ANDY PICKFORD: Panopticon (2019)
Updated: Aug 13, 2019
“In a canvas that exceeds two hours, Andy Pickford offers rich music where his usual styles intertwine in music that travels smoothly in the different spheres of AP”
1 Panopticon Part 1 18:43
2 Panopticon Part 2 15:15
3 Panopticon Part 3 2:43
4 Panopticon Part 4 16:26
5 Panopticon Part 5 10:02
6 Panopticon Part 6 8:00
7 Panopticon Part 7 16:33
8 Panopticon Part 8 16:07
9 Panopticon Part 9 16:39
10 Panopticon Part 10 3:50
Andy Pickford Music (DDL 124:26)
(Electronic England School) (V.F.)
Andy Pickford makes me think of this writer who describes in detail the ambiances of the place and the current situation between two or more individuals in order to locate the best of possible the reader in his novel. He needs a lot of pages, too much sometimes, to write his story. And reading and listening are two activities where writers, like composers, can lose the interest of his public when lengths can stretch the ambiences for absolutely nothing. And that's the node in PANOPTICON. In a canvas that exceeds two hours, Andy Pickford offers rich music where his usual styles intertwine in structures that should have been shorter. The difference between the long chapters of a book and this latest work of AP is that our moments of distraction can be resumed a few minutes later. All this because Andy Pickford is a master in the art of composing a fairly accessible and engaging music, as much for the feet as our and especially our emotions. But it's at the level of emotions and of rather stable rhythms that are in symbiosis with these emotions that PANOPTICON travels smoothly in the different spheres of the English musician; from Linear Function, in 1983, to today.
Panopticon Part 1 begins with jewels that jump and sparkle from one ear to another. Footsteps, a door that closes and a cigarette that burns. The jewels disappear in a mass of sequences that gradually follow the movement of Jean-Michel Jarre's Arpeggiator. The flow is faster, like a Chris Franke in top shape, but the essence of Jarre is at all times in this opening to PANOPTICON. An acoustic six-string unleashes a strategy of riffs that becomes the harmonic base of this first part whose pace becomes a little catchier with the arrival of percussions. Minimalist, allowing AP to put in all of his fantasies, Panopticon Part 1 offers its music to receptive ears where the electronic Easy-Listening style is more edible, even with these charming effects of misshapen voices that had seduced me so much in the world of Binar. This first part sets the table in a long structure of rhythm where the Electronica dances on sequences in mode England School on Part 2. Its approach is lively with sequences always shimmering, a good bass line and percussions whose snaps resonate well above of an electronic percussion pattern that rolls at breakneck speed. If the rhythm is exciting, the very minimalist structure offers a length broken by a brief interlude of astral serenity, and continues its course without other elements that would have made a dance more furious. A rhythm of fire like Part 3 for example but whose soporific finale brings us to the ethereal introduction of Part 4. Where angels hum a spiritual song on a basin of stationary sequences. Spreading its 16 minutes on a minimalist canvas, Part 4 is on a slow structure, almost without rhythm, with sequences that glitter like the reflections of the sun on a quiet lake and with percussion effects that resonate in a sound field far enough. The structure is mainly focused on its seraphic approach with its angelic choir whose electronic psalms come down from heaven in forms of evasive melodies that twist to reach our ears. Arrangements, with a zest of plasticized emotions, cling without bringing the music to another level. Quietly, this same frame is transformed into a more electronic approach with Part 5 and these percussions that slam like clapping of metallic hands in a rhythmic background animated by fine stroboscopic jerks, one of the discrete elements of PANOPTICON that is noticeable here. Our ears always dip in this lake of frozen sequences in a harmonious mode where the perfumes of Tangerine Dream, Tyger period, are more present here. We feel an intensity attacking a rhythm that will remain without explosive responses and will rather have the effect of a long coital process that will be good, but without orgasm. A process that amasses layers of wooshh and wiishh in a form of slow hip-hop where slow bounces give a more morphic than rhythmic vision.
Part 6 begins the second part of PANOPTICON with a synth-pop approach of the 80's ... voiceless. The rhythm is delicate and beats on a stream of sequenced arpeggios that forge a static mass. It's the percussions that finally take the pole to control a structure where drag since the opening some harmonious solos. And they remain well anchored in a setting that switches into a kind of very edible Dance Music with another beautiful sequencer game that rolls its balls quickly on a conveyor well in order. It's sweet EDM with a slower beat than lively. Beautiful arrangements, which are quite Vangelis, guide us to Part 7 and its gems of percussive elements that draw their echoes in wiishh and in layers of a synth divided between its ambient or its symphonic approach. A piano awaits us and loses its pensive notes in a fragile setting from which emerges a line of fluty sequences and on an evolutionary rhythm. Lively like a dance music for older guys who protect their heart envelopes, this rhythm evolves in a cosmos different from what is usually heard and in a fauna of quite attractive percussive elements. This Part 7 is undoubtedly the most beautiful moment in this PANOPTICON and lights up the rhythm section of this album which becomes much more lively with the electrifying rhythm of Part 8 that we clearly recognize this skeleton of rhythm that travels since the first moments of this album and who mutates from part to part. Part 9 announces the end of PANOPTICON with a long structure in a very Tangerine Dream rhythm, still of the Jive years, where these filaments of vampiric and spectral melodies from the Andy Pickford register vaporise our ears with charming effects that are jostled again by another infernal rhythm which is lying on another small lapse of time in Part 10, which is the equal of Part 3.
There is a lot of material in this latest album by Andy Pickford which is filled with a vision more sweet than usual and with a lot of melodies that are lost at times in this long mosaic that has its lengths. Otherwise, fans of the first era of AP will be delighted by this album that seems to be stuck in this period of the English musician.
Sylvain Lupari (August 10th, 2019) ***½**
Available on AP Bandcamp