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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari


Updated: Dec 24, 2019

“Again, Michael Brückner shows boldness and creativity with an album where the Berliner moods fit perfectly with the raw vision of Tommy Betzler”

1 (Not) Too Late 12:14 2 Two Worlds (Inside one Mirror) 9:08 3 Gaia (A Suite in two Parts) 25:33 4 Monsoon (Too Soon) 11:08 5 (One) To the Flame of Hope 20:18 SynGate|CD-rMBTB01

(CD-r/DDL 78:28) (V.F.) (Vintage Berlin School moods mix in e-prog rock)

Michael Bruckner is unarguably one of rising star of the German EM scene who distinguishes himself the most since that 100 Hundred Million Miles Under the Stars has landed in CD boxes in 2012. Since, he accumulates very interesting solo albums and especially projects of collaborations which awaken the gluttonous appetite of those who always hope for a little more music. Written between 2013 and 2015, the music of TWO is his 3rd collaboration album since then. Flanked essentially by Tommy Betzler, who has already played with Klaus Schulze and P'Cock, on electronic drums, Michael Bruckner has also recruited Sammy David on guitars and Fryderyk Jona on clarinet as well as on Moog. Synths, electronic drums, guitar, clarinet and Moog! This sound cocktail offers some very interesting perspectives which will become a reality as we move forward in this wonderful album where every minute is planned with perfection, making of TWO an album as fascinating, as attractive than the superb Sparrows, released at the beginning of 2014.

(Not) Too Late attacks our ears furiously! A blow of percussion is at the origin of its explosion which begins shyly with a thick cloud of suspended layers which fidget under the bites of the percussions that Tommy Betzler feeds with scattered hits. An effect of vocoder voice articulates a kind of countdown and when this strangled voice announces that it's not too late; an effect of synth calls out to our ears with a brief shrill mooing. A line of bass gets excited under vaporous synth layers. It oscillates swiftly while the synth tries to adjust its harmonies with twists which inhale the psychedelic years. The tone is given when Tommy Betzler strikes his first knocks of percussions. Sammy David's riffs makes no doubt regarding the orientation of (Not) Too Late. This is pure electronic rock! The rhythm is lively. Galloping at a brisk pace, it's buried by very good effects of synth, kind of electronic chirpings which are the harmonious basis of (Not) Too Late, that Michael Bruckner manipulates with dexterity while multiplying solos made of creative twists and by flowing this mystic cloud of mist so dear to the electronic movements. The sound is rich. The percussions are in the tone and the guitar is not too intrusive, scattering riffs and especially a juicy solo in the 2nd part, in this sound avalanche rich in tones and in colors of sounds. It's the perfect equilibrium between electronic rock and this piece of crazy progressive music that pleases so much the fans of Ozric Tentacles. It's a very good track this year. My ears still vibrate! Two Worlds (Inside one Mirror) proposes a more relaxing pattern with a very beautiful melody sat on a movement strummed a la Tubular Bells. The mists of ether are chasing it at the borders of 2 minutes, entailing our ears in a sound universe where whiish, whoosh, electronic noises and hummings are welcoming the soft laments of Fryderyk Jona on clarinet. Audacious, Michael Bruckner drags us in a surrealist decoration where a shamanic voice, kind of guttural Khöömei chant, replace the charms of Fryderyk Jona while that little by little Two Worlds (Inside one Mirror) proposes a structure of rhythm pressed on a minimalist circular movement that Tommy Betzler restructures in good lunar down-tempo. A morphic tempo which is abundantly sprinkled by a Michael Bruckner and his always very creative synth solos.

Gaia (A Suite in two Parts) is an ambiospherical piece of music which found its origins at the beginning of 2014 with the track Ambient Percussion Sketch to which we can listen to on the Soundcloud page of the Bruckner/Betzler duet. The music evolves in a long pattern of 25 minutes where the rhythm and the non-rhythm are divided by rich ambiospheric envelopes. The resonances of a gong and tribal percussions of a Tibetan kind aims to be a tribal ambient approach from where escape some nice strands of ambiosonic sequences. The structure, in particular these guttural winds, reminds me enormously of Steve Roach. And this rhythm! Ambient and deliciously groovy, it obsesses until elements of atmospheres swallow it near the 6 minutes point. Gaia (A Suite in two Parts) becomes then a big cloud of atmospheres where elements of nature and its electronic contrasts cohabit in a universe weaved in complexity, in creativity. Larvas of six-strings, shrill lamentations of a synth which sniffs in loops, weeping guitar solos, forgotten metallic tom-toms and heavy very esoteric synth layers adorn these ambiences where the rhythm is reborn near the 12 minutes mark. From this point, Gaia (A Suite in two Parts) will go from ambient to Groove with a wild tribal rhythm before feeding again of these atmospheres which are always near a universe in extinction. It's a long sonic route which finds its charms as we explore it with more attention to details. The introduction of Monsoon (Too Soon) is going to make you jump. The track is strong and the approach is clearly more tribal African with beautiful Arabian fragrances in the vaporous synth line. The sequences are agile and they dance against the current of the percussions which are clearly stronger and wilder here, bringing even the track towards an electronic rock as much furious as in (Not) Too Late, nuances and subtleties in the approach in less. (One) To the Flame of Hope is the jewel of TWO! The first 5 minutes are weaved in a rich envelope of atmospheres with a sharp singing of a synth which picks you up the soul. Its harmonies of roaming dominate a fields of drones which undulate like sound waves, making splash some bursts of percussions and cymbals from where escapes a movement of sequences which makes its keys oscillate in the singings of a clarinet. The atmospheres are rich and stuffed of electronic effects as well as of cosmic effects where the synth solos sing with a clarinet which aims to be discreet in front of the turbulence of the percussions. This disheveled rhythm loses its ardor in a dense ambient panorama where the clarinet is throning over a cloud of drones. And little by little, (One) To the Flame of Hope re orientates its ambient approach towards another turbulence of the rhythms which grows constantly under the threat of synths and their sound shadows as rich as deformed, guiding the listener towards a solid finale. A finale where the essences of the Berlin School embrace a kind of Electronica refined by a Groove which is adorned by good electronic effects and by a synth always so dominant.

TWO is for two, like in a duet! A duet that we can hear and see on You Tube and which seems to have many resources in the reservoir of the surprises, in particular this delicious version of House in the Storm from P'Cock. And there will be a suite to this first album of the Bruckner/Betzler. In an exchange of e-mails with Michael Bruckner, the latter announced me a likely album for the next spring and it's for the best. So much the better because this artist inhales the creativity and this enjoyment to make something different for every project. It's a refreshing artist who dares and who challenges his limits of album in album. TWO is the outcome of a reflection where Michael Bruckner agreed to lend his music to a percussionist who beat up it and ripped it without ever that it loses its identity. The biggest tour de force of TWO!

Sylvain Lupari (December 8th, 2015) ****½*

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