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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PETER MERGENER: Phonetic Society (2010)

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

It's back to the roots of the New Berlin School for the one who helped this style to bloom

1 Mindflow 6:50

2 Starflight 6:45

3 Shiva Connection 7:05

4 Timepassengers 11:01

5 Rotation 6:34

6 Transformation 3:35

7 Phonetic Society 7:03

8 Floating Energy 8:35

(CD/DDL 57:33) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School, Downtempo)

In 2010, Peter Mergener puts his career on hold after the release of PHONETIC SOCIETY. For the record, the man who was a pioneer, together with Michael Weisser, of the New Berlin School started his solo career as soon as he left the Software ship in the early 90's. Since Passage In Time in 1991, he has signed 15 albums, some of them in duo, of a much-diversified EM but always with a more commercial vision. A more accessible electronic music which flirted between Synth-Pop or New Age and New Berlin School perfumed with Software essences. PHONETIC SOCIETY is his 15th album outside the borders of the Mergener/Weisser duo. And we can say that he returns to his roots with a very good opus where intertwined rhythm structures are born and rock down the house along some beautiful dreamlike structures.

The introductory rhythm of Mindflow is cooing. The arpeggios roll while floating in a nice electronic haze, tracing a hesitant approach that hops around stealthily in the breaths of a synth whose voices get lost between lyrical layers. Rescued from this heavy mellotron veil, an isolated sequence waddles candidly and embraces the sweet perfume of a dreamy flute while another more undulating sequential line subdivides the rhythm that gets heavier with good percussions hits. Mindflow turns into a good melody over a rhythmic pattern supported by good heavy percussions and intersecting sequences. Arpeggios emerging from the breaths of Starflight's cosmic introduction dance with lightness. A strange dance where a tenebrous breath protects this carousel of funereal chords that suddenly twirl with power in a furious sequenced maelstrom where they intertwine, overlap and multiply in a hellish race. A solid track without concrete rhythm, Starflight becomes a powerful circular dance on a superb gyratory movement. Shiva Connection is a good track where cosmos meets techno with a tribal approach of the sand people as a background. Voices of celestial nymph sing in a cosmos streaked of fine synth blades to lead to a Berber oration recited on the ethereal breaths of its galactic intro. A delicious movement of sequenced rhythm, with chords which alternate and twirl in spirals, emerges from it. The sequences flicker and dance with tabla percussions and an enchanting bass line and its delicate pinched and bouncing chords. The ambivalent rhythm progresses with orchestral arrangements where clan orations parade in dense mellotron layers. The longest track on PHONETIC SOCIETY, Timepassengers starts with a pulsating key that leads to a hive of jumping sequences with a sweet memory of Jean-Michel Jarre's Arpegiator on The Concerts In China. This swarm of sequences multiplies the jumps in an arrhythmic and random pattern where the riffs of Tangerine Dream enter in our memory box. Vibrating on a random growth, this rhythm overcomes the obstacles by adding a bass-sequence line that leads it to synth solos, meowing like those of Syndromeda, and orchestrations with staccatos that are rhythmically influential. This amalgam constitutes a feverish rhythm that new chords are cackling, like in Robert Schroeder's universe, under heavy mellotron layers. More quietly, the violins bring the rhythm in an atmospheric phase where a clatter, doubled by a countdown, redirects Timepassengers towards a din explosion which is followed by a drift into corridors of Cosmos. And when you think about it, you can't have better conclusions for this track.

Rotation is a fiery and very techno track which is better for dance floors than in our dreamy ears. A heavy but well-structured track that shows how Peter Mergener has the sense of rhythm. Transformation is a short track where cosmic ambiences surround an indecisive rhythmic that gravitates in sound elements as electronic as eclectic. I like the heavy mellotron layers that envelop this track, an element the musician is very comfortable with, and which adds a lot of depth to his new album. On the title-track, he takes a very dance and techno approach with heavy resonances that act as primary sequences. Sequences that are supported by another movement with clear chords twirling over a structure that is weighed down by good percussions. Phonetic Society plunges the listener into an astonishing universe of futuristic techno where the humming electronic sound effects are the key to a heavy techno that swirls with its limpid glass chords. Floating Energy ends PHONETIC SOCIETY with a soft cosmic intro of which a bass line with pulsating chords disturbs the quietude. Here, like everywhere else on this album, the synth spreads hybrid layers where the metallic mist embraces the ethereal voices on an intro that gradually comes lively with a pre-technoïd heaviness and fine crystalline arpeggios that twist in a melodious carousel. The music is quietly carried away in a progressive rhythmic with resonant chords which palpitate around a scintillating synth line whose filaments flow between the voices and the dreamy softness of a title divided between the calls of Cosmos, the sensuality of its bass line and the firmness of a rhythm diverted from its lascivious softness by good percussions' strikes. Like in the good old days of Software!

Constantly torn between morphic and cosmic softness as well as evolving rhythms overflowing towards lively and catchy rhythms, PHONETIC SOCIETY is a very nice continuity of Software's works (Electronic Universe II and Digital Dance) with a very nice touch of contemporaneity. A very good album of Peter Mergener who was inspired by this new trend where Electronica and down-tempos flirt with the essence of the New Berlin School. The next album will come in 6 years from now with Robotic Instinct.

Sylvain Lupari (May 3rd, 2011) ***¾**

Available at BCS Music

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