Updated: Mar 29
“This one proposes a wonderful balance between the various orientations of EM inspired by the Berlin School style”
There's some really beautiful electronic music (EM) at square inch in this magnificent compilation from the Cyclical Dreams label! From the splendid Tribute to KS to Takla Makan's very impressive rhythmic pattern in Spiraling, not to mention Arcane's excellent Frontiers 4; the EM aficionado in you will be pleased with this impressive GEMSTONES III. As for those who only know EM by word of mouth, you have every reason to fall into the pot. True to tradition, the Argentinian label's owners have selected artists they revere and who have influenced the label's direction, as well as artists who work in the shadow of the big names and who deserve a place of their own in the EM firmament, not to mention some of the unavoidable names of this label that is now firmly established in the world of contemporary EM.
Craig Padilla has the honor to open this 3rd edition of Gemstones. Affection Fragments is an atmospheric track with arpeggios tinkling and bouncing their moiré delicacy over a humming texture in the background. It gives a nice circular melody that floats in suspension and whose puny trembling chords take the path of an emotional crescendo around the 4th minute. From then on, the music becomes more intense with keyboard chords that fall more heavily. An upbeat rhythm emerges soon after with a sequence that jumps around with a zigzagging effect as well as beats wandering over a structure that slowly returns to the harmonic quietude of its opening. I didn't know BURG at all, a pen name for the Swedish musician Jouni Ollila. His track The Moon is a Harsh Mistress opened the door to a universe to discover. By the way, I strongly recommend you watch his track Solace on YouTube. Here is the link, Solace. I also heard some samples of his album, Incremental Institution, on Bandcamp. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is quite representative of his universe, built primarily on analog synths, with a more or less gothic structure that develops through a series of more or less rhythmic beats. The keyboard lays down a delicate melody whose frosted arpeggios tinkle on this structure which becomes animated with jolts. These jolts have an industrial texture that resounds in an electronic envelope dominated by good synth solos. The track follows this minimalist evolution while inserting more industrial resonances and percussive effects that give more nobility to a structure whose sequencer reminds a certain Chris Franke. To be discovered! Elinch is also a new name for me. We can also see the prowess of this German artist, who is also adept at analog synths, on YouTube. His latest album, Diaries, is available on a name-your-price basis on Bandcamp. I downloaded it! Fahrbahn is a more experimental track that you should take the time to listen to. It's an atmospheric track knotted on the intensity of repetitive synth loops that twirl over a shroud of murky resonance. It belongs after The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and to that shorter section of a more experimental EM of this GEMSTONES III. Arcane's Frontiers 4 doesn't really need an introduction, I reviewed the album which you can read here. This is pure Tangerine Dream in the realm of their 80's film music. I've been hearing about the English artist Takla Makan, real name Tony Allgood, for a long time. But I never had the chance to hear his music. Cyclical Dreams gives me this opportunity which I eagerly seized with the frivolous harmonic structure of Spiralling. Let's just say that the glass arpeggios don't take long to get in tune with the track with a nice melodious swirl that a pulsing bass-line harpoons into a bouncy structure that is not without recalling Tangerine Dream, especially in the intonations of this bouncy rhythm. The arpeggios take another tangent more rhythmic than melodic, momentarily chasing the first line of harmony of this track which will unravel with some changes of skins, rhythmic as harmonic, all along its almost 12 minutes. It's the kind of evolving track that takes a few listens, but it's very good. It's a new perspective on the art of drawing influences from Dream music.
Cartas de Japón is equal to itself by offering a refined and slightly complex EM with Toay. I love its tribal opening with those percussions that resonate under a wind of an apocalyptic synth. The percussion playing is driving as the ambiance gilds itself in a sibylline world. The rhythm progression, which is essentially the foundation of Toay, transforms as a gem for those who demand more refinement for electronic percussions. I know the music of Thom Brennan from his album Mountains in the late '80s. And it's with pleasure that I renew with his music which is more centered on the atmospheres depicting the soundscapes of the American East and West coasts. Lands of War is quite representative of his style with vibrating pulsations and muffled beats that serve as a bed for atmospheric turbulences. The American musician-synthesist multiplies loops and reverberations effects which have the capacity to accentuate the strength of a stationary rhythm. Intense is the ideal adjective to describe the ambiences of Lands of War. I would not knit too long around Tribute to KS which is a very beautiful electronic ritornello of The Soviet Space Dog Project. Luminous with its arpeggios surrounded by glass, it's a celestial melody of the kind of Crystal Lake that snakes our emotions with a little more vigor. A great piece of EM! I just reviewed Sophos' latest album, MUEON, which I found very good by the way. And Tales from Dark Matter follows in the footsteps of that album with the first structure of pulsating rhythm whose random beats structure a long zigzagging rhythmic corridor. The reflection of a layer of acrylic mist floats around this impetuous rhythmic movement that is echoed with a more ethereal, harmonious vision of a parallel structure. Ascending, the rhythm follows its relentless course, gathering different tones that give it a more seraphic musical luster. When complexity falls in love with its paradox! RoSch? It's a new project of Frank Rothe and Mario Schönwälder who give in a dark ambient style. Surrounded by a choir of gothic monks and by sibylline synth waves, Sacre-Coeur is a slow procession that reminds a lot of the dark atmospheric phases of Filter-Kaffee 104. Initially jostled by sparse percussions, the music evolves in meditative mode with smooth fluty odes in its middle, to conclude with a delicate sequence of ambient rhythm. It is surprises from this duo that incites us to drink Filter-Kaffee. Intense atmospheric title and jostled by ephemeral explosions of rhythms and rhythmic melodies, Lámparas de Mercurio easily explains why EM is so seductive. And if I were asked to find a track that depicts the passage from autumn to winter observed from a headland, I would probably choose this track whose rhythmic structure is dictated by a crossing of lively oscillations that snake the discrete undulations of a sequenced pulsing bass-line. The oscillations maintain a good melodic level where winds whistle a spectral air. Arpeggios twirling like snowflakes in a spiral wind detaches itself from the oscillations, creating a harmonic swirl that is in symbiosis with the first 3 elements that shake the premises of this beautiful track by Francisco Nicosia. Other chords totally disconnected from the context also fall, creating a sweet cacophony that adds a new harmonious dimension to this track that is to be devoured eagerly by the ears! In your Dimension is a beautiful track that Michel Huygen dedicates to a longtime friend Tomás C.Gilsanz. This second father for the Spanish musician was not only his great confidant but also the artist whose paintings adorned the front covers of Neuronium's first albums, such as Chromium Echos, The Visitor and Heritage to name a few. It's a very melancholic track performed by a synth disguised as an acoustic guitar from which the painfully plucked chords resonate over a shroud of distressed voices.
Between audacity and a well-established comfort zone, between complexity and the lightness of a more accessible electronic music (EM), GEMSTONES III rakes wide and proposes a wonderful balance between the various orientations of EM inspired by the Berlin School style. There is some very good music in this compilation of tracks, for the most part unreleased, which always find a way to play with our emotions, providing us with 107 minutes of music that turns out to be better listened to and discovered than to explained... even with the largest of the vocabulary. Gentlemen of Cyclical Dreams, you are very impressive!
For more information visit: