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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

BRÜCKNER & DI PONTE: Twenty-Five Light Years (2022)

A very different universe than Brückner's where Di Ponte drags us in her's

1 A Farewell to Distant Friends 14:52

2 Tender Memories 10:33

3 Are You Ready to Fly (Instrumental Version) 7:56

4 Seeking Refuge 8:01

5 Sunturn Tune 9:30

6 Twenty-Five Light Years 7:09

7 Dhuska 5:34

8 Vor Einem Geheimen Wort 6:23

9 Are You Ready To Fly

(Vocal Version) 7:56

(DDL 77:58)

Bonus The 2020 Lockdown 90:11

1 Sessions Part 1 34:18

2 Sessions Part 2

3 Sessions Part 3

4 Sessions Part 4

5 Sessions Part 5

6 Sessions Part 6

7 Sessions Part 7

8 Cilia's Piano Improvisaton 2020

(2CD-R/DDL 168:09) (V.F.)

(Prog Synthpop, Electronica, Experimental, ambient, Neo Classical EM)

After an opening worthy of a dystopian surreal ambience bloom, A Farewell to Distant Friends lets us hear a synth moaning between the suave murmurs of Cilia di Ponte. This first phase exploits a texture of seraphic ambiences around this voice and a layer of vocal samplings to form an astral choir that envelops the tears of the synth. A 6 minutes divinatory phase that reflects quite well the atmospheric essence of this TWENTY-FIVE LIGHT YEARS. The rhythm structure offers a flock of jumping ions whose organic texture chirps jerky oscillatory phrases. The electronic percussions soften a little this rhythmic vision with strikes too slow compared to the velocity of the sequencer. These percussions will be at the origin of seductive rhythmic variations which will mark out the next 8 minutes of this title. The synth takes on several appearances, the first of which is to launch emotive solos that float, twirl and create phantasmagorical loops. Shades of flute are also incorporated as well as a brief vision of big electronic rock with riff lines. Cilia di Ponte's voice doesn't just whisper. She sings in this good atmospheric and rhythmic duel where there is only a small step to make to establish a connection with Enigma's progressive synthpop style. A Farewell to Distant Friends sets the tone for an album that might scare some people if they are expecting a Berlin School type of album, both progressive and vintage, usually offered by Cyclical Dreams. As far as I'm concerned, I admit that I had difficulties with the voice and especially its massive use inside 6 tracks of this release of the Argentinian label. FIVE LIGHT YEARS is an informal celebration of the artistic union between Michael Brückner and Cilia di Ponti whose voice and keyboard can be heard on the albums The Giant Illusion, Sparrows and Polar Vortex. She has also participated in more than 25 albums of the German musician, including several before I heard his first opus 100 Million Miles Under the Stars in 2012. The album thus offers music composed between 2002 and 2020. Offered as a download on Cyclical Dreams' Bandcamp platform, this album-download is also offered in double CD-R format by Michael's label which includes a long 86-minute (sic) track entitled The 2020 Lockdown. An improvised piano session by Cilia completes this CD-R version that the Argentine label also offers as a bonus on its Bandcamp site. In short, the listener gets his money's worth, as it is often the case with Michael Bruckner. The great majority of the tracks are composed by both artists, except for Twenty-Five Light Years and Dhuska (MB) and the very good Are You Ready To Fly which both versions were written by di Ponti.

Let's continue on the music with Tender Memories which exploits its more than 10 minutes in an angelic atmospheric vision without any rhythmic movement. Just elements of meditative atmospheres where the humming of the Italian diva covers the sober tears of a dreamy keyboardist. Composed by Cilia di Ponti, Are You Ready to Fly is a small jewel of progressive synthpop which structures of its slightly bouncing rhythm a very good Vangelis harmonious envelope. Its sung version, very good by the way, offers a mix more in the Electronica genre with a nice downtempo essence. Speaking of Vangelis, the slow driving opening of Seeking Refuge reminds me of some of the rhythm structures with a dramatic vision of Antartica. A stream of moiré arpeggios appear in this setting and spin over this bouncy rhythm that is propelled by sober electronic percussions and the spontaneous sighs of a bass line over a distance of barely 100 seconds. Afterwards, the duo offers us an atmospheric phase with the voice of the Italian singer in a sound panorama dominated by low shadows and passing waves of a synth in tenebrous ambiences mode. The sequencer releases a line of oscillating chirps, similar to the structure of A Farewell to Distant Friends, to bring back the introductory rhythm. The Vangelis flavors are gone, and the more electronic rhythm remains semi-driving, giving more visibility to a voice that reminds me of Tintin's Castafiore, if not the venerable Meredith Monk. I had some difficulty to appreciate this finale. And not because of the music! Ditto for Sunturn Tune's techno-pop structure and Dhuska's more progressive electronic one. Even Michael Bruckner has sampled his voice on this track. Without voices or vocal effects, Sunturn Tune offers a structure which is animated vividly by a line of jumping keys in a super excited mode with machine gun fired oscillations. A bass-sequence line unfurls a vibrating shadow behind this frenetic rhythm that is ideal for spasmodic dance, high-density breakdancing, for remote-controlled cyborgs with more energy than the Energizer Bunny on speed! Again here, the percussions add a nuance on the velocity of this rhythm whose hyperactive jumps are deliciously topped with waves of a synth that leaves all the space it needs. Even with this hyperactive rhythm, our ears are far from the borders of the Berlin School as the duo tries a foray into neoclassicism with Vor Einem Geheimen Wort and its piano-keyboard duel flavored with buzzing drones. Di Ponti's voice is very sharp in a dramatic finale that ends with the narration of the poem Wenn nicht mehr Zahlen und Figuren from the German poet Friedrich von Hardenberg.

I am always divided in front of this new album of Michael Brückner and Cilia di Ponte. The very nice German musician has always been able to attract me to his works, even his most complex and atmospheric ones. It is very different with this TWENTY-FIVE LIGHT YEARS since this album is an overview of a close collaboration, over a distance of almost 25 years, with a versatile artist whose voice and musical knowledge attract Michael Bruckner more to her universe than the opposite. The music is correct without more, because MB has so accustomed us to evolving works that embrace a panoply of styles. This approach is barely touched in this album where there are more strong moments than weak ones! And it's not The 2020 Lockdown that reverses the trend! We are very far from all that Bruckner is used to offer with very heterogeneous structures where the music of astral ambiences flirts with Lounge, neoclassic, avant-gardist and synthpop erected in a long evolutive structure. As I said, the feeling that Cilia di Ponte is leading the way and taking the listener into her musical repertoire, which is very vast, is the essence of this album offered as a bonus. That written, the listening is very enjoyable!

Sylvain Lupari (July 4th, 2022) *****

Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp

Available at Michael Brückner Bandcamp

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