MENZMAN & FRIENDS: Insights (2018)
Updated: Aug 30, 2019
“This is a nice find that comes out from the Manikin records shop which blends the 3 musical souls of the men behind Menzman & Friends”
1 Feuertaufe 3:55 2 Berlin I 4:34 3 Endless Time 12:26 4 Berlin II 5:51 5 Homage 5:40 6 Berlin Thoughts 6:42 7 Metrik Progression 7:22 8 Green Tea 4:59 Manikin | MRCD 8010
(CD/DDL 51:25) (V.F.) (New Berlin School)
A nice find from the Manikin house! Menzman & Friends is a German trio consisting of Michael "Menzman" Menze, a Roland House specialist, Dirk Brand a renowned drummer who also plays in the Heavy Metal band Axxis and Horst Lemke a studio man and music producer who travels between New Age and a softer Electronica. A trio for the less diversified that offers us an excellent production with a first album, INSIGHTS whose 50 minutes are a tasty incursion into the world of a contemporary Berlin School which drinks of the 3 personalities in Menzman & Friends.
A first chord ... and a sound wave invades our ears. A sequencer line emerges from it and makes frolic arpeggios which jump flutter like dragonflies in front of a feast of dipterous. Another line, more stroboscopic, delivers a jerky pattern to lead Feuertaufe (Baptism of Fire) in a pure New Berlin School of the 80's. The stationary rhythm, wrapped in veils of nebulosity where thin lines of voices play with our hearing, becomes more fluid, more rock with the arrival of percussion around its finale. A good entrance with a little title rather accessible. Berlin I takes us elsewhere with a semi-ambient structure dominated by multiple layers of percussive effects which are quite attractive. Those who love Jean-Michel Jarre will enjoy these organic percussions that are addictive for the ears. The multiple synth layers also dominate. If one is melodious, another draws a jerky figure while others illuminate the music with effects as ethereal as sibylline. Software fragrances add to the charm of Berlin I. Another moment of seduction; Endless Time! Its rhythm is dislocated by a line of sequences that make its keys frolic in all directions. The robotic percussions, armed with seductive rattling, restructure the frayed side of the rhythm which follows another tangent to follow a musical path adorned with soft synth solos. Voice effects complement the ethereal decor of this title a little more complex by its evolutionary side. Berlin II is slightly different with a complementary structure which takes us to the territories of the old Berlin School of the Dune years by Klaus Schulze. Homage is closer to the New Age with a female voice that makes her fantasies hover over a structure of rhythm animated by a mesh of circular sequences and percussive effects always very attractive in the world of Menzman & Friends.
Berlin Thoughts is in the tradition of Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder. The rhythm is structured on sparkling sequences and a solid drum, aided by electronic percussion. Between heaviness and fluidity, it progresses under beautiful synth pads which are very melodious and good effects which serve as a backdrop for a solid rhythm structure. By far the best title on this INSIGHTS! Although Metrik Progression is not bad at all with its fluid structure, always animated by multi layers of percussive effects and percussions. Except that here, a line of bass sequences complements these effects with a solid presence which goes up and down as in the usual good patterns of Berlin School. The sequences are harmonic, and the rhythm is catchy. Note here the excellent work of Dirk Brand on electronic percussion. Green Tea ends this album with a Reggae structure in an Ashra style. This impression comes from a guitar which rolls its chords on a structure which hesitates to start. And when Green Tea takes off, its rhythm is jerky like those lascivious dances of traditional Reggae. The circular harmonies of this guitar and well-adjusted percussion becomes the axis of the music towards an electronic progressive rock.
In conclusion?! I spent some nice minutes discovering the various orientations and influences of Menzman & Friends. There are several styles here and the fact that the structures are short facilitate the absorption of INSIGHTS. The production and mastering from Horst Lemke are top nickel. So here we have a very musical album that should appeal to fans of Jean-Michel Jarre as well as fans of Software and Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder who seems to be the greatest source of inspiration of this German trio named Menzman & Friends.
Sylvain Lupari (February 7th, 2019) ***½**
Available at Manikin's Bandcamp