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Pierrot Lunaire - Gudrun CD (album) cover


Pierrot Lunaire


Prog Folk

3.76 | 105 ratings

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4 stars Gudrun is a fascinating, challenging listen that defies categorization and at times is difficult to get through. But those that do are treated to a unique offering in the realm of Italian Prog. Gudrun is not quite prog folk, electronic, neo-classical or RIO but contains elements of each. Those familiar with Pierrot Lunaire's folksy debut album released three years earlier are in for quite a shock: This is a completely different animal, dense and robust, and not one-dimensional like the first album. Gudrun is hard to describe but anyone with a taste for the bizarre will have something to latch onto, which is not to say the album is totally avant- garde. Innovative is more like it. It is because of that pioneering spirit that Pierrot Lunaire gets a bonus star, and allows me to bump the rating to four out of five.

The extensive title track is the main attraction and does it ever deliver. Nearly twelve minutes of pressurized prog perfection await those adventurous enough to try it. "Gudrun" begins like a soundscape - a whispering loop of synthesized flute is presented in a Musique concrète fashion. This may be one of the first instances of a style that would later be called ambient music. Then abruptly at the two-minute mark a familiar Italian symphonic quality takes over. Not two minutes after, the group morphs into something like Picchio dal Pozzo and presents a theatrical, keyboard-laden foundation. Then Jaqueline Darby sings. Her vocals will be the make-or-break factor for many, as the operatic style and warbling oscillation is a lot to handle at times. I think this device is used sparingly enough to not detract from the fantastic musicianship on display, but others may disagree. If you can make it through the last half of "Gudrun," you've earned your prog stripes.

Arturo Salteri is a striking piano talent, and nowhere is this more evident than "Dietro Il Silenzio." His restraint and light touch create a lovely, if somewhat brief, interlude. "Plaisir d'amour" is far less enjoyable and plays like a twisted cover of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love." I don't know if the musical similarity was intentional or coincidental, but the two are so similar I can't help but think it's the former. "Gallia" features a heavy dose of Darby's avian voice, and is regrettably skippable. "Giovane Madre" however is an instant classic. A hearty slice of RPI paradise, the song is conveniently packaged in a four-minute parcel anyone can digest. "Sonde In Profondita" begins as a sound collage and brilliantly transitions to a delicate composition, thanks to Salteri's keyboard work. The song hearkens back to Pierrot Lunaire's debut and sets the tone perfectly for "Morella." The penultimate track is a conglomeration of everything to this point, and should probably just end the album. Instead, the average "Mein Armer Italiener" prevents what could be a concise masterpiece of the genre. Gudrun is still an worthwhile disc for thorough collections and lovers of the outlandish.

coasterzombie | 4/5 |


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