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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

BERND KISTENMACHER: Celestial Movements (2009)

A flagship album and a classic to become that is at the height of the incredible genius of Bernd Kistenmacher

1 The Beginning 5:01

2 In Face of Saturn 12:14

3 Colliding Stars 17:26

4 Eternal Lights 10:20

5 Living Between Asteroids 19:35

6 A Celestial Move 3:21

(CD/DDL 67:57) (V.F.)

(Orchestral Berlin School)

Sadly, we are aging. And with these passing years, beautiful memories of daring and disheveled music that rocked our dreams and our emotions are lost. Head-Visions was the first album by Bernd Kistenmacher to fill my ears. A wild album where the rhythms and sequences seemed indomitable to me. On this side of the planet, connoisseurs and record dealers were talking about a new Klaus Schulze. Unfortunately, it was his only album to cross the Atlantic. Subsequently I heard Un Viaggio Attraverso L'Italia, a beautiful journey to a Berlin School where his musical poetry was finely chiseled on tender and hypnotic rhythms. Nothing to do with the wild Totally Versmold! Almost 8 years have passed since this Un Viaggio Attraverso L'Italia and this album. And now the German synthesist is making a comeback in the spheres of EM. Since then, and with his kind collaboration, I have been able to hear most of his works. So, I was able to follow the evolution of Bernd Kistenmacher. And what a forgotten and snubbed career! A mess that I hope should be fixed with this CELESTIAL MOVEMENTS. Like us, Bernd has aged, and this album is irrefutable proof. The German synthesist is more serene but still always poetic, nostalgic and above all creative in his arrangements. It presents 6 celestial movements which wonderfully support the vision of its title. Movements that transcend the limits of Berlin School to adopt an astonishing musicality focused on melancholy with infinite tenderness and sound ingenuity where his influences from Vangelis stand out much more than those of Klaus Schulze.

The Beginning opens with dark strata that go on growing and from which escape the sounds of a solitary trumpet blowing in a gloomy night, surrounded by the atmospheres of a synth and its reverberating waves. The arrangements are superb. One would think of hearing Vangelis with these dense and dramatic orchestrations from a symphonic synth that lands in our ears. More complex, the opening of In Face of Saturn is bathed in a motley ocean where discrete pulses are engulfed by intense floating synth waves. A metallic world which leads to a sparkling prismic suite where sequenced percussions go towards an astonishing musical opening with flutes with light tremolos blowing on a smoothly hypnotic sequence. There follows a formidable play of harmonies whose breaths in different symphonic shades twirl on a sober cadence. Piano chords add a harmonious depth to this track which overlaps as much a dreamlike tribal approach as a free-jazz style orchestration. Colliding Stars is a long ambient track floating on a stealthy bass and big drum's thunderings in a cosmos filled with a synth and its latent modulations. Sinuous and heavy synth solos as well as weak bewitching vocalizations attach themselves to this movement which has become a slow cosmic waltz. A phase that is much more musical, courtesy of a beautiful synth accompanied by a more active bass line and of melodious chords bewitched by morphic choirs which rock us beyond the limits of dream.

Eternal Lights is a musical sweetness to make a rock cry. This kind of music that sticks to the soul begins with faint chimes ringing in the shade of a misty mellotron. A sweet mellotron that traces a romantic axis with a soft synth stuffed with slow tremors sounding like the complaints of a lonely soul. It's soft, splendidly beautiful and it gets embellished even more with these choirs which blow, and which cloud the solicitude of a piano with melancholic chords. Chords lost in the breaths of a synth with musical tears. A very beautiful title which has its effect, both happy and unhappy! The first chords of Living Between Asteroids take us out of our melancholy torpor with an intro throws by a big organ à la Phantom of the Opera style. Thereafter? Magic! A sequenced movement orchestrates a similarity with an acoustic guitar that scratches its strings with a good spirit, while a symphonic synth pushes its angelic strata. The more Living Between Asteroids evolves, the more its musicality changes. From guitar, we come across a splendid piano play where the dexterity of Bernd Kistenmacher is no longer to prove. The whole is set on a solid rhythm which goes beyond the limits of what EM used to offer. A whole performance by Bernd who fills our ears to the rim and who ends this splendid album with a magnificent sonata (Celestial Move), which is an acoustic version of Eternal Lights divinely played on piano.

CELESTIAL MOVEMENTS is a splendid comeback album. Admittedly, we are very far from the unruly movements of a Berlin School with organized improvisations, as well as arrhythmic and unbridled sequences which painted his works of yesteryear. But the German synthesist offers an album without burrs, where everything is musically structured, while perpetuating his love of the cosmic environment (The Beginning and Colliding Stars) in an incredibly rich musical universe. Bernd Kistenmacher has displayed treasures of ingenuity to offer an album of musicality that has never been exploited before in this fascinating and wonderful EM universe. A flagship album and a classic to become that is at the height of the incredible genius of Bernd Kistenmacher. One of my Top 5 of 2009!

Sylvain Lupari (September 20th, 2010) *****

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