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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Electronic composer Tomás Fernández Girón delivered a precious and heart-breaking little Berlin school-influenced electronic gem back in 2014 with his first album `Forest', and he returns here with a superb follow-up `Stones'. Girón's debut had an instantly identifiable and distinctive style with its restrained ghostly piano and sparse lo-fi production, but `Stones' frequently takes on a warmer, carefully melodic and even more accessible purer prog-electronic and ambient sound that retains his unique musical personality, yet subtly incorporates and embraces his musical influences more. The eclecticism of Vangelis, the aural horizons of Klaus Schulze, the approachability of Jean-Michel Jarre, the wasted haze of early Pink Floyd and the comforting tones of early Steve Roach softly broaden his sonic palette here, these elements bringing a more grand and richer warmth to Girón's foggy, mysterious and sometimes introverted atmospheres.

Girón's trademark weeping wisps gently pierce constant ebbing hums on perfectly titled opener `From Outer Space' that subtly draw closer around wavering other-worldly steady synths that call to mind Jean-Michel Jarre without becoming overly commercial or tepid in the way his albums often did. Delicately cinematic echoing and chiming distorted electric piano shimmers ring through the pristine and protective `Giants Causeway' as Tangerine Dream-like trickling sequencer patterns emerge, only to almost vanish completely into the distance with just a pulsing beat and approaching Mellotron caresses to return to life in the finale.

Pretty and playful submerged crystalline twitches ripple throughout `Aerolights', where soothing `Structures from Silence'- like blissful synth breezes are teeming with life and joy, and feedback-soaked guitar distortion and drowsy Pink Floyd-ian slide strains from guest musician Vako bring mystery and shade to twinkling sunlight sequencer trickles in `Quartz'. `Ode to a Suiseki' is a lulling synth drone where the electronics take on a violin-like melancholic reaching quality, and the album closes on a near seventeen-minute live performance. Not merely some bonus track (it fades in before the previous piece finishes, so perhaps giving it a proper name might have been better!), the deeply hypnotic and spacey `Live at Hackforgood 2015' offers reverberating lulling analogue synth themes full of an aching yearning, slowly introduced buoyant trickling beats and whirring groaning Mellotrons chasms.

`Stones' is a showcase of restraint and lightness of touch from a fiercely intelligent artist, achieving a perfect balance of modern and vintage sounds, refusing to simply offer `more of the same' by remaking his first work. Allowing for his influences to seep in without ever merely imitating their styles has opened Girón's music up in interesting new directions, and despite that pristine, melancholic flavour that permeated his debut being stripped back somewhat, this one still retains the fragility and darkly romantic moods, just balanced a little more with lighter colours. It's another deeply human, wounded yet impossibly hopeful musical statement, and `Stones' is one of the best electronic releases of 2015, further evidence of the unique progressive electronic/ambient voice Tom's Fern'ndez Girón is bringing into the world.

Four stars.

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Posted Wednesday, December 30, 2015 | Review Permalink

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