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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

MICHAEL BRÜCKNER: The Undercurrent (2019)

“This is Michael Bruckner! So, it's good. Very good”

1 The Undercurrent Part 1 (Subliminal) 10:52

2 A Greater Hope 5:41

3 24 Hours and 16 Days (In Amnesia) 9:14

4 Activate! 10:07

5 Mount Tuna (The Opening) 2:34

6 The Undercurrent Part 2 (Messages) 11:11

7 A Greater Hope (Reprise) 6:38

8 The Unanswered Question 21:04


9 The Undercurrent Part 1 (Alternative Version of Track 1)


10 24 Hours And 16 Days (Endangered) (Alternative of Track 3) 9:14

11 Mount Tuna (Extra Bonus Track) 12:00

(CD-r/DDL 109:31) (V.F.)

(Berlin School, Cinema Music)

It's with electronic rustlings, imitating scratches rubbing between them, that Michael Bruckner initiates the musical panorama of his last album; THE UNDERCURRENT. An introduction in a climate of musical suspense with a rising shadow and percussive noises that stimulate a structure in awaken. Decorating his sound tree with synth lines to the colors and shapes of the aurora borealis, the German synthesist adds a series of intermittent and multicolored cracks that dance with these muddy and rubbery effects which become then the basis of a soft rhythm hanging onto 3 keys from the sequencer. As a result, The Undercurrent Part 1 (Subliminal) transforms itself with stroboscopic filaments and heavier percussions that stabilize the rhythm in a down-tempo in lack of vitamin, while the sound flowering launches its traps of charms. Keyboard chords a bit Funk-organic extend the influences of Robert Schroeder when they structure a kind of an ambient cha-cha-cha painted by an informal language of the synth which launches its good solos in what will be the richness of THE UNDERCURRENT soundscape. Welcome to the latest musical fresco of Michael Bruckner! In an album inspired by social, ecological and geopolitical awareness; the German synthesist-musician puts his reflection on these peaceful demonstrations whose ideologies are nuanced by their contrasts. This EM filed at the edge of our ears is not quite new since some of the titles have appeared on various compilations on the subject. But like an architect in his studio, MB has reworked everything into an immensely musical mosaic rich of his subject.

A line of bass sequences imposes the living rhythm of A Greater Hope while chasing away a voice denouncing the climate of global tension. Clear keys dance with these continuous kicking to which are added good percussive effects. After this fiery e-rock, the introduction of 24 Hours and 16 Days (In Amnesia) injects a first phase of meditation that rebels around 180 seconds. The rhythm that comes is woven with lines of sequences jumping and contrasting. The flow becomes nervous and curt, like a jerky dance whose spasms are watered by arpeggios scrolling timidly in a setting where Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre talk about music with Michael Bruckner. Activate! is the pièce de résistance of this album. Organ pads crumple an introduction where wander this Tangerine Dream/Vangelis fusion of synth lines. A drum flagellates this ambience of contemplation with a wild rock approach. The rhythm gallops on this drums and harmonious chords that float like layers of musical water to counterbalance the brutality of this drum without arms but articulated by samples well adjusted here. The meshing between percussions and arpeggios jumping in pain adds a depth of big metal-progressive rock to the music. Grave chords and sound beams with apocalyptic essence inject dramatic weight, like in The Undercurrent Part 1 (Subliminal), to Activate! which is pure dynamite in the fortress of THE UNDERCURRENT.

We stay in thematic music for documentary with Mount Tuna (The Opening) which remains turbulent of passion with its ambient passage. Fat and juicy chords echo again in the opening of The Undercurrent Part 2 (Messages). Here, the language of keyboards and the dialogue of synths is organic with chirps of a breed of birds still not listed. The title evolves in this static envelope with tones and an ambient rhythm very close to the finds of Robert Schroeder in his last years. A Greater Hope (Reprise) follows the tangent of the first part, but MB adds electronic percussions, giving a 90's tint to the music. Divided in two stages, The Unanswered Question starts with a semi-ambient structure that gradually shows its heavy progression with stoic percussion shots that project their splinters on fluttering arpeggio filaments in order to maintain the steady equilibrium of the rhythm. This is how the first 10 minutes of this title, which slides into a phase of propitious ambiences, grows to support the speech of the politician and environmental activist Gaylord Nelson, founder of the Earth Day event, in 1970. The Unanswered Question comes to life timidly, thus concluding another work of impact from Michael Bruckner. Always very generous, the musician offers 3 bonus tracks when buying the SynGate CD-r or the download offered in 24Bits on the platform of the German label. These titles are in a way the basis of THE UNDERCURRENT. The Undercurrent Part 1 (Alternative Version) is very different from what we find on the CD with long raucous breaths, it looks like a concerto for didgeridoos, in a long tribal structure inspired by the works of Steve Roach. Except for the breezes pinched by strings of an Asian guitar and synth pads with progressive tones, like Keith Emerson, that tickle our ears in the second half. If it's without rhythm, the sound fauna is full of life! The version of 24 Hours And 16 Days (Endangered) - Alternative Track is more in electronic Berlin School mode evolving into an electronic rock, while 24 Hours and 16 Days (In Amnesia) was active around a phase Trance & Dance. Both versions are very good, although it suffers from a less brilliant sound reproduction. Mount Tuna (Extra Bonus Track) offers a more animated second part, while retaining the ambient charms of the CD-r version. Here again, I like this version better. The quality of these 32 minutes of additional EM just strengthens all the talent of composer and musician that is Michael Bruckner.

Sylvain Lupari (December 12th, 2019) ****¼*

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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