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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

WAVESTAR II: Nightwinds (2018)

“There is a lot of intensity and emotionalism in this album which in the end is a good one of a rather accessible EM and which will give you shivers”

1 Dragon 8:32 2 Eldritch 10:20 3 Majesty 4:03 4 Track of Time 10:00 5 Velocity of Dark 14:18 6 Reprise {For Jack} 7:32 7 Nightwinds 21:51 Groove | GR-246

(CD 76:36) (V.F.) (England School)

Wavestar was a big name of the England School EM style in the 80's. Consisted of John Dyson and Dave Ward-Hunt, the duet realized 3 albums following this emergence of English artists who were interested more and more in the immense possibilities of a music composed and performed by synthesizers and sequencers. After the mega Moonwind, the duet stopped its activities, John Dyson going solo while Dave Ward-Hunt was more discreet. He changed of cosmic address in 1999. Flanked now by Paul Ward and by Stephen Whitlan, John Dyson resuscitates the band by taking care of sticking II to it. Moonwind became an inescapable in all discography of the Berlin School style and of its sub-genres. I savored and adored it! It's thus enthusiastically that I waited for this NIGHTWINDS.

Dragon begins as if we are opening a big donjon. Hinges squeaking, the rattling noises of chains and then huge steps which resound. They lift moreover many clouds of dust as prisms and synth layers which float with tenderness. Below those, there is a seraphic choir and some sharpened tears of synth which accompany a procession of solemn keys and of which the harmonious approach seems to us familiar. The sound density and intensity are very compact in this opening and we have difficulty in seizing this rivulet of sequences which glitters on the spot. But it doesn't really matter because all this cinematic ambience stumbles in a phase of almost serenity with jets of drones which snore beneath undulating synth lines where we cannot separate this imprint of Tangerine Dream on the signature of Wavestar II. And it was the same thing in Wavestar without the II! A lively movement of the sequencer sculpts an ostinato jerky rhythm where the keys skip as this skillful Japanese chef cutting his meat. If this rhythm is too lively for our fingers, he seems to be the ideal companion for those synth solos soloes which coo with as much fluidity as musicality with its electronic tints and of flutes under a rhythmic pattern stimulated by good electronic percussions. From its very electronic introduction, Eldritch gets out of the sonic limbos with a fluid movement of the sequencer. The sequences are riding under a plethora of effects, of voices and of noises of bell which turn into chords covered by frost in order to offer a nicely oscillating structure. The flow wins in intensity as the atmospheres become more tragic. The percussions which fall at around the 5th minute bring a more rock touch and the liveliness of their strikes is in contrast with the magnitude of the layers which are clearly more floating. There are good percussive effects, a bit discreet but we hear them, in this title which proposes one finale quite clouded with its mysteries. The carillon of sequences which livens up the introduction of Majesty is simply too cute and heartbreaking! But not as much as the salvo of violins which spreads a soft and poignant slow movement and of this synth which lays down a delicious anesthetic lullaby. Difficult not to love this one!

Track of Time is a title with a melancholic flavor. Its opening is made of foggy violins, throwing a dark atmosphere landscape. A line of bass gets in and its crawling movements give a slow, almost dying structure, on where settle beautiful more melodious synth layers. A sequencer emerges out of these mists after 3 minutes to forge a structure of rhythm a la Tyger. That is used as basis so that John Dyson's guitar release some pretty nostalgic solos. The movement gets livelier after 6 minutes, plunging Track of Time into a not complicated rock where the guitar sounds very David Gilmour. Velocity of Dark proposes also an opening all in mystery with pads of mists and synth layers of which the rippling pastel colors weave a sibylline mood. A line of choir adds more depth to the multiple synth effects. It's from these voices that arises a line of sequences which pound with its crystalline tones. If these sequences stir vividly, the line of bass pulsations which get grafted makes counterweight by sculpturing a more furtive approach. Like a stealthily dance! The music gets livelier at the dawn of its 8 minutes. The percussions throw a good dose of electronic rock which is serves the cause to beautiful and very, but very, harmonious duels of solos between two synths. The finale of this title is going to blow away! The arrangements are powerful and the sound texture which invades our ears is incredibly well orchestrated. I had shivers! I don't know who this Jack is, but the music which is dedicated to him in Reprise {For Jack} has a big dose of emotivity to make a wall cry. First of all, the orchestrations! It looks like Wavestar II drinks of the arrangements which gave me the gooseflesh in Canzone, a title which appears in the mysterious album The Keep from Tangerine Dream. Built on poignant arrangements, the music flows with its multilayers of orchestrations, throwing its touching passages by hanging onto little by little at the bucolic perfumes where we recognize this Scottish hymn; Auld Lang Syne of the poet Robert Burns. Dramatic and touching! The long title-track aims to be the cornerstone of this comeback album from Wavestar. Built following the artistic standards of these long evolving titles, the introduction is made of orchestrations and of mystic effects. And the orchestrations in this album are conceived to test well our threshold of emotionalism. Mine being rather fragile, I have again shivers to the soul. And it became worse when that an electric piano draws a circular melody, a hypnotic ritornello which is of use as harmonious bed to the vapors of a wandering guitar and of its soft and nice vaporous solos. Not too long as a passage, Nightwinds adopts the shape of a lascivious down-tempo nearing the 10 minutes. A slow dance for romantic and dreamers! The guitar tosses sharp-edge jets in order to move well the pond of our emotions. The whole thing stops two seconds before 12 minutes. This is when that orchestrations, kind of those which had open Reprise {For Jack} change the structure orientation and plunge us into a phase of movie music on a theme for upset feelings with abrupt and dense orchestrations as well as with layers of Gregorian voices. This brief passage throws a jet of cacophony which remains to explain, and which makes me a little bit perplexed. Why so much violence after such an opening and especially with the sweetness which precedes it and which leads this long title towards one quite electronic finale? But for a viewpoint strictly musical and orchestral, my Totem loudspeakers have feasted!

There are a lot of intensity and emotivity in this NIGHTWINDS which in the end is a good album of a rather accessible EM and which will give you shivers to the soul because of its impressive orchestration layers, giving at times a depth of symphonic electronic rock to this comeback album of John Dyson. In fact, the music here is more in JD vein than Wavestar. I found that there is a good gap between this NIGHTWINDS and Moonwind. And I think it's ok, because that's an album of Wavestar II. And because John Dyson intends to give it a more contemporary direction while immortalizing the name of his deceased friend, Dave Ward-Hunt. Some good and nice England School.

Sylvain Lupari (April 30th, 2018) *****

Available at Groove NL

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