Bernd-Michael Land Begegnungen (Ich sehe dich) (2023)
Updated: Sep 14
“Despite its high level of heteroclism, this is an album that is simply breathtaking”
1The Golden Light 7:59
2 Ma yen wa 3:30
3 Synchronism 7:24
4 Metal Art-E-Fact 2:78
5 Augen | Blick 6:55
6 Polarization 6:30
7 Fragment 7:33
8 Resonator 4:22
9 Momentum 3:46
10 Prism 7:25
11 Babylon 4:22
12 Klang | Strukturen 7:12
13 Fractals 4:51
(CD 73:57) (V.F.)
(Experimental E-Rock Berlin School)
In these years when fewer and fewer CDs are manufactured. Where the vast majority of musical works are offered in downloadable format only. There are still artists for whom the artistic dimension remains at the heart of their concerns. Bernd-Michael Land is one of them! In exceptional sound quality for an album with such far-reaching dimensions in heteroclic universes, the magician from Rodgau-Hainhausen in Germany delivers a solid album in this BEGEGNUNGEN (Ich sehe dich), translating Encounters (I see you). Like with Humano:Id - Visionen, this new album features 13 tracks, which have little in common, for a distance of 74 minutes. The CD also comes with a 24-page booklet containing valuable information on the music, as well as the lyrics to Ma yen wa. In fact, this track, sung in Ewondo, demonstrates the breadth of genres that inhabit the dimensions of an album that combines Berlin School as much as Teutonic rock and experimental electronic music (EM). It's a bit like those chance encounters where conversations often have neither tail nor meaning! And like with Humano:Id - Visionen, our ears need time and a few listens - although some tracks fit in very well - to familiarize ourselves with this universe in constant motion, even within its rather short time envelope, and which is prone to some good sonic turbulences.
The Golden Light begins with a short storm of electronic turbulences. A wave of melody emerges, with a keyboard that spreads a veil of melancholy. The movement is circular but meditative in nature. It's a delicate ballad grafted with sound effects of another electronic genetics, notably around the 3:30 minute mark when the keyboard loses its melody in the humming of a layer of mist and ethereal voices. It sounds like a form of organic-cyborg dialect. The melody picks up again a few seconds later. If strange whirrs lurk around, it's more cadenced with an upward movement of a sequenced bass line. The keyboard drops fat, resonant chords in a slightly more dramatic finale. Ma yen wa features the voice of Cameroonian singer Amourel Marius Tsogo. It's more a recitation of a poem in the singer's mother tongue. The opening may have ruffled my eardrums, but the rest of the track flows quite well. But it's not my best track in BEGEGNUNGEN (Ich sehe dich)! Synchronism follows with a bouncy electronic rhythm that's filled with resonances, alternative sequences and gurgling sound effects. The pulsating bass line drives this rhythm, over which arpeggios caper with a distant harmonic texture. The synth makes roll the cooings of an electronic nightingale over this generous structure of the sequencer flows and the contrasting tones of its jumping chords. Rather difficult to tame, Metal Art-E-Fact is a more experimental, atmospheric track with an armada of tinkling sounds that twirl and resonate in an atypical spherical choreography that gets caught up in heavy industrial hum around the 90-second mark. It becomes a dark, almost cacophonous track, with video-game, galactic and organic sound effects. Augen | Blick follows with a good game of sequencer, where jumping chords cavort in a rhythmic choreography more appealing to the neurons than the feet. Bernd-Michael Land has the art of combining different rhythmic textures that eventually converge into something appealing to the ears. Here, the rhythm hops as it traces harmonious zigzags that become hypnotic loops. The musician creates mutations in the language of his rhythmic sequences while adding starbursts here and there, a few avian chirps and a deliciously sly bass wave that adds depth to this delicate movement of mathematized spasms. Deeply moving, Polarization is a beautiful ambient melody with falling chords that give off a melancholy timbre that secretly weeps in the bluish vapors that have escaped from the synth. Layers that sound like the drama of an organ do nothing to stem the nostalgic texture of the ambience. From their resonances emerge a beautiful linear sequencer movement whose acoustic guitar or harp tone sculpts a reverie to melt our soul. A beautiful title in this constellation of strangeness that adorns this fascinating album, which requires more than one listen before finding its charms. And Polarization is the proof!
Another solid track that evolves rather well in its short time frame, Fragment emerges from its layer of orchestral fog and the various forms of clatter that pierce it to take root in a three-phase rhythmic formula. First, there's a wide-ranging bass stratum that rises and falls with the fascinating texture of a hungry ogre. The percussions are a fitting backdrop to this groove-oriented approach, and the sequencer unties a line that flows in fits and starts. These disparate elements create a confusion of rhythmic genres: Groove, rock or Berlin School? But it's a rather musical confusion that becomes symbiotic with the bits of harmonies that are equally dissonant in nature. Solid and inviting to dance to, Fragment can easily rival Robert Schroeder's Groove rhythms on the same level of creativity. In the same vein as Metal Art-E-Fact, Resonator is more experimental in nature, with its sampling of industrial noise and collage of sound textures more akin to the abstract dimensions of Pete Farn. We're not disoriented, since some of these structures were on Humano:Id - Visionen. The first part of Momentum is more experimental ambient in nature, with beautiful mellotron layers hovering lazily over a universe of mismatched sonic fluctuations. A seductive Berlin School structure emerges from the sequencer towards the last third of the track. The movement is fluid and driving, in stark contrast to the slow, meditative approach of the opening. Prism follows with a crisp, curt rhythm. A rhythm that sounds very Tangerine Dream in another sound envelope, still rich in color and effect. The mellotron slides nebulous orchestrations, as if slightly seraphic, over the rhythm, which develops towards a good Teutonic rock à la Düsseldorf School. The finale features chords that rumble and radiate of an organic metal. A cross between Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream in a rather sci-fi tonal envelope. Creative to the end, this Bernd-Michael Land! Babylon is another experimental, atmospheric track with a more cinematic feel. The tone is very mechanical-industrial, with eardrum-piercing synth blades and waves. Organic and cyborg-like vocal effects can be detected amid the din of metallic roars and whirrs. An excellent track that combines Berlin School with a more progressive EM, Klang | Strukturen begins with a very good Berlin School with crisscrossing sequencer movements that carve out a circular rhythm with a slight zigzagging axis. Steam-train noises can be heard on this structure, where various organic clicks are grafted on. The rhythm takes a more dynamic tangent early in the track. It's at this point that the synth emerges to give us some great solos over tasty rhythmic modulations. The ambiences remind me of some very good Synergy in its 76-79 period. We stay with the formula of driving rhythms with Fractals and its circular sequencer framework that glues sequenced organic chirps to it. The track may be short, but it still favors these rhythmic mutations of the sequencer and the proliferation of sound effects on this rhythm where the muffled pounding of the percussions add a more chthonian dimension.
I know that this chronicle is already very long. So let me conclude by saying that BEGEGNUNGEN (Ich sehe dich) is a simply breathtaking album by Bernd-Michael Land!
Sylvain Lupari (September 14th, 2023) ****½*
Available on Bernd-Michael Land's website
(NB: Words in blue are links you can click on)