“A very good album that unties the links between progressive, psychedelic and EM”
1 Summer Breeze II 21:08
2 Connection Lost 14:19
3 Beneath the Roots of all Things 4:32
4 Ground Connection 25:42
(CD 65:57) (V.F.)
(Progressive Berlin School & Experimental EM)
More than 3 years have passed since the release of WintherStormer's last opus, the much difficult to tame Electric Fairytales. And the Norwegian quartet hasn't changed his approach by offering an anti-commercial album, bridging the spheres of an Electronic Music with hybrid and elusive ambiences and a progressive music with a strong psychedelic leaning. Always navigating on these ambiguous waters, WintherStormer thus offers a music always surprising where the charm hides behind a musical complexity which asks only to be tamed. And GROUND CONNECTION is the kind of album that will be tamed more easily because for the very first time, the band puts away its outrageous psychedelia to offer a beautiful album full of catchy passages.
The superb and amazing Summer Breeze II opens the album with a light bouncy rhythm. A rhythm that fizzes on its cymbals, a bit like in the spirit of the jazz of the Soul Music years, and that undulates with a good bass line. Resonant sound effects fly over this intro which slowly turns to a more electronic approach with a tottering synth chord, reminding of Edgar Froese's melodious approach on Drunken Mozart in the Desert. Metallic blasts, eerie ululations and synth owl calls feed this melodic approach that ripples like a waterfall. Cymbals make their delicate shimmering sound as Summer Breeze II continues to evolve between Krautrock and electronica with a plethora of sound effects intersecting with more aggressive synth strings. Around the 7th minute the rhythm calms down and we enter a more atmospheric phase where white noises circulate and meet the thunders of a parallel world marked by stagnation. Tabla percussion draws a gentle rhythmic ascension towards the 11th minute, triturated by caustic sound effects and tickled by light guitar chords. A delicate rhythm that increases the pace with sustained hits from an unconstrained drum while the synth solos howl on a structure closer to progressive rock than electronic. A sensation amplified by the appearance of solos from an incisive electric guitar that weaves the ramifications between progressive rock and EM. With Connection Lost we enter the psychedelic and abstract universe of WintherStormer. We are in the era of Pink Floyd's Ummagumma album and its variegated sound effects where drums with metallic rolls are as loud as the heterogeneous sounds that emerge from the rutting synths. It's a long track more experimental and abstract than rhythmic, if we except a kind of free rock around the 4th minute which shakes the house, but the exercise is short-lived because Connection Lost loses any connection with a sustained music to take refuge in the musical limbo, where everything is allowed without any constraint; either cymbals forgotten in sound gases, anvil blows lost in the stagnation of the white noises, eruptions of synthesizer scratched by heavy riffs of a metallic guitar. In short, an intense cacophony fragmented by short passages animated by chaotic rhythms.
Beneath the Roots of all Things is a very good track that takes root with guitar loops trapped in echo effects that roll on the pulsations of a bass-drum. A track that takes Arabian airs with a good sustained rhythm, where synths and guitar exchange riffs and solos that transcend into a tribal world with oriental flavors. Short, catchy and effective, the chorus of Beneath the Roots of all Things is the kind to create earworms. Ground Connection is a long, bewitching minimalist track that begins with a delicate synth wave, adorned with fine tinkling bells and the chords of a slightly subdued guitar. The synth voices are surrounded by a fine reverb from which a subtle dune caravan procession begins with a gently undulating bass line and tabla percussions. And Ground Connection will evolve in a minimalist mode on its long journey wrapped in light guitar and synth riffs as well as spectral layers of an Arabic-scented synth. Just after the 16th minute, the pace gradually increases but never explodes. It follows a hypnotic tangent, draped in multiple layers of synths and guitars and always animated by latent and hypnotic tribal percussions that will guide it towards a more astral finale.
GROUND CONNECTION is a good album that unties the tangled ties between progressive, psychedelic and electronic music. WintherStormer has reached his musical maturity by offering an album where the harmonies are more present and less scattered than on his previous works. Apart from Connection Lost, which can be difficult to approach, the rest of GROUND CONNECTION is as easily tamed, either its EM or prog-rock.
Sylvain Lupari (July 23rd, 2011) *****
Available at WintherStormer