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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Michael Brückner Trees of Olivandá (2017)

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

“A very lyrical album, a splendid Neo Berlin School style and the best of Mister Brückner”

1 Queen of the Southern Cross 9:36 2 Into the Birdlands 4:07 3 The Fountain, the Child and the Sun 5:59 4 Outcast 10:04 5 Under the Trees of Olivandá 21:44 6 Sunflower Girl 5:35 7 Escape to the Outer Moons 18:55 SynGate | CD-r MB05

(CD-r/DDL 76:02) (V.F.) (New Berlin School, Prog EM)

In the course of his association with the German label SynGate, Michael Brückner accustomed us to small jewels well mislaid in a mountain of independent productions, albums in duo, reeditions as well as some projects on the grill here and there. With a reedition enriched by some new titles, All the Pieces Fit Forever, his collaboration with Wolfgang Barkowski for the time of the superb The Dark Path and this TREES OF OLIVANDA, 2017 is a year which seems as quiet as in 2012. Proposed in a wonderful artwork drawn by the surrealist painter of the Web, Andreas Schwietzke, TREES OF OLIVANDA shows once again all the talent of sound sculptor of Michael Brückner and his capacity to jump with elegance from a style to the another one. A very beautiful album by an artist who never stop to amaze me since SynGate has published 100 Hundred Million Miles Under the Stars in 2012.

Celestial clarions, which make very Vangelis, open the first moments, rather melancholic, of Queen of the Southern Cross. Two movements of rhythm wake up after the 120 seconds of this astral brass band, bringing in their trail a swarm of sonic stars and their sparkling chants. The first one is a line of bass which snores, crawls and even murmurs while the other one is a collage of electronic chirpings which roll in loops with a sensation to hear a series of riffs. Both rhythmic entities stay in the crossroads of motionless movements, showing a latent velocity which derives by moment towards more ambient spaces under the very good solos sculptured of tortillons by Michael Brückner's agile fingers. Although relatively short, Into the Birdlands proposes a bed of oscillations which again rolls in loops and of which the tones vary as much as the bend of a structure of always stationary rhythm. The variations in the tones as well as the pond of electronic effects in this so short lapse of time is rather effective. Why wasting minutes in the meter? Especially that the effects derive towards the very beautiful The Fountain, the Child and the Sun which is a very nice e-ballad of the JMJarre style which pierces a thick veil of effects before landing between our ears. This track is the proof that a very melodious imagination at the service of boldness and of the unusual often gives results more than very seducing. At this level, Michael Brückner excels. Even if strongly prisoner of a structure without dominant movements, Outcast succeeds in seducing by the quality of its sound effects and this ingenuity to inter change the roles between floating rhythm and magnetizing melody. We always have this sensation to drift in the meanders of 100 Hundred Million Miles Under the Stars with this collection of cosmic effects which wraps the structures of this last effort from the German synthesist. It's in this zone that the opening of Outcast evolves.

A gravitational movement of sequences draws a crawling structure which unwinds its charms in a universe which sends back the definitions of sound aestheticism towards a complete revision. The movement swirls in a zone filled of carillons which make twinkling their fragility in the turbulence of a circular movement of the sequencer and its small spasmodic jolts. And in this approach which fools totally the hearing, the movement of sequences switches into a delicious piano which loosens a fascinating bewitching melody. Then Outcast finds refuge in the stroboscopic march of the sequencer and a delicious ambient phase. The cosmic decoration of the very long title-track is even more appealing. Synth loops without destination roam on a slightly mesmerizing structure of rhythm which is sculpted according to the rules of the Chill-out style. Diverse elements hang onto the electronic percussions and to the sequences which flicker lazily among the caresses of very good Michael Brückner's solos. Our state of hypnosis will be revived by more solid percussions, after a light ambient passage at about the 10th minute. The 2nd phase of Trees of Olivandá seeks for its anchoring point between more livened-up passages and other ones more ambient. But always, and here more than anywhere on this album, Michael Brückner's synth solos are small jewels for ears. After an introduction weaved in the astral nebulosity, Sunflower Girl evolves quietly with a circular movement of the sequencer. Another line of rhythm, decorated of moiré sequences, emerges to grasp the percussions and to a structure which flirts now with a nice Electronica vibe, if not a honeyed IDM. But no matter the genre, we forget the whole thing as soon as fat and dramatic arpeggios, borrowed from Jean-Michel Jarre's repertoire, in the opening of Escape to the Outer Moons announces the end of this other brilliant album from Michael Brückner. This introduction where the oceans flirt with the growls of a black sky lasts a nice 3 minutes before that Escape to the Outer Moons explodes between our ears with a crossing of techno and Berlin School. The sequences are lively and burst at full speed under the spasmodic pulsations of a starving bass line. Once again, the Berlin synth wizard excels at the art of diversion by creating rhythms of lead which rage beneath a harmonious sky totally in contrast with its childish melodies which charm as much as amaze. Again here, the effects flood the decoration while Michael Brückner aims to be more incisive with percussions which now support the fury of the sequencer and synth solos which replace the fragility of the melodies with twisted and more sharp aerial chants. The rhythm gets out of breath and pushes slowly Escape to the Outer Moons in a more techno mode, still showing all this flair of Michael Brückner to make his transitions which always astonish a few seconds farther.

Pushing even farther the limits of the sound perfection, SynGate offers this splendid album in 24 Bit / 44.1 kHz. The CD-r is sold with the usual format of 16 Bit. Did my ears hear a difference? I have only noticed the excellence of this album, as long at the level of its sound envelope, of its superb artwork and of Michael Brückner's musical ideas who dedicates this album to his good friend Olaf Lux. Olaf, I don't know what you made to our friend Michael, but you gave him those emotions to offer the best of himself with this diamond which is TREES OF OLIVANDA.

Sylvain Lupari (October 22nd, 2017) ****½*

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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