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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PICTURE PALACE MUSIC: Natatorium (2009)

This is a splendid work where PPM multiplies rhythms on emotional variations

1 Drowning Moon and Eleven Suns 7:28

2 Moon Dial 14:44

3 Blue-Hour-Glass 11:09

4 Risk Pool 9:02

5 Drowning Suns on Moonlight Drive 4:41

6 The Gretchen Tragedy (Faust Outtake) 7:15

(DDL 54:18) (V.F.)

(Post-Rock, Theatrical EM)

Oh, I've heard great things about NATATORIUM! Produced in the shadow of the Tangerine Dream concerts and away from major labels, this latest effort from Picture Palace Music makes itself desired a long time before landing to my Cambridge cd-player. Those who like frenetic sequences with a demonic crescendo a la Poland, the title-track, will salivate. Those who like well chiseled and forcefully crafted guitar solos that twist and turn viciously will be in for an earful. And those who like sonic explorations of a dark and shadowy world with a slew of whispers that make us paranoid will get an earful. And finally, those who, like me, thought that Curriculum Vitae I was a little masterpiece will have to revise their musical value scales, because NATATORIUM - Music For Moonlight Drive & Swimming Pools goes further and exceeds the bizarre states of CVI. An extraordinary opus divided in 2 acts, where the first 5 tracks are interlocking while The Gretchen Tragedy concludes with a poetic and melancholic touch. An opus that starts the way Thorsten Quaeschning likes to amaze.

Shouts and whispers of a lively neighborhood life open the path of Drowning Moon and Eleven Suns. A soft synth floats there, like the breaths of a ghost lost in this living mass. A bass line leaves its traces, accompanying a keyboard's solitary arpeggios. Already, the atmosphere of this album is bathing in a plethora of theatrical sounds that are at the heart of each of NATATORIUM compositions. A great sequence contracts and jumps frivolously. The percussions fall and inhabit more and more this introductory track which takes a dramatic turn with the gravity of a Memotron and of its discreet but warm breaths. A hybrid track hesitating between two rhythms and falling into the magnificence of Moon Dial which has the fury of Redshift as well as Near Dark, while embracing the rhythmic structure of a raging Poland, the title-track. Moon Dial starts off innocently enough with a heavy, minimalist sequence jumping around in a pool of equally ingenious sound effects. It activates a heavy rhythm with a jerky spiral tangent, while subdividing its rhythmic heaviness to embrace a sequencer 3rd line which takes the shape of a frantic Poland, while the mood becomes increasingly angelic. It's the beauty of the darkness which spreads out in our ears where glaucous noises nibble a structure become wild, bitten that she is by superb and strident solos of an aggressive guitar. Solos that tear a mellotron veil so calm and serene that we can only be at the crossroads of two worlds. Totally awesome! Halfway through, a drum makes exploding the rhythm that becomes even more torn between its different rhythmic options. When I tell you, full ears!

And it is with full ears that we taste this brilliant opus that amazes from title to title. Blue-Hour-Glass takes us in a dark phase of nostalgia with a superb piano whose hesitant notes stumble on a mellotron violin and its metallic tones strings. A good track where the tranquility is overturned by more violent and intense passages where bits of The Who in Reign Over Me tickle our memories. All in softness Blue-Hour-Glass pours on the undulating intro of Risk Pool, giving back to the album its heavy rhythmic on a good bass structure and with ghostly loops of a synth. They roll over the clattering percussions and the subdued voices of a vocoder. And the track takes us into the meanders of a techno slightly sanitized by a synth with tentacular veils. The rhythm makes feel its options to plunge us back into the nostalgic sweetnesses which bathe on this CD with the soft Drowning Suns on Moonlight Drive and its frivolous chords dancing like a graceful ballerina would do it in water. A superb finale to a creatively intelligent first act. The Gretchen Tragedy (Faust Outtake) concludes with a dark ballad where thousands of sound waves reverberate over a tender and fluty mellotron, bringing us peacefully back into the home of reality.

NATATORIUM - Music For Moonlight Drive & Swimming Pools is a splendid work where Picture Palace Music multiplies rhythms on emotional variations with an astonishing artistic masterly. An album that embraces the visions of the Berlin School and those of a sumptuous theatrical music on a Techno background composed with a nostalgic tenderness that makes its effect to the bottom of our soul. Another superb opus! Ah yes.... A big thank you to Edgar Froese who made us discover this superb artist.

Sylvain Lupari (November 20th, 2009) *****

Available at Picture Palace Music Bandcamp

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