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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PETER MERGENER: Take Off (1992-2015)

Here is another nice reedition with extra music which show another side of Peter Mergener's great New Berlin School side

CD 1 (59:31) 1 Take Off 6:28 2 Icarus' Flight 8:34 3 The Eagle 5:25 4 On Wings 9:40 5 Between Worlds 2:24 6 A Moment to Look Back 2:31 7 Freedom of Space 8:49 8 Return to the Blue Planet 11:31 9 Landing 4:04 CD 2 (46:01) 1 Hawking's Universe 4:42 2 Solarsailer 7:22 3 Strange Voices 5:41

4 Nightflight 5:24 5 Sunlight 5:13 6 A Little Bit of Something 8:18 7 When the Wind Blows 5:06 8 Extreme Conditions 4:11 

(2 CD 105:32) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School, E-Rock)

There is certain craze for the music of Peter Mergener lately. Having remixed and blended the both passages of Creatures in a single album, Creatures 2020 in April 2014, the German synthesist revisits Passage in Time in October of the same year. And now it's the turn of TAKE OFF, his 3rd solo opus which appeared on the German label Cue Records in 1992. Like with Passage in Time this new version includes a remastered edition of the original album as well as a bonus CD which includes music, and that's not completely clear to me, composed quite recently as well as some different versions (I find that indeed Sunlight can sound like The Eagle and that A Little Bit of Something has some similarities with On Wings) of tracks which appeared on the first edition. The whole thing is carefully presented in a 2 CD digipack which however offers almost no information. And as it's only quite recently that I discovered his era in music, so I cannot pronounce on the differences, good or bad, between both works. All that I know on the other hand is that it's a very good album! We find here this magic that was behind his first 3 years in Software, from 85 to 88, with slow harmoniously jerky structures of rhythms which progress in a great deal of cosmic effects and in jerky orchestrations. Outer noises, like voices or dialogues of cosmonauts or still whistling of shuttles as well as noises of machineries, have always decorated the cosmic soundscape of Software. And by ricochet the one of Peter Mergener. We thus find them massively here, and this is what open the title-track.

Winds of Orion and dust of cosmos are sticking to some slow intergalactic woosh while far off a staccato movement reveals orchestrations which are similar to a sequence of a suspense movie. Layers of voices cogitate around this orchestral swing of the pendulum where sequences are grafted and waddle with a pace of mocking goblins. Already, the Mergener magic invades our ears. Lively and harmonious sequences, percussions and electronic jingles, riffs of keyboards and jerky violins are structuring a rhythm which passes in an accelerating mode, like a ride in the cosmic plains. A rhythm pecked by diverse elements of percussions and wrapped by the beautiful harmonies of a synth among which the seraphic layers weavers of earworm add some more of depth to the soundscapes of the album. It's a good electronic rock of the 80's with a great sound aestheticism. Icarus' Flight is a very good track which uses all these facets of Software cosmic visions. Electronic effects are chirping, and the synth layers adjust the tones with a delicate approach tinted of nostalgia while the tears of violins and the fluty caresses add to this elegiac dimension. We are near New Age here! Winds become more strident, awakening a thick cloud of sequences which hesitate to structure the rhythm of which the approach remains furtive and get snuggled up in these sighs of flutes. And the sequences dance. They dance, like in Electronic-Universe, with jerky orchestrations, structuring an ambient cosmic lullaby which little by little exchanges its passivity for a structure as much lively than morphic, rather similar to the progression of the title-track and which is so close to these progressive and rather ambiguous structures of rhythm which make the charms of the Peter Mergener's repertoire. The Eagle is a good slow dance with a poignant guitar and jingles on the background which remind me the duet Seiler/Lorenz in the Passage album. On Wings is sculpted in the sequenced harmonies, you know all these glass ringing which sing and shape an ambient rhythm, of the Software sound world. Between Worlds is a little atmospherical moment which is tied to the rather melancholic piano of A Moment to Look Back. Freedom of Space proposes too an ambient structure fed by carillons lost in lunar orchestrations. Electronic effects, cosmic voices and hollow breezes weave an astral shroud where jingles of percussions and cymbals get carried away. Return to the Blue Planet has a slow ambiospheric and ambiosonic intro which turns its gradation of the ambiences for a structure of ambient rhythm fed by balls of sequences which wind in spirals. These balls swirl into minimalist loops in a structure of rhythm which grows with jingles of metallic percussions, a little as in Cosmic-Excursion from the Electronic Universe II album but with a more fluid tempo. Layers of violin and cello harpoon this rhythm skipping with the orchestral jerks which cut out the ritornellos of sequences and direct the second part of the track towards these structures of ambivalent rhythms; ambient or lively. Landing initially used to end the album with a good very lively electronic rock where the sequences reveal all the wealth, as rhythmic as harmonic, of Peter Mergener. We love at the first listening!

CD 2 proposes us structures which are quite far from what we are used to hear from Peter Mergener. And that begins with an all ambiospherical piece of music decorated by its lot of sound effects as well as synth layers and guitar laments which remind of the universe of Pink Floyd in Wish You Were Here. The voice of Stephen Hawking is dawdling around in the background and remains less attractive than that of a virtual woman. If we like the hollow atmospheres where we feel at light years from home, Strange Voices and Extreme Conditions with its huge waves of old church organ will know how to fill your expectations. We stay in the very Pink Floyd vision with Solarsailer which is a good electronic progressive rock with lively percussions, loops of guitar and nice orchestrations. It's rather different of the Mergener/Software universe but we roll of the neck and we slightly tap the thigh. And the guitar of Achim Elsen, who is very good by the way, does very David Gilmour. We are more into ballad style? The slow and very poignant Sunlight and its heavy resounding guitar, one would say a hard rock ballad, is going to eat away your soul. When the Wind Blows is also a beautiful ballad but in a more New Age style. Nightflight is a more electronic track, well at least for its intro, with a circular movement of very crystalline sequences which clink in a spectral shroud. Impetus of a line of bass and wrapping synth layers, perfumed by the shadows of an old organ, give a night-depth to a music, which does very Mark Shreeve by the way, which takes back the guides of another electronic rock filled of pastiches and of sound glitter of the 80's. A Little Bit of Something will keep its electronic identity throughout its 8 minutes, it's quite a piece of EM my friends, with an approach which is a little similar to On Wings but with a clearly more lively rhythm where the perfumes of Mergener/Software exhilarate our senses with a very TD touch from the Underwater Sunlight years.

Is the second CD necessary? I read negative comments that I don't agree with. If we are a little far from the Peter Mergener's usual repertoire, the music remains very nice. And I always like that when an artist goes out of his comfort zone. And it's obviously the case here where he touches a lot of styles; New Berlin School, E-Rock, ambiocosmic soundscapes, New Age and Synth Pop. There is for all tastes and I believe that it's the purpose of a bonus CD offered in a special remixed edition. As for TAKE OFF! Well...It's another fine jewel of New Berlin School style which is very near of what Software had given to us during the Mergener/Weisser years. Isn't what we wanted?

Sylvain Lupari (November 29th, 2015) *****

Available at BSC Music

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