(february 2011 : review by OMB) :




Prolusion. MARBOSS is the creative handle of French composer and instrumentalist Stephane Marchal. He's been an active solo artist using this moniker since the late 90's, with five productions to his name so far to my knowledge. "Fukushima Daaichi" is the most recent of these, and was released on the Dreaming imprint of the French label Musea Records in the spring of 2011.


Analysis. March 11th 2011 is a date that will be remembered in Japan. A massive tsunami hit parts of the nation, destroying whole cities and causing a major disaster of historical proportions. Besides the extreme human grief and despair caused by this, Japan also faced one of the most feared situations in some technologically advanced nations: a nuclear meltdown. And it was this part of the disaster that Marboss decided to focus on when he performed at a relief concert in benefit for Japan in the spring of 2011. The recording of this performance was subsequently released on CD, named after the nuclear plant where the danger of meltdown was imminent: "Fukushima Daiichi". Opening this performance is a rather ordinary mood piece, basically consisting of a news report on top of a fluctuating synth texture: cinematic and atmospheric, but without too much musical merit. The lyrical contents are chilling reminders of what went down on March 11th of course, but this creation is a rather ordinary piece in terms of pure musical enjoyment. But it is also a vital piece of this performance, as fragments of this opening piece are effectively utilized throughout the rest of this disc, mostly as recurring elements, as shades, echoes and fragments of this brief initial piece are pulled into the six following chapters. And in the cuts named Reactor 1 to 6 we're treated to music with more of a tantalizing expression, basically consisting of two types of compositions. On Reactor-2 and Reactor-4 we're treated to compositions taking their cues from 80's synth pop, late 70's Kraftwerk and early 80's Tangerine Dream – machine-like, energetic rhythms, fluctuating synth textures, and a slightly cold and alien atmosphere, the former featuring extended use of effects-treated voice fragments from the opening track and a slight emphasis on 80's synth pop, the latter with a firmer base on instrumental textures, sound effects and a stylistic expression closer to the aforementioned German electronic masters. The other parts of the performance have more of an emphasis on dream-laden atmospheres and cinematic moods, but with an experimental edge to them: cold, sterile and alien sounds, dampened rhythms fluctuating as undercurrents, machine-inspired effects and an overall mood with a haunting, brooding feel to it. A recurring trait in all of these is rich, partially majestic lead motifs, with an array of additional sounds and effects coming and going. Final cut Reactor-6 features an amazingly effective display of what I'd describe as water-inspired sounds, as the most striking of these sound effects, the partially broken and distorted electronic rhythms effectively used in Reactor-3 another instance of a segment given an identity by the addition of unique nuances. When that is said, the level of experimentation is at a subtle level rather than a challenging and dominating one. As far as electronic music goes this is material of an accessible nature, flavored with dampened but effective sounds and textures that will please those who enjoy savoring the finer details.


Conclusion. With "Fukushiima Daiichi" French artist Marboss has managed to create an effective electronic composition, one creation divided into six parts that manages to conjure up alien and partially scary atmospheres. Fitting for the theme covered I should imagine, and made in an accessible manner. I'd estimate that fans of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream might be a key audience for this production, and in particular those who like the late 70's efforts of the former and the early 80's of the latter. OMB The Rating Room (august 2008 : review by OMB) :




Prolusion. French musician and composer Stephane Marchal is not an unknown entity in the realm of electronic music. He's a fan, as well as collector of, the German pioneer band Kraftwerk, he has worked as a DJ specializing in electronic music in the '90s as well as after the millennium, and hosted the radio show Electrochoc. In addition to this, he has also released two albums previously, "Musica Electronica" issued under the MARBOSS moniker in 1999 and the self-titled album "E-Music" in 2001. "Electrotherapies" is the second album by Stephane Marchal using the Marboss pseudonym, and was released by Musea Records on their sublabel Dreaming in 2008.


Analysis. According to his homepage, Marboss has earned himself a description as being the "French solitary Kraftwerk". And to some extent that description is viable, depending on what focus and bias you have when writing about this artist. The musical content of this CD is rather pure electronic in nature, that is undeniable. Layers upon layers of electronic sounds results in detailed atmospheres with many elements to be discovered by the avid listener. Layers of floating synths is a central element in the songs, sometimes with one running throughout the composition while others come and go, at other times with one or more layers appearing, disappearing and reappearing. Adding texture to the various tunes are simplistic synth melodies as well as the usual array of melodic sounds you often find scattered in the soundscapes of modern electronic music. Underscoring and adding tensions are rhythms –often a basic rhythm with minimalist touches as the foundation and with rhythmic sounds adding detail and drive to the pieces. In many cases this last effect is melodic as well, thus nicely interacting with the melody. Vocal effects add additionally to the atmospheres of the songs, most times the vocoder is extensively used. Marboss seems to be most fond of utilizing softened sounds and melodies in these compositions, even the higher tones will have soft touches to them and he seems to have a special liking for sounds in the mid to low range. Thus the melodic sounds come across as warm and inviting most of the time, while rhythms and effect vocals supply the harsher sounding elements in the soundscapes. The main weakness of this release, especially for fans of progressive music, is the lack of more complicated compositions. True enough there are at times massive amount of details to be discovered, but the main melody is simplistic and easy to follow but without exploring minimalist tendencies, and the amount of sounds and noises to be discovered aren't utilized to create complex or quirky segments, but merely as sounds to be discovered. Basically, most of the music has a clear and distinct foundation in pop music; with the more commercial sounding tunes from artists like Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jarre as probable influences, with a slight leaning towards trance in musical style.


Conclusion. "Electrotherapies" is an interesting release, and in the world of danceable, electronic music with a clear commercial appeal, this is a good release that should be checked out by that particular crowd. People enjoying tunes by artists like Jarre, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream might also find this CD enjoyable, at least if they are mostly interested in the least complicated songs from those artists. OMB The Rating Room