Categories
electronic

Egopusher – Beyond

In a way, Egopusher reminds me of the past. Don’t know if that’s a compliment for the duo: the press release of Beyond pinpoints the album as a soundtrack for (in)possible futures. That makes sense. The future already happened. So, my reference isn’t that strange.

What past or pasts does Egopusher bring back?

First of all, that of the pre-covid19 club culture. Beyond is a celebration of optimism, confidence and anticipation. It reminds of club nights with maximum techno. Techno that, in contrast for minimal, doesn’t leave any room for individual expression but is so dominant that it dictates every centimetre or inch of the dance floor. A totally immersive experience. I love it.

Beyond also reminds me of the carelessness or even recklessness of the 1990s. The sound on the album is open and maximal. Grotesque, even. In contrast to Egopusher’s first album Blood Red (2017), there are no limitations.

Egopusher is drummer/producer Alessandro Giannelli and violinist Tobias Preisig, both living in Zürich. In the press release, Giannelli notes that the album makes him think of a soundtrack to a sci-fi film that would be directed by Sofia Coppola. There is also a familiarity with the esthetics of 2001: A Space Odyssey, probably one of the best know sci-fi movies. The movie is open, explorative, boundless and moody, just like Beyond.

In contrast to the maximal character of the sound employed by Giannelli and Preisig, there is an emphasis on details. Rhythms slowly change, maybe grow is a better metaphor. The blend of techno, trance and ambient is in that respect similar to the work of James Holden and his Border Community record label.

Beyond walks the thin lines between the club, trip, kitsch and contemplation. In the two centrepieces – ‘Re-Entry’ and ‘Elenor’ those elements blend together brilliantly. The synthetic sounding drums and synths and cliché hand claps match perfectly with the neo-classical elements.

The ambient trance of ‘Faint’ and ‘Sheen’ is like a baroque version of Wolgang Voigt’s GAS.

This is a beautiful trip into the past or futures that we once dreamt of.

Beyond by Egopusher is released by Quiet Love Records.

Categories
ambient electronic

Applescal – Diamond Skies

There are so many layers to discover on Diamond Skies.

Let’s start at the beginning.

In a way, Applescal is the missing link between the ambient techno of the Border Community sound and Dutch trance. Like his other records, Diamond Skies lacks the strong melancholic element of Cologne ambient scene (The Field, Popnoname) but is full of grand gestures. The optimism and directness of James Holden are never far away. The trance influence takes the edge off. It never becomes sentimental, like for example Nathan Fake’s ‘The Sky was Pink’ does.

Applescal is Amsterdam based producer Pascal Terstappen and Diamond Skies, released on this own Atomnation record label, is his sixth album. This one is his most coherent and direct.

That’s the second layer.

The album sounds like dancing on a house festival somewhere in the woods near Amsterdam while the sun is fading away into the night but still feels warm on your skin. It makes you long for those golden moments. The moments you become the rave and the rave becomes you. Terstappen captured that feeling all too well. Maybe on purpose, because he finished Diamond Skies in Covid-19 lockdown.

In that sense, this a nostalgic album. Well, let’s replace nostalgic by the German word Fernweh. It’s not so much the longing for what once was (house festival in the woods, etc etc) but for what we’ve lost and eventually will get back if we’re lucky. The mood on Diamond Skies is that of longing for an alternative reality where we are still able to dance, watch the sun disappear, sip cold white wine, dance some more, and witness a beautiful sunset.

That makes me both sad and happy. That’s layer three.

Playing Diamond Skies loud on my stereo makes me long for a summer full of dance parties so much, but also makes me feel like I’m there. Opening tracks ‘Incognitana’ and ‘Legobeats’, played on high volume, suck you in and drown you in rave aesthetics. The subtle piano chords, playful synths and clouds of ambient melodies are incredible addictive.

Diamond Skies might be the most coherent and direct Applescal album, it is also his most sophisticated. Beneath the superficial and linear structure of the tracks, hides a moody and strong sentiment.

Come to think of it, maybe Diamond Skies is Fernweh because it emotionally connects to the best house party you’ve ever been to, and that might well be one that you’ve only imagined in your dreams.

This is an album for dreamers.

Diamond Skies by Applescal is released by Atomnation.