ARCANE: Pulse (2007)
Updated: Jan 15
“In many ways, this Pulse compares favorably with the best TD soundtracks”
1 Hel Bound 5:36
2 Aftermath 6:11
3 Slaska's Escape 5:32
4 Dobranoc 6:28
5 Hymnn 8:09
6 Route 216 5:44
7 Ulica Brzozowa 8:38
8 The Kashubian Connection 15:43
9 Pulse 6:46
10 End title 6:28
(DDL 75:21) (V.F.)
(Melodious sequencer-based EM)
Fans of Tangerine Dream, from the Exit period to The Keep, PULSE is for you. Arcane is reborn from its fabulous 33 1/3, released in 2005, to offer a work forgotten on the shelves of a dark Polish studio, still according to the myths and legends collected by Paul Lawler. Here is the story. Composed in 1981, the music was used as a soundtrack for an obscure Polish detective novel which, due to lack of financial means, was never published. The novel, the film and the music were forgotten somewhere...until 26 years later when the CD inexplicably reappeared, with all the freshness of the 80' s. And it's for a good cause that the album is made. It's for raising money to help a person with cancer to receive the proper treatment. A gift for life, and for the fans who can only hope for works recovered here and there in the vaults of Paul Lawler who seems to have the destinies of this mythical German trio in his coffers. Myth or reality! Whatever, this is an album that almost never saw the light of day. Simply unthinkable! Let's put all this history aside and concentrate on a very nice album by Paul (Arcane) Lawler.
An orchestral and cinematic intro opens Hel Bound which immediately responds to a biphasic rhythm arched over sober percussions and a line of sequenced arpeggios bouncing with a perfect symbiosis between each key propelled in alternation. Synth layers wrap this sustained rhythm born from an introduction and its half spectral and half human sound effects on good guitar scores and its tepid but harmonious solos that are always wrapped by the false violins of the mellotron. A very good opening track that sets the tone for a dozen compositions where Arcane elaborates each track with its chorus and its musical verses, giving all freedom of artistic creation on a sequenced and synthesized electronic background. Blown by the winds, Aftermath proposes an ambient opening with sighs of violins on a ground swarming with clattering. Keyboard chords trail a melancholy that clings to percussions in in an electronic ballad mode. If some sound effects make the ears wrinkle, the approach remains melodic and romantic. Even when the percussions start to roll in and out to redefine the measure while maintaining the harmonious aura. It's very Tangerine Dream, without putting the finger on an era. A classic opening, where the beat gets more edgy, initiates Slaska's Escape. The rhythm and the sharp strokes of the orchestrations are in the spirit of the title. In fact, the orchestrations, mostly very cinematic, are as important elements as the atmospheric synth layers. We can hear them on Dobrano which exploits a melodious theme in Flashpoint, with a zest of The Keep and Firestarter. The same goes for Hymn! Two tracks with captivating sequences and catchy melody lines. Although Hymn is more languorous with its melody floating on dark fluids to run away on sudden rhythms. Curt pads, a driving rhythm and harmonious solos, Route 216 hooks from the start. A track very representative of the melodic spirit surrounding PULSE. Arcane merges electronic percussions and sequenced rhythms with short melodious solos on structures where the refrains shimmer and dance wonderfully.
With Ulica Brzozowa, we delicately penetrate in more atmospheric spheres of this album. Its intro is deliciously slow with waves of flutes that remind us of the Dream's Legend album. The keyboard scatters its melancholic chords that wander without knowing where to go to finally land on percussions in a Near Dark mode, a bit like in Aftermath I would say. The track progresses on the rolling of these percussions while throwing a melody which will remain forever incomplete. It takes more than one listen, but it's very beautiful. Dark winds and metallic breezes ring the twilight bells of The Kashubian Connection. An acoustic guitar emerges from this nebulous opening around the 4th minute. Evolving title with a second part that lets the guitar go for the bouncing rhythm of the sequencer, The Kashubian Connection assumes a presence that becomes more and more rock with a flow divided between the abrupt strokes of the orchestrations and the fluidity of its rhythm. A track that also requires a few listens to realize that it is as good as the long structures of Tangerine Dream. The title-track offers a stroboscopic flow that will be the main rhythmic axis of this track that exploits its minimalist canvas to bring different rhythmic and harmonic orientations on a more cinematographic music. The Ends is the ideal title for a generic. Its synth-pop ballad style is slow enough to see the imposing lists of artisans on a film. It's also a great track to end an album like PULSE.
In many ways, this PULSE compares favorably with the best Tangerine Dream soundtracks of the Schmoelling years, excluding The Keep since here there is no scent of death... or so little! This is a more rhythmic album with beautiful ballads and melodic approaches where Paul Lawler takes the time to develop his structures with good electronic percussions on his sequenced rhythms.
Sylvain Lupari (August 8th, 2007) *****
Available at Paul Lawler Bandcamp