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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

BERND KISTENMACHER: Beyond the Deep (2010)

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

This album is a musical gem which explores from its roots the links between symphonic and modern EM

1 Ouverture 9:04

2 Tsunami 16:01

3 Clayoquot Sound 6:22

4 Lost City 14:13

5 In the Black Smokers Bar 5:32

6 Who will Save the World? 9:39

(DDL 60:42) (V.F.)

(Symphonic EM)

BEYOND THE DEEP is a planetary call from Bernd Kistenmacher to you to stop ignoring and to respecting this vast world beneath your feet. Because if nature took its revenge, it would probably come from there. Dramatic? Worrisome? Hmmm… Yes, just like the musical structures of this 17th opus from the German synthesist who goes here of splendid orchestral flights to revive our forgotten passion for the music of Vangelis.

Besides, this is what jumps out at the earliest opening of Overture; big aquatic waves rolling under the hull of a hydraulic galleon and the cackling of dying seagulls in the chants of the abyssal depths. A strange contrast between the sea and the world where the synth sounds recall the dramatic approaches of the conquering Spanish galleys which were eyeing the coasts of the New World. Overwhelming, the synth is superb and spits symphonic breaths which are supported by percussions, such as these old sailing ships leaning on the strength of the slave rowers pushed by the thunder of the drums. The resemblance is striking, but superbly musical with a touch so sensitive that one believes to be on these shuttles of despair, escaping the scurvy and the arrows of future converts. The world and the sea! Two indestructible links that Kistenmacher spreads and enriches with all the complexity of its electronic equipment, thus shaping a work as unique as the message that conveys it. A splendid chorus escapes from this strength of the jet stream, giving a second wind to Overture which suddenly becomes as harmonious as it could be dramatic. A synth which drops its melodious snatches among the rollings of percussions, like a conquering march across the seas. Seas with fine scintillating arpeggios which float around a superb Mellotron aura, displaying all the sensitivity of a Kistenmacher who weaves his orchestral arrangements with as much knowledge and panache as a Vangelis or John Williams.

Cries of terns above a choppy sea, Tsunami's intro rumbles of power and worry pouring under the dark side of waves and mermaids' voices trapped in a strange plasma with suspended chords. A tender mellotron emerges from it, flirting with the hesitant and nostalgic chords of a piano bathing in a halieutic romance. There where the melody is lost in the infinite, in a flurry of chords that float around a mellotron while embracing a chaotic structure which ends up taking flight with a heavy piano galloping on a restless sea. A crazy race where the rhythm can no longer be explained, but is lived fiercely by the chords of a ferocious piano which dance frantically in the mists of a heavy Mellotron, like the formation of an immense wave of Tsunami which will crush with a crash. Kistenmacher's music is lived and told wonderfully on this oceanic ode where the progression of sound structures is aligned with the imagination of its author. After the storm, it's calm with the melodious Clayoquot Sound where acoustic guitar and fluty Mellotron sing serenity on a structure very close to the roots of progressive folk. In progression, Kistenmacher adds layers of a symphonic synth which covers arpeggios scintillating of radiance and this superb melancholy Mellotron.

Lost City is another splendid title where the duality of rhythms and harmonies is constantly boiling over great orchestral arrangements. The intro flows like a river from the Vietnamese townships with a pan flute Mellotron which marries arpeggios woven in silk. A soft, harmonious thin line flowing in a hybrid cosmos where the terrestrial world joins the celestial one. Towards the 3rd minute the chords wriggle under jerky mellotron bows and drum rolls, reflecting the complex orchestral universes of Geoff Downes. Lost City will be constantly torn between melodious sweetness and dense orchestrations with dramatic approaches, under a discreet synth whose spasmodic chords and symphonic layers gradually invade this universe where the rhythm is won with violin' bows and anarchic percussions before sinking into the tranquility of a finale which joins its introduction. A great track which worth buying BEYOND THE DEEP. A bit like its title suggests, In the Black Smokers Bar offers a jazzy structure. A night-club structure with a beautiful and languid bass line and a synth with aphrodisiac breaths which is out of tune with the ambiences of this album and which recalls the cosmic rumbas of Jean-Michel Jarre on his first works. Who will Save the World? takes up the mellotron orchestrations with tender violins which tear a soft intimate ambience where a good flute floats in a nebulous mysticism. Vocalizations with weakened tremolos accompany this symphonic march which adds to its nobility with harpsichord chords which crisscross a cosmic synth. Another great track with a no less good chorus which itches and tickles the ear on beautiful orchestrations.

BEYOND THE DEEP is a musical gem. Far from creating conventional EM, Bernd Kistenmacher has instead chosen a very symphonic approach to his last opus, relegating sequenced movements, cosmic approaches and ethereal ambiences in the background, putting all his emotions in a great classical-electronic work that is worthy of Vangelis' best attempts. And there I would make a link with 1492 and Alexandre that I would still be far from the final product. No! Kistenmacher goes further in the exploration of his instruments by redrawing all their potentials with a creativity that matches that of very great composers. I know that I will shock many eyes, and ears, but Bernd Kistenmacher has indeed surpassed his mentor, Klaus Schulze, by signing his last works of a musical audacity à la Vangelis. A simply wonderful work! This is great music that has nothing to do with EM like the Berlin School has accustomed us so much.

Sylvain Lupari (20/09/10) *****

Available at Mirecords Bandcamp

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