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Michael Brückner - Trees of Olivandá CD (album) cover

TREES OF OLIVANDÁ

Michael Brückner

 

Progressive Electronic

3.95 | 2 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Fresh off his eclectic multi-collaborative work `All the Pieces Fit Forever' and his dark Berlin School stunner `The Dark Path' with Syn-Gate label-mate Wolfgang Barkowski (aka Alien Nature), the final quarter of 2017 sees German prog-electronic/ambient composer Michael Brückner return with another superior effort all his own, `Trees of Olivandá', and darned if it isn't his best one yet for the year. With its suitably fantastical cover art from exceptional modern artist Andreas Schwietzke and hosting seven pieces with similarly surreal titles, `Trees...' is meant to resemble a concept album, but ISN'T a concept album, which is kind of a crafty concept in its own way anyway! What it is, however, is a seventy-six minute mostly continuous selection of deeply immersive Berlin School space music, that achieves a perfect unison of respect for the vintage prog-electronic masters and cool contemporary sound of modern influences, formless ambience and rhythmic-driven momentum, and there's not a poor moment to be found in its entirety.

Fans of the classic defining Berlin School/prog-electronic acts will instantly love the way the disc starts - the near-ten minute `Queen of the Southern Cross' opens with a Vangelis-like synth fanfare, the effervescent soloing is pure early Seventies Klaus Schulze, and the unceasing repeating loops call to mind Tangerine Dream of the same era, and together they're all coated in soothing electronic pools of bliss. The shuffling and gurgling electronic bleeds of `Into the Birdlands' are gently disorientating yet enveloping, but `The Fountain, the Child and the Sun' proves to be quite schizophrenic, darting through everything from circling synth chimes, thick ruminative bass notes and gentle beats slinking in and out of a range of tempos. `Outcast' holds clanging alien sequencer beats, meditative chimes, the eeriest of ringing crystalline slivers hovering in their ear and Michael's contemplative electric piano touches meandering around the atmosphere.

The mellow twenty-one minute `Under the Trees of Olivandá' is mostly a collection of relaxed deep spacey themes and chilled programmed beats, where monolithic synth passages rise in grandeur around unceasing sequencer ripples that spiral into infinity, and the loveliest of electronic caresses weave around the listener, but the final minutes of zippy soloing are urgent and vibrant. `Sunflower Girl' is warm and shimmering pure ambience that slowly comes to life with quickening sequencer patterns and rapidly skittering dance beats, and the disc wraps on another nineteen-minute behemoth, `Escape to the Outer Moons, where moments of reflection and contemplative themes weave seamlessly together with endless serene oceans of sparkling electronics, strident sequencer patterns and constant colourful soloing.

Brückner releases a steady stream of worthwhile albums, so what makes `Trees of Olivandá' so distinctive? Despite much of it being based around lengthy deep-space exploratory soundtracks, it remains particularly accessible by offering plenty of colourful movement and constantly melodic qualities without ever being too lightweight or insubstantial, nor sacrificing atmosphere and intelligence. It's respectful of its influences but approached in fresh and interesting ways that don't merely suggest lazy idol-worship, and the frequent beats and rhythmic additions reign in even the most aimless diversions (we're not talking the vague panoramas of many modern Steve Roach discs here!). Followers of this underrated modern prog-electronic composer will likely return to this one constantly, and it even makes for a perfect introduction for newcomers to the superb space music of Michael Brückner.

Four and a half stars, and one of the best prog-electronic releases of 2017.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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