ANDY PICKFORD: Dreadnaught (2020)
“Heaviness, creativity, emotions (the strength of AP), melodies and power; Dreadnaught is another must have”
1 Dreadnaught 14:47
2 Cthulhu's Dinner Bell 15:15
3 Crystalline 8:35
4 Reckoning 13:56
5 Velvet 4:31
6 Behemoth 17:23
(DDL 74:31) (V.F.)
(Heavy Electronic Rock)
I love Andy Pickford! His music remains creative while being accessible because of his undeniable talent as a melodist. And this even in his craziest projects, like here, and those totally unreal, like the Radio Silence series. A real one who stays close to his audience by commenting on the news and especially by explaining the reason for such a remastering or the idea behind an album. As in DREADNAUGHT and its heavy down-tempos well fixed to earworms which struggle to drag such heavy and sometimes so powerful music. And DREADNAUGHT was done without shouting chisel! Our friend Andy was bored to death in mid August listening to calm and contemplative music. He therefore decided on the spot to create 4 long mad tracks in an electronic heavy-metal context to explode the eardrums. He inserted 2 more relaxing short titles, just to give us time to breathe between these pure and hard rhythms of the new rocker of EM.
The title-track begins with a menacing synth line that undulates in a stereo effect. Early on, the rhythmic elements are grafted nearly one by one. A laconic bass pulse, hazy bass pulses, fluttering sequences and others spinning in all directions and above all a sequencer pattern conceived as a conveyor belt filled with imps playing basketball and dribbling the sequences in a disorderly way. A short and endearing melody on four chords get grafted to this stationary opening which takes off with the arrival of percussions. The bass line becomes heavy and makes its chords pulsate with strength as the short melodious line changes in tone. And like an evil circle, barely altering its appearance, Dreadnaught spins and spins creating this obsessive thread in our ears. The opening of Cthulhu's Dinner Bell is sewn into the plot. Wooshhs and wiishhs scream secretly as a bassline churns out its heavy chords like in a time of a pandemic. Do I hear people take their last breaths? Regardless, the wheel turns with a good set of oscillations from the sequencer and its incubi which dribble the sequences in the background. The sequencer plays a preponderant role in the universe of DREADNAUGHT by weaving phases of demonic static rhythms, like lines of catchy rhythms. And the whole thing is done in a disorder which finds its justification when the rhythm is gone for good. It took 6 minutes of gestation before Cthulhu's Dinner Bell came out of its introductory base. Its pace is more than slow, and a little less heavy than Dreadnaught. Stroboscopic effects meander this rhythm which struggles not to be dominated by the perfumes of a blazing guitar. Heavy, stationary and a bit devilish, Cthulhu's Dinner Bell doesn't offer a melodious line, only the ululations of this electric six-string that the incendiary noise keeps in anonymity.
It's from the mouth of Cthulhu's Dinner Bell that Crystalline is born. The sequencer retains part of its rhythmic framework, tracing a harmonic rhythm as beautiful and fluid as a band of rabbits frolicking on the same beat. Always with a few nuances near 😊! AP draws a melodious plan that can be easily whistled and that breathes New Age, or its structures in the Adagiometry collection. Beautiful, calm and serene, the melody becomes an obsession for a few minutes! No intermission on this album which continues with Reckoning and its strange vocal effects. We could hear static or even aliens talking to each other in a 1930's microphone. The sequencer supports this movement with a thrilling line that likes to receive the delicate bites of a strobe line. In the meantime, a delicate synthesized melody emerges after the 2 minutes. Then come the orchestrations and celestial trumpets blowing this melody that sheds a tear for a cinematographic approach and the unforgettable scents of the Middle East. The percussions join the dance a little after the 5 minutes. And still, Reckoning turns and turns. Becoming heavier, more frilly with these sounds masticated by Andy Pickford's machines, the music becomes so heavy and overwhelmingly powerful that the volume must be lowered. The melody? It's a customary thing in the AP areas and it remains surreally beautiful. And bang! The short Velvet brings us back to reality with a circular race of bass sequences and above all a melody forged in the glass with tinkling of arpeggios and their tones à la Angst by Klaus Schulze. It's a good title which allows AP to stick a nice whistled tune which befits well with the moiré tint of the arpeggios and their glass tinkles. And when the carousel stops, it's to better let Behemoth's spasmodic movement in. Pushing the limits to our maximum, it's a powerful 17 minutes that Pickford sticks on our eardrums. The approach remains minimalist with a circular rhythmic vision that the drums return to a heavy and lively electronic rock. Enough to make us dance by swinging our hips. Like in the 70's when the blue and green smoke created strange rides in our heads. Each turn of Behemoth is enough for AP to stick us one more decibel and so on until we turn down the volume or blow our heads on the walls.
Technically, and although very heavy, DREADNAUGHT is easy to listen to. Everything is in its place, except that I would have liked to hear more guitar in Cthulhu's Dinner Bell. But that's a personal taste here! There is nothing to say against this album. Andy Pickford is sticking to his game plan to the letter and we get what we pay for. Thus, heaviness, creativity, emotions (the strength of AP), melodies and power; DREADNAUGHT is another must have in the musician's musical nursery from Derby, England.
Sylvain Lupari (October 16th, 2020) *****
Available at Andy Pickford Bandcamp