With glittering, sun-on-ice notes, Jeffrey Koepper begins his seventh analogue-only voyage, Arctisonia. Koepper patiently sets up his mathematical sequencer rhythms, balancing them atop one another, then lets the interplay of pulse and flow take over. There’s a hypnotic quality to the way the main algorithms seem to simply repeat. (Trust me, there’s actually nothing simple to them.) The dynamics at work shift glacially, change happening over the course of mental eons. By the time you perceive the change, it feels like it’s been there all along. As always, Koepper pays attention to both sides of the scale, the Berlin-school energy of sequencers and the windblown washes of pure synth pads. In “Ilulissat,” he hits a perfect Berlin stride, his geometric baseline laid rock-solid while his high, calm melodies move cloud-like over the top. Spirals of electronic twiddle punctuate the flow. This track makes a superb transition into “Ice Flow” which has to be heard to be appreciated. As “Ilulissat” wends down to a waveform drone, Koepper hits a switch that for all the world sounds like he simply tapped the “Marimba” automatic rhythm on a cheap keyboard. While it tick-tocks away, he begins to lay in walls of oscillating sound that take over as “Ice Flow” gets underway. A twangy beat rises to modernize that marimba, and Koepper’s off. The centerpiece is the 21-minute “Avalanche,” which has a great narrative flow. It begins with sequencer arpeggios appropriately racing at breathtaking speed before Koepper flattens them out to long, layered drones. Another round of sequencers rise to work through the drones. Koepper gives himself plenty of space to make this track work very effectively. There’s a great sense of development in all the pieces here, and Koepper brings them all to a solid sense of closure.
Arctisonia is a strong addition to the Koepper canon, well in keeping with what he’s done before. After seven discs of it, though, I’d love to hear what Jeffrey could do if he eschewed the sequencer rhythms and focused on the pure, atmospheric pads and washes he could cull from his collection of analogue synths. (Along the lines of “While We Sleep” from Etherea, or even the hushed lull of the first five minutes or so of “Greenland,” from this disc.) Until that happens, I’m content to further explore the expanses of Arctisonia.
Available from Jeffrey Koepper’s web site.