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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

BERND KISTENMACHER: Head-Visions (1986/1997)

A truly masterpiece, Head-Visions is Bernd Kistenmacher's album which sounds the most like a Schulze's one

1 Rücksturz 24:50 2 Quitting Time 14:24 3 La Tendresse 12:57 4 Dreamdance (Bonus track) 11:51 MIR Records

(DDL 64:35) (V.F.) (Vintage Berlin School)

After the release of three cassettes (Dream Sequence, Music from Outer Space and Romantic Times), Bernd Kistenmacher produced his first album; HEAD-VISIONS. Considered by many Berlin School style EM followers to be his greatest album, this HEAD-VISIONS didn't really pass the test of my first impression. An album which asked me some efforts and some listening with its approach which was in the continuity of the cosmic and psychedelico-electronic musical experiences of the 70's.

Rücksturz is an exhilarating and captivating long title with slow evolution. It opens with hesitant chords born of dreamy tints, even melancholic, which float in a thick cosmic fog whose opaque waves oscillate between a melodious approach and its psychedelic vapors. This intro with hybrid musical paths is gently moving on a bass line with drummed pulsations and a prism of minimalist chords that pierce the secrets of a synth soaked in heavy enveloping sails and its slow sinuous denouements, including long spectral solos which are twisting around a progressive and hypnotic rhythm. A cow bell style percussion deepens the rhythmic structure which remains quite slow, heavy and ambiguous, rolling in loops under the charms of celestial voices which whisper of a oneiric impassiveness. Little by little, the synth waves which pile up and wind up tirelessly nuance the cadence to adopt a more sustained phase, thanks to a more aired bass line which thus adds a warm approach to a long, very tetanized track. A long title which remains after all passive on a very hypnotic structure stuffed with long and sinuous solos of a synth in the purest tradition of Klaus Schulze's style of vintage Berlin School, from Timewind to Body Love. Fine synth waves are wound and linked together at the opening of Quitting Time, creating a hypnotic minimalism melody that sails under a sky streaked with solos of a ghostly synth. Cut by an incisive wave, this intro plunges into a frenetic movement where chords collide in lively jerky oscillations which undulate with a bewitching hypnotic rhythm under the mists of a misty Mellotron and the twisted solos of a melodious synth. This long minimalist title escapes fine variances which embellish a listening hypnotized by an intense harmonic richness from where fuse astonishing solos from a synth full of very Schulzian sounds, from Irrlicht to Blackdance. La Tendresse brings us to the more abstract territories of HEAD-VISIONS. It's a long lullaby nourished by ocher tones which adopt an oblong and silent wind of metallic delirium. Finely this eclectic sound cloud dissipates to let enter a softness with astral tones which bathes in the abyssal lairs of a synth with industrial mists and a mellotron with enveloping caresses. It's a nice psychedelicosmic and drifting Berlin School. Recorded in 1990 during a concert in Berlin, Dreamdance is offered as a bonus track with the CD reissue. A title a bit like Quitting Time, but in a more ethereal and less tetanized version with synth waves which get entangled to create a soft bed of oscillations which roll in loops on a beautiful and warm bass line. Gently the tempo becomes denser without ever overflowing from its warm setting, thanks to a superb fluty mellotron which bewitches pleasantly the listening.

HEAD-VISIONS is said to be the work of Bernd Kistenmacher that most resembles Klaus Schulze, so much that an Australian fan has already told him that it was the best album made by ... Schulze! One cannot deny the resemblance with the works of Schulze, but HEAD-VISIONS remains unique because of its very ocher sound, blowing a wave of paranormal to an album which mixes audacity and melodies with its absolutely divine synths. A must available only on download at Bernd's Bandcamp. This is for fans of ambient analog EM guided by nuanced rhythms of Berlin School style.

Sylvain Lupari (March 28th, 2010) *****

Available at Mir Records Bandcamp

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