PICTURE PALACE MUSIC: Somnambulistic Tunes 2007
“PPM surprises by delivering a first opus rather atmospheric where the drama is finely presented by very good orchestral arrangements”
1 Overture 4:06
2 Little town of Holstenwall 4:34
3 Annual Fair 5:14
4 Somnambulistic 5:04
5 Streets of Holstenwall 2:55
6 Night, Night, Night 7:36
7 Help, murder, help 6:23
8 Funfair 1919 2:34
9 Jane and Cesare 2:00
10 The Funural Night 3:38
11 Jane's Nightmare 1:24
12 On the Run 4:10
13 Celebrating Fears Part II2:27
14 Invastigation 13:35
15 Twilight of the Invalid 00:45
16 Lunatic Asylum 4:42
17 Final 3:52
Manikin MRCD7081 (CD 75:01)
(Post Electronic Rock) (V.F.)
Picture Palace Music is the musical project of Thorsten Quaeschning, Edgar Froese's new musician in Tangerine Dream. The basic idea of this project is to give a musical tribute to the silent films of the 1920s, defying the sonorous perceptions of the time with contemporary instruments and tonality as well as a nowadays' interpretation and vision. An ambitious and interesting project that starts off beautifully with SOMNAMBULISTIC TUNES, a music inspired by the film Das Cabinet by Dr. Caligari by filmmaker Robert Wiene. This pioneering film of German expressionist cinema was made in 1919 and tells the story of a mysterious nomad who makes a sleepwalker commits crimes. The atmosphere of the movie is described as dark and very nightmarish. At this level, the work of Picture Palace Music doesn't reach such a paroxysm. On the other hand, the German musician surprises by delivering a rather atmospheric opus where the drama is finely presented by some very fascinating orchestral arrangements.
Overture begins this sonic adventure with a philharmonic approach that flirts with drama and which is propelled by rollings of symphonic drums. A harmonious and vampiric elegy flies over this dense, philharmonic structure triturated by heavy, slippery strata of violins and cellos that end their courses in some disparate percussions. Little Town of Holstenwall goes on with a bass and bouncy sequencer line which oscillates on the strata of an atmospheric guitar and hovers in a dark and heterogeneous universe. Already we catch the mastery of Quaeschning who makes of his guitar a good complement to the synthesizer by weaving surreal ambiances in its collages of scary riffs. He also goes from one structure to another while remaining consistent with the visions and atmospheres of his music. Annual Fair has a more rock beat. A slow and stable rock, as I love them, that harmonizes with so angelic and sibylline voices. The contrasts unite brilliantly while infusing a nightmarish vision and infiltrating a rather rich orchestral side as the title play and his vision of schizophrenia in chthonic ambiences. And also, in Streets of Holstenwall which proposes a rhythm that is very The Cure, and which is slower than in Little Town of Holstenwall. Gradually Thorsten Q. imposes his vision that is drawn with skill in a variety of styles and an overflowing scriptural imagination. Night, Night, Night, which is very Tangerine Dream in an atmosphere eroded by a radioactive smoke, and Help, Murder, Help, a good title fleeing an opening mortuary to save itself in a good rock, are two very good titles that swim in dark spheres tinged with neurotic brightness. By far the very strong moments of SOMNAMBULISTIC TUNES which continues to unfold its fresco in a mosaic of 75 minutes.
The atmospheres of The Cure spring up on the heavy and slow rhythm of Funfair 1919 and its drums that plough an invading atmosphere. That lead us to the very ambient Jane and Cesare. The atmosphere breathes the moods of 1920's cinema by being very dark with strange linear pulsations that lead us to the saxophone of The Funural Night. Slow riffs and resonant pulsations accompany this fascinating march, while a wind of shimmering sequences rises in this gloomy setting where are floating strange percussive effects which bring us to Jane's Nightmare that swims in full contrast and whose floating percussion sounds like hooves resounding on soft pavement. Then we go to the surreal rock of On the Run which is not just labelable as genre. A short rock track, and then Picture Palace Music brings us back to its dreadful moods in a vast haunted castle with Celebrating Fears Part II that drives the listener in the dark moods of SOMNAMBULISTIC TUNES. Then comes Invastigation and its nice bewitching piano that monopolizes all the attention. The tone goes from romantic to dramatic with violin layers that cast a heavy aura. A slow rhythm, well presented by unstable percussions, becomes catchy before the piano returns to his vision of solitude. PPM repeats the pattern twice and flees into the shaded moods, close enough to the dread I must admit, of the slow Twilight of the Invalid. Dull but effective knocks are structuring Lunatic Asylum's invalid rhythm (sic!) and its panicked voices that are lost in deadly orchestrations. Final closes this first opus from Picture Palace Music with its vision of atmospheres of tautness and of scare from the black and white movies of the last century.
I was quite surprised by the quality of SOMNAMBULISTIC TUNES. It's a dark ambient album conceived with a fingering worthy of renown artists. It's obvious that Thorsten Quaeschning is very talented and has a very visual sense of writing. Eyes closed, we feel the neurosis and the crazy eyes of the actors of silent movies who had facial expressions that the voice has never reached an ear. Here, Picture Palace Music gives the faces the missing colors, and the film this sound dimension with heavy orchestrations and superb arrangements dark, dramatic and tinged with a romantic disavowed. A big surprise and an album that will spearhead an astonishing sequel. Me!? I liked, after several tries to be honest, this SOMNAMBULISTIC TUNES which in the end is one of those innumerable albums of dark atmospheres that joins the very long list of a genre that is sometimes heavy to investigate, and which needs a lot of love ...
Sylvain Lupari (August 19th, 2007) *****
Available at Manikin Records