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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PETER MERGENER: Astronaut (2019-2021)

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

Ahhh! What a joy it is to hear Peter Mergener flirting with his grandiose past

1 We Go to the Moon 3:20

2 Lunar Mission 6:49

3 Cosmic Radiation 2:42

4 Solarenergy 5:33

5 Spacecraft Docking 5:27

6 Weightless 2:51

7 Astronaut 5:38

8 Moondust 4:24

9 Earthrise 2:44

10 Spaceflight 7:23

11 Behind the Moon 3:59

(DDL 50:56) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

The Cosmos! Who better than Peter Mergener to tell us about Cosmos and the feelings of astronauts in sound and music? He has been caressing its immensity for almost 30 years, since Beam Scape in fact with his illustrious companion Michael Weisser. It's with this experience that the ex-Software presents an album celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first landing on the moon. But it seems to me that this anniversary was highlighted by various sources of the world in 2019. And our friend Peter was there! ASTRONAUT was originally released in May 2019 in a limited edition of 300 CDs. Needless to say, the album sold out without leaving Germany. And that's why BSC Music's Prudence label has decided to put this album back into circulation, but in a downloadable format only and on all streaming sources. An excellent album where Peter Mergener has never been so close to Software.

There are many samples of speeches, dialogues with NASA, in NASA itself and/or between the astronauts in ASTRONAUT. John Kennedy's speech is the dramatic opening of We Go to the Moon. The sonic tension is at its peak in this opening track structured by the passion of the symphonic outbursts. The tension dissipates to let us hear other samplings. The tone is given, this new album of Peter Mergener announces itself as the one that brings him closer to his roots, notably Electronic Universe Vol.2. The sequencer in Lunar Mission proposes a line which jumps with light spasmodic effects under a soft ethereal cover of the synth. A shadow of bass invades the ambiences at the same time as orchestrations weave loving staccato. The rhythm already changes to become more fluid, like a ride stung by a wasp. And it becomes even faster when the percussions invite themselves to inject an essence of disco dance at the dawn of the 2 minutes. In constant motion, Lunar Mission breathes the rhythms and ambiences of Peter Mergener's early solo albums. Especially when a line of arpeggios installs its melodious dangling in electronic noises, simulating a cybernetic language among these voices of the NASA that do very Software when coated with the chants of celestial nymphs. Quite a start! One always hopes to hear a bit of Software in Mergener's music. It's therefore with a delight for these nostalgic ears to hear the chants distorted by these robotic voices, as well as the drifting orchestrations that lead the very ambient Cosmic Radiation. There are no rhythms, but the memories are there! Although the two tracks are not connected in any way, Solarenergy follows with those typical orchestrations that waltz limply in a sphere drenched of more contemporary electronic noises. Ambient, the movement is dense and above all quite intense with bursts of fireballs that adjust the intensity of the emotions coming from it and that of the aerial voices that hoot with the passion of despair. It's then that a sequence emerges around the 3rd minute, tempering these ambiences with a linear and floating rhythm. You can't get a more beautiful docking than Spacecraft Docking, which occurs in stardust. NASA voices accompany the opening which is immediately captured by a dreamy rhythmic approach. Sequencer movement unleashes lines that sway with a beautiful pull in a place in the Cosmos that houses a chamber orchestra. Violins and cellos embrace the rhythmic architecture that increases the pace once the percussions get in. What we remember most is this melody that clings to the dangling of the arpeggios and this orchestral warmth proper to the Mergener universe. A very beautiful title!

Short and also beautiful, even lyrical, Weightless is a nice interlude before the rotating rhythm of the title-track invades our ears. The movement of the sequencer is fluid, limpid, à la Software, and elaborates lines of rhythm that will cross and curl to bring it to a more dynamic phase with the arrival of the percussions. The orchestrations weave melodies which are not without reminding Snowflakes are Dancing by Isao Tomita. And they are more striking when Astronaut enters its transition zone to emerge with a dynamic sequencer. Excellent! Moondust is an ambient and cosmic track also starting with samples of astronauts' voices, here it's Apollo 8's William Anders. We feel a dull panic in his voice which is surrounded by telecommunication beeps. PM brings his vast experience of slow cosmic waltzes to bear in a track that puts images in our ears. The nymphet choir and the interplanetary orchestrations are designed for a dramatic movie end-credit score. Earthrise continues the momentum with more vocal samplings in a passionate track. The cosmic choir composes a stunning aria whose intensity reaches its peak when paired with some heavy-duty orchestrations. Switch ignition and Spaceflight comes out of our speakers skirting the walls with its sequencer swirling around a distant melody that seems to be a fascinating ghost of Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood by The Animals. The rhythm and melody roll in symbiosis with some very Tangerine Dream sound effects. The second minute is the one where the electronic percussions structure a vision of danceable electronic rock while still the melody weaves its earworm that will take different variations, always in symbiosis with the rhythm and the transition phase of this explosive track that defines quite well the musical genre of Peter Mergener. Behind the Moon undertakes the finale of this album with voices and telecommunication beeps on a beautiful musical canvas inspiring a melodramatic side that perfectly suits the many cosmic journeys undertaken by the Earth. Dramas sculpted by bugles, like grandiose moments carried by an interplanetary choir.

Ahhh! What a joy it is to hear Peter Mergener flirting with his grandiose past. ASTRONAUT is a superb album where the German musician has no other choice than to awaken his past in order to give a realistic vision to a cosmic work as major as this one. Good New Berlin School that soaks in its best moments. That of Software and of Electronic Universe!

Sylvain Lupari (August 16th, 2021) ****½*

Available at Juno Download

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