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MICHAEL BRÜCKNER

Progressive Electronic • Germany


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Michael Brückner picture
Michael Brückner biography
Michael Brückner is a space ambient composer, keyboard player and experimental electronic music alchemist who made a name in related prog electronic subgenres thanks to the publication of a bunch of self produced releases and notable efforts on the renowned SynGate Records (Thirteen Rites of Passage, 2013), Klangwirkstoff Records (Naura, 2013). Very prolific and highly creative, Brückner started his intense musical adventure back in the early 90s. With naturally expressive and melodious themes lead by synthesized patterns, electro arpeggios and moving droned-out sequences, Michael Brückner participates to the revival of kosmische musik and is a strong representative figure of modern downtempo chill-out dream ambient. Most of his production is available as Cd-r / digital editions. In a few occasions, Brückner released some live performances (opening in Berlin for Rainer von Vielen, in Bocholt with Tommy Betzler, 2013...). Michael Brückner's typical musical identity embraces a sonorous synth spacey odyssey that will ravish fans of Klaus Schulze, Bernd Kistenmacher, Steve Roach, Ian Boddy, Didier Bocquet and many others notorious producers of recognizable, well established analog synthscaping eclecticism.

The following discography included in the archives presents a fine selection of Michael Brückner's relevant sound-art production.

Similar artists in the archives: Klaus Schulze, Harald Grosskopf, Bernard Xolotl, Awenson

Michael Brückner official website

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MICHAEL BRÜCKNER discography


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MICHAEL BRÜCKNER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
The Outsider - Music inspired by the Life and Work of H.P Lovecraft
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
It Is Not Dead (The Outsider Remakes)
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Breakfast on Yuggoth
2003
3.95 | 2 ratings
R is for "Rocket" and "S" is for Space
2012
3.95 | 2 ratings
Naura
2013
4.00 | 1 ratings
Thirteen Rites Of Passage
2013
3.33 | 3 ratings
Kings Of The Earth
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sparrows (with Everling)
2014
3.95 | 2 ratings
Ombra - Revisited
2014
5.00 | 1 ratings
Hochofen (with Gustavo Jobim)
2014
4.00 | 1 ratings
In Letzter Konsequenz
2014
4.00 | 2 ratings
Fog Music 35
2015
4.29 | 3 ratings
Two (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner)
2015
4.00 | 2 ratings
Hikari
2016
4.00 | 1 ratings
Muzikhala
2016
4.00 | 1 ratings
Trois Briques
2016
4.00 | 1 ratings
Triplet (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner feat. Sammy David)
2016

MICHAEL BRÜCKNER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.86 | 2 ratings
Two Letters From Crimea
2014
4.67 | 5 ratings
Ondes Intergalactiques: Live at the Cosmic Nights Festival 2015 (Michael Brückner and Mathias Brüssel)
2015

MICHAEL BRÜCKNER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MICHAEL BRÜCKNER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
The Giant Illusion
2016

MICHAEL BRÜCKNER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

MICHAEL BRÜCKNER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Triplet (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner feat. Sammy David) by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Triplet (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner feat. Sammy David)
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars With their first album being playfully called `Two' (a reference to the actual pairing up of German electronic artist Michael Brückner and electronic-percussionist Tommy Betzler, not their second album!), it only makes sense that the duo name their follow-up `Triplet', right?! In this case, it's a reference to the added prominence of guitarist Sammy David, who contributed to parts of the first collaboration but appears in greater capacity here, and, like the debut, it helps make `Triplet' a first-rate crossover work that sits perfectly between ambient spacey electronics with something closer to a more accessible progressive rock approach.

The four pieces on offer here are essentially later studio adaptions of ideas and themes that the main trio of musicians here mostly improvised at the E-Live festival at Oirschot in the Netherlands on October 29th 2016. Eighteen minute opener `The Trip' moves between a reflective atmospheric mood and lively stronger colourful bursts. Introduced by one of those stark piano ruminations that Brückner always does so well, whirring spacey trills and eerie Mellotron flute wisps flit around mellow bluesy Pink Floyd-like ringing guitar soloing. Guest keyboardist Fredryk Jona again contributes some tasty and delirious Moog Voyager solos, and once Tommy's electronic drums and pattering of percussion carefully break to the surface and take hold alongside softly bouncing sequencer patterns, the piece lightly comes to resemble Tangerine Dream's `Force Majeure' album.

Brückner and his electronics mostly step back for `Trilogy', allowing guitarist Sammy David to take much of the spotlight with plentiful soloing frequently in the manner of David Gilmour, but also adopting a tougher hard rock drive in parts, Tommy's constant punchy e-drumming pushing the piece towards an 80's Tangerine Dream flavour. `Doublette' then returns to the core pairing of Brückner and Betzler for a lengthy twenty-three minute workout that seamlessly transitions back and forth between softly sweeping cinematic-like synths, unhurried ambient deep-space drifts and liquid programmed trickles with stronger up-tempo rhythmic bursts fuelled by Tommy's drums, and it makes for a varied and unpredictable piece full of crowd-pleasing soloing.

The main CD also includes a bonus track of a live-in-the-studio interpretation from the four musicians of the third and longest set from the above mentioned show, here entitled `(Three) To the Flame of Life'. Rumbles of drums and cymbal crashes build behind weeping and spacey synth cries, programming slithers, buoyant beats and bubbling wavering psychedelic spirals bleeding over gutsy guitar soloing and peppy drumming, with a dreamy closing few minutes culminating in an uplifting triumphant finale.

Note that some versions of the `Triplet' CD come with a limited DVD-R (that admittedly works best accessing it from your computer) of rehearsals, interviews and rough concert footage of the main three musicians performing at the above mentioned festival in the Netherlands, and it's wonderful to see the musicians in action at their improvisational best backed to the hypnotic psychedelic visuals provided by Edward Rink and Jeroen Bouma.

Overall, the addictive and richly subtle`Triplet' would be ideal for listeners who frequently find a lot of prog-electronic/ambient music too vague or repetitive, as the musicians here have created a diverse, focused and interesting collection that remains exploratory and atmospheric but also melodic and easily approached. It has a great crossover appeal for general prog-rock fans with its liberal use of guitar, and overall the set is full of movement, energy and colour. If something that often sounds like a modern interpretation of Tangerine Dream's `Force Majeure/Cyclone'-era sounds intriguing, investigate `Triplet' immediately, and you won't find a better line-up of Michael Brückner, Tommy Betzler and their musical friends to deliver the goods!

Four stars.

 Trois Briques by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Trois Briques
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Back for another release on Killian Schloemp's constantly interesting Syn-Gate label, modern German progressive-electronic composer Michael Bruckner delivers a continuous seventy-seven minute three-part suite entitled `Trois Briques' (Three Bricks). Far from being a slavish recreation of the Berlin School masters, the disc instead offers a range of constant rhythmic- based modern electronica, long-form subtle ambient reflections and deep-space prog-electronic atmospheres, with samples of dialogue from old 50/60's TV shows weaving in and out of the music to give the collection somewhat of a curious and vague `concept' approach.

In some ways, `Trois Briques' briefly reminds of Brückner's recent compilation `The Giant Illusion', a remixed set of highlights, obscurities and unreleased pieces that were given a fresh remixing to newly present them as a kind of continuous spacey `mix-tape', everything effortlessly flowing with ease without ever feeling forced. The thirty-two minute opener `La Brique Bleue' moves through a range of crystalline rising/falling electronic veils, drifting aural landscapes and bubbling synth pools. One moment it's reminding ever so briefly of Klaus Schulze's early pulsing solo-heavy alien worlds (just given a modern reinterpretation!), then diverting into stylish synth-pop breaks, slinking trip-hop beats, even sauntering into the chilled spacey realms of the Orb's `Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld'. On the first initial play all the voice samples that waft in and out seem intrusive and distracting, but careful listens reveal that they usually only occur to introduce a new passage or to highlight a more dramatic moment about to occur, surprisingly working very well navigating around this curiously puzzling and moody piece.

`La Brique Verte' is a welcome shorter eight minute interlude that serves as a break between the two bookending thirty-plus minute workouts, and it's one of those purer ambient and pristine piano-highlighted moments that Brückner often delivers with sublime taste, initially somewhat melancholic but ultimately hopeful and embracing. Then it's right back into the lengthy atmospheres, and `La Brique Noire', at almost 37 minutes, is the most mysterious section, the more upfront programming replaced with low-key and hypnotic arrangements of glistening chiming delicate beats and frequently comprised of deeply immersive ambient soundscapes and expansive thoughtful drones that gradually unfold with an unhurried and refined grace.

The voice samples will be a divisive issue for some listeners, but it just gives this new work a distinctive quality quite removed from most of the other works the artist has delivered over the last couple of years. It's also easy to be distracted by the cool programming that takes up many parts of `Trois Briques', but instead always pay special attention to the subtle, minimal ambient flavours going on at all times in the background, the most intricate of details revealing Brückner's sublime understanding of a range of electronic styles and keen musical intelligence. If you're after a reliable Tangerine Dream- modelled electronic listen, best look elsewhere, but if you want a stylish, unpredictable electronic journey that doesn't skimp on atmosphere and variety, `Trois Briques' has plenty of rewarding music to explore.

Four stars.

 The Giant Illusion by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Giant Illusion
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars German progressive-electronic artist Michael Brückner takes a break from his lengthy studio releases of this year - `Hikari' and `Muzikhala', both excellent works, have stretched to five discs between them! - and has decided to release a superb...`hybrid' compilation, let's call it! A two CD set comprised of selections from many of his solo works, guest contributions to electronic labels and unreleased material spanning the years 2004-2015, `The Giant Illusion' is hardly some tired slapped-together assortment, instead all the tracks have been given a careful remixing that joins all the pieces together as one continuous and seamless suite of cosmic ambient music.

Opening with constant rhythmic variations bouncing in and out of electric piano tiptoes and whirring electronics, the ten-part suite of the main first disc initially meanders through chilled passages, pulsing beats with up-tempo bursts and plenty of colourful trilling synth soloing. But after the first twenty-two minute section, it slowly progresses into a beautifully uninterrupted drifting flow that mostly abandons the rhythmic elements in favour of plentiful serene ambient synth washes. Gliding electronic slivers, groaning faraway voices and alien tribal drumming float in and out of the near-77 minute selection, it quickly resembling something of a first-rate ambient/prog-electronic/space `mix-tape', and it closes on a very moving and stark piano reflection. Gentle but never empty New Age prettiness, nor too vague and uneventful in the way that some more droning electronic music can be, it's an evocative assortment of deep-space mystery with fleeting personal and deeply human touches with a distinctly modern sound.

The solo 77 minute work that takes up the entire second CD entitled `Rübezaal' is considered a bonus track, and while it's not one of Bruckner's most memorable long-form compositions, it holds plenty of variety and even presents some darker, more melancholic moods not found on the main disc. Subdued and reaching droning passages, slinking dance beats, clockwork-like programming, unfolding crystalline veils and strident guitar strums move throughout the lengthy piece in an unhurried manner, backed to ambient nature field recordings. While it keeps a very contemporary sound, some parts of the opening twenty minutes or so remind of Steve Hillage's 1979 ambient classic `Rainbow Dome Musik', other moments Tangerine Dream's `Thru Metamorphic Rocks' and fleeting spots nearer the end recall the wisping and bubbling disorientating phasing of the early Klaus Schulze albums. Overall the piece works particularly well as an undemanding and varied background listen, and one that reveals new and exciting little details with every spin.

Designed to be an introduction for unsure listeners to Brückner's music, not only is `The Giant Illusion' an ideal compilation for newcomers (and one that is far away from being a clichéd remake of vintage `Berlin School' sounds), the main disc also stands perfectly as a beautiful and completely satisfying proper prog-electronic-ambient album in its own right. This set compliments his earlier 2016 albums nicely (with another new one `Trois Briques' due at the end of October on the SynGate label as well!) and once again admirably showcases the talent, intelligence and great musical variety of Michael Brückner.

Four stars...and no that's not him on the cover, smart guy!

 Muzikhala by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Muzikhala
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars German artist Michael Brückner is constantly proving himself to be one of the strongest and most consistent Berlin School/progressive-electronic/ambient composers currently active in the modern era, with an endless discography of releases that perfectly blend the influences of the vintage masters with contemporary sounds without ever sounding like an uninspired mere clone. No stranger to lengthy multi-disc collections, Brückner returns in 2016 with one of his most ambitious works yet, the three disc set `Muzikhala', and it's sure to be warmly welcomed by progressive-electronic listeners who enjoy releases that cover a range of the related styles.

With a name that roughly translates to `Serenity' in the Chichewa language that originates from two countries in South Central Africa, it should come as no surprise to find that `Muzikhala' is frequently ambient-based and full of extended, constantly flowing long-form compositions (two of which, parts 1 and 3 of the title track, each cover the entirety of a CD!), yet it carefully avoids being too light or ever `New Age'-sounding - not always an easy task to achieve. Several sections of the longer pieces call to mind other predominately ambient-styled releases from Brückner such as 2012's `Eleventh Sun' on the Syngate label, but this is much more complex and dense, and the constant use of rhythmic and percussive elements that appear often balances perfectly with the lengthy unaccompanied passages. While each disc can be listened to as its own entity (and it works beautifully that way), Brückner suggests that the whole three-disc set forms something of a `story' that should be listened to in order.

The opening disc and first part of the title track is subtitled `The Aeronaut', an unhurried and subtle 78 minute soundtrack with long stretches of carefully unfolding atmosphere. Lulling synth breezes breath in and out over mysterious harsher slivers, echoing pristine piano and murmuring bass meanders seductively in over cooling serene electronic caresses, equally reflective and embracing. As groaning Mellotron-like choral voices float forwards and cooing electronic programming fizzes around the speakers, a slinking drum n bass/lightly tribal-like beat enters over the droning electronic collage that eventually turns lighter and full of hope. A mysterious and faraway Vocoder alien narration reminds instantly of Robert Schröder's fascinating and unique debut `Harmonic Ascendant' from 1979, and reprises of earlier themes, a brief haunting Tangerine Dream-like Mellotron passage and some fleeting darker teases close out the track. This piece is everything Michael Brückner does so well when choosing to focus on the more ambient side of his music, and it easily ranks amongst his best compositions to date!

Despite how good the first disc is, there's still two more to go, both full of plenty of worthwhile music. `Bem Betel' drones in a Popol Vuh-like ethno-ambient manner, `Reanimation (Zoom In)' is full of mystery, and Part 2 of the title-track presents constantly shifting electronic canvases backed by ringing drum and bass programming, carefully slinking beats and a hypnotic, constant ticking pulse. `The Vishnoor Incident' trickles with the gentlest of cavernous-like dripping beats and has a subtle Steve Roach-flavoured veil-like finale, and the sustaining glacial stillness of `Drowning' rises to life with perfectly balanced melancholic and embracing qualities, with an unhurried solo from Michael in the final minutes that is reflective and dignified.

The final disc, the third part of the title track and sub-titled `The Rift', is another 70-plus minute single composition, in some ways a remixing or reworking of the previous two segments with delicate and restrained reprises, but also managing to head into darker territory. It holds the most frequently rhythmic-based portion of the three-part piece with a variety of buoyant, clipping programmed beats constantly dancing in and out, zapping pulses and groaning sustaining drones taking the piece the closest to deep-space Berlin School territory on the set. It also refreshingly doesn't provide a perfectly safe finale, Michael presenting some uncomfortably eerie and stark tones instead, a brave way to close the saga.

Admittedly this set could perhaps have worked just as effectively as a double CD (and the first disc could have easily stood as its own standalone release!), but lengthy and intelligent collections such as this greatly reward the most patient and seasoned of prog-electronic listeners. Unsurprisingly, this deeply immersive and addictive latest work `Muzikhala' is another winner, continuing Michael Brückner's inspired streak of varied and creative works over the last several years, and it proves once again what an endlessly evolving and unpredictable progressive-electronic artist he is.

Four stars.

 Hikari by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Hikari
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars All the marbles!

"HIKARI" is Michael Bruckner's way to greet this 2016 with a blast, a Progressive electronic kind, of course. My best advise to indulge into this release is to expect the unexpected.

Michael Bruckner's experimental side stands out, as his creative music composition abilities develop its potential second by second and each highlight is transfigured into another one as the next and the next.

There is an impending sense of freedom in this release's compositions which inevitably grows on you and the richness of his musical language makes one hell of a sonic trip which is attractive, (sometimes even subtly frantic), as it is diverse and non stop dynamic. The routes taken are like a compendium of past and present electronic music possibilities merged into one single form of expression, backed up, as told, by focused experimentation.

And if this is not enough, the icing of this juicy and quiet daring cake is topped with an unpretentious approach perfectly set to quiet high standards.

****4 "indulge" PA stars.

PD-This review covers the Double CD version of this release.

 Hochofen (with Gustavo Jobim) by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2014
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Hochofen (with Gustavo Jobim)
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
5 stars Masterful!

Two minds with inherently different electronic music, direct and indIrect, influences, focuses and approaches, converge in perfect balance to become a new entity withholding their best songwriting attributes and pushing each one's best creative talents.

What an extremely nice surprise to find out how well these two musicians can relate, to the point of wondering why they do not do this more often, but then again, maybe, this is one of the reasons why "HOCHOFEN", 2014, by Michael Bruckner and Gustavo Jobim (both included here in PA) trascends to be an essential part of my vast prog/non-prog/electronic music collection, for starters.

Music wise things are not that easy to explain, which somehow adds bonuses, considering its uniqueness in music language and the blending of each one's own style can only be compared to itself, meaning you already have to be acquainted with both musicians' works and imagine how uncommonly wise this meeting of minds turns out to be.

***** 5 PA stars!

And imagine downloading this masterwork for whatever you can chip in! It's a wonderful world indeed!

PD-Do not be decieved by its horrendous cover art.

 Hikari by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Hikari
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars One of the finest and most consistently interesting artists working in the modern progressive-electronic field is German composer Michael Brückner. Keeping the heels of one foot in the doorway of the vintage electronic masters whilst mostly occupying a varied and colourful take on contemporary styles, each album sounds completely different to his last, and Michael's music is as far removed from slavish and lazy hero worship as you can hope to find in modern electronic genres. His first release of 2016, `Hikari' (Japanese for `light') reveals many different musical personalities across a range of emotions, often darker without being bleak or hostile or avoiding a sense of hope, and varied without ever becoming unfocused.

The centrepoint of the album is a twenty-eight minute six-part suite entitled `The Race'. It's an eerie, dream-like mix of vocal samples, shimmering electronic washes and dark drones with a multitude of cool contemporary beats. Some passages take on an uneasy nightmarish ambience of long stretching stillness, others dance through subdued and gently grooving chill-outs. It's a very modern sounding piece with only the gentlest of vintage influences seeping in, and it oddly balances a calming air with darkening shadows beautifully.

`Tygerlillie's Travelogue' appears in two different forms, and in the same way as this approach on Brückner's superb 2013 `Naura' release brought forth interesting results, the two interpretations offer subtle yet crucial differences. Groaning Mellotron choirs with a careful symphonic flair opens the more overtly vintage-flavoured `Wild Mix' with trickling emerging sequencer patterns and Jarre-like colourful effects, but caressing washes of synths and sprightly Klaus Schulze-esque upfront soloing weaves in and out of the atmosphere, creating an unhurried dreaminess. The `Disciplined Mix' is frequently boisterous and powerful, with more upfront skittering programming and regal enveloping Mellotron bursts.

Essentially the title-track, `Light' is an ethereal and heavenly gentle drone sparkling with an embracing warmth, where twinkling ripples of sequencer patterns unwind, cascade and retreat, and the touching ending is full of hope and heart. Two improvisations then follow, `Sarkis' has a moody drama to it with churning waves of synths rolling around programmed beats, and `Yasashī Yorokobi' is mysterious and even sadly romantic with a more sedate and precious Kitaro-like thoughtfulness, a very lovely way to finish the set.

`Hikari', available on Rick Chase's AmbiOfusion label as both a download and double CD, with gorgeous eye-catching cover art by Steven Barber, might be long, but great stretches of the album work beautifully as intelligent background music yet still full of movement and colour. The frequent percussive elements mean this album sounds constantly lively, the drone aspects are subtle yet never meander on forever to dead-ends, and many of the different soundtracks reveal heart and genuine feeling in a genre constantly dismissed as being cold and clinical, never an easy thing to achieve. This imaginative and often deeply emotional collection is another victory for Michael Brückner, on such an inspired creative roll over the last few years after his superb recent collections `Two Letters from Crimea',`Two' with Tommy Betzler and `Ondes Intergalactiques' with Mathias Brüssel, and it gets 2016 off to a fine start for this talented and contemplative modern progressive-electronic artist.

Four stars.

 Fog Music 35 by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Fog Music 35
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Great!

I have been a bit disappointed with some of Michael Bruckner's releases which I have acquired. Mostly his inevitable closeness to Tangerine Dream's musical language turns me off completely. Thank the Gods this release "Fog Music 35", 2015, is clean of that imperfection and that is just for starters.

Constructed meticulously with solitary synth's flowing melodic lines, some few acoustic keys and even less field like recorded voices, its hypnotic expansive drone like atmospheres grow deep and wide in displaying open sonic spaces which are as attractive, detached and unpredictable as dense fog is.

All the same colored with a monochromatic like palette which enhances the creative music composition range of Bruckner's personal talents.

I strongly recommend it for any kind of Prog/Electronic follower and any other curious prog cat.

****4 PA stars.

 Two (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner) by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.29 | 3 ratings

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Two (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner)
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by shantiq

5 stars Tangerinesque ... there must be something in the water the sky the land the shift of the stars the geolocation of Berlin which allows for this total Kosmische connection which cannot be the same anywhere else... This music soars and soars and soars. Then it takes off... Do not play whilst driving would be my advice :] Will it relax you? Yes. As you breakdance with aliens in a far far away conurbation on the hidden side of Zorg 5611 or its little-known neighbour 5612 . It is also really polished and gentle bathed in oil; drums are held back in the background driving you forward elegantly.

A Meisterwerk indeed!

 Two (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner) by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.29 | 3 ratings

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Two (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner)
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars German composer Michael Brückner has been quietly proving himself to be one of the most varied, intelligent and fresh composers in the modern progressive-electronic scene, each of his many releases all sounding completely different to the last, with the artist constantly challenging himself and listeners in the ways in which the genre can be presented. Despite several works of long, abstract sound-collages and pure Berlin School atmospheres, Brückner is also no stranger to utilizing beats and percussion in his long-form soundscapes, but collaborating with Tommy Betzler (who has previously worked with Klaus Schulze on the tour for his `Dig It' album and was a member of P'Cock), has opened up his music in personally unheard of ways than before. The team-up makes `Two' (a reference to the pair, not a `second album!'), along with the addition of some surprising instrument choices and a strong balance of modern and vintage techniques, one of the most diverse and interesting electronic releases of 2015.

Rumbles of live drums and a cut-up soundbite announce the sleek album opener `(Not) Too Late', raucous electric guitar from guest Sammy David, grooving electronics, slinking synth trills and driving live drums might call to mind the similar set-up on the title track of Tangerine Dream's `Force Majeure', perhaps one of the closest moments that band ever got to `progressive rock, and the same is true here. But the best is yet to come, and the chiming notes and spectral piano of `Two Words (Inside One Mirror')' bring light gothic touches amongst swirling spacey effects. Guest Fryderyk Jona's floating clarinet drifts around an ocean of electronic drones, other-wordly-treated vocal groans, phasing Moog dreaminess and a variety of constantly evolving percussion patterns, and the ringing synths, constantly up-tempo beats and triumphant Mellotron fanfares of `Monsoon (Too Soon)' wouldn't have sounded out of place on Tangerine Dream's `Hyperborea' album.

The album also boasts two twenty-plus minute extended works, and here is where the duo especially excel. The first section of the twenty-five minute `Gaia: A Suite in Two Parts' mixes sounds of nature, gentle programmed loops, sparking unfolding synth trickles and the most subtle of tribal textures. Glacial electronic drones reveal a great expanse, with some moments not unlike the work of ambient icon Steve Roach, but resisting the aimless or overtly vague stretches he occasionally falls back on. Reflective Pink Floyd/David Gilmour-like guitar strains come to life, cascading piano dances around icy synth caresses, a thick dark pulse grows in power and menace lunging and retreating back and forth, and seductive beats carefully dot the horizon. Revealing a great sense of drama with restrained subtlety, light and dark is in perfect unison the entire time, `Gaia' is truly the soundtrack to a new world being born.

Throughout the twenty-minute closer `(One) To the Flame of Hope', sprightly yet subdued clarinet and scratchy Mellotron flutes reveal great heart and even a gentle romantic quality, but the way the piece then springs to life with a clipping and cool joyful sequencer run at the five minute mark is simply incredible! Loopy synths twirl around a variety of lurking and gradually emerging beats, and it's easily one of the coolest, head-bobbing pieces to appear on one of Brückner's albums, and one of the biggest musical pleasures of the year!

It's no easy task incorporating an instrument like the clarinet (or even electric guitar) whilst maintaining an ambient and atmospheric mood, but the combination works very successfully here. `Two' might be an ideal place to start for newcomers to the progressive-electronic genre, as it not only frequently stays carefully melodic, but it balances great variety and more obvious movement with the expected expansive, immersive droning ambient stillness of the deeper works of the style. Along with his deep-space live performance at the 2015 Cosmic Nights Festival with Mathias Brüssel on `Ondes Intergalactiques', and the borderline Krautrock experiment of Michael and Gustavo Jobim's `Hochofen'', these collaborations result in some of his most interesting works, the type that challenges the kind of approach electronic artists can take working in the genre. Hopefully Tommy and Michael will team up again in the near future, but for now `Two' is an outstanding achievement, a wonderful and addictive electronic release with great crossover appeal.

Four stars.

Thanks to philippe Blache for the artist addition.

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