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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Bridge to Imla Imaginary Rooms (2023)

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Here are 2 musicians that take the art of EM to its pinnacle

CD1 51:43

1 (Please step inside our) Imaginary Rooms 7:00

2 Her Secret Room - Part 1 7:00

3 Chamber of Sorrows 7:11

4 Make Room! Make Room! 7:58

5 The Palace of Mysteries 8:08

6 Greenhouse 6:58

7 Hall of Memories 7:27

Bonus Tracks 26:20

8 Tonraum - Part 1 19:35

9 Imaginary Rooms - Early Rehearsal Version 6:44

CD2 53:11

1 Deserted Homes 8:03

2 Men's Room (...just Booze and Madness) 7:55

3 The Temple of my Blessings 7:38

4 Her Secret Room - Part 2 6:43

5 Crypt of Shadows 6:44

6 Living Space 7:06

7 (Back on the) Wide Open Road 8:59

Bonus Tracks 24:25

8 Tonraum - Part 2 8:29

9 Chamber of Sorrows - Early Rehearsal Version 7:12

10 The Palace of Mysteries - Early Rehearsal Version 8:43

Extra Digital Bonus Tracks 90:36

1 The Kunstraum Performance - Part 1 (Live Bootleg) 51:39

2 The Kunstraum Performance - Part 2 (Live Bootleg) 38:56

(2CD/DDL 104:54) (V.F.)

(Ambient, tribal, Berlin School)

In October 2019, Bridge to Imla gave their very first concert. For the occasion, the Michael Brückner and Hans-Dieter Schmidt project composed over 90 minutes of new electronic music (EM), Greenhouse being a track Michael had composed in 2002 under the title A Thin Line, which they performed in front of a rather intimate audience. The 2 German musician-synthesists had planned to immortalize the event with a recording of the concert, which would then be manufactured on CD and offered to fans of the duo and to the EM sphere. Unfortunately, an equipment failure rendered the project unfeasible. Considering, quite rightly, that the music was more than worth producing, Bridge to Imla decided to produce a studio version of the concert. The result is IMAGINARY ROOMS. A more than suitable title! This double-CD comes with an impressive bank of bonus tracks, as well as a video recording of the last 10 minutes of this concert, which took place at the Kunstraum gallery in Erlensee near Frankfurt. Generous as always, Michael Brückner and Hans-Dieter Schmidt offer over 4 hours of ME, including 2 solid CDs, immersing us in the fascinating world of Bridge to Imla. The music embraces all styles: ambient, dark ambient, tribal, drone, electronic rock and Berlin School, not forgetting flirting with progressive rock, IDM and even jazz. In short, another great album from a duo whose experience and know-how, both in terms of improvisation and more planned structures, take the art of EM to its pinnacle.

The introduction to this concert is sewn in a texture of mystery. Sound waves melt into a mass of sibylline vibrations, while softly chimerical violins caress the ambiences of (Please step inside our) Imaginary Rooms with their lunar sighs. Electronic effects, similar to an avian dialogue, invade these ambiences around the second minute. This is the moment when the first muffled beats begin to structure an ambient rhythm, a kind of downtempo uncertain of its future, whose rubbery, organic texture serves as a bed for a synth that weeps like a crying violin. A violin whose almost Arabian harmonies are replaced by equally morose synth solos on Imaginary Rooms (Early Rehearsal Version). If the addition of percussions and of percussive effects that resonate and dance with a stereo echo around the 5-minute mark add depth and vigor to the track, the resonant keyboard riffs that fall heavily inject a dramatic dimension to a finale that takes refuge in vaporous synth waves. Imaginary Rooms (Early Rehearsal Version) offers a little more dynamism from the 5th minute onwards. A delicate rhythmic structure conceived on cadenced chords, undulating lightly, emerges from the abyssal breezes that open Her Secret Room - Part 1. The upward motion of the sequencer is hypnotizing, both in its fluid beat and its harmonic texture, where electric piano notes and veils of melancholy violins are grafted on. The percussions solidify this Berlin School, which is more ambient than cadenced, while the clickings that tap-dancing over it add depth to the secret melody woven by the piano. It reminds me a lot of Exchange's music, namely the track Golden Point from the album Into the Night, as well as Suzanne Ciani's dreamy odes. Perhaps a little more nostalgic, the first 5 minutes of Her Secret Room - Part 2 follow the same tangent, eventually embracing a more e-rock approach dominated by good guitar solos. Chamber of Sorrows opens with a crash. From then on, a vampiric sound wave sets up its magnetizing web, with slow, winged movements hovering in the darkness of the opening. Muffled beats provide a thin thread of resonance, structuring a dark procession that surrounds itself with layers of chthonian voices and Tangerine Dream-like harmonies. The percussions are pounding this heavy but without a drive rhythm up until the sequencer lets go of an ascending movement of which the footsteps echo the same metallic crash of the opening. The zigzagging of the sequencer and the percussions combine to create a neuron-shattering rhythm, while the synths multiply harmonies from a universe bordering on twilight for the dead. For my part, I prefer Chamber of Sorrows - Early Rehearsal Version, with its heavier and more magnetizing, electronic-rock texture. Make Room! Make Room! is the first track to really get our feet moving. The tone of the organ gives it a touch of 70's progressive music. In fact, it's to this organ that we owe its liveliness, which materializes more when cadenced pulses structure a bouncy rhythm like a hip-hop one on speed. The synthesizer throws in short solos whose jerky layers embrace a rhythmic momentum that is now dominated by the percussions. In addition to the solos, the synths draw arabesques of abstract rhythm with jerky arpeggios and a multitude of sound effects. The keyboards take care of the rest, injecting a dose of psychedelia into this simply viral EM structure. The Palace of Mysteries follows with a vampiric layer that undulates and spreads a dense shadow of resonant vibrations. The ochre hue of the musical texture infuses a mood of ashen nebulosity into this track, which evolves into a slow tribal rhythm where the different shades of flute on the synths weave Middle Eastern harmonies. Men's Room (...just Booze and Madness) is in a similar vein.

Dominated by a swarm of sound effects tinkling in waves of twisted reverberations, Greenhouse moves slowly along an evolving rhythmic structure. There's a fascinating dissonance between the percussions and sequencer, which carve out a rhythm without drive, and the static texture of the ambiences generated by a mutating sound mass. The synth takes on the texture of an electric guitar and throws in some fine solos that hover and lament over a rhythmic structure as unstable as the atmospheric elements of Greenhouse, whose 4th minute is the cue to build a more upbeat, almost tribal, rhythm with more closely paced pulsations and percussive effects worthy of the Byron Metcalf universe. It's a vocoder that settles the first moments of Hall of Memories between our ears. More in the ambient and/or atmospheric genre, the track takes us on an emotional journey to conclude the first IMAGINARY ROOMS CD. Deserted Homes kicks off CD2 with waves that travel in semi-formed circles. They undulate between the scarlet crevices of evanescent synth lines. A lively rhythmic movement emerges after the 2nd minute, with cadenced chords that gambol in a form of suspended gallop. This neuron-stirring rhythm sets the scene for a second half of good electronic rock. Solidified by percussions and propelled by vividly flickering sequence lines, Deserted Homes besieges our ears with other guitar textures and their sharp solos. The music is lively and takes refuge in a dense, atmospheric finale. Drones are at the origin of Men's Room (...just Booze and Madness). The ambiences are dense, with a sound mass of grainy breezes and contrasting hues from which emerge a voice narrating a text related to the title. The track is in the purest Michael Brückner tradition, developing slowly to offer a second part centered on a rhythm that flirts with the downtempo genre. Pulsations and bouncing sequences combine their cadenced textures in a more danceable passage where the piano leads us into an almost tribal jazz vibe. The percussive effects that tinkle in a nice echo effect at the end of the track add even more charm to the music. We remain in ambiences a tad more ethereal with The Temple of my Blessings, which comes to life faintly with sparse beats. Crypt of Shadows continues this line of more ambient tracks with a very dark approach that is driven like a black procession by a horde of drones, hollow breezes and synth waves filled with sibylline hues. Living Space follows with rustlings, felted yowling-like tones, scarlet lamentations and electronic effects over a muffled rhythm driven by kind of suction pad pulses. We're literally in the least lively phase of IMAGINARY ROOMS. (Back on the) Wide Open Road concludes this other impressive Bridge to Imla musical odyssey with a rhythmic structure that bounces lightly over frisk arpeggios seized by a metronomic bass pulses. The synth frees good fluty harmonies, while the piano lays down some evasive melody lines. As the track solidifies its rhythm a little more, guitar textures bite into its progression with screaming solos that remind me pleasantly some good Klaus-Hoffmann Hoock moments.

It's no secret that Michael Brückner's solo, duo and trio universes can be heard with a panoply of bonus tracks. IMAGINARY ROOMS is no exception, with over 141 minutes of bonus music offered to those who purchase or download this double album. Who cares if there are some less interesting moments? The important thing is that fans get their money's worth! And there's plenty of interesting moments that fill our ears to the rim. Let's jump to the longest tracks first, The Kunstraum Performance - Part 1 and Part 2, which is more or less like a good bootleg with a decent recording. It sounds like an audience recording. Tonraum - Part 1 is a long, cinematic ambient track more in the vein of Hans-Dieter Schmidt's Imaginary Landscape project. Tonraum - Part 2 is also an ambient track. It's less dark, and closer to Steve Roach's desert themes. At the end, the 3 tracks in the Early Rehearsal Version genre are the most interesting, in my opinion, of this series of bonus tracks, which only serve to confirm the talent and artistic creativity of a duo who are filling our ears and minds with an excellent album that is IMAGINARY ROOMS!

Sylvain Lupari (June 28th, 2023) ****½*

Available at Bridge to Imla Bandcamp

(NB: Texts in blue are links you can click on)

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