ANDY PICKFORD: Alignment (2021)
Updated: Feb 20
“This is a more than correct album with a AP still dominant and also dominated by his astonishing productivity of 2020”
1 Dreadnaught II 13:34
2 Wide Plains 9:09
3 Lingam 11:12
4 Hall of Mists 13:50
5 Orange is The New Brown 8:20
6 High Ridge 12:16
7 Alignment 6:20
(DDL 74:42) (V.F.)
(England School's E-Rock, Electronica)
It's like a song of the stars falling like the leaves of a tree twirling in stationary circles. The arpeggios are caught in a static whirlwind and shine with their electronic hummingbird tones in the opening of Dreadnaught II. The tweet-tweet get mingle with this spheroidal dance as well as the effects of old science fiction films and the clicking of percussions, inviting the percussions to join the minimalist spiral a few seconds after the 3rd minute. A heavy and enveloping bassline, synth wooshhes and a panoply of effects more percussive than sonorous are added in turn to this musical vortex which would like to nuance its course, to play with its velocity in what gradually becomes a solid electronic rock from England School. Wow!! What a start with this Dreadnaught II, which is not a sequel to Dreadnaught that can be found on the album of the same name, released 2 months earlier. I would hook Reckoning to it right after, for a delicious EM moment of over 25 minutes. It's with the appearance of a sequel which isn't quite one that Andy Pickford concludes one of his most prolific years with some 20 releases in 2020. HUGE!! And his fan base, still growing a little more from album to album, is responding quite well to this high level of productivity. That's great news because he's a really great guy and a really good melodist. ALIGNMENT for whom, why? Well, it's scientific since December 21 was the date when Jupiter and Saturn met side by side in the sky. An extremely rare event that inspired AP to the point that he composed an album. Except that this very last album of 2020 has not a real sci-fy view. Aside from a few collages of sounds here and there, as well as synth tunes inspired by themes from TV shows of the black and white years, like in Dreadnaught II and the boiling Orange is The New Brown. The alignment in this album would rather be at the level of the sound textures which are made up of multilayers of instruments, of lines of rhythms and of the synth, strong of its orchestral arrangements, which align in a musical ferocity specific to the signature of Andy Pickford. And as always… there are jewelry! In particular this Dreadnaught II! And last tip; it is better to download this album in 24 Bits, otherwise we risk rowing hard to detect all the musical subtleties of ALIGNMENT.
It took me a few listenings before I hook up onto the bass-pulses dancing with cracklings of burning logs and the rubbery leaps of Wide Plains. Especially since the synth draws a sweet melody as New Age as these stars parading in a winter panorama. The melody becomes a veil that waltzes like Snow White with its 7 dwarfs, each dwarf being a rhythmic element, in a cinematic choreography which give chills. Much like in Dreadnaught II, Andy rolls up its structure, attaching a trick or two to it that captivates the hearing. It took me a few listenings and I kept going… Ah those weeping violins! A roaring bass line that pulses with a lasso effect returning to our face and a pulsating sequenced arpeggio line in dance music mode, Lingam wastes no time in establishing its Electronica pictogram. In a hyper dense musical fabric, the sound has this retro taste of the 90's with a daredevil flow and its stop'n'go episodes linked to rebellious and frenzied percussions. Always very attentive to detail, Andy weaves Funky-Dance arrangements with a choir of trumpets and saxophones playing in the background, bringing back some Earth, Wind and Fire's vibes to our memories. It's with the effects and sounds of a submarine jingling on a gurgling structure that Hall of Mists brings the charms of an acoustic guitar to the sides of its melancholy. The music survives to its multilayers of instrumentation from which we can discern bursts of percussions, both acoustic and electronic, orchestral layers, dancing against the current of a rhythm created to make our imagination dance, and moans of guitar/synth which gives us some chills. Orange is The New Brown offers furious electronic rock for a ripe imagination. The synthesized melody flirts with those odd 60's sci-fi tunes. High Ridge follows the logic of Dreadnaught II. Less powerful, even less violent, it remains a static spiral well directed by percussions and series of guitar riffs which frame a grand-guignolesque melody which reminds me of Zazou's allure in Fireball XL5. A slightly long title on the other hand. A falling piano note and the title-track of this most recent album by Andy Pickford begins to spin in a vortex filled of scintillating arpeggios which scroll like sequences that are also dribbled in a spiral whose guide is this piano and that overwhelming melody that goes around ALIGNMENT. One couldn't find a better title to end a more than correct album with a AP still dominant and also dominated by this astonishing productivity of 2020.
Sylvain Lupari (February 19th,2021) ***½**
Available at Andy Pickford Bandcamp