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Stephan Thelen - Fractal Guitar CD (album) cover


Stephan Thelen



3.99 | 47 ratings

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5 stars Review originally posted at

The name of Stephan Thelen might not be as familiar as he deserves, since his work this millennium as a Sonar member or solo musician has been very prolific. However, with the release of this 'Fractal Guitar' album, he and his collaborators have made us (the listeners) quite happy.

It is common to me that the first time I listen to an album I don't immediately click with it, but this time was not like this. 'Fractal Guitar' is captivating, I embraced its charm since the very first experience, because yeah, Thelen is the mastermind behind it, but he chose a bunch of wonderful first-class musicians to join the road. Most of them are guitar players but each of them has a peculiar style, a personal touch that was added in certain parts of the album.

When we talk about records with no boundaries, we must turn to this one. A progressive rock, jazzy, spacey, experimental, exquisite release that will give you a unique and different experience every time you listen to it. If you don't believe me, just start playing the first track: 'Briefing for a Descent into Hell', a long 18-minute track that has countless passages, atmospheres, notes and sounds. It progresses little by little, surprising us with the creative figures the musicians create. An ambitious project whose result is simply outstanding and, believe me, it is enough to listen to this single track to realize it.

Stephan Thelen himself pointed out that he wanted to write an album in which effects were integral part of the music. With that on mind, he empowered a concept he already had, called fractal guitar, an effect that consists on rhythmic delay with a high feedback level. But to make it real, he also wanted to be joined by people such as Markus Reuter or David Torn, musicians that are creative, educated, experimental and compromised. This is why the album is a carousel of sounds, and a ticket to music paradise. Addictive sounds, repetitive structures fulfilled by loops, improvisation and understanding. Important to say that the role of percussion men along with bass-man Matt Tate is also incredible. It is an exciting journey!

The best of this album is that you will love every single track, a clear example is 'Road Movie', a shorter but amazing song that spits a hypnotizing structure in which you can close your eyes and let the diversity of colors make their work. It is like a spacey trip full of emotions, an expansive sensorial experience where guitars take you to infinite paradises, while drums create the needed shelter.

An exquisite effort comes next with 'Fractal Guitar', which has some Crimson vibes on it, endless loops and a delicious spacey atmosphere. After three minutes it becomes a bit more aggressive, drums put more elements while strings keep experimenting and adding colors here and there. The intensity still increases and those crimsonian vibes become even more evident, it is the climax of the song. Then it slows down again, the peace has returned.

The soundscapes of 'Radiant Day' are beautiful, you'll perceive them better while using good headphones. The bass is predominant in this piece, it is cool to see it being as important as the guitars, which hypothetically are the main elements on the album.

Last but not least, the amazing 17-minute 'Urban Nightscape' is the perfect closer. Ambitious that Thelen and co. opened and finished with their longest songs, in one hand we could think about a circle, an album that perfectly spins round and round, but in other hand, it cannot be a circle, I mean, there are endless drifts, winding roads that we have to sort out with our ears, emotions and soul. Stephan Thelen has made a memorable album that, at least to me, deserves to be on this year's top ten, to say the least.

memowakeman | 5/5 |


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