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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ANDY PICKFORD: Terraformer 2021 (94-21)

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

AP doesn't do things by halves as he puts all he has of Tf on the table for his fans

Remaster 2021 70:00

1 Terraformer 7:02

2 Mesmereyes 4:41

3 Summers Past 5:55

4 Akira 7:02

5 Djangotron 5:18

6 Out of the Darkness 4:01

7 Get Dyson 6:29

8 Darklands 7:06

9 Asgard 6:00

10 Twilight in Valhalla 5:27

11 The Furnace 5:43

12 Still Waters (Run Deep) 5:10

Bonus Tracks 118:23

(All 2021 Remasters)

14 Live Medley I EMMA 1994 Derby (2021 Remaster) 18:20

15 Live Medley II EMMA 1994 Derby (2021 Remaster) 26:51

16 Live Medley III Guildhall 1996 Derby (2021 Remaster) 12:46

17 The Furnace (Anvil Mix) 7:31

18 Dreifarbig Bomber 5:34

19 Arc of Infinity 10:13

21 Overlander 5:14

22 Sundance 6:00

23 The Last Sundown 4:34

24 The Girl from Planet X 2012 (2021 Mix/Master) 5:13

25 Asgard 2012 (2021 Mix) 6:24

26 Out of The Darkness (2021 Version) 4:37

(DDL 238:24) (V.F.)

(England School, E-Rock, EDM, Synth-Pop & New Wave)

Oh no, Andy Pickford doesn't do things by halves! And it's just a shame that his reissues are only available as downloads because the bonus material he shares with his loyal supporters would make any artist going pale of shame. In an impressive musical collection exceeding 4 hours by at least 18 minutes, the eccentric sound and music wizard from Derbyshire revisits all the facets of his 3rd album TERRAFORMER made between September 93 and January 94. Followed by Maelstrom, this discontinued CD explores all the same patterns by compositions conceived for sequencers with always very energetic rhythms and melodies blown by an awakened synthesizer. In total control of its capacities...and they are enormous! And if you own the 1994 Centaur Discs - CENCD008 version? You are lucky and you are one of the few. The sound is quite different with a more balanced bass texture on this new edition. Muffling the power of the rhythms and balancing the ambiences of the melodies. In the end, the transition goes quite easy to this new 24 Bits remastering. Moreover, the bonus department is filled to the brim with a selection of revamped tracks that belong to the Dystopia album, released the year after.

The theatrical approach of the title-track immediately takes us into the depths of TERRAFORMER 2021. If the original version let us hear very well the percussions debacle behind this fusion of chloroformed slicks and the vocoder's story, the sound is more muffled in this remixed version. But it's 50-50. We lose a little here and gain a lot elsewhere, like this sequencer movement joined by electronic bongos. Incomparable melodist, AP weaves one here to my taste on a heavy mid-tempo well bludgeoned by the percussions. Blown by the synth, this melody is also copiously watered by very good synth solos. Mesmereyes falls in our ears with a rock rhythm for a synth-pop structure with a voice sung in a vocoder by AP. The rhythm is lively and embellished with good solos having a harmonic vision. Summers Past is a good slow ballad full of romance with poignant orchestrations. There is even a tender moment provided by a chilling acoustic guitar. Akira was one of the big titles in ME in the 90's. Its rhythm is hyper-nervous with a mesh of percussions, sequences and bass-pulses. A flute runs out of steam on this opening where elements of Tangerine Dream get graft. This harmonic portion, like Le Parc period, is thus slowed down. Offset from this electronic rhythm, also fed by superb percussive elements, this harmonic envelope shines better on this remixed version of Andy's 3rd album. Djangotron is a strongly lively track in its vision of an intergalactic Western that I can imagine in a Quentin Tarantino movie. The sampling of trumpets and Mexican dialogue and gunshots ricocheting off of cave walls are no stranger to this perception, as are the sarcastic elements surrounding the track.

Out of the Darkness is another good ballad, with a very Tangerine Dream background, designed to give us chills to the soul. Faithful in his rather sensitive melodic visions, Andy Pickford is as fantastic behind his synths as a choir of finches in front of a wet and newly cultivated land. A great track where the balance between the percussions, always heavy and incisive, versus the harmonic solos is quite successful. Get Dyson belongs resolutely to the 90's with a video game opening whose effects will feed its background of electronic rock well alive. Darklands melts in the ears with a Silver Scale structure where nests a nice musical vision of the Middle East, notably by the use of sitar. The rhythm becomes a real tornado of decibels, heavy and lively, even taking some stroboscopic circular tangents to give it a dance music feel. The acoustics of the sitar versus the electronics of the sequences and arpeggios is an unequal battle filled with charms. Excellent! But not as good as the delightful Afghan melody that is Asgard. A piano and an acoustic guitar exchange their poems in an acoustic vision that contrasts with the heaviness of TERRAFORMER 2021. The tunes are at an acceptable level to avoid an overflow of tears that will still occur when the drum rolls and orchestrations fall along with our hiccup that finally release those tears and shivers of the soul. This is great sentimental Pickford here my friends! His version, and that of Twilight in Valhalla remixed make us quickly forget the TERRAFORMER of 1994. But let's return back to Twilight in Valhalla which is an honorable sequel to Asgard with an electronic ballad well camped in the electronic vision of this down-tempo. A little less murderer, The Furnace has not much to envy to titles like Darklands and Akira. The album ends in romance with Still Waters (Run Deep) which is as good a listen as Out of the Darkness, minus the beautiful synth solos.

TERRAFORMER is just in the tone of its time. Bringing it back today shows that the album, now on its 3rd rejuvenation, was as inspiring as Mark Shreeve in the 80's. There is no bad material on this album, nor is there any filler since at the time it was well over 60 minutes long. We're talking 70 minutes of a selection of tracks that follow each other in a mosaic to make your speakers vibrate. And this TERRAFORMER 2021 puts back on the map this very good album of Andy Pickford in a sound fountain revamped with accuracy, since it was indeed missing this bass base. So, we gradually get used to this remastering of a precursor album in the more rocky spheres of the England School. But wait...

TERRAFORMER 2021 comes with almost 3 hours of bonus material, if I count the version said to listen to the album in 16 Bits-FLAC which in fact. There is a huge difference and I leave it to you to discover... Then comes the Live Medley parts, there are 3, where the album was performed live at EMMA 94 and Derby Guildhall 1996. So, these are the remastered versions of tracks that we find on Works Volume One and Works Vol 2-Live Derby Guild Hall 96 which were already remastered back in 2013. Only Djangotron, Out of Darness, Asgard and Twilight in Valhalla are missing. The interpretations are very good. The sound too! For those who don't know Dystopia, I am one of them, the tracks Dreifarbig Bomber, Overlander, Sundance and The Last Sundown are from this album but belong at the same time at the TERRAFORMER 94 sessions. No wonder why they sound so much like it! The Furnace (Anvil Mix), Arc of Infinity and The Girl from Planet X can also belong to Dystopia as they are part of music written at the same era. They are proposed in a much more musical sound envelope on this TERRAFORMER 2021. The Furnace (Anvil Mix) is really more of the Techno EDM genre. Dreifarbig Bomber proposes a more progressive New Wave with good synth solos on a circular structure with singing, vocals and choir. Arc of Infinity is a Dance & Trance genre that we find on Works Volume One (At Emma 1 - 1994). This spiral that sounds endless seems to me more weighed down on this remix. The percussive elements that open The Girl from Planet X go very well after Arc of Infinity. In the end, it's a good ballad with catchy elements, orchestrations and good percussions, which can make a distressed soul capsize. I like it! Overlander too and its melody sung by crystalline arpeggios. The synth replaces this melody when the percussions get in. My faith, Sundance is another track filled with very good synth solos on a nervous structure with bongos that brings me back to the nervous rhythms of TERRAFORMER 2021. The synth solos and AP's dexterity add luster to what would have been an ordinary track. The Last Sundown is another absolute ballad unique to the Derby musician's signature. The Girl from Planet X 2012 and Asgard 2012 offer more philharmonic versions. Asgard can be find too on Adagiometry Vol. 2, so that should give you an idea of the genre. And this huge reissue ends with a more modern version of Out of The Darkness. Its opening is more classical, but the melody and its extreme tenderness come back in a much more sentimental vision.

A lot of texts to describe a lot of music! Hoping that my words have given you a taste for AP's music, tell yourself that it's impossible to not enjoy the music of Andy Pickford, nor his albums. The man is so great in the art of melody...And this TERRAFORMER 2021 is full of it. This is a very good album which, without having the nobility of Maelstrom, has the charms and elements that conceived it. Great!

Sylvain Lupari (July 7th, 2021) *****

Disponible au Andy Pickford Bandcamp

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