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(65:35, Dreaming Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Trip Begins 3:39 2. Nova 5:51 3. Indian Ocean 4:26 4. Dusk 1:52 5. Storm 4:00 6. Dancing Mist in Bezakih 7. Garuda 1:18 8. La Spirale des Sons 4:08 9. Divine 1:31 10. Pure 3:30 11. Illusions 9:58 12. Panyembrama 4:58 13. Mystical Island 4:55 14. The Hidden Beast 2:09 15. Towards Infinity 7:06 LINEUP: Miguel Samiez – keyboards; programming Christophe Gigon – guitars With: Rama - vocals (1, 14) Caroline Plachia - vocals (12, 13)
Prolusion. Based in Switzerland, according to the Myspace page for this release, “Tenganan” is the debut album by AERYAL, from France. It is a CD two years in the making, and the recordings started when Miguel Samiez, the man behind this release, was visiting Bali in 2005. Samiez himself has been around for some time apparently, as his discography starts with music made with the Commodore Amiga back in the 90's, but it appears that the change of musical style on this album warranted that it was released under a different moniker.
Analysis. There are basically three types of pieces on this album, where the main distinguishing element is style rather than sound. The basic setup on all the tunes here are the use of synths and keyboards, most times in multiple layers, modern electronic rhythms with loops and rhythmic elements added to the basic rhythmic sounds, frequent use of melodic percussion, and samples of various nature sounds extensively used to add textures to the compositions. In addition, the guitar has been allowed to add sparkle to the soundscapes, and voices and vocals are added for effect on a few tunes. And within this basic frame three slightly different styles are explored, sometimes with entire songs dedicated to one specific style and at other times with two different or all three styles visited in the individual track. The first of these styles, as I hear it, pretty much sounds like a mix of Deep Forest and Jean-Michel Jarre, with distinct melodies, often with an ethnic or tribal beat, and are generally fast flowing and accessible tunes, easy on the ears, but also a tad amorphous at times. The second style is a mellower and more ambient type of music, most times with dampened synth melodies or atmospheres. On those tunes and segments the sampled nature sounds are much more dominant, often cleverly incorporated into the mood and melody explored, reminding me quite a lot of the mellower releases of Austrian keyboard wizard Gandalf. The third style explores a style of music that is slightly darker, deeper and melancholic; with a general feeling of deep space to the sonic landscapes served. Vangelis and Tangerine Dream are artists that come to mind when listening to these particular soundscapes. Binding all this together are samples and melodic lines. One track ties into the next either by a melodic theme ending one tune and starting the next or by the use of sampled nature sounds. In addition, there's a distinct oriental atmosphere to the album as a whole and, although not dominating the musical elements with that particular mood, pops up now and again and with a frequency that makes it an album feature rather than an effect on an individual tune. The album as such seems to be made to be listened to in one sitting. Whereas the pieces come across as mixed in quality individually, listening to the album as a whole is another experience entirely, and fans of this kind of music are advised to do just that. I guess the opening track is called The Trip Begins for a reason.
Conclusion. Musically "Tenganan" is a bit of a lightweight release, as the compositions aren't complex or challenging to listen to in any way. Slick and well-produced songs are the name of the game here: accessible, melodic and with a distinct commercial sound to it all. Even so, many tunes are compelling; it is a fairly fascinating release in its own way and it's certainly not made without skill. Fans of electronic music in general and new age in particular may find this to be a nice addition to their collections.
OMB: June 11, 2008
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