PICTURE PALACE MUSIC: Midsummer (2010)
Updated: Nov 26, 2021
“Maybe the nicest way to get initiated to the tortuous universe of PPM”
1 Chill Crystal Zone 4:40
2 Midsummer's Eve 6:16
3 Midsummer's Morning 5:41
4 Midsummer's Day 5:58
5 Seduction Crossing 6:43
6 Right of Ascension 7:35
7 Drowning Someone's Sorrow into the Ocean Part I 6:48
8 Drowning Someone's Sorrow into the Ocean Part II 11:15
9 Drowning Someone's Sorrow into the Ocean Part III 4:35
10 Midsummer's Night 5:48
(CD/DDL 65:20) (V.F.)
(Post-Rock, Theatrical EM)
It's quite difficult to describe the music of Picture Palace Music as it is so disparate. Since the release of Somnambulistic Tunes in 2007, Thorsten Quaeschning's band has continued to amaze with an impressive variety of styles and sounds. MIDSUMMER is a debut CD on the Groove Unlimited label and was unveiled at the 2010 E-Live festival in a wild concert that totally stunned the audience. And for good reason! Beyond a hymn to summer, its solstice, the sun and its worshippers, MIDSUMMER embraces big synth rock and keeps an ear out for the murmurs of blue nights, where the festivities of an effervescent world intersect with the parallelism of PPM's dualistic universe.
Chill Crystal Zone reminds us above all that TQ is also behind the keyboards of Tangerine Dream. This introductory track begins with a lightly fluty synth rocking itself on a thin sequencer line that ripples like a prismatic stream and a cozy bed of shimmering arpeggios. The beat is edgy with a Rockoon's sequencer style and hosts looping chords from a wriggling guitar a la The Edge (U2). A feverish guitar whose riffs fade behind soaring vocal effects that shape a strange melody plagued by a latent madness. The pace increases with steadier percussions and crystalline chords that waddle innocently before the guitar becomes more biting and an avalanche of percussions breaks out with a bang, dividing Chill Crystal Zone between a sweet melody and an astonishing musical fury that the band had already served us with Damsel's Dive and Help, Murder, Help from the Fairy Marsh Districts album. Moreover, MIDSUMMER will be constantly torn between melodies and anguish as well as between clarity and darkness. Midsummer's Eve follows with an introduction quite similar to the fragile rhythm of Chill Crystal Zone. Except that the rhythm explodes heavily with furious percussions, a rock bass line and nervous guitar riffs that plunge us into the dark universe of King Crimson (Red and Starless and Bible Black). An explosive title where the guitar drags its solos on a rhythm fractured by short more airy interludes, leaning on heavy riffs and dark synth lines that scream in a cacophony of sounds. And this Midsummer's Morning is full of it and this until the last corners of its mystery. A superb ode to schizophrenia with a delicious piano that spreads out a magnificent meditative melody where voices trail in a disturbing furrow of emotionality. A sweet piano that reminds me of the superb Añoranza on Curicculum Vitae 1. Midsummer's Day crosses a little the light rhythmics of the Dream from the Miramar years with its upbeat rhythm where the riffs of guitars flow on nervous percussions and limpid sequences wriggling under delicate synth layers. A track that flirts a little more with big synth rock, just like the powerful and percussive Right of Ascension, and that knows those creative surges with a good guitar and festive voices, plunging Midsummer's Day in an unreal African fiesta. Especially with the vuvuzelas buzzing around vocoders.
Seduction Crossing is also tinged with this Tangerine Dream universe, but a darker Dream coming out of the Legend's paths. A fine sequence swirls after an intro filled with anguished breaths. A line of sequencer whose keys erupt under good hits of muffled percussions and others that clash sharply. Like in Legend! A bass line feeds this spiral sequence where keyboard chords water a fascinating melody in glass sounds. A superb track in MIDSUMMER that depicts a nightmarish paranoia, especially when these superb layers of spectral guitars get in and undulate with stridency. Our eardrums, still stunned by the pounding of the heavy and captivating Right of Ascension, are enveloped by the cavernous intro of Drowning Someone's Sorrow into the Ocean Part I. Drops of water trickle in the echo of dark caves whose sinuosities extend towards a heterogeneous sound universe where caustic reverberations cross a panoply of fluty breaths and metallic hoops. A sequence emerges and discreetly overlaps this sclerotic plain of metallic buzzes. The movement is delicate and amplifies with the appearance of Part II where the universe of PPM flirts with the tribal sounds of the Steve Roach world with an astonishing mixture of percussions which swarms on a cadence turning in spiral. The rhythm gets more incisive and swirls with such velocity that vertigo takes over the hypnotic magnetism. Dark, intense and full of composite sounds, Drowning Someone's Sorrow into the Ocean Part II quenches its thirst for frenzied rhythms on a finely jerky structure where a multitude of percussions and sequenced chords reign under howling synths and monastic choirs that are heard with the opening of Part III. Swirling tribal dance Drowning Someone's Sorrow into the Ocean is a splendid trilogy where PPM's dark incantations are fueled by an astonishingly evil and enchanting spirit. After this world of darkness Midsummer's Night concludes MIDSUMMER with a hellish rhythm. A big synth pop that crosses the synth techno under an avalanche of percussions. A big powerful track that depicts quite well the hybrid universe of this album where the dark and eclectic approach of Picture Palace Music frays superbly well with a more pop, more rock and definitely more accessible approach. I think it's a nice way to get initiated to the tortuous universe of PPM.
Sylvain Lupari (January 7th, 2011) ****½*
Available at Groove nl