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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ANDY PICKFORD: Biosphere (2019)

“Without a doubt, the best Andy Pickford album since his comeback in 2015!”

1 Biosphere Part 1 8:55 2 Biosphere Part 2 7:31 3 Biosphere Part 3 9:15 4 Biosphere Part 4 11:09 5 Biosphere Part 5 13:51 6 Biosphere Part 6 9:31

(England School & Electronica)

The prolific Andy Pickford is back with an album, no 2 or 3 CD pack this time, which brings us with the illustrious past of the one who gave several genius shots to EM of ambient style, England School and psychedelic-progressive, especially with Binar and Spank the Dark Monkey, over his long career. The friendly English musician has delivered colossal works since 2016, either since Adagiometry. It's therefore with a certain surprise that this BIOSPHERE arrives in a 60-minute edition. But screw your hat to your head because it's very big Andy Pickford that attacks our ears. Even with its 6 paintings, the BIOSPHERE music flows into a long musical saga where peaks of intensity, moments of shivers and explosions of different angles of EM are hidden without being expected, except for these emotional orchestral rides. From good English rock to Electronica, to symphonic rock and movie music, BIOSPHERE is an EM cocktail that reminds me of the best moments, and they are many, of Binar. Offered in 24 Bits, or 16 Bits in a single mosaic without titles, this last album of AP is undoubtedly the one that his fans of the first hour have waited for a long time. Colossal, creative, melodious, rhythmic and indescribable!

It's on dusts of tinkling that chords glide sharply like these graceful and fluid aquatic movements of those insects skating on ice over the introductory surface of Biosphere Part 1. These arpeggios advance and change direction with jolts under the caresses of the slow winged movements of the chloroform layers. The first percussions that fall make ringing sounds, so the second ones infuse tonus and structure a slow up-tempo mired in the slowness of the lazy and atmospheric layers. A melody emerges and weaves little by little its seductive earworm, which is almost invisible, but which makes its way through a panorama adorned by effects of DJ and of Breakdance. Still unconvincing, the rhythm remains nevertheless lively in a choir of violins singing with dance-music clothes unique to AP's signature. Two lines of melody navigate in the musical envelope of Biosphere Part 1 which continues to skip until its sequences dance alone in the wake of a supersonic plane taking off on a tarmac of soft voices and effects of voices which are hanging out, like in the good times of Binar... And bang! An explosion, sonic cloud residues and electronic chirps (I'm on a Mexican Radio from Wall Of Voodoo) open up the ambiences of Biosphere Part 2. A mass of hollow winds exports these babbles and other electronic noises to a semblance of static rhythm which oscillates with the fervor of noisy breaths. The winds become dominant, creating an ambient-spherical canvas where layers of chthonic voices, enveloping waves from a synth and of its bank of sound effects, always well arranged to the moods of each title here, get grafted to BIOSPHERE.

The winds are howling up to the territories of Biosphere Part 3. Percussive chords sounding like bells and a line of sequences hopping eagerly greet our ears. As well as a melody blown in a felted effect! The sequences unfold their stroboscopic filaments where very discreet fuzz-wah-wah bring us back in disco with a tune forgotten in the 70's. The melody is very dominant on this 3rd act. Built in an evolutionary model, it becomes more and more carved. And this time it's by the synth, adding a more and more melodious weight to Biosphere Part 3. The percussions are slamming, and the sequencer frees a bank of keys vibrating with fervor, but the rhythm is surrounded by Babylonian orchestrations whose Arabian tunes add a cinematic vision to a structure that reaches a level of intensity that was felt to overflow since the third 3 minute. Biosphere Part 4 chews our ears with a 9-minute clanic dance and hand percussions which beat and roll nervously on a bed of routed orchestrations. A line of quavering sound effects, a line of nervous sequences, jerky voice effects and some more punchy percussions converge on a meeting point while Biosphere Part 4 goes into an Electronica mode, Eastern tribal dance section. The rhythm is contagious, and the sound envelope is fed by a stride of effects and of adjacent beats which culminate in a furious electronic rock worthy of the best moments of AP. The moods calm down in the reverberating waves which are flowing down to Biosphere Part 5. Dull thumps and distortions make this opening full of creaking noises and of ectoplasmic layers that merge into orchestrations whose origins have yet to be defined. Our ears are in wait and the orchestrations are more and more sibilant while the layers of voices take a chthonian passage. There, the sequences sparkle as if we had just opened a treasure box of sounds! A line is formed and makes spin some hypnotic tendrils in this heavenly setting where a trembling voice whispers a Berber incantation. Various sonic and rhythmic elements confluence towards this circular structure where the lair of madness is measured by the dull blows and the endless whirlpools that shake the last minutes of this long title which decreases its level of intensity to cross the threshold of Biosphere Part 6. The sequences continue to spin into small magnetizing kaleidoscopes, while the layers of voices meet these orchestrations that soothe the senses. There is a dreamlike sweetness in this opening that throbs continuously up until pouring itself into a heavy and slow symphonic rock that puts an end to BIOSPHERE. Without a doubt, the best Andy Pickford since his comeback in 2015!

Sylvain Lupari (April 16th, 2019) ****½*

Available on AP Bandcamp

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