Martin Stürtzer – Ambient Nights, Vol. 1
A somewhat strange release from the legendary synth master this one. It features 4 tracks of wildly varying length, from a relatively short 16 minutes to just nudging over an hour. There are some musical differences between them too, as well as some similarities which we’ll note later in the review. Before we look into this in more detail, the tracks and timings.
- Galaxy Merger [01:00:58]
- Celestial Hues [16:45]
- Stellar Remnants [18:00]
- Lunar Reverie [43:14]
Galaxy Merger is the first and longest track on the album. It’s also the most ‘ambient’ of them all. Long form ambient lush pads dance around each other and long into the track you become aware of a deep, minimal sequence running underneath. Very nice.
Celestial Hues sees a shift toward sequencer-based music, or what I would term Berlin-school electronic music. The kind of hypnotic sequenced synths that draw you in to an ever evolving soundscape, only to be ‘spat out’ the other end into a void of silence. Definitely the highest tempo of the tracks, but still managing to be a tremendously relaxing piece to listen to. Lovely ratcheting on the sequences too.
Stellar Remnants has some more intensive pads that really are wide and spacious. The sequencer work here is with synth tones of a lighter nature. Thin sounds, higher pitches are the order of the day with minimal bass tones and lots of lovely delay on the upper registers give a lot of sonic space to this track.
Lunar Reverie is my personal favourite on this album, in equal measure lush evolving ambient pads and deeply, deeply hypnotic sequenced synths driving an epic musical journey. True space music. It seems to be extremely popular on the reviews on the Bandcamp release page, and it’s hard not to see why. Lush, minimal pads intersect with layered sequences that modulate in a gentle pulsing to give a real sense of motion – but motion without urgency. It’s a track that I can easily lose my sense of time with, and have been disappointed to reach the end thinking it’s too short. But it’s nearly 45 minutes long.
Overall, a mixed bag of tracks in terms of style but not in tone. I’m not convinced they fully work as a whole, however each track does stand out as a separate enjoyable piece. Given the runtime of 2hr 19m, it’s probably more of an album to select a track and enjoy in isolation.
However, the underlying intent in the tracks is more down to structure and tone, rather than any other artistic choice. From the sleeve notes of the album’s concept, Martin states:
Each of the four long-form tracks has a very slow pace and builds up sound layer by sound layer. Pads and minimalistic melodies from the Sequential Prophet 10, OB-6, and Pro-2 are accompanied by sequences from the Moog synthesizers, modular system, and Waldorf Iridium.
The “Ambient Night” sessions give me a platform to improvise and create music during a live performance. Most sounds are programmed and patched on the fly with a focus on modulations and a balanced frequency range. The tonality is often built around a single chord with its options, expansions, and parallels.
I can see where he’s coming from, so my observation and critique of this album’s “style” is pretty weak. It’s a solid set of Stürtzer synth work, and extremely listenable to boot. If you’re a fan of his, you’ve probably heard/watched similar in his live at home concerts, or even from similar albums like Dyson Sphere Alpha (which I must review soon).
Each track has it’s strengths, and Lunar Reveries is Stürtzer at his finest – in my opinion of course 🙂
Ambient Nights Vol. 1 is available on Bandcamp as well as most other music sources.