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  • Sylvain Lupari

BRAINWORK: Back to Future (2003)

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

“Back to Future is a blast! A blast of sequencing, of percussions and of juicy and very acrobatic solos. No wonder why there is a suite!”

1 4am Machines 13:07 2 Back to Future 8:39 3 Sanddunes 9:16 4 Transponder 12:25 5 Offbeats 10:30 6 Back To the Sea 16:25 7 4am Machines (Hatfield & Torpey Remix) 5:41 Cue-Records (CD 76:03) (V.F.) (Berlin School-Drum'n'Bass)

BACK TO FUTURE is the first cd of Brainwork since Sensual Reflections, appeared in 1997. A long hiatus where Uwe Saher released 2 albums under the name of Elements 4; Continuation and Live Summer 99, both appeared in 1999. So it was a long silence of 4 years broken by the release of BACK TO FUTURE, an opus where the rhythms take all shapes. From Berlin School to Groove and Drums'n'Bass. Or still of Berlin School on Drums'n'Bass! From the first notes, 4 am Machines places us straight out in the deafening universe of BACK TO FUTURE with a line of sequences which comes off the rails deliciously and hits a wall of layers of mist. These sequences flicker with ascending and downward curves, espousing these stratospheric beatings of Tangerine Dream of which the synth layers moreover drink their memories by big gulps. And when the rhythm gets in seriously after 68 seconds, 4 am Machines dives rather into an atmosphere of synth-pop while preserving this delicious sequenced pattern as rhythmic as melodic which claims its influence to Franke. The synths are agile and weave feverish melodious lines which have a hard time to follow this good impetus of rhythm which flirts with an intergalactic western. Gradually, 4 am Machines flows towards a Dub style and a scent of Dance with sequences which flicker as nervously as these beatbox percussions which annoyed the ears during the explosion of the MIDI and of its massive use in the middle of the 80's. The sequences are the heart of the charms of Uwe Saher's music. And we get this as soon as the opening of the title-track with a static movement knotted around fine subtleties. A maelstrom of harmonious keys floats around a structure animated by the arrival of less aggressive percussions, while the synth layers are stretching a charming effect. Effects of psy-dance melt in the decor while a hardly formed melody seduces straightaway on the continuous back and forth of the sequences. A little as in 4 am Machines, Back to Future exploits massively its minutes by bringing fine nuances to the vibes, which are weaved with good solos and Mellotron effects, in its rhythmic armature which mixes Berlin School and Groove without too many difficulties. Sanddunes is a good title as lively as melodious with a synth loaded of harmonious solos of which the tone is rather similar to a trumpet with a cornet. The movement of the sequencer is still very beautiful and the rhythm flows with a harmonious fluidity which respects the signature of Brainwork. This is an easy one to catch! And it's an even more livened up and a catchier movement in Transponder where the sequences flutter around with fine oscillating loops in a structure which is well supported by sober percussions. The lines of sequences tumble in cascade in this semi-minimalist pattern which is especially shaded and livened up by convulsive staccatos. A good line of bass adds a finish extremely seducing in this structure which gallops under the whips of the percussions and the effects of dance, as these bangings of hands, to make us breathless from both hemispheres. I believed that this Transponder was the limit of a Berlin School in techno mode! Needs to think not, because Offbeats is as much hallucinating of rhythm than Transponder. The sequences are vertiginous and offer long fluctuating phases which make bite their impulse of rhythm by some slamming percussions and a line of bass snoring like a good and very smooth Funk. The percussions sing as the metal can sing and are very incisive, otherwise hard. They hammer an infernal beat which finds a little of respite in the shade of the floating layers. In that time, I remember very well that Offbeats was one of the most powerful track that I heard in this fusion of Berlin School, of New Berlin School and of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music). Since then, things did change a lot! Back to the Sea is the longest track on BACK TO FUTURE and it starts in lion. The nervous and hopping sequences are losing of their glow under the avalanche of the beatbox percussions of which the machine-gun bursts also lose of their brightness of aggressiveness beneath some furious synth solos which deploy a fierce rage worthy of a guitarist of Hard rock. A mixture of Groove and Rock of an incredible ferocity, Back to the Sea abounds nevertheless of these layers which structure the landscapes of atmospheric vibes of the EM universe, but in a very accelerated mode here. A long title which never stops to amaze. Besides the big solos full of twists, there are passages where the percussions hammer the tempo among good effects and layers filled with sedative perfumes. But it's waste of time because Back to the Sea is a huge noisy carousel which goes quite fast for a title of 16 minutes. I have to admit that I had been taken by surprise by this BACK TO FUTURE. I had read somewhere that this album was a good Berlin School filled of rhythms. I would rather say; blown up by explosive and whirling rhythms. That be the very first album of Brainwork that I heard. And I remember that at that time, Uwe Saher had spoken to me of a new stemming musical genre of Berlin School and Drums'n'Bass, that we could call Sequence'n'Bass or still Berlin Bass of that Uwe will make reference in Back to Future II which will hit the market some 14 years farther. It was a very realistic way to describe the musical ambience which reigns all over BACK TO FUTURE. I first wrote this review in 2007 (in French) and Back to Future II gave me that taste again to dive back into the vibes of the first volume. And phew …! It's a heavy album that I rediscover with more pleasure in 2017. The bludgeoning of the sequencer, as well as these more fluid rhythms, the agility of the percussions, which sometimes thunder with more fury than these lines of bass sequences, and these synth solos as acrobatic as melodic make of BACK TO FUTURE an essential album in the discography of Brainwork. It's hard, very hard and superbly done well. A must if we want to redo our walls and floor! Sylvain Lupari (May 17th, 2007) ***¾**

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© 2019 by Alexandre Corbin for Synth&Sequences \ Sylvain (A.K.A. Phaedream) Lupari

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