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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PETER MERGENER: Instinctive Traveller (1997)

Instinctive Traveller is a pure jewel of a mix of New Berlin School and the minimalist shapes of the older one

1 Electronic Movements 9:34 2 In Higher Places 3:26 3 Touch the Guitar 8:.00 4 Under the Sun 1:58 5 Wild Thrills in Jungle 8:27 6 Two Hands Two Sticks 2:45 7 Rain in Australia 6:27 8 Voices of Africa 9:07 9 Instinctive Traveller Part I  10:10 10 Instinctive Traveller Part II 5:28 BSC Music

(CD/DDL 65:52) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

The recent discovery of Creatures and Let There Be More Light (Creatures II) in Creatures 2020 made me plunge again in the universe of Peter Mergener. I recall that I reviewed INSTINCTIVE TRAVELLER back in 2007, but I totally forget how it was. So, let's dig again in it. First of all, you have to know that Peter Mergener is among those artists who had a solid impact on the EM scene. Just like Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze but in a more discreet way. His unique sound, his sequencing tones and his cosmic visions have made of him one of the cornerstones of the New Berlin School movement. INSTINCTIVE TRAVELLER is his 3rd start in his impressive career. After the Software adventure (with Michael Weisser), he undertakes a solo career on the German label Cue where he made 6 albums. And in 1997 he accepts a distribution contract with Prudence, a division of BSC Music. But whatever where he is landing, he is always trying to transpose the very delicate and crystalline electronic universe of his musical adventures with Software. His sound is unique, so near the cold cosmos that we really feel to be there. His first album with Prudence is a live album recorded during the KLEM Dag EM Festival held in Netherlands in 1996. A concert where Peter Mergener and his band (Carsten Shnell on Keyboards and violin, Achim Elsen on E-Guitar and Ingo von Wenzlawowicz on drums) performed new tracks for the greatest pleasure of his fans.

Electronic Movements starts things off with an ambiospherical intro filled by suspicious noises and by synth breezes which hide strange voices. This is purely a cosmos breach with synth waves which float like sweet violin and their tears in the mist. An acoustic guitar comes and spreads some delicate notes which draw a somber melody sniffing in deep orchestral manoeuvres and synth with apocalyptic breezes à la Tangerine Dream. We are in a mix of prog and EM when a delicate sequences line makes its keys dancing in the shadow of each others in a deep ominous pattern. Then the sequences detach themselves to swirl in the mist of Orion, conducting a beat which livens up on sustained pulsations. We are in a true Berlin School mode with a minimalist approach where the sequencing pattern subdivides its beat in a rich tapestry of synth layers and guide us towards the deep ambient phase of In Higher Places and its iconoclast noises suspended in the void. Synth layers are floating like violin tears and go beyond the limits of Touch the Guitar and of its soft tribal cosmic drumming and the sublime guitar solos from Achim Elsen. We are floating in the boundaries of Pink Floyd with tearing guitar solos and the Teutonic electronic rhythms of TD. The guitar is the master here and she is simply great with superb solos which easily draw dreamy earworms. After another short ambient bridge in Under the Sun, Peter Mergener throws some old sequences fragrances that make dream the fans of Software with Wild Thrills in Jungle. Sequence keys suspended on the mist of a synth mellotron are dancing in dreamy melodious passages perfumed by flute breezes whereas a sequenced spiral swirls on the spot making blow some virtual winds. The track is getting livelier with a great sequencing phase, firm and sustained keyboard chords and an aggressive guitar which roar like a beast. Always floating like a carousel at variable speed, Wild Thrills in Jungle gathers all the possible chords in order to build a jungle filled of a slight paranoia on an always soft circular rhythm. Two Hands Two Sticks presents us a furious solo of electronic percussions, a rare fact during an EM concert. Nevertheless, the effect is spectacular on good loudspeakers. Rain in Australia takes back the melodious spiral shape of Wild Thrills in Jungle. This is a very good rotary rhythmic melody with soft twisted strings from a virtual but poignant violin. It’s all the opposite with Voices of Africa and its nervous rhythm imposed by strong sequenced drumming and percussions which stitch an echoing and neurotic rhythmic structure. The guitar pierces the layers of a discreet synth, with acute solos, showing the maturity of Mergener who is not afraid of leaving the place to his great musicians. Thus, the duels synth/guitar, percussions/ sequences are very creative and strongly musical.

For the encore, Peter Mergener presents the title-track in 2 parts, adding up 15 minutes of a torrential music where guitar and synth tear away the space on heavy and hopping sequences. This is strong and heavy Berlin School, structured on sequences which knock with hardness and which fit very well to solid percussions. We have splendid solos which try to temper a mood that sequences and percussions make wild with a delicious indiscipline. The bridge between the 2 parts is made of a floating ambience before getting back to a sequenced tempo in a shape of a waterfall flow, giving a supple rhythm which rises and comes down in the airs of a superb melody that we didn't expect.

Peter Mergener is a must in the world of EM. Discreet, he remains a solid artist with a great background who each times creates powerful opuses. Opuses which are often quite unexpected so much he likes to touch a lot of styles. INSTINCTIVE TRAVELLER is a pure jewel of a mix of New Berlin School and the minimalist shapes of the older one. It's an album that will enchant fans who like a mixture of sequences/ percussions, giving so some strong rhythms, and of synth/guitar, driving some superb melodies which fit and move along the constant modulations and permutations of rhythms. If you don't know him yet, Peter Mergener owes to be discovered. And this could begin with this very good live album. Then Creatures, then...

Sylvain Lupari (May 2nd, 2014) ***½**

Available at BSC Music

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