hesitation of the keys to strike the hammer of our eardrums. The shimmering shadows and reverberations of the ambient beat weave the backdrop that invites the pulsing bass to whirr and coat Terminus Worlds in a veil of anxiety. Let's just say it's a beautiful melody forged in Legend's memories. Outer Halo follows with a similar structure, but more dull. Sadder I would say by the tone of the sequences that barely turn in a broth of gloom. The impact between our ears remains very good with a Berlin School rhythmic line and arpeggios dragging our sadness on the tip of their melodic cycle. I like this gloomy ambience, ideal for these long reverberation filaments, of this title which proposes a second part more animated and always so dark.
If we liked Terminus Worlds, we should also appreciate Apollo's Wing and its movement of sequences falling this time with more bite. Minimalist, the movement exploits these visions of the American desert in the Dream soundtracks. The track takes its time to magnetize us with the fatness of the sequences that resonate more and more until wooden claps rustle between the headphones and the ears. This passage seems to unleash a new ardor of the sequencer with its second rhythmic line well seeded by the pulsing bass-line. A delicate synthesizer melody begins to infiltrate our ears a little after the 4th minute, giving an alien vision to Apollo's Wing. Grid Drone fascinates from the start with its gaseous percussion whose muffled sound is eliminated in a tonal flora animated by a fairy tale of sequences and arpeggios rolling side by side. Drones and buzzing layers infiltrate the ambient rhythmic approach whose synth line rises and falls to reanimate the rhythmic melody of the sequencer. An ambient track that lives through the multiples of its loops, Observer has observed the structure of Atlas from afar to offer it to us in a slower vision. The circles of the sequenced melody oscillate idly to get lost little by little in another song more free of its emotions. The tone and the impact of the sound hoops create a state of bliss of our neurons that reactivate with the arrival of the bass pulsations. Cyclops is TERMINAE SPACE's big track with a creative sequencer that sequences interlocking rhythms in a rhythmic mishmash where we lost the beginning of the end of each line. Don Tyler and Steve Pierce have fun dribbling the sequencer's efforts on those reverb layers that cement the rhythm, letting the melody invade a possible apprehension suggested by the members of Transponder in a track where each step feeds and improves the minimalist structure of the track. Very good! Morning Star closes this album with oscillating loops that move forward in acceleration, nibbling at those synth pads' Teutonic melody. The vampiric bass line works the same charm as in Aegis. It provokes the oscillating melody that constantly advances in speed before falling into a universe of radioactive reverberations. It's like listening Kraftwerk in the rumbling ambiences of Stephen Parsick.
Since two albums, Transponder has achieved what Edgar Froese could never reached during his stay in America. Short tracks without any hemogenic link, except for this passion and the curiosity to bring EM to another level. TERMINAE SPACE lives through 9 minimalist soundscapes that are all arranged in a way to simplify an attentive listening stimulated by the numerous variations of the sequencers. It makes all the difference!
Sylvain Lupari (August 14th, 2021) *****
Available at Exosphere Bandcamp