The inspiration for this album came from the atmosphere around the Earth. The songs are inspired by the different layers of air around our world, the different cloud formations that are encountered in these layers and the sounds of different weather phenomena. While listening to this album you will travel through these layers of air starting on the surface of the Earth and ending up in space.
Atmosphere is a great new album of synth music from Dutch synthesist Michel van Osenbruggen, aka Synth.nl.
Atmosphere is a concept album, based on the layers of atmosphere that surround the Earth, the various types of clouds that are encountered within each layer and the sounds of weather that might occur at each layer. The tracks are arranged to follow the layers of the atmosphere, as if you were taking a trip from the earth into space. The “atmosphere” concept isn't heavy-handed, but serves as a framework for Osenbruggen’s music, which is electronic music in the synth music tradition of artists like Tangerine Dream, 80’s Jan Hammer & Jean Michel Jarre. The music has a symphonic electronica texture with an emphasis on traditional analog-style sounds.
The tracks on Atmosphere are very melodic, without being pop-ish.
One of the highlights of the album is Stratocumulus. It features a sequenced synth bass line, a string/brass synth melody line and phased synth strings. Synth.nl builds on this with tasteful use of electronic percussion, effects and a bit of sampled ambient effects.
Another highlight is Allocumulus, which has an almost hymnlike quality. It begins by stating the theme with muted synth strings, accompanied by subtle percussive effects. It then repeats the theme in a series of variations, repeating once in an arpeggiated version, and then building to a broader statement of the theme with electronic rhythms and new instrumentation of the melody. Osenbruggen brings back the arpeggiated variation on the theme and then builds the piece back up to another peak.
Jarre fans may smile a bit when hearing the track Mesosphere, which echoes the sounds of Oxygene and Equinoxe with its use of heavily phased synth strings and a melodic bass line.
Another highlight is Allostratus. It’s built around a descending bass line that repeats throughout most of the piece. Osenbruggen gives it a modern feel by using multiple layered basslines and electronic percussion, without taking it into dance music territory. Osenbruggen adds interest through effective used of synth orchestration and the use of several breaks.
Overall, Synth.nl’s Atmosphere is a treat for synth fans. Osenbruggen’s style of symphonic electronica will appeal to fans of classic synth music & space music artists of the late 70’s and 80’s – but it’s not too hard to imagine these tracks being remixed as dance music, too.
This release from 2008 offers 71 minutes of pleasant electronic music. Synth.nl is Michel van Osenbruggen. He is joined by Hans Landman, who plays most of the lead lines in one track. A study of the planetary atmosphere, voyaging from the ground to outer space and examining the various cloud formations and weather conditions that dwell within that gas envelope. One might expect this music to be airily ambient, but it possesses a suitable degree of rhythm and lively melody. The electronics exhibit a chugging quality, comprised of cyclic pulsations that churn amid a foundation of atmospheric textures. Keyboard triggered riffs float with undulant disposition. What seems to be an elegant simplicity in structure is actually a pleasant complexity achieved as the sonic threads intermingle and merge into a pacific flow. Most of the sounds are light and airy, excellently conveying a sense of gaseous certification. There are instances wherein deeper tones are employed, injecting a touch of drama to the fanciful whimsy. E-perc defines languid rhythms which provide soothing locomotion to the melodies. The beats are soft and understated so as not to disrupt the music’s delicate character. Environmental samples of a meteorological nature are utilized to lend the electronic pastiches a terrestrial flavor. These compositions manage to be simultaneously spry and calming. The activity found within these songs displays a meticulous restraint, never going overt or reaching a hyperactive pace, while the passivity is deceptively lush, exploring melodic realms too substantial to be considered ambient. The result is a selection of affable tuneage crafted with delicate intentions.
Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity