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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

MICHAEL BRÜCKNER: Servant of the Secret Fire (2020)

“This is a fabulous journey to the heart of Michael Brückner's secret territories, where the specter of Steve Roach explains the origins of his influences”

CD 1 77:41

1 Servant of the Secret Fire 18:43

2 White Bell of Anor 18:35

3 Mythopoéia 10:52

4 Yavanna 17:13

5 Black Bell of Udûn 16:16

CD 2 76:11

1 The Dreaming of the Valar 18:18

2 Ancient Darkness 12:47

3 Ainulindalé 17:00

4 In the Beginning 14:32

5 Aiwé 13:30

(CD/DDL 153:52) (V.F.)

(Drone, Ambient, Berlin School)

Are you a fan of Michael Brückner? In addition, are you a fan of these long sonic rivers without currents but with good passages of atmospherical perturbations? SERVANT OF THE SECRET FIRE (Drones, Atmospheres & Dreamscapes Vol. 1) a lot of arguments to please you! Spread over 2 CDs filled to the brim, this first volume about drones, atmospheres and dreamscapes responds aptly to the ambitions of its creator. There are highlights on this double CD which rightly evoke all of Michael Brückner's talent. Let's say from the start that it's an album that plays on the borders of Dark Ambient, going from time to time beyond the limits, and psychedelic ambiences with some phases, well isolated, of good Berlin School. Although we find here dens of serenity conducive to relaxation, or a prelude to sleep, the 154 minutes of this album are strongly divided by moments of heavy atmospheric disturbances which disconnect us from this thin thread towards meditation.

It's all in softness, I even hear mechanical chirpings, that the long title-track brings us into the underground areas of Michael Brückner's universe. To make good ambient music, you need emotion. And I feel very well the hands of my friend caressing his keyboard here in order to make us live as much the sweetness of the dark and penetrating side of the Dark Ambient. And this epic fight from Servant of the Secret Fire makes lifting my arms' hairs when the angelic screeches cling to these veils of darkness that try to envelop us. I hear them, like I see them, embracing and bickering up until the sequencer spits its static rhythm which comes and goes, goes up and down like in these good hypnotic Berlin School movements. Luminous arpeggios dance around this stationary rhythm which disappears little by little in the advances of the ambient layers whose scents of Steve Roach are felt especially towards the finale. The finale and the introduction of White Bell of Anor which moves by the pulse of two slow beats. Very ambient, in the ethereal genre, the title plunges towards a pandemonium with an electromechanical impulse of these two beats, imitating sheets of metal rubbing with aggressiveness and which make us get out of our meditative bed. The 3rd part becomes quiet again with a more seraphic vision than the opening. Mythopoéia is a beautiful ambient title, without any sound deviation, which flows with serenity. A really nice prelude to the flagship title of the album, Yavanna. Here, everything is beautiful and bright! The music approaches us with this feeling of serenity which reaches a level of intensity very acceptable for a night music with reverberations which roll in loops above fine percussions and a line of ascending rhythm magnificently sculpted. Black Bell of Udûn takes us out of this comfort zone with a more psychedelic vision, like the Pink Floyd's Ummagumma period, created by the ringing of big bells which radiate into a huge mass of reverberations. Crumbling its minutes into a long journey where the turbulence of its atmospheric phases and the sweetness of its sequencer movement in Berlin School mode, Black Bell of Udûn breathes the duality of the title-track. Looping the loop of a first CD that meets expectations.

Digged into the magnetic impulses of the long drones' euphony, The Dreaming of the Valar is a title whose slow development pays dividends. A nasal synth veil somewhat adopts the circular fronds of these wordless murmurs in a long introduction which takes a little more life with a pleasant bass line which overcomes this listless current. These first beats are crushed with musical nobility around 6 minutes. A minute later, shamanic percussive effects and tribal percussions bring an ambient tribal skin to this title whose melody detached from the synth veil and the bass line are synonymous with enchantment. The first moments of Ancient Darkness are heavy and dark with these bumblebees that vibrate our auricles. The movement is always slow with these circular reverberations which take on a translucent hue before returning to its original form. It's like wandering in caves with inexplicable phosphorescent passages. Less dark, Ainulindalé is a long sinuous movement where darkness flirts with a less dark vision. We are in the lair of dullness. Where our brain increasingly disconnects with the floating emotions of deeply ambient music. Michael Brückner inserts more harmonious moments that keep us alert with just enough to avoid boredom. A bit like in The Dreaming of the Valar, In the Beginning lives with these slow implosions of a good bass line whose reverberations creep in a dark and intriguing phase which is covered with the glow of slow misty layers. We feel that Michael Brückner wants to get our ears out of this musical hibernation with brighter phases in the last third of CD 2 which comes to its conclusion with Aiwé. This more musical title joins the wonderful Yvanna in my night music section.

Offered in a manufactured CD and in a flawless production, SERVANT OF THE SECRET FIRE is a fabulous journey to the heart of Michael Brückner's secret territories, where the specter of Steve Roach explains the origins of his influences. Like the majority of his works, this double album requires some listening in order to assimilate the musical visions, sometimes complex, of its author. And as I wrote above, it always pays when you slowly tame the music of an artist as creative and visionary as Michael Brückner.

Sylvain Lupari (07/06/20) ****¼*

Available at Michael Brückner Bandcamp

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