ROCKIN’ ALL OVER THE WORLD — SPAIN

Michel Huygen is better known via his musical alias, Neuronium. Formed around the synthesiser skills of Mr Huygen, the band (if that’s the best word) released their first album in 1977 and the most recent—Lysergic Dream—in 2017. Neuronium is Spain’s major contribution to the electronic music scene, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to feature their seventh album, Heritage, as part of the Rockin’ All Over The World series*.

The opening piece on Heritage is the extended suite “Secret Audience” which clocks in just under nineteen minutes. Beginning with synth washes in a similar vein to Adelbert von Deyen, it soon moves to a very Kitaro-sounding melodic segment; dreamy and New Age. The first part has a classic 70s sound, the second pure 80s. Not unexpected, really; the LP was recorded in June 1984 in Barcelona. We are not, I hasten to add, conflating the city of Dali and the Gaudi Cathedral with New Age music, simply dropping an interesting geographical titbit.

What is fascinating and very enjoyable is the flow of this music. From Kitaro-esque tunes-to-play-while-being-massaged, we next move into an upbeat, propulsive Jean-Michel Jarre style groove, powered by synthetic drums with a short but tight electric guitar solo by Santi Pico. “Reprisal” is a coda, a wind-down containing nice Jarre-like upper register synth lines.

Side two opens with “Torquemada”, a word my dictionary was unable to help with. Neither was google translate. The music reminded me of early 80s Tangerine Dream—drum machines and mid-paced melodic fragments. Plenty of torque, perhaps. The remainder of the side is called “Lethal Dose”, which begins far from dangerously with quiet synth chords, and never really raises the pulse, returning to Kitaro territory for a gentle ending elevated by a tasteful guitar solo from Mr Pico.

The album artwork was painted by Tomás C. Gilsanz, and is much trippier than the actual music. Indeed, although I enjoyed spinning Heritage again, the references to other well-known synthesiser musicians suggest it is rather derivative. I’m not sure that is a trenchant criticism, as Heritage is an enjoyable, undemanding listen that would please (if not enrapture) fans of progressive electronic music.

In signing off, we should note that “progressive electronic” is not the term used by Mr Huygen. He calls his music “psychotronic”. The dictionary defines this adjective as “denoting or relating to a genre of films that typically have a science fiction, horror, or fantasy theme and were made on a low budget.” Interesting, but not an obvious connection to the record.

If, however, one looks up “psychotronics”, we find this to be “a particular branch of parapsychology which supposes an energy or force to emanate from living organisms and affect matter.” Being merely a psychologist (as distinct from a para-psychologist) I’m not sure I know what affect matter is. Perhaps stuff that feels. Still, it does fit the music better. Neuronium, for all your Psychotronics. Catchy.

*

* The Rockin’ All Over The World series arose from the bar charts and little maps WordPress kindly provides to demonstrate how our blogs are far less popular than we hope. A while ago I decided to launch a project wherein an album from a country that topped the visitor list would be featured. Other posts in the series can be found by entering “Rockin’ All Over” into the search box on the right.

28 comments

  1. “Lethal dose” is a fitting partner for Torquemada – – although you might not expect it! Because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our two weapons are Fear…and drum machines.
    (Torquemada was the Grand Inquisitor, who helped expel the Jews from Spain, the same year Columbus sailed for America, sorry, I mean, China.) I have a couple of Kitaro albums, which I don’t play often, but are really enjoyable when you’re in the right frame of mind, I’ll give Mr. Huygen a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for a wonderful comment, Robert!
      I’m sending you the PD for the position of official Vinyl Connection historian. The pay and conditions are poor to non-existent, but you do get mounds of honour and glory.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll take it, with thanks! I was a history major, but really it’s about finding any excuse to quote Monty Python.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The IPHI (Inserting Python High Inquisitor) is a higher ranking position than Historian.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. A great job title, no doubt!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. It’s pronounced “Ify” I believe.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Perfect, ify like my knowledge of history

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Spain is the 8th most visiting country to my site but I own no Spanish music that I can think of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was slim pickings for me too Graham.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually I forgot Rosalia – her 2018 record is one of my favourites from its year.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Torquemada psychotronic Inquisition horror
    No hint that this is explored in the music?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not a whisper, DD. Not even a soft cushion to probe the musician’s intent. Though, having said that, it is rather soft cushiony music.

      Like

  4. I don’t usually pay much attention to ‘psychotronics’ and the like but that album is rather nice.

    Spain comes well down the list on my blog but China, for some inexplicable reason, comes in at no. 3 this week. (shrug)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a mystery, isn’t it?
      I would draw a blank for music out of China, so if plunged into that particular dilemma, I reckon I’d go for Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Concerts in China’.

      Like

  5. Apologies for not addressing the post at hand, Bruce, but I have to comment on the current stack of LPs appearing in your header, specifically the one by Fountains of Wayne. I’m sure you know that Adam Schlesinger, one of its founding members, died of COVID-19 complications in April. Was that behind your selection of the album for the stack?

    Like

    1. Hi JDB. Actually, it was not a direct (or conscious) tribute to Adam Schlesinger. That happened at the time… April 2020, an eon ago. The tribute post is here. No, I chose that header image because it seemed appropriate to have reds and yellows for a Spain-related post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bruce, it’s yet another sign of how the pandemic has turned my brain to mush…I liked and commented on your Schlesinger tribute back in April and didn’t recall having done so…*good grief*!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mate, it’s that sort of year.
          (Have a coffee and a petit four)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Done! And the reds and oranges are a perfect choice for a Spain-related post; I like them better than I like the music…not a big synth fan! Listening to Torquemada as I type this…

            Liked by 1 person

            1. 😲
              Not even Jean-Michel Jarre?

              Like

  6. Why does this strike me as something that might be enjoyed by the men who stare at goats?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll explain after I’ve finished staring at the Llama.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Torquemada – without any Googling, I associate with the Spanish inquisition (nobody expects etc etc). Or the Nemesis comic strip in 2000AD – around ’84? or later, I’m not sure.

    I really like the LP cover Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a terrific cover, isn’t it? I wish the music was as trippy as the artwork!
      Yes, thanks for making the Sp-In connection. Inadequate googling on my part, I fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. 365musicmusings · · Reply

    Another band that’s gone under my radar, but now thanks to your review, I’m gonna have to check out!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ok. Because it’s you I’ll bite on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have a glass of sangria on the side, CB. This one is pleasant, but could have used a bit more spice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha. You caught me. Just queued it up a minute ago. Got back from a rainy cold day. Ready to sit back and see what you have for me. The first bit is perfect.

        Liked by 1 person

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