VOLT: The Far Canal (2003)
“It's a good opus that makes a good transition between the hypnotic Berlin School and the more rocky England School”
1 Part One 14:36
2 Part Two 21:13
3 Part Three 24:31
(CD/DDL 60:14) (V.F.)
(Berlin & England School)
Consisted of Michael Shipway and Steve Smith, Volt is an English duo which arises in a renaissance of the England School with the emergence of a flock of musicians attracted by the improvisations of the Berlin School of the 70's. There is an influence which connect all of these new groups; Tangerine Dream, mainly during tours 73 to 83. And like Arcane, Volt wanted to reinstate a legendary halo around their entity by identifying themselves with fictitious names. So, it was rather the names of Stefan Schmidt and Brian Raymond that appeared on the duo's first CD-r. It was Ron Boots who took the rights for his label Groove. THE FAR CANAL was released on this label in early 2003. This first album is built on the basis of improvisation, in concert and in the studio, where the duo had previously recorded the movements of the sequencer and the canvas of the atmospheres.
A ghostly intro opens Part One. A spectral wave with soft gauffer oscillations of crystalline chords quietly emerges from its shadow with a sequence which rolls in cascade, establishing a spasmodic rhythm. A bass line is grafted onto this structure which becomes more musical with synth layers which gently take us to an ocean of mellotron voices. This superb mellotron coats and molds Part One with an electronic serenade that waltzes through sequences whose permutations make their glass tones clink and which melt into a very ethereal finish. A finale thought with these synth hovering layers that and this mellotron that envelops us in a seraphic choir and a flute to make us dream. A good opening piece that shows the colors of Volt who was strongly inspired by the world of sequences and improvisations from the Berlin School by introducing a more romantic component. Without smashing the beacons of a traditional Berlin School, Michael Shipway and Steve Smith walk in the footsteps of a conventional EM which brings together all the elements necessary to harmonize this musical style with the English electronic rock style. Part Two exploits this avenue with a warm intro where the mellotron is master with its hypnotic breaths on cyclic reverberations. The ambience is heavy and strangely floating with muffled percussions which direct no rhythm but breathe an intriguing atmosphere on a web of ocher atmospheres. It's a dreamy Berlin School with a metallic edge. Part Three is the cornerstone of this album. A very atmospheric intro, rich in dark vibes and in cosmic sounds, emerges from a synth with the breaths of a mellotron enveloping of its dense layers. Twisted synth solos rise through this mellotron haze with their airs sometimes symphonic and sometimes spectral. The misty veil of the mellotron dissipates, giving free rein to a superb sequence that sounds the knell to a timid approach before exploding with neurotic pulsations which flutter in an atmospheric heaviness woven by a synth/mellotron fusion. Solos pierce this sound density with curly movements, muffled and tapering lamentations that stand out from an increasingly heavy sequence wriggling in an eclectic sound universe brilliantly softened by an enveloping mellotron.
For a first album, THE FAR CANAL does the job! It's a good opus that makes a good transition between the hypnotic Berlin School and the more rocky England School. I liked it, even if there are a few lengths that could have been better filled. But in the end, it's good! Between the sweet pleasures of the analog years and the biting ferocity of the English School, this is the start, I hope, of a great musical adventure.
Sylvain Lupari (October 7th, 2008) ***½**
Available at Groove NL