Neu Harmony NH018
The two CDs we have here have very different characters. You very well might like one disc when you are in a particular mood but then at another time you might prefer the other. 'Blue Book' is basically a feast of Sequences sounding very retro but with fantastically strong melodies where as 'Red Book' was inspired by a holiday Paul spent in China. He took recording equipment with him capturing the atmosphere of the places he visited through the sounds around him.
Looking at 'Red Book' first, 'Multitude' begins with some of those recordings which disappear after a few seconds as a very fast sequence sizzles from the speakers over a high register lead line. A bass beat is added to the brew nestling in the middle of the mix. It is very deep but not dance sounding. At three mins the fast sequence dies away and various slow melodies weave round each other creating a slightly ominous feel, the transition from one mood to the other being handled effortlessly. This is gorgeous and captivating stuff. Allow yourself to be drawn in and wallow in the beauty. The pace starts to quicken then momentarily slows as a heavy beat can again be heard. The mood is constantly changing as the track twists and turns. It's a great way to start the CD.
We drift into 'Tomb in Darkness' on the back of more of the field recordings . This is an incredibly atmospheric track with piano initially providing the main lead. Its all rather sad but beautiful at the same time. We then get another fast high register sequence which takes us to the end. More recordings, then 'Sack of Money, Buddah'. It begins slowly with the sound of a bell then we get a superb heavy sequence / rhythm combination and things really start to rock! Its powerful stuff- my favourite bit of the album so far. 'A Night at the Opera' begins with huge ominous dark chords over which we get snapping rhythms and manic effects. More rhythms are added then a fast sequence with 'Rubycon' mellotron type effects in the background. . 'Chant & Deliver' is effectively a Berlin School sequencer romp featuring superb deep sequences over a tron background - fantastic stuff. In the middle we descend to some more of the recordings from China which provide an almost shocking contrast to what has gone on before. The sequences try to make it back to the surface but are swamped by the Chinese effects.
'Tomb in Darkness Pt 2' is a great dark moody track. A child can be heard in the mix adding to the atmosphere. 'The Goddess of Democracy' is a very short track which Paul likes and on which we agreed to differ. 'Strange Times' on the other hand is just gob smacking. We get twittering electronic effects then the first of a number of stonking sequences all combining together to form an exciting pulsating mix. A delicate highly melodic lead provides quite a contrast but boy it works so well! Even my little lad was bopping up and down in his car seat to it. 'From Space' changes the sequence but keeps up in similar blistering form to the previous number. This is no floater as the title might suggest. Instead we get sequence after sequence layered on top of each other. 'Red Book' ends with 'Shanghai Surprise'. It's a highly rhythmic track full of infectious riffs and great melodies. Just try keeping your body still to it. It's the sort of number which would make a great encore piece leaving any audience on a real high- probably the best track on a great disc.
On to 'Blue Book'. For people who like pounding or infectious sequences this disc is for you and will be worth the asking price alone. 'Power Haus' takes less than a minute for the first bass sequence to rumble forwards over which all manor of melodies are played. Each melody is exquisite - no meandering aimless lead lines here. The track builds and builds, the sequence is cranked up further - superb rhythms are added - absolutely magnificent! We flow straight into 'Wassernixe' on vast waves of sound. Things then become somewhat cosmic and out of the ether come a couple of minutes of the most exquisite piano melody, it rather reminded me of a track from 'Ages'. After this short interlude we move into 'Xyzzy' on the back of great crashing drums from which emerges a melodic sequence and then another wonderful lead line - it really doesn't get much better than this. The sequences mutate perfectly as the melodies grab you, not letting you go. If you don't like this track let me know and I will arrange your medication. To me its got everything.
'Fugsamkeit' growls into life with the deepest, meanest sequence so far. A triumphant lead flashes over the top, then its foot full down on the accelerator time as the drums enter - turn up the volume and go with the avalanche. 'Abstimmen' begins with a swirling concoction of sounds. Its all dark eerie stuff out of which slow deep pulsations rise relentlessly. More sequences come in over further tron effects. The basic pattern is set around which melodies and sequences are allowed to mutate until we move into the final cut 'Erfierung'. Here a slow rhythmic loop provides structure backed by gentle pads and a melancholy melody. At two minutes more rhythms and sequences are added and now we move forwards with a real no nonsense attitude like a tank rolling over anything that stands in its way. The leads, as throughout this disc, are fantastic but its really the rhythms and sequences which grab the attention most combining together to give one hell of a powerful conclusion. What a fantastic album! (DL)