TourdeForce – Jedem Das Seine | Review by Vox Empirea

The Bergamo based TourdeForce born in 2004 originally as a duo formed by Christian Ryder, assigned mainly to electronic equipments, and Eric Raven to the vocal compartments and electric guitar. Since 2008, when Eric left the line-up, the design has assumed the identity of a one-man project represented only by Christian, but in perpetual synergy with an heterogeneous and ever variable number of guest-musicians. Initially, the sound processed by the project TourdeForce was marked by the specific desire to emulate the alternative North European electronic-pop, combining with it the same, vivid sound reminiscences of the 80’s that still inspiring Christian Ryder, until obtaining an evolved musicality in which we can distinguish a balance between electro-waver harmonies and brilliant synthpop formulations, all this supported by cultured concepts and texts which, besides to externalize subtly destabilizing and provocative arguments, they deal with extreme clarity and realism different themes, ranging from the actuality strongly related to the social-political decline of West Europe, to more intimate other ones dedicated to the unfathomable depths of sentiments and psychology, taking symbolic proclamations suggested by literature, both classical and contemporary, by Sociology and History and by the universe of cinema. The Tourdeforce’s career has also been marked by a will to interact artistically with relevant members of the same music for sharing with them the live experiences: this aspect, made possible by the technical preparation of Christian, has turned into reality the performances with electro / synthpop bands like the Italians Babylonia and Ottodix, the Swedish Covenant, the English platforms Client and the solo-act of Ronan Harris called Modcom including the legendary VNV Nation, the Germans Frozen Plasma, then concluding with the Americans A Place to Bury Strangers and Levinhurst. Remarkable is also the electropopish project called Consenso, founded by Christian Ryder and Daniel Murgia, which in 2011 it published an excellent album entitled “Un Disco Onesto”, whose review can be read in the Vox Empirea’s 2012 webpage. The list of record publications issued under the name ‘TourdeForce’, an epithet intended both as a duo and as a one-man act, can be considered a multiform and personalized interpretation of the electro-wave / synthpop principles, whose gradual rise began in 2004 through the seven self-produced tracks of the homonymous EP “TourdeForce”, followed in 2005 by “The Wedding In Fusion”, a self-produced demo-EP containing eight songs, one of which, bearing the same title of the release, it was included in the same year within the famous EBM / industrial / techno / dark-ambient / synthpop digital-compilation called “Italian Body Music vol.2”. “Omnes Feriunt, Ultima Necat ” of 2007, also self-produced as the previous works, represents the official debut-album which consists of a tracklist of fifteen episodes that announced the arrival on the scene of Tourdeforce. “We’re NOT Underground” is a digital-experimental album published in 2009 by the Italian net-label Inv3rno, containing ten tracks stylistically classical / house / ambient / EBM / electro / synth-pop, succeeded in 2010 by “Colours In Life”, a full-length that enumerating fifteen songs published by the Italian label Breakdown Records. All this was followed by “Leaving Colours”, a digital-release of fourteen files edited in 2011 by My Owl Music: this one is a TourdeForce’s antology remixed by various electro-artists into electropop / classical / italo disco / new wave / techno / EBM / trance styles, with unpublished songs and other ones extrapolated from the previous album, reworked by the following names that deserve a special mention for their validity: the French synthpop duo foretaste, the EBM / futurepop’s Syrian, Luca Urbani from the projects Fluon, Soerba and Zerouno, the French electropop band Dekad, Porta Vittoria – a side-project consisting of Christian Ryder and the vocalist Lisa P. Duse oriented towards the genres noise / classic / electronic / jazz & blues / ambient / retrogarde / experimental folk – then continue with the French trance solo-act Blue Velvet, the sound engineer Alessio Sogno, People Theatre, or the synthpop / electro-wave platform of the French musician-producer called Peter Rainman, and finally Chemnitz, a member from the Roman synth-wave / dark-electro duo Klonavenus. In 2012 it was the turn of the digitized version of the album “Omnes Feriunt, Ultima Necat”, publisged again by My Owl Music label, integrating a tracklist of sixteen songs partially modified from its previous format.

Year 2014: is the time of the controversial new album “jedem Das Seine”, released in digipak for the Italian home Space Race Records (SRR), parent-label of EK Product.

This work is reasonably definable as the apogee of the musical repertoire created by the current project, thanks by its twelve beautiful tracks on which Christian puts all his vivid creativity, as well as an attractive range of sounds professionally built and mixed / mastered by Rob Early, a member with Nikk Allen, Dmitry Pavlovsky of the Washingtonian D.C electro / synthpop trio called Retrogramme; into the credits of the full-length are also unmentionable the important of collaborations given by Nicholas Diak, an artist working in the neofolk / martial area convened in studio as ‘music consultant’, and Andrea Di Nunzio, a member of the Roman electropop band Zero-eq, now in the role of ‘additional technical assistant’. The opening track is “John Lennon Was A Warmonger”, a danceable electropop marked by the symmetrical midtempo drum-sequencing designed by Alessio Sogno on which Christian sings a chant melodically stretched, embellished by bright keyboard streams, clapping hands and later transformed a brilliant refrain. “History Is Written By The Winners” speeds up the rhythm using dry uptempo drum-programming as energy to drag the warm chords of keyboard, the junctures of electric guitar and vocals perfectly harmonized with the seductive and vaguely nostalgic aura of this synthpop. The guest-singer Kyt Walken – a successful writer who in the past has joined Christian as additional-live vocalist – spreads her well-cadenced singing alternating it with the most atmospheric one of the protagonist, for an electropop algebraically fractionated by midtempo drumming and made futuristic by sequenced hatches, by pads and cosmic effects: all this in “Kebab Trauma”. A second guest-singer, Lisa P. Duse – artistic-partner with whom Christian cooperate closely in their common duo called Porta Vittoria – she accompanying the vocal quadrature of Christian adorned it with her intensive modulations, in the song that, in my opinion, deserves the highest appreciation of the entire album, the amazing “Adolf Hitler Platz”, a track built into electro-wave / synthpop 80’s trajectories that allow infinite amplitude to the danceability, to the melody and to the depth of its lyrics, uploading uptempo dynamism of the propulsion of drum-programming which simultaneously supports electric guitar ornaments and wonderful keyboard emissions whose synergy created what I consider without delay a ‘potential hit single. Sophistication, decadence, melancholy and a touch of classicism are the peculiarities of the next “La Nuit De La Enchanteresse”, a lysergic combination between ambient and electronic sounds totally played without any rhythmic support, in which Christian propagates suggestively his chant of rare beauty whose textures flowing smoothly, abandoned to the slow pads, to the piano reverberations and to the string sections. The electropopish structure of the following track “Did Six Million Really Die” is innervated by a snappy drum-sequencing which linearly and symmetrically punctuates the entire length of the introductory patterns, melting them with the keyboard wakes and with the monologues coldly pronounced by the singer, all this until the attainment of the refrain, phase in which the percussive electronic force accelerates getting stronger. “Human Geometries” is an electro / futurepop song that recalls in a few moments the typical Seabound’s sonorities: this track re-establishes the connection with the dance-oriented mood, through metallized chromatics of keyboard whose expansions, joining with the iciness of the midtempo drumming, form a compact nucleus around which spins fascinatingly the aseptic singing of Christian, while into the following “The Last Hope For Europe” they prevail electro-waver / synthpop trajectories segmented by midtempo drum-programming in a sonic whole prospectively clear and melodic, all this making interact with each other the opened voice of Christian, the sharpness of the keyboard’s aura and the electric guitar counterpoints. Visionary, futuristic and post-Kraftwerk, “Floating By The Immeasurable Nothing” is mechanically activated by robotic midtempo bpm’s of drum machines and sequencing both lined with the radiant euphonies of synth, alien voice, artificial effects and serene singing. Electropop consonances that give the sense of immensity can be heard in “The Time-Music Of Quasars”, a track surreally high-tech in which the slow pulse of drum-programming creates hypnotic repetitions emphasizing the melodic vocals and the spaciousness of keyboard, as well as the swift “No Other Forms Of Life” is full of capturing electro-wave / electropop formulations of voice and synths driven by powerful midtempo drumming, in a triumph of rhythm, vocal charisma and solemnity that incite dance. The final chapter of the release is “Decrepitude”, an ‘hidden-ghost track’ written by the Norwegian Varg Vikernes, founder of black metal / dark-ambient one-man act Burzum: darkly menacing and sinister, this dark-electro composition disturbs through harsh-vox, plutonian synth irradiation and cadences of drum-programming, whose exasperating slowness amplifies the feeling of cold and oppression present in the musics. The phenomenon Tourdeforce belongs to that élite of national realities operating in the independent music macrocosm still able to communicate with the listeners by intelligent and imaginative creations, conjugating impeccably them with harmonic richness, aesthetics, technology and assertions of strong meaning.

“Jedem Das Seine” arouses a lasting interest and a pleasantness that is invariably renewed at each subsequent listening, attesting the Christian Ryder’s inventiveness as one of the most fertile available in absolute terms into the Italian alternative-electro hemisphere: each step of this full-length, every single note of it, every verse decanded in its texts communicates genious and passion, getting the finality to be loved unconditionally for an indeterminable number of years. Or forever.

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