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Michael Brückner - Muzikhala CD (album) cover


Michael Brückner


Progressive Electronic

4.00 | 2 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
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.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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