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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

MERGENER & HOFFMANN-HOOCK: Visions of Asia (2006)

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Great music by two legends who have pushed their boundaries of creativity

1 Cinnamon 7:36

2 Waterchimes 8:49

3 Road to Mandaly 7:15

4 Dreams of Tibet 9:33

5 Devda 7:26

6 Shakti 5:30

7 Visions of China 6:13

(CD 52:31) (V.F.)

(Tribal, New Berlin School)

Peter Mergener and Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock are two pioneers of German Electro-Music. The two musicians met in 1989 when Mergener has participated to sessions of the album Trance'n'Dance by Mind Over Matter. Since then they have collaborated on several musical projects. VISIONS OF ASIA is above all a personal reflection from the ex-Software on his numerous trips to Asia. Knowing KHH's immense passion for this culture, he asked him to participate in this project while bringing his musical vision. The result is an album of an absolute freshness where the styles of the two musician friends unite perfectly to give a good album of a lively and diversified EM where the Cosmos and the universe of this continent with millions of secrets cohabit for a flawless album.

A melodious layer of violin extends its shroud so that an Asian guitar can make pinch its notes to compete to this superb mellotron and its flute with Cantonese harmonies. The beat sets in early with a technoïd ballad style that hangs on a solid bass line. Cinnamon sets the tone for an album that doesn't exclude any rhythmic influences to focus on Asian harmonies. On a steady festive beat, except for the harp phases, the two musicians weave good synth and mellotron flute solos over a structure that spills out of its frame, embracing that sweet MOM-like madness in the track Freak Street from the album Avatar. Shimmering water pearls open Waterchimes, which becomes a harmonious carousel of clear timbre notes as much as the echo of fluty tunes and siren whispers. From dreamy ambient, the carousel of tinkling pearls turns into a good circular rock trapped by good percussions and girdled by stroboscopic sequences. The harmonies are not in rest and show a high level of intensity in Asian charms while being wrapped by a superb mellotron. A very good track! The hypnotically slow rhythm of Road to Mandaly brings us closer to a tribal civilization. The percussions forge a pagan party rhythm supported by a good guitar and a soft mellotron that caresses a constantly progressing rhythm. It becomes an intense Mind Over Matter's movement with beautiful orchestrations and blistering guitar solos by KHH. It sounds like the psychedelic era of MOM. This track is a must for their fans.

If Road to Mandaly is a very MOM track, Dreams of Tibet is a very Peter Mergener track. A soft and very lyrical track with a cosmic atmospheres, even pious Tibetan, intro which slowly turns into a spatial carousel set with arpeggios deposited in an infinite tenderness. It becomes a cosmic carousel that spins with these glass notes to drift between astral bells rubbing and a divine chant of the mellotron. An excellent dreamy track that reminds of Mergener's early works. Devda takes us back to an atmospheric track with a Hindu hymn narrated on an electronic sitar plucked melodically over a bed of reverberating effects. Shakti continues this brief incursion in Indian territory with tribal percussions which lose their ancestral effluvia to adopt a contemporary rhythm which is more and more supported. A strange THX effect of the synth cuts the ambiences in two to make Shakti switch into a more modern era through a jerky movement of the sequencer and sound effects that bite on a rhythm bordering on a technoïd spiral. The mellotron whistles a nice melody in conjunction with the synth as arpeggios beat out an increasingly lively beat. I like the organic effects of the percussions on this track which is also a nice prelude for the title-track. Visions of Asia concludes this fabulous journey into the world of Asian poetry with an atmospheric introduction that lets an Asian harp play its fragile notes in an orchestral haze. Arpeggios dance around candidly in a sequenced circular movement that is supported by sober percussions playing. The ritornello turns and turns bringing its emotional nuances that are literally swallowed by the tender breaths of the Asian flutes. An intense track that ends an interesting album full of strong moments.

Great music by two legends who have pushed the boundaries of creativity beyond their achievements and reputations, VISIONS OF ASIA is a solid album in every way. Peter Mergener and Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock have succeeded in writing 7 stories of sculptural beauty linked to superb melodies on cosmic and tribal atmospheres that are both magical and astral. Melodious and catchy, in spite of some meditative passages, it is certainly one of the good albums of EM in 2006. I just hope we won't have to wait another 20 years before hearing another collaboration between these 2 legends.

Sylvain Lupari (December 28th, 2006) ****½*

Available at BCS Music

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