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Pierrot Lunaire - Gudrun CD (album) cover


Pierrot Lunaire


Prog Folk

3.74 | 91 ratings

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4 stars Italian band PIERROT LUNAIRE was a band active for a few years in the second half of the 1970's, releasing two albums prior to folding in 1977. They are best known for their blend of folk music and highly experimental avantgarde compositions, as well as their albums being rather hard to get hold of until they were reissued on CD. "Gudrun" from 1977 is their second and last album, and has been reissued on three occasions prior to the latest version issued by Italian label MP Records in 2011.

If one should choose one word to describe the musical exploits presented on this production, my choice would be eccentric. Highly experimental, most certainly not conforming to any ordinary approaches in terms of composition and most likely sporting a few avantgarde touches in performance too. At least I suspect that musicians might discover a few oddities i that department.

The dominating feature is the epic length title track, clocking in at just over 11 minutes Gudrun is a massive, sprawling experimental escapade. Following an elongated prologue sporting gentle ambient resonances as well as medival sounding folk music a Bo Hansson sounding guitar and organ theme kicks off and gradually develops into more and more of an offbeat experience. Spoken children's voices are replaced by dramatic operatic female vocals, the guitars starts veering off the interplay with the organ and distorted noises starts appearing in fluctuating textures. The organ taking more and more of a backseat, and eventually the track fades out to effects and spoken words. An interesting endeavour for sure, but arguably much more so than enticing and intriguing as such.

The remaining parts of the album are at times vastly different. Dietro il Silenzio a careful piano ballad exploring resonances and careful inserted contrasts in a most excellent manner, Plaisir D'Amour more of an experimental and offbeat thematic construction with a strong cinematic feel, recurring themes and again dramatic operatic lead vocals, the latter grabbing the limelight on the following Gallia now backed by distorted and possibly electronic sounds.

Giovane Madre stands out as the clear highlight for me, sporting a circulating organ motif, energetic rhythms, twisted yet melodic sound effects and a few inserts of a spoken female voice, with a dramatic folk interlude briefly appearing at the halfway point. The following two songs are arguably rather more experimental in scope and approach, but not quite as compelling. They do share one common trait though: They are quite different from the other songs on the album.

The additional tracks present on the 2011 reissue are nice additions, the least interesting also the most experimental of these in the shape of Mein Armer Italiener. The alternative versions of Gudrun and Giovane Madre that ends this disc are possibly more compelling than the original versions, at least in the case of Gudrun. Omitting the elongated introduction and the vocal parts of this tune transforms it into an almost hypnotic psychedelic/kraut-inspired effort that should appeal strongly to fans of those styles.

Apart from the variety at hand on this disc I'm left with a feeling that this entire album in one form or another was conceptualized as a cinematic production. The clicks and noises that end each track might just indicate an old film reel that have played through, and as such might have given me the idea in the first place, but the strong and distinct moods explored on each song and the great span in variety both compel me to think that these compositions were either inspired by movies or crafted with the idea in mind that they could act as supplements to scenes in a movie. This might be dead wrong of course, but it is a thought that came to life after exploring this album, and does yield some additional information as to the overall scope and sound I hope.

All in all a recommended purchase for those fond of highly experimental music that strays well of most known paths, and I suspect that those familiar with expressions like avantgarde will form the core audience for this album. Those who enjoy the initial efforts by artists such as Magical Power Mako might also want to try out Pierrot Lunaire. That is, if they haven't done so already.

Windhawk | 4/5 |


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