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Wolfgang Bock - Cycles CD (album) cover

CYCLES

Wolfgang Bock

 

Progressive Electronic

3.74 | 9 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The Berlin School of vintage progressive-electronic music is almost always comprised of slow- paced, vague albums prizing atmosphere over focused melodic and approachable compositions, right? Not always, as latecomer German composer Wolfgang Bock's debut `Cycles' from 1980 chooses to attack with a power and force to dominate the more drifting, ambiguous works from his contemporaries of the time! Released after the boom-period of the style yet still produced by Klaus Schulze (who'd really moved on from this sort of electronic approach by this point), `Cycles' is frequently up-tempo and energetic in favour of delicate ambience and subtlety, whilst also adding several surprising symphonic-influenced elements as well - with mixed results!

The opener title track `Cycles' is dramatic and imposing, yet not overwhelmingly dark or hostile and with a constant breathless momentum. An ocean of unceasing and upfront broad layers of synths wash over cosmic effects swirling in and out, infernal Mellotron choirs cry out, and looping sequencer patterns take on a frantic fast-paced urgency. A relentless live drumbeat, bleeding synth veils and stormy electronic rumbles move into dreamier mysterious shimmers, with a gentle melancholic theme emerging in the final moments.

A regal treated organ theme announces the second side and two-part `Robsai' with grandiosity, a runaway maddening sequencer trickle unravelling around a stirring Mellotron choir, but it's a shame the piece fades out after barely two minutes and abruptly ends. More symphonic synth grandness prances amongst galloping live drums throughout the second part that perhaps wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Seventies Rick Wakeman album, but after an intrusive complete stop, a groaning synth drone ebbs and hums into life in `Changes' alongside a building sequencer pattern filled with potential, only to come crashing down with infuriating stop-start moments before ceasing altogether ? what a letdown! Thankfully the ten-minute `Stop the World' picks up the slack again with unravelling sequencer runs gurgling with intensity over loud whirring soloing synth cascades. Spectral organ and a returning Mellotron choir turns embracing and uplifting, almost acting as a similarly victorious finale as Pink Floyd's `A Saucerful of Secrets', but a drowsy distorted bell-toll closes the disc in a very discomforting manner.

It's not the deepest, most thoughtful or subtle of vintage electronic works, but `Cycles' always sounds terrific and addictive on the surface, a thick slab of cosmic sonic ear candy if you will! While some sections (more or less a majority of the second side) have a confused sense of identity and are made up of little fragmented ideas that had endless potential had they been developed further, the mix of symphonic themes, live and programmed beats and confident electronic excursions give the album an eclectic and exclusive sound, and Mellotron choirs have rarely sounded so full-bodied and impressive! If you're a fan of the Berlin School-style of vintage progressive-electronic music, you'll find plenty to interest you here, as well as a few unique (if questionable!) surprises along the way.

Four stars all the same...and let's hope for a nice CD reissue in the near future!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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