Nomads is the latest release from Belgian composer and synthesist Frank Van Bogaert.
Bogaert is one of the leading artists working in the symphonic electronica style pioneered by the likes of Vangelis and Jean-Michelle Jarre. Bogaert is carving out his own territory, though, using his own unique palette of synth orchestral sounds and effects. Previously, we’ve reviewed Bogaert’s One Out Of Five, a compilation that is a great introduction to his style.
Nomads is themed around the idea that we are travellers, not just from one place to another, but from one world to another. The music is often expansive and grand, but also features sections of real subtlety, suggesting that Bogaert could easily make the move to soundtracks.
The CD makes clear that Bogaert is a skillful orchestrator of electronic sounds; he creates powerful symphonic textures with an electronic palette that ranges from imitative samples to classic synth sounds to creative sound synthesis. He also carries over instrumentation from one track to another, giving the music the feel that it is performed by a virtual orchestra.
Nomads starts off with a great track, Overture, a symphonic electronica anthem, combining a variety of orchestral percussion, synth strings and synth horns.
One of the highlights of the CD is Furious Jam, a sequencer-driven synthfest. The track combines the improvisation of prog with the huge electronic soundscapes of classic synth music. Bogaert layers sequences with huge acoustic percussion effects & live drums. The track is full of tasty keyboard work, jumping rapidly from one lead voice to another.
Aquatopia seems to take its inspiration from Vangelis’ Oceanic, combining surf sounds, sequenced orchestral instruments and a wordless chorus. The track starts very quietly and builds to a rousing choral climax.
Another nice track is Mont Blanc. It starts with ambient drone effects, and then builds slowly, introducing a melody on piano. Bogaert takes his time developing this, adding synth strings, wordless vocals and other effects to bring the piece to a peak before returning to the ambient effects at the end.
A truly gorgeous track is Blue Down There. On this track, Bogaert cuts loose his synth chops and creates a soundscape that evokes the weightlessness and strange beauty of space. He weaves samples of astronauts being interviewed in space by earth-bound children, to beautiful and moving effect. Subtlety reigns on the track, from the wonderful selection of spoken word texts to the slowly evolving synth orchestration. It’s a great track on its own, but it also brings to mind classic 70’s space music.
The last track, Beneath The Ice, is another really evocative track. It’s essentially a drone-based piece, with deep bass sounds, washes of synth strings, bell-like keyboards and drifting noise effects. It establishes a lovely, haunting mood that leaves you wanting more.
Frank Van Bogaert’s Nomads is a great collection of symphonic electronica. It explores a wide range of moods and textures, ranging from the grand and bombastic to subtle, reflective soundscapes. We’ve only heard two of Bogaert’s releases – Nomads & his greatest hits collection – but based on these, it’s clear that Bogaert is not just standing on the shoulders of the first generation of synth music giants, but he’s becoming one of the current leading artists in the genre.
- Crack the Blue Sky
- Furious Jam
- Mont Blanc
- Blue Down There
- Beneath the Ice