BRENDAN POLLARD: Prologue (2020)
Updated: Feb 16
“If you are a fan of retro Berlin School, well done and well imagined like in the 70's, Prologue and its 3 evolving tracks is the album for you”
1 Ampule 21:08
2 Partitions 29:34
3 Fraktures 15:07
(CD/DDL 65:49) (V.F.)
(Retro Berlin School)
Although he is a musician involved in the world of English EM, it has been 13 years since Brendan Pollard had made a solo album. Between PROLOGUE and Flux Echoes in 2007, the British musician has been associated in different musical scenarios with groups such as Pollard/Daniel/Booth, 12 albums in 10 years and Quadra for a single album. The one whose career began with Rogue Element in 2004 has no less than 23 albums to his credit, before the 4 albums of this year. And whether it's solo or with his friends, the style always remains the same; either be the eternal Berlin School à la English sauce. Brendan swears only by analog instruments, thus joining the essence of groups and/or artists such as Arc, Ian Boddy, Redshift, Free System Projekt and some of the very good artists of the genre. PROLOGUE offers 3 titles where the Mellotron remains king of ambiences always focused on the essences of Medieval Luciferian with a sequencer and its structures of rhythms sculpted in creativity.
It's with another fascinating introduction that Ampule lifts the veil of our hearing. Reverberating waves and percussive rolls with wood tones sharpen their amplitudes until the water dominates the wood and its lapping bends the spine in front of a nice fluty air. This mellotron's air offers its tenderness in a psybient setting which gradually takes the upper hand over the ephemeral melodious outbreaks of the flute. A chthonic atmosphere blossoms around the third minute. It floats on the walls of a secret gutter until a layer of Mephistophelic organ brings back the concerto for flutes and its darkness in a dense bank of drizzle, where an industrial purring arouses our curiosity. Ampule's first 7 minutes are structured in this old Berlin School model from the Phaedra years. A typical Tangerine Dream sound which is the essence of the influences of Brendan Pollard's music. The rhythm presents itself in a hesitant vision around the 7th minute. Covered with fog, wandering voices and cosmic effects, it plays cat and mouse with our hearing in an uncertainty that gives space to various tones to still exert their charms in our ears that go back 50 years in time. Well in the saddle on a sequencer and its chords as heavy as dark, the rhythm articulates its spasms in a decor typical of those years up until the point of 17 minutes and some dusts of time. Another stage and another decor of less sibylline ambiences, Ampule then borrows a clearly more lively rhythmic path for awakened cortexes whose analog tones stand out more in this stigmatized mist which puts down a phantom melody while following its rhythmic axis. The flute emerges again from a sound fauna sculpted in the imagination of the medieval years to conclude Ampule.
Partitions doesn't keep us waiting by spitting out fatty and juicy jumping balls which sets the pace on a sequence belt running with passion on an egg conveyor. The sequencer playing is superb with a 3rd line which is added to this polyrhythmic part of PROLOGUE. An untamed and spasmodic rodeo structure, the rhythm rolls at high speed under the influence of tssitt-tssitt and lively oscillations which make us do the headbanger. Winds filled with dust from violins always try to cling to this cadence which brings me back to those sequenced flights in the years of Stratosfear or Ricochet with these nasal layers of apocalyptic trumpets. Shortly after the 9 minutes, the sequences evaporate in winds filled with resonances which lead us into a sphere where the deformed hoops awaken a kind of mechanical cello whose trituration of the strings spit out an odd dying sound. We fall into a psychedelic frame with the fruits of a creative modular and its scents of Stratosfear and Force Majeure. This psybient phase amplifies with metallic knocking and stretches beyond 15 minutes when a rhythm structure breathes sly. The analog sequencer remains in its passive rhythm structure which is accompanied by chants of chthonian monks and other effects of the modular synth. A delicate flute emerges and accompanies this procession where the sequencer seems to stumble. Its last effect suspended … and the rhythm decamps with a bass line and percussive metallic tinkling. Brendan Pollard weaves other flute solos and violin dust winds, like those of the Moody Blues but in a more occult way, in a short Berlin School which will embrace a last breath of the flute.
Fraktures emerges from limbo with the arrival of a buzzing line which undulates sinuously. The sound axis dances on the inflections of the reverberations, when this bank of violin's mist seizes the ambiences in order to make waltz, like whirling, this opening which is sucked in by the charms of the mellotron. We hear a first rhythmic excitement around the 4th minute. Little by little, the sequencer releases a first line which accentuates its presence a little before layers of chthonic voices are heard. A second line emerges by jumping against the current in the shadow of the main axis. In doing so, it looks like a kick going in circles. This rhythmic blossoming is enriched by a 3rd line while a synth and its breath of vuvuzela shares its role with the flute of the mellotron in a rhythmic race where Brendan escapes his marbles and layers of less sibylline voices accompany this rhythmic three-phase in a good Berlin School and its touch of the England School model. The amplitude of this rhythm plays with its modulations, adding this essential element which eliminates any redundancies. And when the sequencer dribbles 4 other rhythmic balls, which are subdivided in order to create independent herds in this ride of Fraktures, we seize all the creative dimension of Brendan Pollard. Against all expectations, this incredibly good title in PROLOGUE dissolves in a tonal storm created by winds and iconoclastic noises that prevent this mellotron from making us dream again.
If you are a fan of retro Berlin School, well done and well imagined like in the 70's, PROLOGUE and its 3 evolving tracks is the album for you. It's like hearing an album of Chris Franke and Peter Baumann with a timid Edgar Froese who has just joined this duo…
Sylvain Lupari (July 30th, 2020) ****½*
Available at Brendan Pollard Bandcamp