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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Brainwork Back to the Roots (1993)

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

I had my legs cut and chills in several places in this album which is a must have and which will certainly dislodge an album from my Top 25

1 Singing Seas 12:15

2 Analogic 13:10

3 Desert Trail 15:37

4 Rollout 12:58

5 Dedicated To Chris Franke 4:58

(CD 59:04) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

Finally, I received and heard this famous BACK TO THE ROOTS that my friend Nick Adams had strongly recommended. And it was Uwe Saher who sent it to me, along with his amazing 2020 The Synthfonie. Thanks Uwe! What an album my friends! Evolutionary structures, fantastic synth solos, a sequencer and creative electronic percussions as well as several phases of refrains that catch us and make us smile with ecstasy. In short, an excellent album and possibly the best from Brainwork.

It's gently that I get to discover it. Orchestrations furnish the ambiences with slow staccatos which come and go on a stream of shimmering sequences which remains in suspension. It's the ideal setting for sculpting idle and dreamy synth solos. The essence is a bit drawn from the influences of Klaus Schulze with these orchestrations and good synth solos that will charm our ears throughout the 4 main movements of this album. Interrupted movements, like here, short transitional phases allowing the structure to develop either a harmonious vision with good catchy refrains or to accentuate the rhythm. It becomes heavy and slow on the second part of Singing Seas. The violin bursts structure a floating staccato while the percussions bring everything back into a catchy heaviness. Uwe Saher is very comfortable in this setting with a very surgical precision in the development of his synth solos which are simply majestic. There is no ambiguity with Analogic! The rhythm gives birth to a very contemporary structure à la Klaus Schulze, genre En=Trance and even In Blue for the synth solos. Brainwork spreads a rhythm which is sharply leaping of its mesh of sequences, bass pulsations and electronic percussions. The solos are very beautiful and flagellate this rhythm imitating the stoic race of a jogger. Gradually, it brings its nuances towards a transition phase where the percussions isolate themselves to beat freely, genre solo of electronic drums, in a decor that flirts with the samplings of Kraftwerk's Autobahn. It’s very good! Especially since the rhythm returns with a slight velocity in a second part where the synths divide their charms between complex solos and orchestral harmonies. You would really think to hear Klaus Schulze here!

Desert Trail is a gem. The kind of thing that hooks us from the first listen by this little game of leapfrog from a keyboard which releases 5 arpeggios hopping in a minimalist frame. The rhythm is as lively as that of Analogic, in a slightly more fluid flow. The mellotron disperses its beautiful fluty airs, and the synth its solos and its harmonious refrains in a universe that connects with that of the Hyperborea period by Tangerine Dream. We cannot really go back to our roots without forgetting the impact of Tangerine Dream in the chessboard of the Berlin School. This is how Rollout offers us a good big electronic rock with a more contemporary approach to the Dream, Jive period. After an opening that will make us think of Jean-Michel Jarre, a nervous genre like in The Magnetic Fields, the rhythm takes on a new tangent even tormented by the nervousness of its arpeggios. Powered by electronic percussion and jerky keyboard riffs, it arches itself of its periodic spasms. The sequencer makes hops its jumping keys in a disorder which eventually becomes concordant. There are brief interludes where the keyboard offers its harmonies and other times its atmospheric as well as its melodious visions. It's also following one of these phases where Rollout develops a good envelope of nebulous effects with some rather gloomy passages which remind us that TD also made music for horror movies. The sequencer rolls its balls in an abacus effect on this structure which progresses by accentuating its energy with other very good synth solos from an Uwe Saher in very great shape here. He finishes this slightly more complex title with an electric piano which will be the anchor of Dedicated To Chris Franke. A very nice title with its heavy and slow rhythm which is inspired by its melodious album Pacific Coast Highway. Gerd Lubos' guitar fits very well into this light structure by sculpting solos that wiggle and compete with the burning hands of Brainwork on the synthesizer and its essence of saxophone.

Sculpted in the influences of the three main craftsmen of this EM revolution at the turn of the 70's, BACK TO THE ROOTS jumps two decades in order to bring us to the doors of the renewed visions of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream at the turn of the 90's. Set apart the beautiful nod to Chris Franke, the 4 other structures develop long movements with permutations which adapt quite well to our ears. The first track can command a few plays, but its end is as much sumptuous as the next 40 minutes or so. I had my legs cut and chills in several places in this album which is a must have and which will certainly dislodge an album from my Top 25. I listen to it again while translating this chronicle… and WoW!

Hat to you Uwe!

Sylvain Lupari (April 9th, 2020) ****½*

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