BRENDAN POLLARD: Phrases and Protocols (2021)
“Once again, Brendan Pollard manages to charm by dressing the present of the past!”
1 Flowpoint 33:35
2 Azimuth 7:27
3 Viaduc 22:27
Acoustic Wave Records – AW020
(Available on August 15th)
(DDL/CD 63:29) (V.F.)
When it comes to discussing vintage Berlin School, Brendan Pollard's name inevitably comes to mind. Whether solo, in duo or in trio, the English musician has no equal when it comes to immersing the listener in the musical perfumes of Tangerine Dream's most beautiful years, with an incomparable flair for playing the mellotron. Like Edgar Froese! PHRASES AND PROTOCOLS is his latest album conceived as always in the grooves of la belle époque. And when I say latest, it's not entirely untrue as the friendly Hertfordshire synthesist feels the need to refresh his studio and his instruments, even considering the possibility of using new technology, which he must first start to learn, to create his EM. PHRASES AND PROTOCOLS is in the same vein as the Isolated Passages saga, especially Isolated Passages Three, with a division between rhythms and ambient phases dominated by the mellotron and psychedelic effects that we found in the first albums of the Dream on Virgin. If you like the genre, this is an excellent album! An album that will be available in manufactured CD and DDL on Brendan Pollard's Bandcamp page from August 15th.
It's with a wave of reverberations that Flowpoint begins. Electronic effects, as well as a line of steam, are immediately grafted to its ascent. Early on, the mellotron installs its mythical fluty mist and further on, a layer of chthonian voices. It's in this phase, which stretches until the edge of the 5 minutes, that I thought I heard a ghost of Ricochet. Crystalline tinkling sounds are the source of the slowly emerging rhythm. Each tinkling leads to two bass-pulses. And some 50 seconds later, the sequencer releases a line of jumping marbles in a minimalist spasmodic dance that rolls on itself. A short line of evanescent and very TD melody is forged within the loops as reverbs and obscure voices come and go, like those resonant keyboard riffs. These heavy riffs versus the tonal lightness of the tinkles add a dichotomous depth that makes our ears significantly more interested in Flowpoint's evolution. A first transitional bridge comes after the 11th minute. BP then plunges us into spheres of psybient with that ever-persistent bed of reverberations and a storm of woosshh that makes the waves roll between our ears. This storm of sounds brings us back to the psychedelic creations of the Dream from the Peter Baumann years. A new rhythm structure is positioned not far from the 13 minutes. Circular, it's however livelier and catchy with the right amount of nuances to keep our interest captive. More active in terms of creativity than the synth, the mellotron releases its layers of voices and multi-sound mists on a structure that is not far from Rubycon, even in its sound effects. This structure and its richness are also extinguished in a long gust of winds, woosshh, wiisshh and dark winds. Brendan Pollard does everything to make us feel in the territory of the Dream by adding the sound effects of the time on a slow and hypnotic rhythm that will bring us around the 30th minute. The last moments belong to the reverberating effects whose bed serves the cause of the mellotron.
After this big track that has screwed us to our headphones, Azimuth proposes 7 minutes and its dusts from an atmospheric passage enshrouded of various psychedelic elements linked to the musical wanderings of the Dream of that era. So, an ambient track exploiting different spheres with a hint of industrial and chemical ambiences. Built around the second rhythm structure in Flowpoint, Viaduct has to yield more than 5 minutes to an atmospheric opening dominated by the tumult of giant cymbals. Sound hoops, muted vocals and various chords add up to a confrontation between a seraphic vision and a slightly more tenebrous one. The winner is our ears! Especially when the circular rhythm of the sequencer expands after the 6th minute. There is more than one rhythm line in this track whose core is similar to the second half of Flowpoint. This structure sails by inserting its nuances while amplifying its power by adding reverberating shadows, musical mists and other jumping keys with a more melodic vision. An excellent structure that feigns its annihilation to come back even livelier. The echo of its last beats resounds too soon around the 16th minute when the mellotron becomes seductive and guides us towards the finale where we don't regret anything.
Once again, Brendan Pollard manages to charm by dressing the present of the past! PHRASES AND PROTOCOLS is a powerful Berlin School album with a mellotron as dominant as the sequencer dominated by the spirit of an arachnid able to weave its rhythm lines with a dexterity as unstoppable as his imagination. For fans of the 70's and especially of Tangerine Dream, even if I felt more than once the spirit of Adelbert Von Deyen over this album.
Sylvain Lupari (July 16th, 2021) *****
Available at Brendan Pollard Bandcamp