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  • Sylvain Lupari

Michael Brückner Test of Time (2022)

Updated: Jan 3

Sequencer-based rhythms in various EM motifs that screw your ears to your headphones

1 Rickendale 1963 7:12

2 UFO over Hertzberg 11:11

3 Test of Time - Part 1 7:12

4 Pleijad 9:35

5 Away 9:32

6 Baaslandt 8:06

7 Test of Time - Part 2 10:48

8 They are Coming! 11:55

Digital Bonus Tracks 26:29

9 Uzz Baldrin 6:44

10 Boba 9:43

11 Test of Time - Part 3 10:01

SynGate MB09

(2CD(r)/DDL 102:05) (V.F.)

(E-Rock EDM New Berlin School)

After 2 duo albums and 2 re-releases, a solo album was all that was missing for Michael Brückner to conclude the year 2022 to the satisfaction of his fans. Did the very nice German musician really have something original to offer to these same fans? It seems so! However, the music of TEST OF TIME was a project destined to be forgotten. You must turn back the clock by 10 years in order to understand the origins of an album that is not so easily tamed for a music conceived on driven sequencer-based rhythms. It was in early 2012 that the German musician received his first laptop. And this was the beginning of a new adventure in music creation with a huge possibility to acquire music software and virtual synthesizers, giving him many more options than ever. This was followed by a fertile period of creativity that coincided with his first album on the SynGate label, 100 Million Miles Under the Stars. The music that came out of these intense productivity sessions was a bit too lively to appear on this first album, which was mostly ambient with a few Berlin School touches. But if you know anything about Michael's generosity, you know that he likes to give gifts to his friends and fans by sending them CD-(r)s filled of exclusive music. Just for pairs of ears that can't get enough of his very versatile style. Space Mix was one of those CD-(r)! And one of his friend-fans, Krischan Seipp, to whom the album is dedicated by the way, kept reminding him that of all the Michael Brückner albums he owned, Space Mix was his favorite. Intrigued, Michael searched in his vast vault of musical memories for this album and found the CD-(r) in question. Space Mix became TEST OF TIME, because it has stood the test of time. Do we have Krischan Seipp to thank? Absolutely, and the surprise is great because this last album that ends Michael Brückner's musical year in 2022 brings us into another dimension where rhythms dominate in textures of electronic rock, New Berlin School and Electronica that gradually screw our ears to our headphones.

And it starts with a shimmering sparkle that opens Rickendale 1963. From then on, the sequencer triggers a lively line of circular pulses whose oblong slaloms are spiced up with good percussive effects. Another percussion motif, this time electronic, follows the accelerated curve of the cadence, creating 3 entities that compete with nuances in both intonation and rhythmic fluctuations. Torn between its upward movement and its circular texture of rhythmic trance, Rickendale 1963 lets in a line of arpeggios that swirls its harmonic particles, adding another layer of rhythm to this structure adorned with sound effects that extend pads of ambient melodies whose metallic texture also adds a futuristic touch to a track that melts into a more atmospheric finale. When I mention that Brückner is the most creative artist who sounds like Klaus Schulze would sound today, this Rickendale 1963 is proof of that! UFO over Hertzberg is one of those TEST OF TIME tracks that you have to get used to. Its opening is very atmospheric of the science-fiction kind that is told in music and sounds. The imagination helping, think of an oval racetrack for spacecraft. The breaths of the Cosmos and those sounds that sweep the galaxy stretch their mantra over a distance of 80 seconds, up until a rhythmic structure jumps in with its jerky jolts. Rubbery percussions are drumming the surface of this rhythm, adding a fluidity effect, while the synth weaves a fascinating vampiric melody that seems to be inspired by the atmospheres of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. Cosmic effects and jets of carbon dioxide are among the main things that fill the scenery of this sci-fi track while the keyboard sculpts a nice melodic vision with its opaline arpeggios whose line goes up and down like a hypnotic carousel. The finale is very cosmic with its storm of hollow winds that may disturb your hearing. What is immediately appealing about this album is the constant mirroring effect that Michael projects on his rhythm structures, making shining a shimmering double of another tone. This is the structure of Test of Time - Part 1 which extends its long slaloms before being harpooned by sober electronic percussion a few seconds before the 3rd minute. The structure becomes a tasty cosmic downtempo with a keyboard that carves its bouncy arpeggios on a rubbery bass line. It reminds me a lot of Massive Attack doing some Portishead. Following this principle of the mirror effect of the rhythms, Pleijad harmonizes pure rhythm with cadenced melody on a structure which flirts slightly with Electronica. An Electronica full of effects and reverberating grumblings of the synth and interspersed by an atmospheric phase before returning to a more dynamic rhythmic approach.

This brings us to Away and its structure inspired by Klaus Schulze's 84-88 period. Its opening is built around an orchestral vision to which are added swirling effects from the synth. This synth introduces some good Martenot waves whose floating airs have this delicious ghost texture. Hesitating to take off, the rhythm shakes like an electronic gallop in an intense layer of dark effects, including the chthonian voices. Deafening pulses and percussive effects having an echo of wood harpoon this rhythmic ambiguity a few seconds before the 3rd minute, structuring a trance-like techno that remains surrounded by this mosaic of synth effects and layers. It's a few seconds after the 4th minute that Away finally takes off to gallop in these philharmonic techno inspired by Schulze's years Angst to En=Trance. A great track, simply exquisite! We are in the best, the most accessible era of TEST OF TIME since Away and it continues with the simply brilliant Baaslandt. Its opening is stimulated by a heavy bass line with resonant hums. A shadow of the synth stands out to twirl in finely jerky layers. They undulate with its harmonious imperfections on a bed of percussions and percussive elements, at the same time technoïd and Teutonic. The movement multiplies its jolts until it merges with the vividly undulating structure of Test of Time Part 2. There's a lot of Away here, but with more fluidity in these less chipped hoops that undulate in an ascending vision. The rhythm dazzles the listener with those interspatial gallops and tchick-tchick effects that are trapped in dense seraphic layers. And like in Away, Klaus Schulze's legacy is everywhere. They are Coming! closes this TEST OF TIME in a fusion of electronic rock, the drums are very lively, and EDM, the bass line is juicy and coated with voracious gurgles. The synth multiplies 80's Disco arrangements and effects, and other cybernetic dialogue and chirping effects over a rhythmic structure that would delight light-footed headbangers. I hear Death in Vegas in this structure which also draws its inspirations from the worlds of Schulze and Robert Schroëder.

As we know, Michael Brückner never does things by halves. He likes to give his fans more than their money's worth. So, he offers 3 bonus tracks that are only available as download when you get the CD-(r), or the download, on Syngate's Bandcamp site, or on his Bandcamp site. And after 2 solid re-releases with 2 CD-(r)s each, Michael didn't feel like mortgaging his fans' wallets any further. Hence the offer of these bonus tracks that are taken from the sessions that led to the making of TEST OF TIME. And this is indeed the case with Uzz Baldrin and Boba which are 2 tracks in EDM mode with a tasty orientation towards the world of Moonbooter's dance music. We have here solid and deafening rhythms, especially on Boba, on meshes of bass sequences, heavy and lively percussions as well as sequenced arpeggios that hit our eardrums with an opaline tone, while the harmony side is assumed by a cybernetic language of synths. It is heavier and livelier than They are Coming!. Test of Time - Part 3 distances itself from the first two parts with a rhythmic approach more in retreat, a more stealthy one like wolf steps that slowly move on in a musical incursion dominated by long stretches of synthesizer sound effects that extend into ectoplasmic chants carved into the rough. The rhythm is hypnotic and leaps gently from its rubbery texture to a line of sequenced arpeggios that twirls in a vision that is as much rhythmic as harmonic. We are almost in a vision of creepy psybient!

Indeed, TEST OF TIME has resisted this 10 years gap between its conception and its realization. Its discovery makes us understand a little better this enthusiasm of Krischan Seipp whose insistence finally convinced Michael Brückner to realize an album which is no more and no less than the door of a universe of seductions and fascinating musical discoveries which began in 2012.

Sylvain Lupari (December 29th, 2022) ****½*

SynthSequences.com

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