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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari


Updated: Aug 10, 2020

Remnants is a wonderful musical odyssey where this duality between the rhythms and its atmospheres engenders so much delicacy as so much fury

1 Portal Touch Stone Overture 3:41

2 Neolithic Spring Water Fall 2:18

3 Circular Earth Banking Security 1:15

4 The Rising Dolmen 2:38

5 The Gretchen Tragedy 4:41

6 Night Initiation 5:08

7 Farewell Moon and New Suns 6:24

8 Moon Dial 14:31

9 Blue Hour Glass 10:40

10 Giant's Dance on Air 4:46

11 Walking the Burial Mounds 4:25

(CD/DDL 60:27) (V.F.)

(Art Rock, EM, Berlin School)

I always believed that the artistic approach of Thorsten Quaeschning had influenced Tangerine Dream, in particular in the Sonic Poeme Series. And as strangely as fabulously, it's the swing of the pendulum that we witness with this Picture Palace Music's last album which literally drinks of the nebulous atmospheric and rhythmic canvas of TD at the top of its mysticism. REMNANTS is the last audacious adventure of Thorsten Quaeschning's band. Audacious because the Q gang has to put in music a fascinating visual odyssey, and totally mute, on the history of the ascent and the fall of the Neolithic civilization of Great Britain, such as puts in images by the film-maker Grant Wakefield. Navigating on a slow structure, where all 11tracks get tangled up in a long symphony of 60 minutes filled by Gothic and druidism aromas which incubate its rhythms and its atmospheres in a box bubbling constantly of black emotions, REMNANTS offers all the magnificence of a group which is superbly at ease in its mandates which avoid the ease.

It's with a silence which scolds that Portal Touch Stone Overture pierces the blank grooves of PPM's last thin slivery CD. Ethereal voices are floating there, as well as some rippling synth lines which make the bridge between the vaporous ambiences of a black introduction and the fine line of sequences which makes its balls bounce in their shadows, stamping on a somber and delicately jerked rhythm that breezes from flutes of glass and of absent choirs caress of their Mephistophelian charms. Subtly, the rhythm of Portal Touch Stone Overture passes of its delicate hatched gait towards wavelets of sequenced prisms which is lapping in the morphic sweetness of Neolithic Spring Water Fall. The musical setting is well thought. And already we feel the level of emotionalism stepping up a notch. Keyboard riffs à la TD fall and spread their Vangelis resonances which crystallize the harmonies ghosts roaming like lost spirits. The rhythm, sometimes absent and sometimes discreet, shows up the tip of its sequenced impetus with black oscillations which plunge the album into its first phase of frenzy with the short Circular Earth Banking Security where we hear strange rustles collided the ramparts of heavy sequences which spin in dense foggy synth pads. Memories of the neurotic Curicculum Vitae 1 are feeding our desire to go farther. And bang! We fall into a universe of static rhythms à la Gert Emmens with The Rising Dolmen. The rhythm is as much lugubrious as heavy. It floats with nice musical oscillations in the thin lines of sequences which flicker like dozens of fireflies trapped in a small jar for six, while the singings and the solos of synths are suave and smooth to hear, like these long cosmic poetries from the Dutch bard. The transitions between each track are the strength of this album which sounds like a long track of 60 minutes. So, the lapping of sequences comes back to rock the soft reveries of The Gretchen Tragedy and its flute which sings like a lost soul on a twinkling rivulet of sequences. Night Initiation is the meeting point between the beginning and the ending of REMNANTS. It's an interlude of ambiences with ethereal voices which hums in the winds of prism, a little like a somber mass of winds and of voices blowing in a plain pierced by dolmens.

The fragile structures of Neolithic Spring Water Fall come back haunting the very meditative Farewell Moon and New Suns which frees a snake of sequences from which the balls skip with transparency under a dense veil of ochred mist. Scattered percussions support the oscillations of this snake charmer of rhythms, while that quite slowly the contemplative melody does the job by conquering our hearing. Although ambient, the structure is striking with its intense coat of mysticism where the winds sing with the night elves. And we enter the sublimity with the heavy pulsating rhythm of Moon Dial. Once again, the movement of the motionless sequences is as attractive as Gert Emmens' lunar rhythms. Except that the madness PPM surrounds these sequences which spit the darkness with paranoiac murmurs and threads of ethereal voices. The movement negotiates subtly the redundancy with a fine rhythmic modulation which makes Moon Dial swirls on itself while other sequences flicker and make deviate the rhythm towards a latent implosion where will roar very vindictive synth solos and solos of a rebel guitar. The rhythmic battle gets intensify and the title fires a phase of electronic progressive rock where the structure of sequences, the electronic percussions and the bites of guitars remind me the fury of Tangerine Dream in Near Dark. This is candy for ears! It's in the breathlessness of the tumults that the first notes of piano light the melancholy of Blue Hour Glass. These notes dance in a strange harmonious choreography eroded by tremors, while other more evasive and more melodious notes give me the taste to listen again the magnificent and demonic Añoranza. It's dark and melancholic while being as well beautiful and intriguing. Giant's Dance on Air cuts out the vapors of serenity with guitar riffs which fail on the stampings of sequences pawing the ground of disorder and of a desire to shake the radiance atmospheres of Blue Hour Glass. These sequences forge the structures of a lascivious rhythm which swirls in the wavelets of static prisms and the spirals of emotionalism where voices and arrangements embroider an intense dramatic painting and where the intensity explodes with strong percussions which bring the album to its rhythmic climax. And Walking the Burial Mounds to close this last Picture Palace Music's work with winds and voices which float such as ghostly vestiges of a civilization which has set alight so many stories.

When the images take the shapes of music, it gives Picture Palace Music. It gives REMNANTS; a wonderful musical odyssey where this duality between the rhythms and its atmospheres engenders so much delicacy as so much fury and where the poetry as well as the dramatic prose of PPM are of use as background to a movie which takes place as much in front of our eyes as in our head. And honestly; what of better than the very theatrical music (do you remember of the splendid Natatorium) of Picture Palace Music to put better into cerebral dialogue the images of Grant Wakefield? Splendid! This is some great Picture Palace Music, poetic and theatrical which revisits its own roots.

Sylvain Lupari (December 18th, 2013) ****½*

Available at Groove NL

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