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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Brainwork Stollwerck 96' (2020)

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

It's a beautiful album in concert for a duo that puts nice EM in our ears where we don't even have to force ourselves to find it beautiful

1 Intro 3:01

2 Euphoria 5:30

3 Taslahn 15:02

4 Ethnotronic 96 6:24

5 Musical Clock 96 6:17

6 Moments in Passion 6:41

7 Jamaican Holidays 7:18

8 Talk to The Whales 12:24

9 Mountain Range 10:16

(CD 73:07) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School, E-Rock)

So many memories! We are at the start of the Internet age and Napster. And we North Americans are discovering that Tangerine Dream's EM style that has so much seduce us between the years 73-78 had generated a bunch of offsprings on the side of Europe. Even some were very young and were inspired by the 220 Volts tour of the Dream in 1992. It was also the first time that I heard something called Musical Clock. It was on Brainwork's Sunrise album. As a result, there was a CD-R of a pirate recording entitled Stollwerck 96 ' which brought together the music of Uwe Saher and that of Strange Inside. I did not hear the boot in question, but there is still ashes over the net like a video on You Tube which features Taslahn. There are no images, we just see the cover, and the sound is average. But not here! Uwe Saher, the man behind Brainwork, offers his fans, as well as those of Gerd Lubos' (Strange Inside) a great in-house production with a very good sound of this show which took place at a time when EM was still alive and well as well as exported in concerts in the old countries. STOLLWERCK 96' offers 9 tracks lying on manufactured CD with a case which displays a cover as sober as Uwe has accustomed us over the years. If the sound is that good, the music itself lacks punch, of support for the rhythmic attack. A good percussionist would have been even better, since we are witnessing a duel between a synth and a guitar-synthesizer throughout the 73 minutes of the album. You have to be creative, and at this level the solos are simply magnificent, and the use of the glockenspiel adds an element of charm to these tracks whose melodies are lost in the abundance of solos.

It's with a staccato going for an astral bolero that the very orchestral Intro opens. Without half a second to loose, Euphoria begins to spread its cosmic layers on a core of pulsations in a cosmic vision à la Jean-Michel Jarre that electronic percussions bite with their sharp and keen strikes. This is how a synth solo, sounding like a guitar which sounds like a synth, falls in our ears A fabulous solo that starts a little after the second minute to end at 5:30 minutes. And these solos are recurrent throughout this album which offers a lively EM as energizing as the music of Brainwork, but in concert. It's with a saxophone tune, which is not one but which sounds as such, that Taslahn opens. The title uses its 15 minutes mainly between electronic rock with a propensity for New Age-style melodies and some ambient phases that capture the senses, including a Halloween melody. We add clashing metal hoops and vaporous percussive effects. Also composed by Strange Inside, we owe him Euphoria and Jamaican Holidays, the title travels a lot on the wings of this guitar-synthesizer with good solos that duel with those, more classical, of Brainwork. But the spirit of this concert is very 220 Volts, without the same amperage. Ethnotronic 96 is a very captivating track where the synths form a choir of trumpets on a festive rhythm. The electronic percussions are well arranged on this title while being further in the background. Quite the opposite with the so wonderful Musical Clock 96. A beautiful little gem of creative rhythm with its rhythmic races on glockenspiel. It's Space Funk, but by Uwe it's still unique 😊. Moments in Passion is a ride that also features guitar and synth solos with good glockenspiel intrusions on a rhythm of the Cuban savannah. On the other hand, I am not a fan of Jamaican Holidays which does more reggae than anything else. Talk to The Whales offers an airier, a more refined music where the percussions, especially the electronic castanets, are better defined in the opening. So, a soft opening where we feel the foam of the sea caressing our toes with a good synth-guitar solos which transit towards a universe of the 70's fuzz-wah-wah of. It's very Software style of EM in the 90's, when the duo Mergener / Weisser has undertook a commercially New Age bend, and the whale chants are here to prove it. Just like this synth in piccolo trumpet mode which is courted by a guitar in Blues mode. It's beautiful, I can't say the opposite, but I was hoping for something else. Mountain Range ends STOLLWERCK 96' with this cute harmonic vision of Tangerine Dream in Lily on the Beach. The melody reaches my heart of the pink synth-pop years with a nice, subtle, Berlin School-like sequential progression before finally arriving at an outbreak for teenagers' cinematic melody genre. It's a bit like Talk to The Whales, I expected more but…

But in the end, it's a beautiful album in concert for a duo that puts nice EM in our ears where we don't even have to force ourselves to find it beautiful. You will enjoy whistling on it. It's always that to win!

Sylvain Lupari (December 4th, 2020) ***½**

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