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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Pillion Enigmas (1980-2019)

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

ENIGMAS (Restored) is a very good album of vintage EM from an era which is yet full of secrets to be hear

1 Enigmas 28:16

2 Pompei 25:54

(CD 54:10) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

This is the very first recording of Pillion, this Belgian band that has probably put the name of Walter C. Rothe on the map of contemporary EM. And as is customary at Groove for a few years, the label of Ron Boots delves into the memories of an era, but especially of a place, where only a Belgian public, follower of this movement of electronic cosmic music, had the chance to hear and see. ENIGMAS (Restored) is the result of a very beautiful sound restoration of a concert given by the duo Guy Drieghe and Walter Christian Rothe in Sint-Kwintens-Lennik, Belgium, in 1980. A 33rpm was released at the time with a sound source quite limited. And I heard a version of this recording on YouTube and the difference is noticeable with this restored version. But it's not just this aspect that makes this album interesting! This is the sound of the 70's that quietly adapts to that of the 80's. ENIGMAS (Restored) offers two long titles that brings us to the turn of the decade when the synthesizers and the sequencers of the Belgium duo still sound with as much charm almost 40 years later.

Wooshh that one tortures, metallic bangs and gigantic bat songs hit of dementia feed the Luciferian procession of Enigmas. Schulze's imprints in Walter Christian Rothe's theatrical scenery dominate this opening, which reminds me of Jean-Pierre Thanès, especially when this march deviates towards a sibylline organ layer, as in a sweet evening of dusk on a sultry evening of August under the descending rays of a carbonizing sun. These delicate floating pads create an atmosphere more intriguing than solemn which lasts for a few minutes with a disarming calm. We hear the storks flicked over the water, which gives a subtle signal to some jingling tones around the 6 minutes, changing thus the course of Enigmas. My ears perceive this stream of arpeggios awakening under the breezes of these anesthetic layers. Gently, the rhythmic portion announces its awakening with the appearance of a bass shadow and some interstellar wiishh. The sequences shimmer with more fervor, mixing the clarity and darkness of this static ballet flouted of heavy ghostly breezes. This rhythm is stationary and is more interesting for the ears than lively for the feet, even that sometimes its spasmodic form can make our fingers dance on the armrests of our armchair by its beautiful nuances in the agitations of the sequencers. The synths take advantage of this base to multiply solos writhing with tonal pains and jets of dark wooshh, wiishh and waashh in a setting that sways between the cosmos and the underground chambers of the druids of the medieval era. The love at first sight is this very analog atmosphere that is superbly restored and that makes us dive into the corridors of Earthstar and Adelbert Von Deyen, especially in an ambient finale where a synth goes for a last song worthy of those years where Belgium's creativity was crossing Atlantic to North America bit by bit. But thanks to Groove, our ears can now delight in this sound nectar.

Pompei is a title of psychotronic moods, like in the analog years of Neuronium. The sound is very vintage with synth pads and organs breezes that float and get encircle in a fascinating fetal ballet. Filaments escape to roam like Robert Schroeder's strolls whistled in the cosmos. The synth layers that derive there describe these circles lacking finish that one hears in the chthonic atmospheres of Tangerine Dream, circa Phaedra-Ricochet. These pads are slowly drifting in perfumes that flirt between Klaus Schulze, his early years, and a little of Neuronium. A sensation that will increase as Pompei advances towards its 26 minutes. The anesthetic breezes of the synth, and possibly of an organ, wander in these scents of ether. And the dull impetus of bass modulation remain hold by a moving sound magma from which synth waves evaporate. They roll, in fact they float in a cosmic corridor near the territories of Michel Huygen and certainly of Walter C. Rothe whose Pompei's finale carries his macabre seal and get beautifully more intense. We were in the core of Dark Ambient of what is purest with this Pompei.

ENIGMAS (Restored) is another great initiative from Groove that seems to have unearthed a wealth of sound nuggets of incredible historical richness. These are two faces (A & B) that we have here in a time were musicians used ingenuity to bring our ears to unknown territories ... Oh yes! It's a very good album from an era that, I believe, is still full of secrets to be heard.

Sylvain Lupari (June 30th, 2019) *****

Available at Groove

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