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Robert Schroeder — Pyroclast
(Spheric Music SMCD 2042, 2021, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-06-12

Pyroclast Cover art

For those of us who are not vulcanologists, pyroclast refers to the hot ash and rocks that are ejected from a volcano, which then, after being jetted upward, turn around and come down the sides of the volcano and wreak further destruction. It’s an interesting subject for an album of mostly instrumental electronics by an artist whose previous 40 or so albums cover a variety of topics, mostly not far from space or electronics or sci-fi or the like. Having only heard about six titles from his vast catalog, I have to say that Pyroclast is certainly one of the most accomplished works I’ve heard from him, full of rich and colorful melodies and textures, even though most of his sounds seem to be coming from modular synths and rhythm machines, with much Berlin School sequencing and ambient chill-out moments to vary the pace. Especially nice are the massive choral effects of “Fertile Soil” and the synthetic vocal effects of “Tephra,” though even just the basic electronic keyboard tracks and textures are enough to make Pyroclast far more engaging that his previous C’est Magique, which had a sort-of new-agey vibe going through it. Tracks like “Inside Out,” “Pressure,” and “Exothermic Flow” have powerful grooves and soaring tonal colors that offer the listener some of the finest moments, reminiscent of Tangerine Dream of yesteryear. While none of the album’s eight tracks in my mind convey the tragedy, horror, and human suffering experienced by those living in the path of an active volcano (think Pinatubo in the Philippines a few years back, or Vesuvius in ancient times), the composer is evidently seeing things differently, which is certainly his prerogative. Regardless, Pyroclast contains some truly beautiful and engaging sounds.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Robert Schroeder

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