“A kind of Brainwork Unplugged with very nice sleepy melodies...such as we are used to find on his earlier opuses”
1 Hypnotic Keys 10:11 2 Braino Theme 5:52 3 Sweet Lullaby 5:30 4 Hard Keys 5:15 5 Soft Keys 7:21 6 Leap Year Part One 12:50 7 Leap Year Part Two 12:44 Brainwork Music
(CD 59:52) (V.F.) (Themes for piano and e-piano)
Throughout the career of Brainwork, Uwe Saher always succeeded to integrate to his albums a piece of music tinted of romance. Little ballads lost between good old Berlin School! We find those on Sensual Reflections, Ten, Dreamland or yet City Lights. And it's the core of ABOVE THE KEYS. But I have to say right away; this last opus of Brainwork is another trip of Uwe Saher outside the borders of the Berlin School. It's rather a kind of Brainwork Unplugged with themes for piano and for electric piano which look like in skeletons of melodies scattered through the more Berliner music of Brainwork. Here the synths serve rather as decorative elements with effects and arrangements which give more depth to 7 music structures more acoustic than electronic which lug us around from a style to another.
Keys dance with liveliness, structuring a kind of embryonic cha-cha-cha of which the circular structure swirls with the delicacy of its keys. The approach is old-fashioned, almost rustic, and can even be like a kind of electronic rock of the 80's which is deprived of its elements of rhythms. Hypnotic Keys lies down thus the skeleton of its stripped rhythm with a very minimalist approach which is like a kind of study for keyboard with a route which is at times hesitating. A hypnotic route with variations in the tones and it the roundness of its eternal tune, sometimes amassing shadows which are dawdling around in order to deepen the field of charms of this introduction to the music of ABOVE THE KEYS. If you think of Mike Oldfield, you are not far from the repetitive moods of the Irish musician with this rhythmic ritornello which becomes a heavy mid-tempo when the percussions knock down the ambiences a little after the point of 4 minutes. Uwe Saher hesitated for a long time before adding percussions to his album. He wanted a more acoustic one where the keys would have led the moods as well as be conductive of rhythms, such as we have in the Leap Year saga. But inserted well here and there, they give a more poignant and emotive dimension to some of the pieces of music in this album. Like here and on Braino Theme which falls in our ears with its scents of harpsichord and of which the charms of the Baroque years are hanging over a soft and very nostalgic ballad. The theme does very French drama romance movie of the 70's with a Uwe Saher as much incisive than melancholic who hammers at times the keys of his electric piano. Traced a little on the emotional pattern of Hypnotic Keys, the percussions come to jostle our emotions a little after the 3rd minutes spot, bringing Braino Theme towards another heavy mid-tempo which is always so penetrating. Sweet Lullaby carries marvelously its name! Inspired by the Canon of Pachelbel, it's a wonderful lullaby sculptured in the unique tones of the Oberheims Prosynth that we don't get tired to listen to. Even my Lise adores ... Here, no percussions! The same goes for Hard Keys which is an almost acoustic electronic rock with synth effects which paint it of an airier approach. Soft Keys is also a rather ethereal ballad built on delicate arpeggios in tones of glass and flute which spin delicately, like in a carousel for sleepless. Here also the percussions add a more rhythmic depth while the effects of synth add a veil of nebulosity. That does very film music from time to time. Leap Year Part One and Leap Year Part Two form a long music piece which could be named; reflections for piano. The acoustic piano is dominant and the moments of serenity and those of impulse are exchanging roles in this long piece which rocks between a kind of Honky Tonk and contemporary classical moments which smell a little like those of Paul Haslinger during TD's 86 tour. The fingers of Uwe Saher are as agile as magical and strum with the correctness of his feelings.
Of course, the fans of Brainwork will be quite confused by the musical direction of ABOVE THE KEYS. But if we listen carefully to the 7 structures of this album, we recognize the harmonious signature that Uwe Saher liked letting germinate in his more Berlin School structures from the Brainwork repertoire. It's like if Uwe Saher enjoyed himself here by making us listen to some more acoustic versions of Brainwork. And as in every album of Brainwork, there are tracks that will obsess you up to the doors of your sleep.
Sylvain Lupari (March 19th, 2016) ***½**
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