This is the first collaborative project of two Dutch electronic artists Ron Boots and Michel van Osenbruggen aka Synth.nl. Both musicians have unique rhythmic / melodic styles, so their influences meld together well to create a work of classic melodic Dutch EM (the "Eindhoven School"). These tracks were performed while both musicians stayed in Belgian Ardennes with their families, so the music has a bit of a pastoral quality to it, without resorting to complete new age relaxation vibe. The title track slowly builds with bass pulsations, floating pads and a wonderful melodic synth solo. It's relaxed, warm and comforting. I like the synth work on this track - everything is in place - the tasty pulsations, the high-flying solos and the warm pads. Some restrained piano notes lend their airy charm to the soundscape. "La Roche-en-Ardenne" kicks in with melancholic pads and a relaxed rocking rhythm. Then a wonderful synth melody appears - rich, symphonic and emotional. Nice stuff that will leave all fans of melodic EM speechless. "Orage d'ete" has an ambient intro loaded with the sounds of nature (do I hear a distant thunder?) and moody pads. Some synth melodies appear as well as some nice flute and sax. This is quite pastoral and reflective. Later in the track a few tribal-like percussion instruments appear but the track remains essentially an ambient effort. "Coucher du Soleil" opens with moody male choirs and some tasty synth effects. A sequence appears and then a rhythm and a rippling synth solo. This track is a bit sad and melancholic. "Contemple du Ciel" begins with mysterious pads and radio voice samples.
A wonderful bass sequence then appears and an electronic tr-808-like rhythm drives this relaxed track forward. I like the way melodies are combined with rhythms on this track. "Rosee du Matin" is very Vangelis-like, with its fat CS-80 style leads and an overall symphonic approach. Really nice and maybe the best track on the entire album. "Combat des Coqs" begins with sounds of roosters but soon a rippling sequence appears. It is supported by a stomping rhythm and a guitar lead. Rocking drums appear and drive the track along. I am not sure if the guitar is real. It sounds like those trademark licks played by Frank Dorittke (at least it is in a similar style) but no guitar player is credited in the liner notes. Anyway, this piece is the most rocking and wild of the lot. "Soleil Levant" arrives with tasty pads and a well-programmed sequence. A slow rhythm then starts, the whole reminding me a bit on Gert Emmens circa "Obscure Movements in Twilight Shades". However, once the solos arrive, you know you're listening to Ron Boots. The sound is very characteristic. Michel adds fine melodic touches as well. A great finish to this pleasant melodic EM album. Recommended.
You can find more information about the album on this URL http://www.synth.nl/Refuge