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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PETER MERGENER: Passage in Time (1991-2014)

This is another very good album with a lot of Software scents all over it

CD 1 1 Voices of the Earth 5:30 2 Passage in Time 6:35 3 Mechanical World 7:05 4 Military World 7:35 5 Lost Paradise 8:40 6 Patience Nature 3:03 7 Harmony with Nature 9:14 8 Praise 9:10 CD 2 9 Toni the Wind 2:12 10 Voyage 5:09 11 Time 10:16 12 Kindergarten 4:31

13 Space Patrol 12:18 14 Timeless Memories 8:38 15 Eternal Flow 3:13 Cue Records - CUE 103 (1991)

(CD/DDL 110:39) (V.F.) (Cosmic E-Rock, New Berlin School)

There is always a small wind of debate when an artist revisits one of his albums. As I had never heard this one and further to some negative comments on this new edition, I absolutely wanted to hear the original version of this album before writing on it. It's thus a rather attentive ear and in the end delighted that I discovered and compared, thanks to the generosity of a reader, this Peter Mergener's 2nd solo album. Thematic album on the relationship of the man and his technological breakthroughs versus nature, PASSAGE IN TIME follows the sonic horizons of Creatures with a tone and with structures which stay very near the Software universe. That should put you in appetite!

Voices of the Earth opens with carillon effects of which the bewitchment is stopped abruptly by a fall of keyboard riffs. A thick cloud of dark breezes, sound effects and orchestral arrangements follows, and this can only remind us the wonderful introduction of Electronic-Universe. From then on, the parallel between the music of Mergener and the one of Software can't just be avoided. A sublime effect of voice adopts the shape of a dial of time while Voices of the Earth progresses of its envelope of atmospheres and of its dramatic crescendo which fades out in a dance of winds and the jingles of a huge clock. The first thing which annoys on this republication is the passage between Voices of the Earth and the title-track. One would say a bad MP3 thing with its 2 seconds gap. Thing totally absent in the first edition which therefore let's hear a little warmer, a little less colder, tone. We forget a little bit this flaw when the crystal-clear keys of the sequencer are swirling with the suppleness of the glass which gets crystallize. Effects of voices wrap up this delicate opening while the hypnotic spiral of Passage in Time hang its charms on a line of bass which makes rise and fall its series of 12 keys. The percussions tumble down, bringing this procession of two lines of minimalist harmonies towards a rhythm finely lively (one stamp of the foot more than we dance) where 3 phases are harmonizing subtly their rhythm lines beneath the singings of a pleasantly fluty synth. We are downright in the universe of Software and this signature is all over the album. Decorated of the same fineries, Mechanical World offers a structure of more ambient rhythm, but all the same rather lively, with a synth with airs always so harmonious. The orchestral effects wrap a little wilder approach of the percussions and their metallic effects while the movement of sequences sculpts a spiral a little bit chaotic. To date I like what I hear and the game of the comparisons between the original and this edition is not really conclusive, except for this bridge between the first 2 tracks. The very military opening of Military World makes contrast with the relative serenity of the first 3 titles. Set apart the effects of a military parade of 40 seconds, Military World offers to our ears some voices perfumed of serenity and keyboard riffs à la Tangerine Dream with sequenced jingles of percussions which push the rhythm towards a very ethereal movement of fluidity. Peter Mergener exploits completely the time of each title of his 2nd solo opus by modifying the race of the rhythms with a good dose of subtlety. So Military World increases its pace, while remaining rather sedative, with a very TD electronic approach of the Jive years. Another nice track! Divided into 2 parts, its introduction of 4 minutes being made of ambience elements and of sound effects, Lost Paradise makes its series of watered sequences sparkle with a line of bass as lively as that of Passage in Time. After the very calm and very meditative Harmony with Nature, where the guitar of Achim Elsen is as much pensive as the one of a bluesman on a dock who hopes for the return of his lady-love, Harmony with Nature entails us in these phases of electronic rhythms flirting with a Groove style such as heard on Digital Dance. Still here, this MP3 thing between Harmony with Nature and Praise is rather irritating. Especially that Praise is a beautiful title which rests on an increasing structure, always fed by these twinkling sequences and by these muffled percussions, where the guitar of Achim Elsen is as good as a synth.

The 2nd CD of this new edition offers more than 46 minutes of new music which was composed between PASSAGE IN TIME's period of gestation and 2014. And if we listen carefully, we can hear versions of the original album which are differently mixed. Toni the Wind is an apocalyptic title of atmospheres with a synth which makes bicker its breezes with different tones of which the predominance goes to airs of saxophone. After an intro loaded of ethereal ambiences, Voyage offers some good electronic rock with very TD percussions which mistreat a very beautiful spherical structure embroidered around these sequences so crystal clear unique to the Software universe. Moreover, the effect of having already heard this track somewhere in the discography of Software will torture your senses throughout its listening. The same goes for Time and its progressive growth which seems to be taken out of the sessions of the album. I like, even if the scent of deja-entendu floats everywhere around Time, Journey and Timeless Memories and its saxophone fragrances a la Toni Schneider. Kindergarten is another title of atmospheres, just like Toni the Wind and Eternal Flow, which is very aerial, where children's clamors float on floating shadows. Space Patrol is the only title here which distances itself at the level of originality. Nothing of its perfumes let hear an alliance between Software and Mergener. It's a good cosmic electronic rock with a lively rhythm, even if our feet remain rooted on the ground, where our two hemispheres follow the curve of its astral dance. I quite liked it and we stay in Peter Mergener's roots with a movement in constant progression.

The game of comparisons now! Let's rule at once on the quality of the album. It's another beautiful album from Peter Mergener who shows that he was the spirit of those rhythms in serpentines of Software. I prefer the original which is flawless at the level of the musical bridges of some structures. As for the rest, I have nothing to add except that the original version seems to have a warmer sound, a warmer soul. Also, the 2nd CD offers some good new materials, even with its airs of deja-entendu, among which 2 solid ones in Space Patrol and Time. Considering that the original version is out of stock since years, this new version of PASSAGE IN TIME is more than agreeable. And if we are good with the art of mixing music, everything should be ok! Because this PASSAGE IN TIME is in the continuity of the best works of Software. Just like Creatures and Take Off which will be released next year.

Sylvain Lupari (August 22nd, 2016) *****

Available at BSC Music

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