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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PERU: The Return (2018)

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

“I was surprisingly charmed by the music in The Return which merges the Berlin School to a highly intelligent melodic EM”

1 A New Start 4:25 2 The Loop 4:36 3 Day 2 4:24 4 The Return 8:57 5 Mirror 4:59 6 The Art Gallery 4:57 7 The Swarm 4:45 8 Orage 5:18 9 Desert Rain 4:42 10 Meteor 5:18 Peru Synth-Music (CD 52:45) (Melodic Berlin School, Intelligent Synth-Pop) (V.F.)

It was with a lot of amazement and especially enchantment that I discovered the musical arsenal of Peru. Because we speak well of arsenal with this panoply of rhythms which get transforming inside each structure which barely approaches an average length of 5 minutes, if we exclude the title-track, and of genres which abound in a sound universe of an incisive sharpness. Peru! Can you believe I have never heard the music of this legendary band from the Netherlands? Although its name has been circulating quite often in the various discussion groups about contemporary EM. According to some critics, this duet composed of musicians (Pe)ter Kommers and (Ru)ud van Es, hence the acronym PERU, offered an EM more focused on synth-pop and electronic rock of Tangerine Dream from the post-Jive years than Berlin School as such. The duo became trio and foursome over the years, welcoming the famous Rob Papen in its ranks. It's also this latter and Ruud van Es who bring life back to the Peru adventure some 25 after the release of The Prophecies in 1993. And how was this first contact with the music of Peru? Difficult to explain because the music is difficult to define. Melodious with good arrangements and keyboards in mode harmonies, the music still offers great rhythmic versatility within each title, for this purpose we lose a little bit of our compass in the title track, and those countless synth solos which whistle and sing with delicious thine lines of acuity. I would situate the approach to those of Tangerine Dream's melodic side, the edgy e-rocks of Jerome Froese and to Johannes Schmoelling's composing style but with a more daring vision and still with his arrangements stolen from the strings of emotivity. THE RETURN has several seductive arrows. Each title is very melodious and rather catchy with its rock, synth-pop and even dance clothes. The only thing that annoys me are these Gregorian and Celtic choruses à la ERA or Enigma. And it's not much when even our ears dance to the sound of THE RETURN. After a brief ethereal introduction, haloed with a soft voice, A New Start plunges into a fusion of synth-pop and classic electronic rock with a keyboard which freezes a minimalist approach on a bed of shimmering sequences and a humming bass line. Peru's musical universe is changing fast here with a more flamboyant essence of arpeggios and their sequenced ritornellos which sail through lush layers of voices of electronic mermaids. A fluid bass, percussions and clatters of wood sculpting some stationary kicking on a flow of sober sequences; the melodic rhythm brings its nuances into a structure which dances between its ethereal moments and its phases of catchy rhythms. The Loop follows with a disarticulated movement of the sequencer which gives life to a spasmodic rhythm and where other percussive elements get into the meticulous work of rhythmic structures. Beautiful orchestrations all in tenderness and emotion overfly this approach which becomes more fluid and more intense with the arrival of compact percussions. Synth effects adorn this good rhythmic panorama with sonic lassos which come and go in a vision of perpetual whistles. Gregorian voices add a scent of ERA to the finale. The phases of rhythms are sharp and lively, touching even a bit of techno or dance music with layers of floating violins. Ditto for Day 2, again the percussive elements are disarming here, and The Swarm which sounds like a good Moonbooter with a synth in mode harmony. Even Storm flirts with this genre with its technoïd pulsations. The title-track opens with Celtic songs which is treading a delicate melody lying on a piano more romantic than melancholic. A line of bass pulsations vibrates between the ears, propelling The Return to a jerky electronic rhythm. Effects are cooing over this energetic structure and a synth throws a melody which fades into a Jerome Froese's ambient move. Jerky orchestrations are in standby mode. The rhythm comes out in the form of a gallop which charges under good solos whose sharp feathers are found all around the 53 minutes of THE RETURN. An ambiospherical phase stops this dynamic rhythm which returns in a slower form with solos which agonize on an evolution proposed by bass sequences which move nervously under other delicious percussive effects. The sound aesthetic is very rich, here as everywhere, with choruses borrowed from the vision of Vangelis and tender ambient orchestrations. The 3rd skin evolves more in a psybient mode with very convoluted solos which charm and surprise in a more melancholic approach. Mirror follows with a sequencer which unleashes its jumping keys in a phase of static rhythm which serves as a bulwark for other good sharpened solos. The limpid sequences which dance blithely recall some of Peter Baumann's structures in Trans Harmonic Nights. Strange harmonic on another stationary rhythm, nervous and exciting for our fingers, The Art Gallery offers sound effects and other percussive effects which make a lot of noise beneath a mass of sound effects and some sweet Arabic songs. Desert Rain begins with a nice progressive lullaby whose light sequencer chords turn in minimalist loops in a rather ethereal cosmic phase. It's like dreaming awake! Heavy and nervous sequences, as well as percussions, shake these ambiences which always keep a dreamy seal with layers of voices and jazz effects, bringing the music towards an unknown zone. The ritornello returns this time by dancing with these heavy and nervous sequences, while the synth weaves all it takes to dream again with open eyes. Meteor ends this comeback album of Peru with an approach of electronic rock structured on agitated sequences which come and go on a sea of evasive melodies. Thanks to Ron Boots, I spent very good minutes absorbing all the essences of this Peru album which has literally charmed me with its Berlin School, with its nervous and stormy sequences, well merged in phases of synth-pop, allegorical rock and dance music. The arrangements and the many clannish effects which decorate some rather celestial ambiances and the numerous synths with a unique tonal signature make of THE RETURN one of the very good melodious and intelligent EM albums to have pierced the wall of my doubts since moons. One of the best opuses and a must in 2018! Sylvain Lupari (March 13th, 2019) *****

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