BERND KISTENMACHER: Utopia (2013)
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
“The balance between chaos and harmonies, anger and sweetness, rock and classic, makes of Utopia the strongest album of 2013, all styles merged”
1 We Need a New Utopia 24:45 2 Fearless 11:05 3 Born from Chaos 10:55 4 Land of Hope 6:42 5 Utopia 8:39 Groove NL | GR-202
(CD 62:02) (V.F.) (Classical, progressive and symphonic EM)
OK! Here we pass downright at another level of creativity. I don't know what Bernd Kistenmacher has ate since his comeback in 2009 (Celestial Movements) but it's clear that the inspiration, which equal his talent, goes out from him by ears. His last find is a brilliant album which recuts the fury of Let it Out, the ambiospherical phases of his vintages years as well as the philharmonic approaches splendidly concocted since exactly this comeback. It results from it in a fascinating, extremely powerful album where the chaos and the harmony divide the 62 minutes with an outstanding intensity.
A distant humming brings We Need a New Utopia up to our ears. This intro, which is similar to an orchestra tuning its violins, establishes the basics of a captivating sonic intensity where roar the rages of the violin and guitar. We perceive the skeleton of a rhythm a little before the 4th minute when a line of bass sequences makes pulse its keys which skip quite simply in a minimalist pattern. These keys wave into an ascendant and a descendant pattern on an invisible line, bum ping softly beneath the whimperings of a violin and the tears of a piano which unite their distresses in the embryo of a rhythm which grabs the elytrons of steel from some sober cymbals in order to keep its imposing funeral presence. There are many ambiences around this intro. It's as to see a suspense movie where we guess a next outcome. But the rhythm continues rather to limp. It goes up and down on its absent margin while that quietly another rhythmic pattern wraps it of a somber wave-like rhythm. And we dive. We plunge into these perfumes of the old analog hymns of the Berlin School where Bernd Kistenmacher and Burghard Rausch on drum embrace the morphic rhythm structures of Body Love from the tandem of Klaus Schulze and Harald Grosskopf. Outstanding! The rhythm is magnetizing and all the sonic elements which surround it create a delicious music wall which melts in our ears. We hear the guitar of Thorsten Quaeschning bites discreetly the ear while the violin of Thomthom Geigenschrey, very violent, tears the eardrums with strident solos. The rhythm is slow, almost ambient. The synth hangs on it some long twisted sighs, which remind me indefatigably the old structures of our friend Bernd. These sighs, as well as some dense foggy from the Mellotron, are melting into a hallucinating sonic ornament of which the skillful meshing of instruments rumbles on a structure which always waves of its floating rhythm. The guitar joins the fury of the violin with wild riffs and twisted solos while Kistenmacher wraps this sonic turbulence of a fascinating serenity. And We Need a New Utopia to continue on this surprising momentum where the blackness and the luminosity, the spite and the serenity cohabit and quarrel in an attractive symphony as much celestial as utopian. It's a little as if the sun would continue to shine above dense clouds of a nuclear apocalypse. Intense and wonderful! This is the best track in the style of Berlin School to have landed in my ears this year.
Fearless brings us into somber ambiospherical phases with a hyper-relaxing musical texture, even with these crystals which shout in the resonances of the astral gongs throughout its celestial sublimations. Born from Chaos pursues this phase of contemplative turbulences with a somber intro which amasses the mislaid sighs of Fearless, while remembering of these heart-rending apocalyptic atmospheres from We Need a New Utopia. Then the drum comes to knock down the order of things with stormy rollings which serve as canvas to a furious static rhythm constantly nibbled, ripped and crushed by atmospheres of insanities where the sonic cacophony of We Need a New Utopia is multiplied by three. Wow! Let's say that it rinses the hollow of the ear. The riffs of Thorsten Quaeschning bites the oblivion, I hear a bit of Hendrix here, and tumble in gusts. We think of an expansion of Born from Chaos, but no. A softly very nostalgic piano spreads the philharmonic poetry of Land of Hope. It is so much beautiful. Oh that is superbly beautiful. It is as much as On the Shoulders of ATLAS and/or Eternal Lights. Except that the pensive piano accepts gladly the sober percussions and the soft arrangements, shaping a delicate structure of slow rhythmic ride which gallops with melancholy on the plains of the hope. As I said; this is gorgeous. And this synth which blows these singings of glass and these arrangements which embroider a painting of despair is absolutely striking. I don't what is happening in the world of EM but recently a lot of artists lend their strange and delicate harmonies to some feminine voices. If the results are sometimes tepid, there is on the other hand a beautiful complicity here and there. Like here. I know that some of you will say that it's Bernd that I'm talking about and that I'm beforehand already won. It's not completely true, because the first listening left me a little bit tepid. Needs to say that the voice of Vana Verouti, who sang on Vangelis' Heaven and Hell, is everything, except usual. She possesses a strange nasal stamp which, second after second, does its effect and fits marvellously with the very symphonic approach of the title-track. Utopia has a slow rhythm. It's a beautiful French-style ballad with a ballad tempo, a little slower than on Land of Hope, but with the same dissensions between the drama and the romance and where the voice of Vana Verouti is everything but commonplace. It's so very beautiful. It's to the greatness of UTOPIA among which the balance between the chaos and the harmonies, the anger and the sweetness, the rock and the classic, makes of it the strongest album of 2013, all styles merged. And by the way, stop looking for Vangelis anymore. He is hiding in the studios of Bernd Kistenmacher.
Sylvain Lupari (December 15th, 2013) *****
Available at Groove NL