Review: The Stars Will Shine / Robots, Orchestra, & Tones by Linear Bells

The Stars Will Shine

The second release on fledgling label Soft Recordings is a double album by the label’s founder, David Teboul, under his musical nom de plume, Linear Bells.  The Stars Will Shine is a remarkable opus that delivers nearly two and a half hours of absorbing music straddling, and sometimes blending, both the ambient and modern classical genres.  And that does not even include the simultaneous release of the stunning extra EP, Robots, Orchestra, and Tones.

There is a distinct mood that pervades each of this double album’s two discs which can perhaps be best described in terms of color and time of day.  The music on disc 1 draws on a vibrant palette of deep hues, putting modern classical elements, particularly Teboul’s strongly resonating cello, to the fore.  The grays are brushed titanium and deep charcoal and the blues are midnight and cobalt.  I would describe it as ideal night music.

A trio of songs, ‘the last drift’, ‘San Francisco broke my heart’, and ‘somewhere to sleep’ open the album with a heavy modern classical leaning. The sounds are reverberant and sharp around the edges and the emotions close to the surface. ‘super dive’, ‘beach ruins’, and ‘bring me the mountains’ present more abstract soundscapes sketched in bold lines before Teboul reinstates the modern classical mood with ‘little and pretty’.   The disc then closes with another fine trio of vivid, cinematic ambient pieces in ‘to the moon’, wide open’, and grey point’, the latter being a perfect segue into the changing mood of disc 2.

The second disc is a more of a pure ambient collection. It paints in the pastel colors of the early morning, dusk, and twilight.  The grays are hushed and gauzy and the blues are azure and cerulean.  The tracks are significantly longer and more contemplative.  As the label says:

“The second half of the album is a self-contained discovery; four tracks, each a short cinematic EP in its own right. Choirs and organs shimmer and slide through each other. Birdcalls and cityscapes merge, separate, and give way to running water…the reminder that if we just look up, there is peace. The stars are still shining.

‘the king and the frog’ is a truly lovely track and ‘too young to die’ is perhaps the highlight of this half of the album, an extraordinarily sublime long form collaboration with the prolific and talented Porya Hatami.  These two tracks alone comprise nearly 40 minutes of delicate beauty. ‘waterfalls’ and ‘L’oiseau’ foray into drone territory, the former featuring prominent field recordings to create a sense of place and the latter whirring and humming the album to it’s conclusion.

The Stars Will Shine is available in a limited run double CD digipack and as a digital download on the Soft Recordings Bandcamp site.  This is a very impressive and highly recommended release that offers a generous amount of skillfully crafted music in a lovely package.

Listen to ‘The last drift’ from the stars will shine 

Robots, Orchestra, & Tones 

The double album is such a substantial and satisfying opus that it is hard to believe that Teboul had enough left in his creative reservoir to simultaneously release Robots , Orchestra, & Tones, a 21 minute single track EP inspired by this poem by Emily Loren Moss Ferrell (who also runs the Subterranean Tide net label). 

“Mechanized strings reflect
inorganic tones of a discerning nature
and lying within these orchestral cells
there is a metallic wave
so minute we can’t see it’s crevices
but feel it’s presence in palm of hands
with our own paths strung in unison
a symphonic mass permeates
the expressive fields of our ensemble”.

Poem © Emily Loren Moss Ferrell 2014.

Teboul explores an entirely different style here in keeping with the subject matter.  He  sprinkles a generous amount of stardust into his ambient recipe to create a more cosmic sound.  The beginning sounds like a sort of requiem for sentient machines with haunting synthesized symphonic choir embellished by oscillating, metallic tones.  The requiem then subsides into a weightless drift through space, capturing both a feeling of tranquility and a sense of wonder. It is a both a very enjoyable piece and an indication of the breadth of skill Teboul possesses as a composer and sound artist.

Robots , Orchestra, & Tones was originally offered as a bonus postcard CD with early orders of The Stars Will Shine. It is now available only as a digital download on Linear Bells Bandcamp site.

Listen to Robots, Orchestra, & Tones