VAN SERG - The Moving Sands Of Lobo Vallis

Van Serg - The Moving Sands Of Lobo Vallis

5 songs
32:25 minutes
***** ***

There is not much background information about Van Serg, except that itís a new project by Swedish musician Per Thorsell, best known as long-time guitar player of garage surf rock band Robert Johnson and Punchdrunks until 2008, then being one half of synth pop duo Soundburger, and now trying his hands on authentic Berlin School sound.

Gone are the guitars, instead we get patterns played on a sequencer, with occasional mellotron solos and discreet organ notes, as is the case on the opener and title track. This song truly recalls the glory days of early to mid-Seventies Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. The following Dark Dunes starts, true to its title, as a dark ambient piece, but one third in, the sequencer makes a return with a gloomy melody underlaid with a busy bass line, giving it a certain dark synthwave flair. All of the songs are a little over six minutes long, except for Tharsis which graces the middle of the album. This track is nearly eight minutes long and starts once again with a dark atmospheric and hardly rhythmic wind sound which is at times nicely distorted, before the typical sequencer patterns recall again the glorious moods of the Berlin School. The mellotron flute sound that starts in the middle and runs until the end of this epic adds some pleasant variety. Orbiter is a quieter track which has a final section with a slowly played melodic piano part. This song would be the ideal soundtrack for a science documentary on TV. Chryse Planitia ends the album in a gloomy way with chiming piano sounds played over a dark ambient synth carpet.

Although the project is named after a crater on the Moon, the songs seem to only deal with the geography of Mars. Per Thorsell doesnít need any lyrics to convey his message because his warm organic sounds do all the talking. I donít call myself an expert of the Berlin School because I have to admit that I am only familiar with the classic albums of the genre, but the five songs on this rather short album have something magic and are best listened to in the evening or at night, sitting comfortably in an armchair with a good book and possibly something nice to drink. Which is what I do at home anyway often enough as my dog has a predilection for ambient and dark jazz music only. Friends of ethereal soundscapes with possibly hypnotic effects might only be disappointed that there are not the twenty minute epics they are used to from Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, but Van Serg shows clearly enough that this kind of music also works in shorter pieces.

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