KURTZ MINDFIELDS: Flying From Berlin to Paris (2022)
“A splendid album that transcends everything that the imitators of the genre have offered us since the mid 80's”
1 Pasiphae 5:29
2 The Mysterious Hill Road 3:59
3 Santa Klaus Return 10:08
4 Flying from Berlin to Paris, Pt. 1 11:31
5 Chaov Ice Land 3:09
6 Flying from Berlin to Paris, Pt. 2 4:13
(Vinyl 38:25) (V.F.)
(Classic Berlin School)
What happens when seasoned musicians and synthesizer engineers, all inspired by the great names of electronic music (EM) of the 70's and early 80's, get together to jam? Well, the result is an album of unparalleled splendor, with the scents of that era sending shivers down our spines. In a sonic accuracy that ignores time, Jean-Luc Briançon and his friends have prepared a splendid album that transcends everything that the imitators of the genre have offered us since Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Jean-Michel Jarre converged towards a more commercial trend in the mid 80's. Berlin School as we heard it back then! Here is the result of FLYING FROM BERLIN TO PARIS which really brings us back to the years of vinyl with 2 tracks which propose between 20 minutes, for Side A, and 18 minutes, for Side B of an EM whose precision and the heat of the analogue puts us in the heart of this period.
And Pasiphae goes straight to the musical nectar pot in order to explain to the ears what this new album of Kurtz Mindfields will be made of. The pulsating rhythm gets excited behind a canvas of watery sound effects to fly on the wings of a powerful Berlin School whose lively rhythmic oscillations follow an ascending bend. Arpeggios dance madly in the grooves of the rhythm, while various slam effects stimulate our listening even more. And yes, we are in the Phaedra territory with this fiery rhythm that rolls along at full speed under the orchestral breezes of synths that rocket splendid solos with spectral harmonies. It starts very well! The Mysterious Hill Road's ambiences respect the essence of the title with chords whose organic resonance reminds us of Silver Scale's momentum. We can hear synthesizer bursts that remind us of Jean-Michel Jarre's universe while the Berlin School side is found in layers full of mysteries and absent voices as well as a mellotron that multiplies fluty airs. Less tempestuous, the rhythm is of the bouncing kind with a sequencer rich in its keys jumping in a static sound mass. I hear more of a Dream that reminds me more of the mid-80s. Like Le Parc! The first silver reflections of the floating arpeggio necklace in Santa Klaus Return are sparkling after a big 2 minutes of an intense atmospheric opening. What strikes the ear is the sonic diversity that attempts to remake vintage with today's technology in the digital version. The sounds are as clear and detailed as possible with an electromagnetic wave that reminds us of good old Klaus Schulze. The movement of the sequenced arpeggios ascends with a sonic liveliness that infuses an ambient, stationary rhythm. It's like hearing Crystal Lake in another dimension. A more vivid dimension. The percussions drum an invitation to a zombie dance in a universe painted with sonic graffiti and haze with metallic orchestrations. The drum make its skins resonate in a swirl of reverberating twists, a bit like Harald Grosskopf looking for his way in a Body Love that is no longer one. Except that here it is Fabrice Laurent, a Canadian drummer and percussionist, who carves a rhythm that is the opposite of the sequencer in an ambivalent structure where the perfumes of a celestial Schulze fill our ears with a reinvented musical nectar. It's like hearing old Klaus in a contemporary tone that seeks to drink in the vestiges of time. It takes a few listens, but our ears adjust quite well to this beautiful Santa Klaus Return.
Does FLYING FROM BERLIN TO PARIS want to establish a link between the Berlin School style migrating to the French School? That's kind of the impression you get when listening to Flying from Berlin to Paris, Pt. 1. Its opening is filled with floating and rumbling synth lines that slowly unroll and undo. Kind of like unstructuring a spiral in reverse. It's a very atmospheric introduction that even flirts with the murky ambient style when dark breezes and absent vocals blow a chthonian presence. Arpeggios tinkle in this apocalyptic setting. Gradually, they form a stationary rhythmic structure that takes off for a great cosmic rock with a good Jarre-like bass line just before the 7th minute. Cosmic elements are added to this slow rhythmic cavalry with the melody tinkling slightly faster than the rhythm. Percussive effects add more pleasure to our addiction while the synth harmonies have that Jarresque flavor. A second rhythmic surge occurs a little before the 9th minute. Fluid and bouncy to become very catchy, this 3rd mutation of Flying from Berlin to Paris, Pt. 1 hosts a series of synth solos that show how Kurtz Mindfields is also great doing Jazz with the band Abigoba. In addition to Jarre, Schulze and TD, Jean-Luc Briançon and his guests also dedicate the album to Zanov whose participation with Chaov Ice Land can be appreciated. This short track shows the complex universe of Pierre Salkazanov who always ends up moving us with a short and catchy rhythmic structure. The essence of JM-Jarre dominates as much as that of the Dream in FLYING FROM BERLIN TO PARIS and Flying from Berlin to Paris, Pt. 2 exploits this cosmic electronic rock structure of the famous French musician-synthesist to perfection. A track that has Oxygene 4, Equinoxe 4 and Rendezvous 4 in the rhythm and the ambiences. What a great way to close an album that pays tribute to the pioneers of the time!
As it is often the case, the misfortune of the ones makes the happiness of the others, since FLYING FROM BERLIN TO PARIS is available only in vinyl. Just like in the old days! A good old LP. A digital version comes with the purchase of the vinyl and there is no fixed date for a possible release on CD and/or in digital format that has been mixed and mastered in a modern way while the vinyl has a vintage tone. Despite this stroke of genius, it is an aberration in my opinion since many Berlin School fans no longer own a turntable. An aberration in my opinion since many Berlin School followers don't own a turntable anymore. But it doesn't matter! This Kurtz Mindfields album only confirms the immense talent of Jean-Luc Briançon when it comes to immersing himself in the Berlin School style. Except that here there is a big nuance: the Berlin School travels and mutates to the French School in a wonderful album that makes an amazing fusion between the two styles. A little masterpiece of audacity that can be listened to as if you were listening to Phaedra with Oxygene on background. A must have!
Sylvain Lupari (July 21st, 2022) *****
Available at Kurtz Mindfields Bandcamp