ANDY PICKFORD: Nemesis (1998-2020)
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
“Nemesis is this kind of album which went unnoticed, snubbed or just ignored, but in the end it's possible the second best of AP”
1 Nemesis 9:27
2 Inside the Circle 13:33
3 Bridge of Dreams 6:07
4 Woman in Black 5:43
5 Incarnate 9:56
6 Angelfire (Part I) 2:42
7 Angelfire (Part II) 7:41
8 Drums in the Deep 3:10
9 The Sentinel 14:06
10 Nemesis Album (16-bit Listening Wrap) 1:12:30
BONUS TRACKS 70:59
11 Introduction (E-Cafe Live 1999) 2:19
12 Hellfire 8:42
13 4QNRX 10:46
14 Redshaft (Parts I & II - E-Cafe Live 1999) 13:59
15 Drums in he Deep (RadioSilence Mix - 2020) 24:48
16 Into the Blue (Original Version 1998) 4:54
17 Into the Blue (New Version 2020) 5:29
18 Nemesis Companion Album (16-
bit Listening Wrap) 1:10:59
(DDL 145:00) (V.F.)
(E-Rock, England School, Ambient)
I have to clean up my mind each time I approach a work by Andy Pickford. Although I have just given birth to an Otarion review, which also offers such an energizing EM that was arguably inspired by AP, the discovery of NEMESIS was difficult. And yet, it's undoubtedly his best album during this period of glory, without earning him one cent, since Maelstrom and even since Replicant back in 93!
The opening is titanic with Babylonian percussions and synth pads in colors of the apocalypse such as described by the universe of Vangelis. The vocoder murmurs streaks of hoarse voices. But in the distance, we perceive the birth of a rhythm which approaches more and more. The sequence is very TD of the Jive years. But all these elements disappear to make way for a solid electronic rock with good and furious synth solos as it rarely did at the time. The rhythm is supported by a rock ensemble, namely drums, guitar and bass while AP sings in a fiery rock where the synth and his solos replace the guitar. Big, wild electronic rock that is hard to contain between the speakers. At this level, I prefer the original version which is also available in this big package filled of surprises that is this ultimate edition of NEMESIS. Very theatrical à la Alice Cooper, Inside the Circle follows immediately with a big 13 minutes sewn in mystery and mysticism. Pushed by hollow winds and murky breezes, a veil of greenish tones undulates with multiple effects of misshapen voices that will later feed Binar's fantasies. Imagined in the opening of the title track Nemesis, the rhythm explodes around the 5th minute for an electronic rock nourished by the intensity of its upward movements which are more in fear than in a progressive rhythm. The richness of the title also finds its form in the numerous percussive effects, its end-of-time arrangements, and this gargantuan voice telling us It is Time…. There's a lot of intensity per square inch in this Inside the Circle. I who is a tender and a romantic, it's the hair of the arms bristling to its maximum that I hear the marvelous piano all nostalgic of Bridge of Dreams. When I write that Andy Pickford has an inordinate talent for melody, this Bridge of Dreams is the proof per 1000! And inserted here, it only feels good for the ears. A HUGE title! Woman in Black follows with a very heavy and above all very lively Jazz-Rock form. The piano runs on guitar riffs while spreading a silky melody. The percussions are invasive with very good moments in solos. A big rock that eats the Jazz out of the piano without digesting it.
Incarnate follows the philosophy of cinematographic music with a film-like opening on the myths of the English Middle Ages. Bells ring and a piano tries to pierce this wall of buzzes and resonances. Its melody catches our interest in this pastoral heaviness and will remain whole while the music, its rhythmic framework nourished by grapeshot of percussions à la Prodigy must take a break and stop the spasmodic evolution of Incarnate to hear this ecclesiastical voice. Angelfire (Part I) lays down a pleasant New Age melody in our ears with an acoustic guitar and a synth which whistles in a philharmonic procession as intense as the orchestrations which structured the charms traps of the overture to NEMESIS. Angelfire (Part II) offers a rowdy atmospheric structure, in the sense that it's a rock that floats on the same linear beat. There are some pulses from the bass line, but that only adds a grain of intensity to the music. The percussions are nervous, voices ululate hoo hoo hoo while the synth injects floating harmonies with a strong desire to reinvent Yellowstone Park. The intensity being always at the heart of NEMESIS, it is with a huge tidal wave that Drums in the Deep rises to our ears. The chants of old organs stir up the moods while scattered drum rolls, elven voices, celestial chants and whispers of paranoia full of corners, adorn this sound masse in suspension. The title flows and melts in the opening of The Sentinel and its long evolutionary structure which throws us full in the ears. Percussive effects beat briskly and support the harmonies which pass by the piano and the acoustic six-strings. Voices come and go, just the door of the 4 minutes where the title bursts with the same fury, but not the same speed, as the title track. We find there these big guitar solos and the fragile harmonies of a piano more rock than dreamy. The structure raises its intensity a few notches before The Sentinel returns to its more meditative cradle. This is exactly the kind of track it took to conclude an album as dominant as this NEMESIS by Andy Pickford.
Now, let's tackle its companion album which begins with Introduction. An acoustic track played on a piano which was supposed to be used to open the album. The arrangements that cover the crescendo of ambiences and the piano melody ensure that this title is in its place and I see it, like I feel it, very well there. In a less powerful sound envelope, Hellfire sounds and looks a lot like the Works Vol 2-Live Derby Guild Hall 96 album version. It's big electronic rock unique to Andy Pickford's musical signature. 4QNRX is a strange track with its static rock structure, there is a very solid percussion solo here, set on a mesh of percussions and sequences, both nervous, and Arabian tunes. Impossible not to like, and higher the volume is, the better it sounds! Redshaft (Parts I & II - E-Cafe Live 1999) sticks to the finale of 4QNRX without a second being lost, thus linking two structures of electronic rock. Was this the birth of Trip-Hop? We slow down the pace and it sounds like it. And quietly, the title drifts with its heavy percussions blows and its countless guitar solos in a cosmos not far from where you live. A good intense track which, even in its envelope of rocker of the great fields, finds a way to tie the threads of our emotions to drift by its side. Since January 2020, AP has initiated a new way of listening ambient EM by creating a series of 3 long tracks that would be ideal for relaxing or taking a nap, the need being. At the time of writing this review, he has already reached 10 long musical naps entitled RadioSilence. Drums in the Deep (RadioSilence Mix - 2020) shows you one aspect of AP's new creative philosophy. The title breathes through these underwater waves that propel it in order to stay on the same linear equation. Sound ingredients are added by adjusting to the programmed velocity and whose subtle progression reaches a point of awakening before plunging back into the nothingness of the sleepers. Into the Blue (Original Version 1998) also belongs to the Works Vol 2-Live Derby Guild Hall 96 album. This superb ballad, just like Hellfire, belongs to the NEMESIS era, thus explaining their place in this long edition filled of candies for the ears. There was also a remastered version on this Live Derby Guild Hall, like here with Into the Blue (New Version 2020) which is more intense here with an obvious cinematic vision. But regardless of the versions, it's still a very nice title… I seem to have already written that somewhere!
Sylvain Lupari (December 6th, 2020) *****
Available at Andy Pickford Bandcamp