“What I like the most in this Works 2 is this natural way that AP has to switch from his obscur side to a more harmonious, luminous visions”
1 The Girl from Planet X 5:10 2 Cathedral 6:57 3 Hellsgate 11:23 4 In Silent Vigil 4:50 5 Akira 7:34 6 Sarcophagus 4:36 7 Solitude's Shadow 11:19 8 Sayonara 7:02 9 Hellfire (Studio Track) 8:46 10 Into the Blue (Studio Track) 5:33 11 Into the Blue (Blue Two Remix) 4:58 Andy Pickford Music (DDL 78:15) (E-Rock) (V.F.)
Recorded during concerts given to the Derby Guildhall between 1994 and 1996, WORKS 2 is a great album from Andy Pickford which covers the period of Maelstrom to Xenomorph. The most beautiful period, according to his fans, of Andy Pickford. I consider it superior to Works 1 and one cannot make differently with the immeasurable "Cathedral". I discovered on this album a better balance between the dark side of the English musician and his clearly superior melodious approach here, as well as his orchestrations which are very English. The rhythms are catchy and lively. They go from a solid E-rock to a more furious England School, without forgetting the soft ballads which become inescapable in the repertoire of AP.
Austere layers lead the opening of The Girl from Planet X which turns into a good E-rock very near of Geoff Downes' kind of electro-pop, in particular at the level of the orchestrations. At times Arabian, these orchestrations are teasing effects of voices from a vocoder still very present in Andy Pickford's visions of the future. Exclusion made of the opening, The Girl from Planet X turns out to be a melodious and lively rock. The kind of thing we whistle afterward by wondering from where comes this tune. The fusion between the titles of this album reminds me of these famous bridges created by TD in order to unite 2 titles in concert, so bringing The Girl from Planet X towards the most enjoyable jewel on this album, Cathedral. This is an outstanding ballad on a kind of down-tempo beat which waits for our ears here. The music is just splendid with soft synth layers which sing and float on good effects of felted and subdued percussions. The melody is blown by a vocoder, an instrument here which does a pattern of android singer and which flows very well into the Andy Pickford's synth-pop universe. And the tunes are interrupted by a synth and by its charms of electronic nightingales. The solos spin around between the interludes of these futuristic ritornellos and the more it goes and the more they are incisive and end in strength the finale of what sounds like a classical piece of EM in the Pickford universe. We hear all of his talent of melodist here. And it's the same thing, on another level, with the heavy rhythm of Hellsgate where AP knits superb solos which give back all the nobility to EM. The percussions are very active and spit a rhythm which follows the long zigzagging movements of the sequencer from which some lost thin lines are flirting with a stroboscopic structure. These percussions give a Machiavellian depth to Hellsgate in a phase which is more ambient in the middle. The second part moreover is less wild with an ascending movement of the sequencer but which is still very decorated by great synth solos. AP is in great shape! Some huge layers of organ conclude the title which finds refuge under a thunder of applause. And it's well deserved! The depth reaches the ambiences of In Silent Vigil which is a more meditative title fill with nice synth pads with orchestral breaths which could very well come from the darkness. Furthermore, a humming of machine can be heard in the background and solves the finale of this title of atmospheres which is very welcome after the heaviness of Hellsgate.
Akira gets loose from these atmospheres to offer a more nervous structure with good effects which are borrowed from the domain of the Dream. The music proposes a drop of the Middle East with some tribal essences, illuminating a rhythm which becomes more incisive, more lively after the point of 2 minutes. I like these percussive effects which ring like breaths of flute. Still here, the rhythm is as much catchy and maker of musical itch as in The Girl from Planet X. Sarcophagus is a title of dramatic atmospheres with heavy rather harmonious synth pads which flow over percussions which would make a fantastic impression in a terror movie. The introduction of Solitude's Shadow respects a little bit the dark approach of the previous title with sequences which flicker such as a small swarm of fireflies in a hieratic mist. Voices of women recite a psalm of which the definition escapes my understanding. On the other hand, I understand clearly the plaintive harmonies of the synth which brings this phase of static rhythm towards a solid E-rock lectured by the jerky movement from the layers of an always melodious synth and smith of solos as charming as unpredictable. A surprising, and short, solo of electronic percussions waits for our ears here. Sign that AP tries constantly to renew the fascination of his listeners. I like, even with this more realistic choir which brings back Solitude's Shadow to the atmosphere's elements of its opening. Sayonara ends the live section of WORKS 2 with a structure of melodies and of pompous ambiences which makes very Vangelis. The first version of this album came with 2 titles recorded in studio at the same period. Hellfire is a pure big rock a la sauce England School. The movement is introduced by 2 lines of sequences which criss-cross their keen oscillations whereas the synth raises beautiful harmonies which flow such as phases of solos. Percussions resound at the background, shaping a dramatic approach, whereas another line of sequences invites itself in this tournament of static rhythm. The cymbals which decorate the movement also awaken percussions, wilder ones, in order to plunge the music into a good E-rock, with a particular language of some sequences and numerous solos of a synth which also goes in mode electronic guitar. A very good catchy and lively England School style track. Into the Blue and Into the Blue (Blue Two Remix) are 2 rather light titles. Soft and hyper melodious titles, Into the Blue (Blue Two Remix) is more lively, to which one listens by a beautiful and relaxing Sunday morning. Between New Age (yes yes) and Easy Listening (yes yes)!! Now I understand a little more the roots of the 5 volumes from the series Adagiometry! And in the end, it just confirms the high quality of melodist that is Andy Pickford. And no matter the kinds, the styles he always manages to stick an unexpected thing which blows out our ears! Definitively, I prefer it to Works 1.
Sylvain Lupari (January 8th, 2018) *****
Available on AP Bandcamp