Total time: 63:21

Recorded: 2006
Distributed: 2006


INDRA is a name I’ve heard, but until this CD arrived I’d heard not a single note of music by the artist(s). I’d imagined ‘new agey’ music, but I was very wrong if this disc is representative of INDRA’s output.

A reverberated piano note echoes into the distance and chilled pad sets a classy and relaxed atmosphere for ‘Rudyan’. A ‘whistle’ type sound is used for a mournful and simple melody. A steady, but not overpowering ethnic type rhythm sparks up, the echoing piano continuing to offer rhythmic support. A subtle bass sequence is added to create yet another layer of rhythm. The track runs in this fashion, with new elements added and subtracted at times in the classic ambient fashion. We get choral sounds and more robust beats for example. Eventually the track slides into ambient environmental sounds. A classy opener.

‘Crossed Memories’ is up next and is a little odd. It consists of a treated loop from Kraftwerk’s ‘The Man Machine’ with abstract effects layered over it! I just hope that Indra cleared the sample with the teutonic tronmeisters!

Clanging white noise effects herald a very Kraftwerkian rhythm as ‘Intermission’ launches. A rapid sequence careers around the stereo field; this is a real body moving track. Again INDRA constructs the track in the ambient tradition, different sound elements are added and subtracted from a central core. In this case we get a melodic sequence and choral drones as ‘signature’ sounds whilst the beats just hypnotically evolve. The whole track has a strong feel of Kraftwerk – so I loved it!

‘About Seven’ is up next. A dense choral pad rises beautifully and is closely followed by a very New Order-like sequence. The beats harden with snappy 808 snares. A bleepy bass-line is added, over-laid by abstract vocal samples and all manner of synthetic effects (and the sound of a telephone ringing). There’s also snatches of an eastern melody. This is a very busy track that transported me back to 1980 and the dawn of synthpop – nostalgic heaven for 4.20 mins for me!

Whale calls (I think), ethnic chants and a glorious drone take the mood down for the opening of ‘Dreaming the universe’. After one and a half minutes a crunching rhythm begins to build, taking the track out of new age territory. Various drones and pads rise and fall creating a sense of melody, this is certainly an evocative and clever track. There is a brief lull from the beats for a very atmospheric pause, but they return to the close. Fans of Ian Boddy and Chris Carter’s work would love this.

A bleeping, ethereal sequence opens ‘The end of the Childhood’. Abstract effects accompany it for a while before a warm pad rises to give some harmonic control. A second sequence is added, again it’s gentle and helps to create a syncopated rhythm. A hint of melody hovers in the background. This is a gentle and atmospheric piece. An abstract vocal passage banishes the sequences and we enter a disturbed section, perhaps a nightmare as the opening of the rack had a very dream-like quality? However, it’s a brief lull as the opening elements of the track return. This was a fave track for me, just a lovely, moody piece of electronica.

‘Serenade in Due’ is initially very abstract. Environmental sounds are set against a tortured, overdrive sound. We also have the sound of a very folky, guitar-based band for a few seconds before the tortured sound returns. All very odd! By the 2.15 min mark a sequence and rhythm (mid tempo and mid-register) have been added, but are treated and mangled as bleeps are bounced around the track. The weird opening returns for the close. I didn’t really get this one at all, it sounded like an experiment.

‘Fantasia’ opens with treated vocal fragments and various drones/effects. But a fairly rapid, rhythmic sequence is launched to signal the track’s intentions. Another eastern melody and gong clashes add to the atmosphere. The sequence dies away before the 2 min mark and we enter an abstract section with heavily filtered sounds, before a new sequence and ring mod beats spark up. A warm analogue pad washes away the abstract work. The track has settled. Choral washes soothe the senses and snatches of a haunting melody just tantalise in the distance. I could have listened to this for hours! Beautiful!

‘The Soldier’s Requiem’ sees a return to the lab! Ring mod effects and hesitant beats stutter into life, we are back in experimental territory. However, slowly a warm pad builds and cements the beats somehow. An odd, faintly metallic melody, simple but beautiful, is added to the mix and again seems to solidify the track. You forget that the beats are strangely disjointed as the beauty of the melodic work overwhelms. This is a grower of a track, which really works on second or third hearing.

I ended up rather liking this one, although it’s hard to totally recommend it as it has three distinct personalities. Some of the tracks are haunted by ghosts from the dawn of synthpop. Others draw on the ambient tradition. Others have a real affinity with Ian Boddy’s work on the DiN label. If any of these areas appeal then give it a go.

2006 Warren Punshon / Synth Music Direct

Another CD from a batch of recent albums by prolific musician INDRA is The Challenge. This time the nine modest length tracks (all less than nine minutes) cover mixed musical ground from 80s style Tangerine Dream to deeply atmospheric ambience. For anyone familiar with Indra’s work it won’t hold any surprises, but that shouldn’t matter because it’s enjoyable.

All but one of the tracks are mainly based around rhythm and melody. The opening track ‘Rudyan’ is a little out of the ordinary and almost staccato in the way springy and thrumming notes echo away. Alongside this scraping and brushing sounds form a rhythm. Meanwhile, ghostly whistling comes and goes like a disembodied spirit trying to communicate with the tangible world.

I found the shortest track ‘About Seven’ to be the most enjoyable. Lovely washes, making one imagine the majestic realms of space, open up to a basic sequencing passage that is nevertheless quite affecting. These elements continue as a multifaceted percussion comes in to lift the mood. A licking percussion then takes over as a prelude to a passage containing distorted sounds of human activity. Everything fits together to become hypnotic, and brief exotic refrains round the piece off nicely.

The one non-rhythmic piece is ‘Dreaming the Universe’. Ironically, given the title, the sounds have a mainly earthbound aspect. Picture sleeping uneasily outdoors in the middle of nowhere while all kinds of noises real and imagined blur the lines between reality and dreaming. Is that whistle a distant coyote, and is that maraca sound an angry rattlesnake’s snail? Eerie washes and refrains plus a pulsating and slow but insistent rhythm, and much else besides, add to the atmosphere.

I admire INDRA for the amount of albums he’s able to turn out while maintaining a good level of quality. The Challenge doesn’t stand out from the rest of INDRA’s catalogue but may well appeal to those who enjoy traditional electronic music loosely in the Tangerine Dream vein.

2007 Dene Bebbington / Melliflua

Après deux solides opus de style Berlin School, The Call of Shiva – vol.1 et 2, INDRA nous propose une autre facette de son immense talent; The Challenge, un album agressif, sur des rythmes explosifs qui n’ont rien en commun avec la MÉ usuelle. Un album musclé sur des séquences géniales et endiablées, laissant peu de place aux harmonies et aux mélodies. Une expérience sonore hors du commun qui ne se présente pas tous les jours.

Une à une, des notes tombent avec une parfaite symétrie, laissant dans leurs sillages une onde d’écho sur laquelle un synthé siffle l’air mystérieux de ‘Rudyan’. Des tablas, des percussions s’entrechoquent finement avant de nourrir cet une étrange hymne séquentiel de frappes soutenues, comme une danse incantatrice. Des synthés aux souffles spectraux flottent sur ce mouvement linéaire où le piano résonne parmi des chœurs intrigants qui balbutient des incantations inaudibles. ‘Rudyan’, la mystérieuse s’essouffle et part dans l’écho de ses vagues.

On pourrait, sans se tromper, croire que ‘Crossed Memories’ est un remix de Man Machine de Kraftwerk. Le rythme est moins robotique, plus mélodieux et cerner de belles strates synthétiques aux tonalités plus chaleureuse.

‘Intermission’ possède un rythme martelé par des percussions pesantes sur un rythme froid, à la Kraftwerk. Des percussions, des percussions et encore des percussions sur une séquence robotique et effets sonores très Kraftwerkien. À haut volume, l’expérience sonore est ultime. Une ligne nerveuse défile à haute vitesse spiralée, sur des percussions explosives, à la Prodigy sur ‘Their Law’.

‘About Seven’ possède un rythme endiablé sur des synthés aux souffles du Moyen Orient et un séquenceur hyper nerveux. Un souffle caverneux qui se transforme en hurlement de loup émerge du néant, filtrant des voix rauques indigènes.

Un gros bourdonnement stimule ‘Dreaming the Universe’ qui prend son rythme sur des percussions assommantes, lentes dans une atmosphère pesante. Des souffles bourdonnants sur des percussions tribales surchargent ce titre d’une fièvre schizophrénique, tant le décor est teinté d’une folie aliénante.

Avec ‘The End of the Childhood’ nous pénétrons dans une ambiance moins névrosée où une fine séquence mélodieuse, forgée de notes limpides, tournoie sur un fond atmosphérique. Une 2ième séquence s’ajoute formant une nuée de notes cristallines et syncopées qui voltigent sur de douces strates stationnaires, imbibées d’effets sonores hétéroclites.

Avec ‘Serenade in Due’, nous entrons plus loin dans l’univers un peu tordu de The Challenge. Des beuglements ornent l’ambiance d’effets sonores aussi frivoles que la légèreté du rythme. Comme un band de Pop, ‘Serenade in Due’ se balance sur une ligne ‘’groovy‘’, une bonne batterie, bonne basse et synthé coulant, aux effets progressifs.

Des voix encerclent l’ambiance vide de ‘Fantasia’. Des effets sonores coiffent les voix circulaires sur d’obscurs souffles du Moyen Orient. Dur à partir, ‘Fantasia’ est cloué par une lourdeur que des percussions rotatives tentent de libérer. Une légère flûte en émerge, prisonnière d’un mouvement statique aux faibles influences. Un bourdonnement soutenu crée une séquence inattendue, faisant ondoyer faiblement un titre qui rappelle les premières œuvres de Schulze sur Picture Music et Timewind.

‘The Soldier’s Requiem’, présente une fermeture expérimentale sur un superbe synthé enveloppant qui minimise l’abstraction des genres musicaux qui s’entremêlent sur des croisements arabesques.

The Challenge est tout, sauf ordinaire. C’est un voyage au fond de notre imagination où Indra fourni tous les éléments pour moduler ce voyage selon les perceptions que nous en tirons. Si la première partie est superbement mélodieuse, tout ce qui suit ‘Dreaming the Universe’ relève d’une douce folie créatrice qui puise son idée, à l’ombre de nos perceptions.

Sylvain Lupari / GOD