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Peter Michael Hamel - Colours Of Time CD (album) cover


Peter Michael Hamel

Progressive Electronic

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3 stars Peter Michael Hamel never aspired to the popularity of kindred spirit Klaus Schulze, instead preferring the relative anonymity of scholarship over the impermanent rewards of Rock Music stardom. But it's still possible to hear the influence of Schulze and other Progressive Electronic pioneers in his fourth solo album, released in 1980.

The two long tracks, each filling one side of the original LP, are equal halves of a unified synth, sequencer and organ improvisation, flowing over its forty total minutes like a braided mountain stream: turbulent on the surface but placid underneath, and deeper than it first appears. The spirit of the music is entirely Eastern, reflecting Hamel's years of travel throughout India and Asia. And the mood throughout approaches a plateau of not-quite-blissful meditation, hypnotic in its gently agitated monotony.

Despite the apparent lack of any direction there's a larger structure to the overall album, albeit stretched so far over two complete sides of vinyl that it's hard to recognize. But in the end there's very little to distinguish the music from a crowded field of likeminded keyboard explorations, dating back more than a decade to the obvious taproot of Terry Riley's "A Rainbow in Curved Air" (1969). Hamel and Riley were in fact label mates on Kuckkuck Records in the early 1980s, and the Munich composer was a guest on two Riley albums recorded shortly after this one.

In retrospect the saving grace here is a welcome lack of symphonic pomposity, synth-pop commercialism, and vapid New Age other words, it's a work of rare integrity for the nascent 1980s. Hamel's solo career was always closer aligned with academic trends in electronic minimalism, and can be enjoyed on the same erudite level.

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Posted Saturday, March 11, 2017 | Review Permalink

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