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Pierrot Lunaire - Gudrun CD (album) cover

GUDRUN

Pierrot Lunaire

 

Prog Folk

3.74 | 91 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Three years passed before Pierrot Lunaire recorded and released the follow-up to their debut album. They returned as a totally refurbished act, with guitarist Caporaletti out and mezzo-soprano extraordinaire Jacqueline Darby in. "Gudrun" is an album that drifts apart from the realms of bucolic melodic prog with a slight dissonant twist; now, the repertoire is design to defy structure and convention, in order to create a sonic journey led by the volatile ruling hands of surprise, radical experimentation, and free form. The link between all tracks is marked by the clicking of a photographic camera, as if each number of the repertoire was some kind of scenario immortalized by the machine and turned into a permanent reminder. If Pierrot Lunaire's previous album was some a catalogue of reflections about the inner world, now Stalteri, Chiocchio and Darby turn their eyes and look at the world in its splendorous chaos and multicolored facets. The 11-minute long title track kicks off the album with a great deal of synth layers and sequenced ornaments, over which Darby's singing, piano lines, stormy guitar leads, and some other occasional stuff lays its print in a daring amalgam. If you can mentally picture a mixture of Klaus Schulze, drumless RIO and Brecht's operettas, then you may have an idea about what I'm trying to describe here (perhaps not too successfully). In sharp contrast, now comes a subtle piano nocturne titled 'Dietro il Silenzio', which sounds quite Satie-inspired to me: a really beautiful piece where the silent voids are as important as the actual piano sounds. The following number is a two part chanting displayed upon disturbing guitar and synth soundscapes: in the middle, a piano and conga drums revisit Darby's line with an air of simplicity that seems to portray some sort of high-spirited joy. 'Gallia' is a Darby-penned number, mostly a showcase for her well crafted dissonant operatic stuff, while her fellow men once again indulge themselves in a background of random dissonances on electric guitar and synthesizer. 'Giovane Madre' is the most symphonic (or should I say the least anti-symphonic) number. It basically consists of a recurring attractive motif on organ and synth, solidly founded on a 6/8 pattern laid by Chiocchio's bass and guest drummer Massimo Buzzi; somewhere in the middle, a gentle, joyful Renaissance-like motif enters abruptly, creating a weird tension that directly defies its own delicate beauty. Simultaneously, you can hear Darby whispering or laughing in some places. Many times I've found myself listening to this particular track three or four times in a row only to take pleasure in the challenging effect that the structure of this track causes in me as a listener. The weirdness never ends. 'Sonde in Profonditá' starts with the sound of an old radio speech, accompanied by a tenuous, evocative organ theme, with sitar, synth and acoustic guitar providing some additional colours until it all disappears under crashing waves. 'Morellia' begins with a Baroque-inspired piano solo, alternating with a Renaissance-like zither melodic line: then comes Darby, together with the piano, string synth, bass and drums (once again, guest Buzzi makes an appearance), delivering the most moving passage in the album. This same structure is reiterated, until a Cabaret-piano motif accompanies Darby's dramatic laughter. This piece is inscrutable, yet it manages to move the listener's heart in a way that they can't fully understand. Finally, 'Mein Armer Italiener' closes down the album with a successive combination of parody military march, psychedelic rock, pastoral stuff, slogan chanting - all comprised in an ambience of radical dadaist humour that may somehow remind us of Zappa's most theatrical pieces. An excellent but not recommendable prog recording due to its massively cryptic nature: anyway, "Gudrun" deserves to be regarded as a classic of the most experimental side of 70s progressive rock.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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