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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

BRENDAN POLLARD: Isolated Passages Two (2020)

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Not as vibrant as Isolated Passages, but it's still good enough for Brendan Pollard fans and those of Berlin School fans

1 Plinth 9:32

2 Decaying Balance of Standards 17:50

3 Frequency of Emphasis 14:56

4 Sequenzerzeit 10:04

5 Flex - A Little Encore Two 11:30

(CD/DDL 63:52) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

Five! This is the number of albums that Brendan Pollard produced in 2020. And all of them are modulated in the noble art of the Berlin School. What more to say that Isolated Passages has started this year, so what could be more normal than ending it with an ISOLATED PASSAGES TWO? This latest compilation of snippets from web concerts and/or reworked tracks doesn't have the brilliance of the first volume. Sequenzerzeit can whet your appetite, since it's a completely new studio track with mixing and all the hoopla. A title that appeared on the Head in the Clouds compilation, which remains legendary and which still has no dates for a downloadable edition. Aside from this title, the booty is very thin! There are some good ideas, but it lacks a bit of polish. There are titles here, I am thinking of Plinth and Frequency of Emphasis, which would certainly deserve a second essay 😊.

Hesitantly falling pads of mist and a flute ode take us back to the Green Desert period, while a pulsating bassline breathes softly in a setting that can also make us think of Sorcerer as soon as the chthonian hums rise. Plinth takes off some 100 seconds later with a classic Berlin School movement, two lines of contiguous rhythms rolling at high speed, dragging a choir for absent voices in its wake. The slamming percussions have less impact on this gravitational rhythm whose few slow oscillations play as much with its speed as its finesse. And just like the 5 titles of the first volume, Plinth gives us a solid sequenced rhythm which is extinguished in these mists coming from the cracks of the earth's crusts. It was thought for guitar, I would be interested to hear that. Plinth would have had its place on Isolated Passages. And it's at the level of the chthonian side that Brendan Pollard has chosen to attract his renewed legion of 20's fans. A piano brings out the flute from the Mellotron at the opening of Decaying Balance of Standards. Brendan also admits he's stepping out of his comfort zone with this track which is more focused on the psychedelic Dark Ambient style. He also believes in the longevity of this title which is a first draft of vintage psychedelic EM to be explored in a vision that is very Phaedra or Rubycon. The effects of spirograph suction cups beat in a phase where the chords become a collection of indeterminate ideas. We are inside the exploratory phases of the German trio which require a good open-mindedness and a love of the Modular works given the complexity of the zones defined like for the tones exploited. It's psychotronic ambient with a layer of voices and shadows as main musical spells. The Mellotron is omnipresent in the second part with arrangements and fluty chants that brings us to the edge of an oceanic immersion to end in the underground lavas. Brendan Pollard does not let go of with the enigmatic ambiences of Frequency of Emphasis which however plunge us back into a Berlin School with an undecided rhythm. A rhythm which will resume its full ardor and speed after a brief foray into the metamorphic lands of the middle. The rubbery rhythm lives through good synth solos which crisscross the universe of parallel percussions of a rhythm capable of receiving Mellotron layers like these synth solos which make of EM a divinatory art. Sequenzerzeit is a superb track which plunges us into the Peter Baumann period of the Dream. Just like Flex - A Little Encore Two which is a good Berlin School with a very vintage tone from that concert on Facebook; A Little Encore performed on September 1st. The sound is not at its top level, but it's still very acceptable.

Not as vibrant as Isolated Passages, but it's still good enough for Brendan Pollard fans and those of Berlin School fans.

Sylvain Lupari (December 27th, 2020) ***½**

Available at Brendan Pollard Bandcamp

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