June 2020 update: review
January 16, 2020
CD: Viktoriapark VP 2020
8 tracks, 48 minutes
|2.||Return To Sender||6:10||6.||Empire||5:15|
|3.||Classic Scratches||4:29||7.||Crimes Of Passion||5:32|
|4.||Beyond The score||6:11||8.||Roar Of Eternity||7:22|
‘Iconic’ is the new 2020 album from the collaboration that is: Johannes Schmoelling, Kurt Ader and Robert Waters, collectively known as: S-A-W.
Schmoelling we all know and love from his TANGERINE DREAM days and then the string of superb solo albums he has released over the last few decades. Waters is JS’s partner in the LOOM project and Ader, who is relatively new on the EM scene but for some time has been somewhat of a "sound guru" who develops sounds for a lot of the world's great keyboard manufacturers and the majority of the great keyboard players of the world today, including Johannes Schmoelling! Ader’s own musical style is quite wide ranging, but the core style is a la Jean Michel Jarre, TANGERINE DREAM and Vangelis and a whole lot more in-between, so he sound perfectly suited to the Schmoelling / Waters ethos.
‘Iconic’ was recorded during 2019 at: Olivier Grall's Synthé Grall Studio in France, S-A-W Studio Berlin, S-A-W Studio Wendland and S-A-W Studio Mannheim.
All tracks were composed by S-A-W, except for 4, 5, 7 & 8, which are by S-A-W and Oliver Grall.
We used hardware, analogue synths and digital gear - We accepted unpredictable factors and uncontrolled moments - We cultivated electronic traditions in order to create new ones - We paid homage to the legends and then we started ICONIC
We can tell you that this is an excellent album that will make you think of the period of TANGERINE DREAM when Johannes Schmoelling was present in the line-up, and perhaps a bit of Vangelis in places! Of course if you are a JS solo fan there is a whole lot of fantastic music in here for you too!
Here are some brief notes on the music for each of the album’s 8 tracks …
‘Einzigartig’ opens the album an infectious building rhythmic track with a KRAFTWERK styled vocoded voice line set over a backing that expands into a flowing layered melodic synth piece.
‘Return To Sender’ features a VERY addictive Johannes Schmoelling melody line backed with rippling sequencer rhythms and sounds very much like JS period TANGERINE DREAM at times... thinking ‘Le-Parc’ / ‘Underwater Sunlight’ period myself!
‘Classic Scratches’ is again JS period TD like, with a fantastic lead melody set over a bed of hazy atmospheric synth textures and low-key rhythms.
‘Beyond The Score’ is again JS / TD but initially more laid-back and atmospheric with a beautiful JS melody evolving throughout as a rippling rhythmic flow develops. A 'saw' like synth lead takes over for a short time at the four-minute mark, before returning to the main melody once more amidst an array of other textural effects and counter melodies.
At over nine-minutes ‘The Crusade‘ is the longest piece on the on the album. A slow builder, it develops over a distant rhythmic run with a kind of almost slide-guitar synth lead winding its way up to and expanded rhythm and other surrounding effects. Bursts of stark organ sounds blossom out into a huge chord that quickly disperses to leave effects and angelic voices spiralling all around. Rippling VCS3 textures then emerge over a heavily sequenced passage where all manner of background effects fill the soundstage before a new melody line emerges that is pure JS in symphonic Vangelis mode!
‘Empire’ is JS in his classic full symphonic melodic flow mode ... his fans will love this to bits!!
‘Crimes Of Passion’ is initially effects laden with deep rumbles and sporadic sounds creating a heady atmosphere, then deep synth riffs and swathes of string synths come in to introduce an exceptionally infectious - shivers down the spine - melody that is classic full-on JS.
‘Roar Of Eternity’ opens with a paced-up sequencer rhythm overlaid with melodic synth chords... All very TD this one, with some nice melodic flute-synth refrains on show! The track closes with some beautiful piano and cello-synth melodies before finally closing with a set of sound effects that mirror the opening effects to some degree.
Most EM fans will not be disappointed with ‘Iconic’ :-)