PYRAMID PEAK: Caveland (2005)
“The music is quite intense with driving passages that shake the eardrums”
1 Caveland 13:03
2 Beasts of the Hill 9:46
3 Natural Shapes 3:17
4 Lord of Nature 10:50
5 In a Dark Time 13:01
6 Serpents of the Den 3:43
7 Flowing with Birds 5:19
8 The mind enters itself 5:30
9 Drifting 9:10
(DDL 73:44) (V.F.)
(New Berlin School, EDM)
There is quite a whole story behind this album, the first one from Pyramid Peak since Fish'n'Love released in 2001. That same year the band has played a concert in a cave in Iserlohn, Germany. Despite the heavy humidity, the experience was a success and the band decided to return the following year. Unfortunately, there were technical problems so that the recordings of both concerts were unusable. So the members of Pyramid Peak reconstructed some elements of this concert in studio, resulting in CAVELAND. The sound effects that surround the panorama of this album suggest that the walls and stalagmites of the said cave are made of ice or frozen earth, so much the effects of collapsing or exploding ice adorn the introductions as well as the atmospheric phases of a very good album that commands more than one listen.
Drops of water falling from the ceiling of a cave cover the backdrop of the title-track. A synth layer is floating there. It sticks to the ambiences of a cave shaken by the spasms of the Earth by escaping sharper streaks which prowl in a sibylline tone. The sequencer ejects an ascending rhythm line whose Tangerine Dream influences cannot be denied. Uwe Denzer recites a poem from Theodore Roethke; In a Dark Time. His voice ricochets off the walls, creating an echo effect that makes her cavernous. Pulsating bass chords are playing cat and mouse on a structure whose framework drifts, letting superb solos of a plaintive synth floating around. The poem occupies a large part of Caveland, which takes the path of an ambient and minimalist rhythm that accentuates its power more than its speed to reach a more intense phase towards the finale. Beeps and misshapen loops tear through a black silence as Beasts of the Hill opens. This intro paints of flashy electronic effects and of icy explosions, like falling ice, flirts with the 3 minute mark. With the noisy elements gone, a good synth wave floats over fine pulses that initiate the ambient rhythm of Beasts of the Hill. A sequencer adopts the shape of this delicate procession by creating an undulating rhythm line at the dawn of the 5th minute. Its loops ripple under the gentle laments of Axel Stupplich, Andreas Morsch and Uwe Denzer's synths, creating a world that is so intimate and yet so close to the stars. Another rhythmic structure, more lively and jerky, unfolds its ascending figure in a seductive rhythmic paradox that falls silent under the tonal caresses of the synths. A very good track that ends with a bang, initiating the cosmic and organic procession of Natural Shapes. I don't know for you, but CAVELAND's ice-cold crashes and fire-breathing orchestrations remind me of Frank Specht's wonderful Sebastian im Traum. They are at the origin of Lord of Nature. A synth line emerges whistling a melody as the sequencer lays down a rolling arpeggio line with a vision as harmonic as that synth line. It changes shape to waddle into a new structure with a nervous, dry flow that ebbs and flows in a phase that swells with its tonal envelope as well as splendid solos. Unique, this tonality of the solos soothes while creating another line of melody that joins this crossroads of lunar rhythms and melodies that occupy the first part of a track that could not help but end in a long atmospheric phase in the Pyramid Peak sauce, where nothing is like elsewhere!
Covered by a storm of cosmic winds, In a Dark Time lets a more musical line float through the refractions of its coldness. A sequence forms to oscillate briskly on this warm synth line up until one percussion falls, leading to another and finally hammering the movement with a heavy, brusque cadence. The fusion is superb, as the line presents from the opening metamorphoses into a dense hazy violin whose harmonious aura turns more and more the music in a progressive-symphonic heavy-rock mode. An electronic ballad with soft staccatos that incite the synths to produce beautiful solos on a rhythm structure that has become as harmonious as the synths' chants. A big track in the Peak's repertoire! Serpents of the Den is an ambient track where Uwe continues the reciting of the poem on a wall of layers and voices as well as these drops of water oozing from the caves, just to remind us that we are in the universe of CAVELAND. A blow of percussion falls with resonance, announcing Flowing with Birds. A pretty good downtempo of mist which is languorously hammered by good percussions. Tam-tams are invited in this title of which the heaviness resounds in this cave with hundreds of metallic water drops. A good track which continues its rhythm until we meet The Mind Enters Itself where the recitation of the poem is done on a cavernous voice covered with oh and ah... Played and recorded at the Jodrell Bank in April 2001, The Drifting doesn't leave that much the CAVELAND universe. Atmospheric, its opening is engulfed by waves of sound rolling over themselves until the sequencer makes a line of keys oscillate and cling to the percussions. Electronic percussions and sequencer weave their rhythm together in a typical Pyramid Peak structure.
Bold and melodious, CAVELAND remains a difficult album to tame, even though it is also strewn with beautiful passages that contradict the word bold. The reading of the poem and the use of the vocoder are not really my cup of tea, while the orchestrations require an auditory adjustment before being fully appreciated. The atmospheres are quite intense with driving passages that shake the eardrums. It's perhaps too much! For the rest, it is excellent Pyramid Peak with these numerous permutations between the ambiences, the orchestrations and the rhythms which are always elaborated in a harmonious way.
Sylvain Lupari (December 4th, 2006) ***¾**
Available at Pyramind Peak Bandcamp