• Sylvain Lupari

WAVESTAR II: Two (2021)

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

A fascinating album that is indeed not what we were expected

1 Pauper's Ransom 11:25

2 A Gesture 7:02

3 The Hurting 4:13

4 Visionary 9:13

5 Another Country 4:09

6 Bloodline 8:03

7 Throne 6:35

8 Second Arrow 9:24

9 Paragon 10:38

Soddett Hall – SH004

(CD 70:58) (V.F.)

(Rock & Folk EM)

Expect the unexpected! Heavy of meaning, this sentence makes buying and discovering TWO more than a little suspicious. But let me reassure you right away; the unexpected is not really far from the roots of John Dyson and his new companions, Stephan Whitlan and Paul Ward who form the second episode of Wavestar; Wavestar II. The album is sewn in a vision more ambient than lively with a huge place for the synths which exploit their own sonic identity in a music that flirts a lot with an electronic Celtic genre. And Pauper's Ransom immediately reassures us with a hazy opening that lets us hear some synth chants with deceptive appearances. The songs are tender and melancholic with a slightly sharp tone. Spasmodic, an initial rhythmic lead plunges the track into a static flow with this synth and its melodic tunes that make the arpeggios floating all around them dance. Sweet and dreamy, this first part of Pauper's Ransom gives way to a more progressive electronic rock about ten seconds into the 6th minute. The synth chants, each with their own sonic identity, dominate this rock structure, which is push by good percussions, well managed by Paul Ward, which structures a driving rock. A big track for fans of synth solos and melodies performed by John Dyson and Stephan Whitlan. These synths coo in the opening of A Gesture which borrows a vaporous shade from the Tangerine Dream's Legend years. The ambient rhythm is articulated on two intersecting sequencer lines, one of which is more melodic, while haze pads amplify the influence of the Dream on this track which ends with synth solos. The tone changes with the arrival of The Hurting, a melody with a nostalgic spirit pushed by a synth and possibly a mellotron. It's very beautiful, tender and moving. Although a bit mysterious, Visionary is a bit in the same mold as A Gesture with sequenced arpeggios that exploit a harmonic hue of John Carpenter's Halloween. The rhythm remains more harmonic than driving with an atmospheric vision that suits well the numerous synth solos that like to exploit their own musical colours. Another Country amplifies this bucolic essence that comes out more and more as you discover TWO. Exploiting a moving texture like that of The Hurting, the music flows under the chords of a nice acoustic guitar that does not miss its rendezvous with a delicate piano.

Peaceful and moving, Bloodline continues in this vein of Celtic ambient music, almost spiritual, with a delicacy that translates into layers of mist gathering in a funeral procession gently pushed by a soft bass line. There is no flow, but a lot of sensitivity and emotionality accentuated by these layers of seraphic voices and trumpet tunes that come and go to torment a soul in search of answers. It's also with layers of mist flooding a ground in growth that Throne lands in our ears. From this musical mist is born a circular rhythmic movement structured by a sequencer where another line of glittering arpeggios is also stuck to give more depth to this second rhythmic approach of TWO. A good bass line establishes the link to percussions whose uncertain hits favor a sober singing of the synth. These vocals coo with melodic vision as keyboard riffs fall in symbiosis with the percussion. We come to Second Arrow and this track is the one that led me to describe the essence of this album as electronic Celtic music. The structure is very cinematic with its bed of orchestrations cradling the music in light and barely jerky staccato. The choice of instruments; flute, harpsichord, violin and Irish monastery choir exchange the roles of bucolic melodies. A very beautiful track with a more intense finale whose texture brings me back to Mike Oldfield mixed to Vangelis. The opening of Paragon features John Dyson on guitar, and boys he plays great! His guitar stretches out musings and solos, a bit bluesy, over a blanket of haze and occasional orchestrations. The ambient movement lights up in the second half of the 3rd minute, creating a ballad that flows to a pensive bass line. The synth takes advantage of this to stretch its solos like the crying voices of a melancholic guitar played by the famous English guitarist, Gordon Giltrap, in a fascinating electric/electronic duel, inviting the orchestrations to create a static rhythm lulled by the movement in legato. Paragon falls afterwards in a good electronic slow dance where this duel between Gordon Giltrap and John Dyson concludes this fascinating album of Wavestar II that is indeed not what we were expected.

Solos and melodies of synths which flow and fly in profusion on structures more panoramic than rhythmic, this TWO possess different attributes which are not without charms. I like this bucolic freshness which gives this Celtic aspect in ambiences sewn of mysteries and of country nebulosity. For dreamers, fans of Mike Oldfield and Tangerine Dream!

Sylvain Lupari (September 13th, 2021) *****

SynthSequences.com

Available at Groove nl and CD Services

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