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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

BERLIN HERITAGE: Phoenix (2014)

Updated: May 12, 2020

This is yet another wonderful album from Berlin Heritage filled by these psychedelic cosmic moods of the 70's

1 Leaving Behind 24:17

2 Somewhere in Between 14:08

3 Welcome to the New 25:43

(DDL 64:10) (V.F.)

(Vintage Berlin School)

Land of the Rising Sun was a nice surprise in the field of the unexpected in 2012. Fans of Berlin School, mainly of the Klaus Schulze era, got their ears full with a symphony of music, rhythms and ambiences sprinkled of star dust and nourished by electronic effects to put your ears screwed up to your loudspeakers. PHOENIX is made in the same mold!

A breeze rises from the bowels of the cosmos. Its hollow and sinuous breath drags the dust of stars which whistle in our ears like a sibylline chant coming from nothingness. Its shadow stands out and infuses a analog warmth with a slow bass movement that embraces the abstruse airs. The two entities harmonize their undulating breaths, shaking prism particles which join the bouncy keys in fine circular movements. Kinds of rhythmic halos that come and go like filaments seeking to flee. The bass line flushes out a structure of jerky pulsations while the electronic percussions invite themselves, structuring a kind of rhythmic ride which beats under the delicate rushes of harmonic sequences. Metallic wings with muffled clicks, cosmic gas, brief strobe jerks and nerve percussions establish the basis for this breathtaking rhythmic approach that will shake the 24 minutes of Leaving Behind. If the rhythm is very lively, it remains static. Exciting in every sense, it has a minimalist direction which combines its pulsations with this delicious string of sequences and its tireless dreamlike song which constantly returns in a hallucinating sonic setting fogged with prism fog and set with splendid solos to make lovers of vintage EM dream. The solos! They are superb. They sing and weave as beautiful earworms as the sequences. They twist with a sometime acute tone, shear the cosmic ambiences and furrow a structure of rhythm which remains subdivided by the very harmonic approach of its sequences. Leaving Behind is a superb start that will cast a little shadow over the next 40 minutes of PHOENIX as it's so powerfully attractive.

Much quieter, even very ambient, the structure of Somewhere in Between continually reminds me of that of Klaus Schulze in Body Love. Wandering choirs adorn its introduction. They hum in a dense astral fog from which emerge delicate sequences whose aim is to weave a rhythm as discreet as ambient. We dream. And we let ourselves be transported to vintage territories with this delicious movement of sequences that call out so much to the ambient works of Schulze. Little by little, Somewhere in Between covers itself with a more opaque veil where we discern the sequences a little less, but where we hear subtle synth solos daydreaming in an intense astral landscape. With Welcome to the New, Robert Sigmuntowski wants to forge a link between the vintage Berlin School and a more contemporary Berlin School. Fries of old vinyl adorn an intro seized by heavy and invasive layers of organ. The movement is very ambient, even floating, with a fascinating choir and its sibylline air which embraces the delicate implosions and the slow impulses of the ghostly layers. I hear Adelbert Von Deyen here! A line of star prisms sparkles like birdsong, and a fine movement of sequences shakes its keys which spin in a circular choreography. The bass line regurgitates its pulsations which it held back on the sly, while the rhythm structure of Welcome to the New extends its long undulating skeleton which closely follows the movement of Leaving Behind. Besides, this second part of Welcome to the New is as delicious as the opening of PHOENIX. The sequences are harmonic and weave a hypnotizing earworm. They sparkle brilliantly in this immense opacity of ocher mist that feeds and weighs down the moods of the album. The synth solos are struggling to bring out their sharpness, dividing their acrobatic chants into more nuanced tones and others more beaded.

Berlin Heritage bears its name marvelously. I have adored PHOENIX. It's an album tailored for the fans of Berlin School, as retro as contemporary, but with a clear tendency for the golden years of the psychedeli-cosmic EM. If you like long minimalists structure, if you like a sensible balance between the morphic moods and the intensely jerky rhythms, the sequences which sparkle of harmonious rhythms and solos as discreet as sharps; I strongly recommend you this PHOENIX from Berlin Heritage.

Sylvain Lupari (November 25th, 2014) *****

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