BRAINWORK: Earcatcher (2010)
“With a few more listens, I ended up enjoying a few tracks on this album”
1 Morning Run 9:16
2 On the Funky Side 6:23
3 Happy Hearts 6:11
4 Game.Lan 5:11
5 Scrolling Waves 6:27
6 Miami Vibes 5:12
7 In A Groovy Mood 3:39
8 Sunset Lane 4:19
9 End of A Day 5:33
(CD-R 56:12) (V.F.)
(New Berlin School Cosmic Funk)
Um...I don't know! I am a little disappointed, I must admit. I am a big fan of Brainwork, but I was disappointed by EARCATCHER. For some time, a new musical trend seems to develop in Germany, techno mixes with Berlin School style. Stemming from Moonbooter's and Robert Schroeder's lines of thought, this musical movement combines the soft effluvia of a hypnotic and minimalist Berlin School with rhythms that are sometimes sober, bewitching and/or frenzied. And this is exactly the musical envelope from Uwe Saher's new album. An album in which his two-head musical identity has been transposed into the luscious rhythms of Element 4, his alter ego and his energizing music.
A soft vaporous layer opens Morning Run. These few 3 seconds will be the only ethereal moments of EARCATCHER, which is literally designed to hook the ears...and feet, except in a few rare moments. I'm not saying it's a blast, nor is it a dance floor bustle, but this album stands out from the usual Brainwork EM with sustained rhythms that are rarely interrupted by ethereal passage. Let's just say it lives up to its title! A series of bouncy chords wiggles with a good bass line, setting the basis of this 13th Brainwork album. Between funk and synth pop with unbridled chords, Uwe Saher spreads all his knowledge by sprinkling this long track with good melodious passages where the synth becomes lyrical and throws in good twisted solos on a hybrid structure. Although very lively, the dance and animated side of the album is brilliantly adorned with subtle melodious chords that embellish it and would make it devoid of emotions, as shown by In a Groovy Mood and Sunset Lane and other tracks. On the Funky Side features a bass line that draws a slightly funky structure. Arpeggios clash delicately and a synth line undulates languidly while releasing good solos. Like on most of the tracks here, the structure swaps to offer a different nuance in the harmonies. Thus, good percussions of a tabla kind and other hand percussions are added, creating a hyper melodious impact in the sauce of the Dream's orientations with Iris Camaa, making of On the Funky Side a track with a soft melodious rhythm, just like the exotic Game.Lan and Miami Vibes.
Happy Hearts plunges us into one of those over-the-top rhythms with a voracious double-tone bass line. The chords bounce frantically over percussion whose pairing gives the impression of being constantly in a frantic race. The synth launches a line for a catchy chorus that shifts a bit from this spasmodic rhythm. It's big techno tied to synth-pop, for the chorus, very heavy and catchy which fits very well with the title from BW's new opus. A carousel of limpid arpeggios dancing lasciviously in the limbo of the dream opens Scrolling Waves. A sweet track a little lost in the cadenced structures of EARCATCHER that reminds the music of Food for Fantasy. Very beautiful, just like the romantic End of a Day. Scrolling Waves is the closest thing to the poetic universe of Uwe Saher. Sunny Island is on the other hand the closest thing to Element 4 with its heavy pulsations that bite a heavy bass line, hammering a hellish, but strangely hypnotic rhythmic, of which the fragile chords jump on a synth flirting with Latin tonalities. A track that is both heavy and catchy, like a majority of the tracks on EARCATCHER.
Disappointed, but not too much! Even if at times I have this strange impression of being overwhelmed by the musical structures of Tangerine Dream, 90's and 00's. With a few more listens, I ended up enjoying a few tracks on this album. We are quite far from the Berlin School of Ten, Back to the Future and even Dreamland, but it must be said that this EARCATCHER is not just an album of intelligent electronic dance music (IDM), and bubbling beats. One finds there these emotions and this sensibility proper to Brainwork which appear quite well and are heard in each corner of its hectic rhythms.
Sylvain Lupari (October 8th, 2011) ***½**
Available at Brainwork