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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ALIEN NATURE: Return to the Land of Dreams (2018)

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

“Wild, furious but charming, Return to the Land of Dreams remains not less a dose of freshness in this universe constantly in movement of Alien Nature”

1 Unscrupolous 5:09 2 Escape into the Night 7:36 3 We Run for Life 6:19 4 Travel in Time 5:57 5 Complicated Essence 6:22 6 Synth World 5:12 7 Rhythm Master 6:07 8 City Lights 5:53 9 Ambient 1:37 10 Jump into the Unknown 8:51 11 The final Step 6:37 12 Speed of Light 5:44 13 Return to the Land of Dreams 7:46

(DDL 79:18) (V.F.) (Driven Sequencer-Based E-Rock)

Wolfgang Barkowski is undoubtedly one of the well-kept secret in the scene of EM of the Berlin School style. Better known under the name of Alien Nature, this icon of EM who, can as well do deep dark ambient stuff as well as progressive EM or good old Berlin School, seemed to have made a strong comeback in 2017. Well, such as shown by his numerous older releases on his Bandcamp site and his collaborations with artists such as Christial Fiesel (Unter Null) and Michael Brückner for the fabulous The Dark Path, which by the way will be reedited on the SynGate label very soon. His albums, not all of his work yet, that he put on Bandcamp are just at the image of his wide range of diversity in his creativity. Created with the help of Andreas Kotremba in 2014, RETURN TO THE LAND OF DREAMS proposes us a mosaic of strong E-rock built over an incredible rage of rhythms from the sequencers and from furious percussions. Synths are as much boosted than the rhythmic elements with some lines of harmonies as fluid as the solos which spin like a team of elastic acrobats on fluorescent trapezes. Each track is literally linked to the following, creating an impressive mosaic of electronic rhythms flirting with the 80 minutes. A chance that there is a short but beneficial Ambient, and some introductions of ambient elements so that are feet, as our ears, get to rest! Murmurs of voices on a bed of wavering waves, Unscrupolous starts RETURN TO THE LAND OF DREAMS with an introduction sewn in mystery. The approach is very ambient with noises of electronic gadgets which little by little force a fascinating and improbable crescendo. There is 40 seconds at the counter and already the sound flora of the Alien Nature universe blooms of tones and of electronic chirpings. Chords, heavy and incisive, liven up these ambiences and their waddles is harpooned by percussions battered with strength. From vaporous to nebulous and finally to an electronic rock without appeal, Unscrupolous sets the tone for an explosive album where the heaviness has only for enemy the dynamism of the sequences and the hammering of the percussions. Of course, the melodious approach stays at the core of the rhythmic debates of Alien Nature. And it's hardly disputes here. Thus, synths are in mode charm, being more centered on harmonies and solos than the sound effects and the layers of ambiences. On Unscrupolous, and as in some other titles of this album, they inhale the universe of Mark Shreeve with solos and harmonious lines sozzled of ectoplasm savors which follow each other in a very lively rhythmic pattern. A tremendous start! Shaped on the same principle, Escape into the Night is also heavy but slightly less dynamic on the pace. On the other hand, the layers of voices and of strange mist hide this fact while the synths, so much charming, are weaving harmonies and creative solos. We Run for Life is a very catchy title with a very commercial electronic hymn. And no, the duet Barkowski/Kotremba doesn't get out of breath! Travel in Time jumps in our ears with a lively rhythm and a delicious perfume of the best E-rock in Tangerine Dream's soundtracks. The sequences, those synth riffs, the angelic harmonies and the solos; everything here inhales the universe of TD. So much that we could believe to hear a title lost in the vaults of the Dream.

We can say the same thing of Complicated Essence which is rather in the commercial concept of the Dream. The synth solos are very good and creative here, as well as the ferociously wild percussions are. Synth World follows with a simply remarkable energy. The synth follows, as much in its harmonious lines than with solos, the fury of the percussions. Does Rhythm Master needs a description? Like We Run for Life, it could has been an electronic hymn which could go great on FM radio with a very British electronic rock approach. City Lights is in mode EDM. Ambient!? Our feet say thanks to Wolfgang Barkowski and Andreas Kotremba for that one. Jump into the Unknown is the most ambient rhythms of RETURN TO THE LAND OF DREAMS. The synths and the effects, one can say the arrangements too, are very in TD style of the Jerome Froese years. The Final Step proposes an approach of Dance Music which is very near of Moonbooter's territories, but in a heavy rock version, whereas Speed of Light stamps on the spot and swiftly oscillates in an intense pattern with an avalanche of solos which spin and sing in a structure compacted by a very low rhythmic ceiling. The title-track ends this ebullient album with a kind of slow dance tempo, the percussions are always well hammered in a lascivious rock pattern, where lies a too beautiful melodious approach. For a romantic like me, that's the most beautiful title here…Well maybe not! And when all the titles are very good, that gives you a small idea of this pearl which concludes encloses an intense and bubbling album of a rare intensity for an electronic rock style. Wild, furious but charming, RETURN TO THE LAND OF DREAMS remains not less a dose of freshness, a savage one for sure, in a universe which has nevertheless all the tools to create heavy and majestic rock anthems. Like here, where once again, Wolfgang Barkowski's universe still has no borders! It's doubtless for this that I like to dip my ears into it…

Sylvain Lupari (January 30th, 2018) ****¼*

Available on Alien Nature Bandcamp

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