PILLION: Halcyon (2012)
“Pillion's Halcyon is the kind of opus that we don't expect and goes boom in the depp of our ears. I guess you can go for it eyes closed!”
1 Out of the Ashes 16:17 2 The Sparrows are Flying 7:19 3 Halcyon's Day 13:09 4 Buick 57-A 10:08 5 Tabula Rasa 15:26 6 A New Dawn 3:45 Groove | GR-195 (CD 69:37)
(Vintage dark, melodic and psychedelic EM of a Berlin School style)
Phew! It hits you like a ton of bricks! Pillion is the musical adventure of the Belgian musician Walter Christian Rothe and Guy Drieghe. Formed in 1978 the band knew a short life of 2 years and 2 albums before that Rothe undertakes a solo path in 1980 with a first album entitled Solitude. Walter Christian Rothe resuscitates Pillion in 2006 with HALCYON; an album strongly soaked by the dark ambiences of Let the Night Last Forever (Rothe's 2nd solo album) and Enigmas, the very first Pillion album in 1980. But HALCYON had a very shy life and was fast forgotten in the vaults of the Belgian synth wizard. A 2nd release saw the light of day in 2008 when the album, always very discreet in the spheres of EM, is offered in downloadable format. Ron Boots, sensing all the genius behind this spectacular work, as much musical than very dark, takes it under his wing and remasterised it for the needs of his label Groove. And what a result! HALCYON is a masterful concept album which unfolds its 70 minutes with sepulchral moods à la Phaedra and Ricochet, sequenced rhythms à la Underwater Sunlight and progressive electronic phases à la Mind Over Matter. In brief, a colossal album which is going to amaze you, seduce you and conquer you.
Such as a love at first sight, a synth draws the lines of a beautiful melody which hangs on to our eardrums. She turns in loop, magnetizing our fascination for these organic percussions which stamp awkwardly. Out of the Ashes hatches out of its pulsating beat from which the orderly and hypnotic beatings are flogged by heavy riffs of guitars which take soloïques forms and vampiric synth solos. Hypnotic the rhythm persists in progressing in this delicious musical din, wearing at arm's length a track which depicts marvellously the next 54 minutes to come and which transits towards a more ambient phase at its middle route. Magical, Out of the Ashes borrows a tangent which reminds me of Mind Over Matter with a furtive structure set up by the means of a bass line which has difficulty in swirling under a dripping chain of sequences. These sequences make dance their ions which alternate their strikings like knocks of bevels, calling back Chris Franke's subjugating universe of The London Concert, beneath more ethereal synth solos which swirl in some blue and soporific gases, exchanging its spectral harmonies with solos and riffs of a guitar which tries constantly to weaken this delicate balance between a rhythm lost in its night-atmospheres. This is a great track which draws the lines of an incredible album. The Sparrows are Flying is a track of scheming atmospheres with a fine pulsation from a bass line which skips in a dense threatening mist from where escape lugubrious lamentations. It's purely ambient and it's the quietest passage of HALCYON.
Halcyon's Day begins like a sort of blues lonely in the night which throws its plaintive synth breaths, tearing a dense coat of troubling mist. This dark and gloomy mood dissipates like the fog in front of winds and borrows a more rock tangent with a superb pattern of sequences from which the jumping ions alternate their hits of glasses in a great harmonious meshing. The synth ties up its harmonies of ether among twisted solos which embrace each other over this sequenced swell which wears the rhythm towards a more black and ambient finale where serpentines of glass sequences hiccup in a mystic mist which lets itself charmed by dreamy guitar solos. Solitary solos which lead us to the quiet introductory of Buick 57-A and of its dark rhythm built on furtive sequences which are pounding in a somber ambience where rustles of schizophrenia roam with floating drones and in oblong riffs lost by a malevolent guitar. This is another great track which caresses reminiscences of Tangerine Dream, era Phaedra and Rubycon. Peter Heijnen's guitar solos sing over the muted pulsations which sleep under an ochred mist, starting slowly the procession of Tabula Rasa. The atmospheres are always dark and the music follows an evolutionary bend with flickering jingles and riffs which accelerate hypocritically a funeral pace. Synth pads harmonize themselves with this latent rhythm which increases little by little its strength, and its pace, with the arrival of Herwig Duchateau's percussions which debauch a structure closer to progressive electronic rock. The solos of guitar are moaning under a thick cloud of resonant drones, leading Tabula Rasa towards a more acid phase of the psychedelic years. A New Dawn ends with the delicate surviving melody of the passionate Out of the Ashes, looping the loop of a stunning album which is undoubtedly the surprise of 2012.
Pillion's HALCYON is not to be missed. It's an album without smudges which unites with wonder the psychedelic areas of the vintage years to a dark, melodic and lively EM. It's the kind of work that stands out, like that without a warning and which puts us full ears. It's my biggest very favorite of 2012. A must!
Sylvain Lupari (January 30th, 2013) *****
Available on Groove