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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Michael Brückner The Morphic Cycle (2023)

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

Some great Michael Brückner we have here!

CD1

1 A Secret (Part 1) 11:46

2 Your Life 10:36

3 A Secret (Part 2) 11:10

4 Modular Resonance 8:51

5 Glimpse of Hope 1:42

6 The Wall of Dreams 6:59

7 A Secret (Part 3) 6:52

8 Istara 15:44

CD2

9 Dystopia Ascending 17:15

10 Claudette 7:38

11 Still Dreaming 11:32

12 The Morphic Cycle (Part 1) 26:55

13 The Morphic Cycle (Part 2) 6:31

(DD/2CD-(r) 143:36) (V.F.)

(Ambient, Berlin School, E-Rock)

Which German artist comes to mind when you think of a worthy descendant of Klaus Schulze? For many artists, journalists and fans of progressive electronic music and of Berlin School, Michael Brückner is the only name that comes to mind. He ticks all the boxes! Versatile, he's equally at home with improvised structures and structured compositions. Whether solo, duo or trio, he's got his finger on every style! Berlin School, progressive and psychedelic ambient, mini-opera odes, techno and electronic rock, cinematic and cosmic music. He does it all! What's more, he's so prolific, and so much more generous than Klaus D. Mueller's team, that I wouldn't be surprised if he will also release big box sets containing all his secrets and undiscovered musical delusions. So, this link with Klaus Schulze is highly credible. If he sometimes stumbles a bit with more average albums, which is quite rare, he has the gift of being regular as clockwork with majestic albums. THE MORPHIC CYCLE is one of them! Flirting with 2:30hours of music, this double CD produced by the Cyclical Dreams label features recordings performed live for 2 events from his small home studio; episode 27 of the Morphic Resonance session, presented in April 2023, for tracks 2 to 7 of the first CD, and the Cyclical Fest 2022 for tracks 9 to 11 of the second CD. A Secret (Part 1), a studio recording, and Istara, a live recording, are independent of these events, but Michael insists on specifying that these 2 tracks are closely linked to the Morphic Resonance concert. The very long title track comes from another concert recording that was edited and reworked in the studio.

A hollow breeze permutating into a droning wave and cosmic winds is at the origin of A Secret (Part 1). The ambiences have an esoteric texture, with strange dialects coming from muffled winds, hollow breezes where Pink Floyd mist-like synth pads nestle. The synthesizer lays down beautiful, melodious solos on a bed of electronic arrangements that break the 4-minute barrier. A bouncy rhythm vibrates from its rubbery texture, structuring a lively flow that bounces and resonates from ear to ear in synth layers of eclectic harmonies, as much cabalistic as inspired by Middle Eastern perfumes. Recorded in a studio with an organized structure, A Secret (Part 1) displays the richness of its soundscapes, making it as multicolored as it is multisonorous with strange mumblings and electronic effects, while the rhythm picks up the pace with an ejection of sequences that jump in jerks to sculpt well-paced spasmodic zigzags. Not to be outdone, the keyboard delivers heavy, resonant riffs. The opening of Your Life reminds me of Jean-Michel Jarre's Magnetic Fields 4. The movement is just a little less coherent, veering towards a hopping structure with a slight hobbling effect in its approach. A more melodic shadow clings to this slightly spasmodic backbone, deepening its dimension as it hobbles along in a fascinating interstellar galloping gait beneath a dense cloud of wispy orchestrations. These orchestrations are so astral that they provide a good dose of chills with their slow, soporific frolics that waltz with our memories. The synth throws in solos that have that unique tone, sounding like chants hummed by nasal voices, just like Michael Brückner's universe in THE MORPHIC CYCLE. Other solos with a tone more usual to what our ears are used to hearing are added as Your Life reaches its final stretch. And if you're thinking of Software on this track, especially for the rhythm and arrangements, I'll go along with your reminiscences!

Ditto for the opening of A Secret (Part 2), where I can't repress the link between MB's music and that of the famous French musician to whom we owe the Oxygen trilogy. What ripples like a river of shimmering arpeggios hooks into a series of muted pulses to shape two rhythmic structures, one undulating and the other pulsating in techno boom-boom mode. Brückner glues brilliant arrangements to the rhythm, of which the synth layer is undulating in symbiosis with the rhythm. Percussions attack the structure as early as the 3rd minute. Spaced-out blows accelerate the flow with short bursts of rhythmic machine-gun fire, becoming the minimalist backbone of A Secret (Part 2), where the Mainz-based musician-synthesist deploys all his knowledge of synths with good arrangements, good effects and, above all, very fine, very musical solos. To date, the first 33 minutes of THE MORPHIC CYCLE flow like musical nectar. Like some excellent Michael Brückner! And it continues with Modular Resonance and the power of its rolling, twirling oscillations over solid percussions. If the first few minutes are marked by an easily tamed musicality, the second part is sewn on the sign of audacity. First of all, the percussions pound the music with wild and, at times, disorderly strokes. A tasty texture of electronic hooves is grafted onto the percussions. As the beat goes on, the keyboard delivers arpeggios that come and go, while the synth adds video-game effects, dusty winds and howling wind bursts, industrial rustles and, finally, voices that whisper in secret. Voices that can also be heard in the droning of Glimpse of Hope, a short track of dark cosmic ambience that flows into the fury of The Wall of Dreams. And here too I think of Jarre in Magnetic Fields. The track follows in the footsteps of Modular Resonance, but with a more musical vision, where synth solos rain down like a shower of electronic poetry. A Secret (Part 3) follows with its river of ripples over muted blasts of lively pulsations. It structures a quiet rhythm that beats delicately in a landscape illuminated by harmonious synth solos. In fact, it's the synthesizer that makes the music evolve with intensity, with more percussive, sharper solos. Michael then weaves in silky orchestral arrangements before the music and its moods evaporate in a brief passage where the nothingness is droning, and the voices still whisper in a delicate rain. They stammer again in the opening of Istara. This long track, flirting with the 16-minute mark, closes THE MORPHIC CYCLE's first CD with a storm of winds breaking over the deafening blasts of metronomic percussions. Synths unleash arabesques of Middle Eastern-tinged harmonies in a soundscape dominated by the faint drones that float through the ambience of this first CD. This rhythmic backbone stretches for over 10 minutes, allowing the musician to improvise his harmonic snippets as he swirls shimmers of arpeggio, filaments of electronic arrangements, and beautiful solos with mutating hues and harmonies that still flirt with the essences of this old people of the sands. A more cosmic, almost psychedelic approach appears around the 11-minute mark. The soundscape darkens with an onslaught of cosmic elements, and the rhythm begins to jerk like a horse bitten by a horsefly, underpinned by whimsical orchestral riffs. This cosmic storm calms down to help disperse the last 2 minutes of Istara into a quietude rarely embraced on this first CD from THE MORPHIC CYCLE.

I'll keep it short with the 2nd CD, which opens with Dystopia Ascending and its big, rumbling drone. Chords reinject an amplified resonance as they crash down, giving a chthonian drama texture to the first 90 seconds of Dystopia Ascending. A bright wave of light contrasts later, initiating an electronic rhythm that runs with its vivid sequenced oscillations looping in the grooves of these shimmering waves of mist. We're in a good Berlin School, which Michael supports with solid electronic percussions and adorns with airy synth solos. The sequencer activates 2 or 3 rhythm lines that blend their differences, both in rhythm and in sound textures. They follow one another and sometimes intertwine and/or juxtapose in a rhythmic structure whose ferocity belongs more to the percussions than to the sequencer in the first part of the track. The opposite is true in second part, which is dominated by downtempo in a nest of fluttering sequences. Claudette is a tasty ode to electric piano performance. Michael brings nuances to the tone, including a tasty line that seems to go off the rails, and adorns his panorama with tinkling bells and electronic effects as ethereal as the music. Did I hear a cat meowing? The finale pours into the opening of Still Dreaming, a beautiful track with the cosmic essence of analog years. The rhythm is pretty much absent, except for a few percussive strokes that structure a downtempo that's not too sure of its flow. If it's slow and sometimes more animated, it's the oscillations that shape the bulk of the rhythm. The synth lights up the panorama with the effects that Klaus Schulze innovated in the 70's, and those floating banks of fog that Tangerine Dream knew so well how to create in the same period. Alien harmonies - there are even video-game effects - hover in these ambiences, even borrowing that bouquet of Middle Eastern air that is in de-escalation with grace on the panorama of Still Dreaming. This superb track deconstructs itself to reach a majestic finale where rippling waves and chirping sparrows create a musical panorama worthy of the heyday when EM poetry sparkled with a thousand sounds and tonal colors. The Morphic Cycle (Part 1) and (Part 2) are the only tracks unrelated to the Morphic Resonance and Cyclical Fest 2022 performances. They are 2 live improvisations that have been edited and reworked in studio. The Morphic Cycle (Part 1) wastes no time in setting a steady pace right from the start. The sequences are on 2 lines, one rhythmic/harmonic and the other purely rhythmic, combining their bouncy textures under a sky strewn with sonic cracks. The rhythm displays its delicious imperfections in what turns into a delightful interstellar gallop shaken by jerky orchestrations. The panorama still illuminated by these flashes of incandescent sonic light; this rhythmic phase disperses these elements into a long atmospheric phase after the 7th minute. Whistling gusts of black wind, a mass of cosmic and abysmal electronic effects, intriguing and seraphic vocals and sequences that attempt to recreate the rhythm are the main elements that make up the atmospheric core of The Morphic Cycle (Part 1). Torn between this rhythm and the sources of its ambiences, the track gradually plunges into a finale of heavy tenebrous ambiences that pervade the entirety of The Morphic Cycle (Part 2).

THE MORPHIC CYCLE is a powerful album from Michael Brückner. Flaws? Lengths? Of course, there are. After all, it's mostly an album built phase by phase for the needs of 2 concerts. But only him is able to make of those a symphony of sounds that scatters into structures of progressive electronic rock, Berlin School and ambient music that travel through the different phases of the EM From Klaus Schulze to Stephen Parsick, via Jean-Michel Jarre, Robert Schroeder, for the ingenuity of the sequence textures, and Tangerine Dream! Some great Michael Brückner we have here!

Sylvain Lupari (November 6th, 2023) ****¾*

Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp

(NB: The text in blue are links you can click on)

PS: I've included some links, Cyclical Fest 2022, if you'd like to see the performances of Cyclical Fest 2022 and Michael Brückner's at the same festival.

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