ZANOV: Open Worlds (2016)
“Open Worlds is a phantasmagorical journey into the lands of sounds and tones where the colors of our dreams meet the stylistic vision of Zanov”
1 Electric Dust Field 4:10 2 Next Trip 5:31 3 Magical Area 5:53 4 Strange World 6:49 5 Robot Valley 4:18 6 Signal from Diamond Desert 4:18 7 Vital Obscurity 4:27 8 Last Secret Time 4:37 9 Remote Impact 6:04 Zanov Music
(CD 46:05) (V.F.) (Futuristic melodic e-rock)
Let's be honest and say it straightaway, OPEN WORLDS is this kind of album that asks more than one listening. It's this kind of album that nobody makes anymore. Or almost! Zanov is part of these musicians who decided to knock down the limits of EM by creating their own sound. By creating unique chords inside the parameters of their machines. Chords that we don't hear somewhere else and which make our ears jump. A little as in the 60's and 70's when the magicians of studios made miracles by giving a new dimension to all music forms. The result gives phantasmagorical structures where the futurist and the cosmic are merging with rhythms which build and crumble down, spreading a tempestuous bed for ballads, some of them even sound like timeless bed songs (sort of The Little Prince), that we hear and perceives differently at each new listening. As much Zanov pushes back the limits, as much he awakens our senses with a complexity that we eventually tamed after 3 or 4 listening. Review of a surprising album which gives a quite new dimension to EM, even in 2016!
Electric Dust Field introduces us in the very stylized universe of Pierre Zalkazanov with chords which agglutinate such as leaves in winds. A synth blows a light melody, whereas percussions are banging as bars of metal. The influences of Jean-Michel Jarre, at the level of the percussions, are clearly felt in the universe of Zanov. A structure of rhythm eventually takes shape around these chords and around these knockings soaked of resonances. An unstable, an almost uncertain, structure with two parallel lines which swirl in unclear spirals while the synth, always so stoical, whistles for its melody embroidered in the tumult of the elements of rhythms and arrangements slightly in state of a lunar waltz. A thing which also struck me here, is this parallel that can be made here with Synergy for the arrangements. We always stay in the very sophisticated electronic elements with Next Trip and its introduction of veiled atmospheres which is decorated by delicately fluty sibylline tunes and by some stroboscopic lines which go and come to nibble our sense of hearing. Sequences waddle as if they wanted to resuscitate Halloween, while the melody which roams is simply like a dawn serenade of spectres in search of a soul to chatter. Exploiting marvelously his pattern of 5 minutes, Zanov urges the rhythm to emerge quite slowly, as an intergalactic rodeo, with syncopated sequences which parade between our ears like a line of rhythm finely chopped. There are a lot of sounds and tones in the universe of OPEN WORLDS and this asks for a lot of concentration to peel all the charms. With its approach of cosmic carnival, where we have downright the impression to waltz with the stars, Magical Area is the first track that seduces right away in this last opus of Zanov. The ambient rhythm swirls like a slow sonic agony, which is shaken by some spasms, while the melody, especially in the second phase of Magical Area, is going to make you dance gently on the spot. A very beautiful track which opens the doors to our ears, ice-cold at first, to the allegorical charms of this album. The mass of sounds which radiates of this album is going to nail you on the spot and warps this first rendezvous with this last album of Zanov.
The most striking example is Strange World. Stripped of all its sound artifices, this track has all the attributes to catch us on the first listening. But here the furtive rhythm, even if is nevertheless very simplistic, is coated with parasitic noises which sound like murmurs. The chords, which ring either as a harpsichord or a synth filled with industrial powders, sparkle of everywhere, splitting up this ambient rhythm and its melodies which try with great difficulty to hang onto it. That reminds me enormously the last music of Mythos. The same goes for Robot Valley that Zanov recovers of slow floating layers. The rhythm is slower there, but the wealth and the color of the tones amaze while the layers, in the shape of evanescent solos, bring us to the borders of the tranquility. How to describe Signal from Diamond Desert? Let's say that it's a splendid ballad with a catchy melody which is flooded in a delicious electronic din where we don't know at all where to give of the ear. Tones, sounds, rhythm and harmonies burst from everywhere, merging and disassembling in a complex pattern where the wealth of elements in place finds its nobility after a couple of listening. Phenomenon which is all over the album and fits to open minded. Except that here, the melody seizes our neurons before we tame its universe. Vital Obscurity is the most ambient and the most experimental pearl here. Its futuristic approach wears Zanov's coat of arms throughout its 4 minutes and the arrangements are wonderful. I have this impression to hear a very distant version in the time of Synergy. This analysis, and the very cybernetic make-up, doesn't prevent Last Secret Time from sounding very retro with its Keith Emerson kind of synth which charms on a this sort of organic Bolero where we have the impression that Zanov has stolen all the cawing of the universe in order to make a collage for a reptilian rhythm. For me, Remote Impact is the most beautiful track here. The approach is very electronic with a rhythm which waves such as a big allegorical boa. There is a package of small melodies scattered in one thousand crumbs that we stick back together with the help of our imagination and which stick on a rhythm from which the fragile skeleton shows a surprising firmness between its apathetic phases. Cosmic, futuristic and melodic, Remote Impact summarizes marvelously this fascinating complexity which ends by charm in this universe high in sounds and rich in colors of tones for rhythms and melodies drawn from thousand gregarious faces of OPEN WORLDS. An album to which we taste as if it was our last meal...
Sylvain Lupari (March 16th, 2016) ****½*
Available at Groove NL