“To Stand Like a Rainbow” C50 (Hylé Tapes)

 I’m in awe of performers who can improvise and not lose the thread of what they’re doing, not go on wanking and pushing until very little remains of what they intended to accomplish in the first place. That’s why you’ll see me go off on jam bands periodically around here – I just don’t get the masturbatory impulses of country rock stretched to interminable lengths. I mean, I understand the appeal of it to people on acid and stuff, I guess, but man, it just does not do anything for me. Plus, everybody’s always dirty and smelly. Blech.

At least improvised experimental music is often performed by clean people, and sometimes even in museums! I kid, I kid, that’s not the real difference. Without spending an inordinate amount of time explaining why Demeure & Jardin, who sound nothing like, say, Phish, appeal to me more than, say, Phish do, I’ll just call it a matter of taste and leave it there. Because there is nothing even remotely connecting the two styles. Demeure & Jardin, the performing moniker of Martin Deck-Roussel and Lény Bernay, respectively, allow their synthesizer rigs to do the talking, and somehow have the wherewithal to craft monuments of sound filled with life and excitement. And it’s all improvised. Take that you stupid Trey Anastasio!

Anyway, before I call down the ire of the editors who are constantly watching, I should probably get to the release itself. To Stand Like a Rainbow was recorded live at an event of the same name, at Poutres Apparentes, an artist collective in Nantes, France on March 14, 2015. As I’ve mentioned, Demeure & Jardin treated the audience to an amazing array of synthesizer mania, and it has been captured on cassette and released by Paris-based Hylé Tapes. Recalling the masters—and you should watch the synthesizer documentary I Dream of Wires to totally get the vibe of Morton Subotnick, Klaus Schultze, or Keith Fullerton Whitman, just to name a few—To Stand Like a Rainbow plays like a road trip through styles and periods, the playfulness and reverence inherent in everything the two artists do. The longer pieces, such as “New York Is Burning,” “Remember the Liberty Tower,” and the title track, sometimes recall Tangerine Dream or Vangelis, stretching out and evolving. Shorter pieces act as transitions and sometimes feature vocal samples and other oddities that don’t necessarily fit within the longer ones (see, in particular, “L.T. Works” and “Dell”). It’s all pretty amazing, and endlessly engaging.

Whatever your penchant for experimental synthesizer music, you owe it to yourself to check out two artists who are clearly at the top of their game. This is a great introduction to the possibilities of synthesizer improvisation, and also a great continuation of the legacy of the instrument. I only wish I had been at the performance to see Demeure & Jardin in action. For those who were there, it probably would have looked and sounded awesome with a little bit of chemical enhancement. Shoot, there I go, contradicting myself.

--Ryan Masteller