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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ANDY PICKFORD: Vanguard 2 (2016)

Updated: Aug 5, 2019

“Did I liked Vanguard 2? So much, that my mind is set! I have to dig the universe of Mr. Pickford”

1 Dreamrider 7:38 2 Deep Blue Horizon 6:25 3 Release 6:44 4 Look Into Your Heart 5:50 5 North Eagle 12:13 6 Teardrop Serenade 5:35 7 Slide Rules 4:52 8 Wish U 5:47 9 Meltwater 9:22 10 Break 6:35 AD Music | AD167

(CD/DDL 71:02) (V.F.) (England School, Synth-Pop & Electronica)

How to explain the phenomenon Andy Pickford? The man arises from this class of English musicians who, at the beginning of the 80s, have set up the structures of the England School style. And 3 of these sound disciples (Mark Shreeve, Ian Boddy and Mr Pickford) have left to exploit various paths of the contemporary MÉ. If one of them goes for a dark and heavy England School, the other one goes for the same style with a zest of creativity in the kind of Électronica. When to Andy Pickford, he crossed downright the limits by touching these two styles while exploiting the melodious Synth-pop variable. And some 17 years later after Lughnasad, appeared in 1998, Andy Pickford, not without having to affix his claw with Binar and Spank the Dark Monkey, made a strong comeback with Vanguard 1. The answer of the public was immediate; Vanguard 1 was going to become one of the good sellers for the AD Music label. And how explain the phenomenon? Let's say that I was never a fan until my ears cross this Vanguard 1. Furthermore, the excellent Flying Over Me, that we find on the compilation E-Scape 2016, is a real bomb of emotions which totally crossed me. The phenomenon is that of an artist whom I found totally uninteresting has eventually interested me excessively, giving me more than about ten albums to explore during the next months ...

Dreamrider begins with a feminine voice which articulates with difficulty in a loudspeaker on the blink. A line of pulsations spreads a series of compulsive keys which jump deeply. Electronic effects, one would say voices of spectres, decorate this movement of fiery rhythm which grows rich of its metallic tsitt-tsitt of which the electric current belong to rhythms of dance. Another line of sequences makes its keys sparkle in harmonious mode while orchestrations throw an Arabian veil to Dreamrider which is a solid electronic rock as much harmonious as lively. That starts things well! And as in Vanguard 1, the 10 titles of VANGUARD 2 are welded in a long mosaic of 71 minutes where the phases of modern EM are intertwining under all its forms. Deep Blue Horizon binds itself with effects of dissolved voices which float such as gases of ether. The 1st part of Deep Blue Horizon is forged in the cloudiness with these voices which float between two spheres before that percussions perturb these ambiences to forge a slow tempo coated of some pretty good orchestrations in the kind of Magical Mystery Tour from the Beatles. If we are near to the doors of meditation here, Release strikes us quite hard with a sharp hyper movement of trance. Sequences and percussions seethe in spirals of rhythm highly pulsatory loaded with effects of dance and trance of the years Orbital or Prodigy. Neurons are breathless? Look Into Your Heart puts back the pendulums to zero with a very beautiful and delicate ballad. Crystal clear sequences, with a zest of flute, weave a line of spiral harmony which swirls in a stroboscopic effect slowed down by a dense veil of arrangements filled of ghost voices. The effect does very Halloween, the movie theme, but in a more ethereal envelope.

We sink more and more into the charms Andy Pickford with the very attractive North Eagle. The longest track of VANGUARD 2 proposes tribal atmospheres of the South of the United States with a structure which offers a delicate crescendo and of which the subtle evolution is peppered of great effects of acoustic guitar and by an Elvish voice which hums and murmurs in harmonies of flutes sometimes rather acute. We are enthralled to the first listening and we never see the time fly by. Teardrop Serenade stays a little in the Western genre with a very nice ballad decorated with effects and with some rather great film arrangements which would fit very well with certain music of Ennio Morricone. The rhythm is delicately pulsatory and the melody of the synth is as well bewitching as Flying Over Me, effects of acoustic guitar in plus. We have tears hanging on on the outline of our soul. And this continuous with Slide Rules which offers a structure of lunar Jazz with stars which sparkle and sing on the slow roundness of a very beautiful line of bass. Wish U encroach a little on the atmospheres of Slide Rules with a kind of chant which is sung from a minaret. We think of pursuing on this lineage of quiet music begun by Look Into Your Heart when a line of bass sequences is crawling and that some quite energizing percussions are lifting another line of sequences more in mode of those always melodic patterns of Andy Pickford which swirls in a stroboscopic effect. The rhythm is slow but also lively than heavy with luxurious arrangements of the genre Arabic and Middle East. After an introduction of more than 2 minutes decorated with paradisiacal noises, Meltwater accosts our ears with a very good down-tempo built upon delicious effects of percussions of which the echo in the form of a crossbow spring is as much appealing as this vampiric melody weaved by effects of synth which wave beneath the full moon. Stroboscopic strands and solid percussions establish the assizes of a heavy, slow and very enthralling rhythm while the arrangements lead the portion of harmony to another level. This is some great, as a lot of titles here, Andy Pickford who shows his ability to surf on the models of England School, Synth-Pop and Electronica. Break binds itself marvellously to Meltwater. One can even establish it as its older brother so much the heavy but slow structure is its equivalence. The synth is very different and more present with very sharp solos, which also sound as a guitar tortured by magic fingers, and breezes forged in the emotionalism whereas that the heavy bass line works a more sensual down-tempo and the percussions are slamming like distant souvenirs of Jean Michel Jarre, making of Break and Meltwater the catalysts to put back VANGUARD 2 at its beginning point and even to prepare us for the very first Vanguard. Here is the phenomenon Andy Pickford! And I read somewhere that Vanguard would be a trilogy and the 3rd chapter is already in the vaults of AD Music.

Sylvain Lupari (June 16th, 2016) *****

Available on AD Music shop

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