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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

VARIOUS PATCH WORK MUSIC: Close Encounters of Electronic Music (2005)

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

There is everything in this compilation which takes shape however on only 6 artists

1 Witche's Trance (Awenson) 10:29

2 System Merge Part I (Nightbirds) 10:25

3 La Dixième Dune (Bertrand Loreau)10:01

4 Libourne Dream's (Olivier Briand) 10:12

5 Live at L. - The First Step (Christian Richet) 10:41

6 Fairway/Seabirds (JC Allier) 10:26

(CD 62:28) (V.F.)

(Berlin School/French School)

French electronic music is definitely back and about to cross its borders. It's been a while that I write about Patch Work Music, a musical association created by Olivier Briand and Bertrand Loreau in order to promote the French progressive EM and its numerous artists who bring a very French touch to the EM universe. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC is a recording of a festival held in Libourne on August 7 and 8, 2004 where artists and public could exchange on current music. This musical event is an initiative of Olivier Bégué, the great manitou of Cosmiccagibi and gathered 6 artists whose very different styles merge in a most heterogeneous mesh on an album which is likely to surprise more than one.

The kick-off is given by Awenson, at the time known under the pseudo Awen, and the core of his boiling Witche's Trance from the Shadows album which is a powerful mixture of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream of the vintage years. Here there is no soaring intro. Witche's Trance comes in with heavy sequences whose chords gambol on an undulating movement. The drums pound a resonant rhythm whose echoes are overflown by layers of acid and metallic synths. Synths that tear through a heavy psychedelic ambience of their sonic claws. The rhythm is furious and spits out its sequences and unbridled percussions which are surrounded by incredible twisted solos of a heavy and nasal synth. Simply powerful, even if extremely minimalist! This is followed by a nice minimalist carousel in System Merge Part I from Nightbirds, a band whose music I have never heard before. Quiet and haunting, with some cymbal bursts, System Merge Part I turns delicately on sequences and arpeggios that jump lightly among good mellotron strings. This gyrating dance of arpeggios gets lost in a haze filled with wails and metallic streaks. The finale arrives with a more atmospheric vision that is filled with a multitude of composite and experimental sound effects that spoil a little the beauty of its intro. The intro of The Tenth Dune is filled with this fusion of silvery sounds that intertwine with delicate layers from a soft romantic synth. A synth from which emerges a fluttery sound that flies over a series of sequences creating a hesitant rhythm that groping forward, giving free rein to Bertrand Loreau's fluid melodic style. Subtly, all this introduction with fragmented harmonies converges towards a structure with divided melodies which flows with a frightening softness under a soft synth and a string of sequences scintillating with a multiplicity of double chords which echo on a fine rhythm with hypnotic pulsations. And towards the finale, the violin strings tear apart this bewitching arrhythmic march with soft, slow and poignant movements, giving way to a delicate sequence that swirls with sensitivity, depicting Bertrand's entire romantic universe.

Libourne Dream's from Olivier Briand is probably the biggest surprise of this concert. It's a track of a strange complexity where the rhythmic approaches differ under superb influences of Tangerine Dream of the Hyperborea and Poland years. A very convoluted track with phases that follow each other, Olivier reproduces this hybrid side of TD (No Man's Land and Tangent) on atmospheres of a surreal jungle, on rhythms in constant permutation and superb amalgams sequences/electronic percussions. Awesome and above all very impressive! I don't remember to have heard an artist coming so close to the sounds of the Dream in the Poland years. There is Danger in Dream, but this Libourne Dream's is very different. Especially with its detuned violins that follow the paths of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Beatles. Simply brilliant! Hats off to you Olivier... Christian Richet is quite a character in the universe of French EM. Very unpredictable, he is capable of melodies as well as cacophony. Here with Live at L. - The First Step, he offers a powerful and strange cacophonic march tinted with an edifying paranoid delirium. Heavy pulsations set the scene and layers of mellotrons fall like axes to tear apart this secret passage that desperate people take, trying to escape to the black hand. Horrifying and extremely uncomfortable, the ambience that reigns through this demonic title is of a heaviness and metallicity to cut all the breaths together, even if the final throws a bit of harmony. A curt and jerky harmony which also tries to escape this infernal rhythm. Fairway/Seabirds from JC L'Allier is a title in two movements. Fairway is a powerful minimalist movement with strong sequenced strokes that heavily pound out a circular rhythm. Keyboard and synth chords dance, sing and court on a circular movement that spins until it drowns in the waves of Seabirds and its superb approach of a melancholic fluty synth that a no less splendid piano accompanies with its nostalgic notes that fall like are melting tears of the souls.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC carries admirably its title because we discover an impressive variety of EM. Honestly, and without complacency, I don't see how one could not like this opus so much it covers a vast ground of ME. There is everything in this compilation which takes shape however on only 6 titles; from ambient to stationary, raw, wild and black rhythms to long melodious flights which suits well the varied temperaments that can live in us. There are reminiscences of a vintage Berlin School as well as those of the latest Dream's brilliant albums. This is an excellent compilation that shows that there are indeed many things happening in the lands of Jean-Michel Jarre, Space Art, Frédéric Mercier and other pioneers of EM from the 70's.

Sylvain Lupari (July 19th, 2011) ***½**

Available at Patch Work Music

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