PAUL LAWLER: Lucid Dreamer (2018)
“Don't expect Berlin School or Dark Ambient music in here, but a good musical journey into an easy and harmonious EM”
1 Lucid Dreamer 6:57 2 A Traveller's Tale 6:04 3 The Poet 5:14 4 Sunchaser 5:12 5 Dreamtime 5:49 6 Nights in Neon 6:05 7 Soul Dancer 4:51 8 Walk While the City Sleeps 6:11 9 The Sun Train 5:53 10 Cerulean Skies 4:07 11 White Steps 5:53 Paul Lawler Music
(DDL 62:22) (V.F.)
(Melodious and cinématographic EM)
If you approach Paul Lawler's music with a vision of Arcane's music, you may be disappointed. In fact, Paul Lawler, and I had discovered it with the album Opus, is a very good composer who is as comfortable with the big Berlin School style, the dark ambient model, the experimental and the New Age with just what it's necessary in order to balance the nuances and the differences between his many hats. Composed and recorded between autumn 2003 and spring 2004, LUCID DREAMER shows the many facets of a composer, but also of a studio man who knows how to dress his structures with the right instruments and who has a great vision for his arrangements in order to give to his album all the appearances of an oriental tale here. On rhythms which vary between light pop, down-tempo, without the artifices of the EDM, and tribal beats, the music of LUCID DREAMER offers a nice collection of melodies which are covered by good arrangements, as electronic than orchestral, and voice effects which sound here right in place. Out of print since a long time, Paul Lawler offers a remastered version on his Bandcamp of this album which includes 2 new titles written in 2010.
A small push of the sequencer frees the introductory ritornello of the title track which sounds like a nice fusion of Halloween and Tubular Bells. A sonic jewellery box opens. It lets go some weak pulsations as well as shimmering electronic effects, adding a slightly threatening vision to this opening which gradually leads to a dream adorned with the tenderness of the New Age. A cloud of arrangements and percussion soaked with gas sculpt a good melodious down-tempo. Lucid Dreamer escapes into my listening room with its slow, aphrodisiac rhythm. The drums spread through the speakers while a dreamy acoustic guitar weaves a melodious approach joined by the sensual hums of a Goddess of sands and the breaths of an oboe. The arrangements are of silk and the structure is of musical poetry with its perfume and its oriental arrangements. This title track, and its combination of assorted instruments born from Paul Lawler's various synthesizers, set the tone for an astonishing musical album which charms from start to end, despite its New Age influences blown by Mike Oldfield, for Songs of Distant Earth, and Vangelis, for Voices. A Traveler's Tale follows with a more dreamlike, a more ethereal approach frozen by the romance of an acoustic six-string and by delicate tribal percussions, kind of Tabla. The rhythm gets lively with the songs of a gypsy and a Gypsy Shaman. The Poet is the Rom equivalent of The Little Fete by Vangelis. Sunchaser takes the shape of a soft Down-tempo which gets even more lascivious with this delightful voice of Bohemian woman singer who perfumes most of the structures of this album. Dreamtime is pure Easy Listening with a soft rhythm and a flock of mop-bop from a choir which covers the tearful layers from a weeping electric guitar.
Nights in Neon is one of the 2 bonus tracks on this new remastered version of LUCID DREAMER. The structure is a light Up-tempo with nervous percussions and saxophone and flute effects which structure its melodious approach. It fits well with the vibes of Dreamtime. Soul Dancer is a kind of gypsy tribal ballad. The rhythm is catchy with a dominant acoustic guitar whose riffs and chords follow the depth of the tribal percussions. The electronic arrangements form a decor rich of its ornamental effects. Especially when the voice of a female singer makes thrill the senses. Walk While the City Sleeps is a title for dreamer. A title which develops slowly with a meditative piano which is join by a violin and finally a guitar in order to unite 3 solitudes. The percussions shake the vibes a little bit while the music comes alive even more with the arrival of emotional violins and dense arrangements which can tickle the fibers of the soul. The Sun Train is the other bonus track. Its intro is sculpted by shadows of trumpets which float idly while lulled by a gentle rhythm driven by electronic percussions. Harp filaments are flowing, and the structure seems to think about its orientation when it's driven by the spirit of a pop ballad full of nice orchestrations. Mark Isham perfumes hang around here! Cerulean Skies is a nice meditative title for keyboard and orchestrations. There is a lot of emotion behind this title, while White Steps finishes this new edition of LUCID DREAMER with a good electronic down-tempo again coated by the perfumes of Mark Isham. It also has pretty Vangelis' fragrances at times, especially in the emotivity of the arrangements.
Far from the radars of the Berlin School or the music of dark ambiences, Paul Lawler works out admirably well his game with this eclectic journey of this LUCID DREAMER. Rich, melodious and at times moving, this album is the result of a bold bet where the English musician weaves a great union between electronic, orchestral and world music through his panoply of instruments. A very nice album that will make you discover another face of an artist who refuses to walk constantly on the same paths.
Sylvain Lupari (July 31, 2018) ***½**
Available at Paul Lawler Bandcamp