Thirteen Rites of Passage

by Michael Brückner

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"Thirteen Rites of Passage" is a journey through the year 2013 as Michael Brueckner performed live either solo or with other musicians at different events and gigs. The album offers new but familiar sounds for Michael Brueckner hardcore fans and (besides some airplayed tracks) mainly unpublished material. Visitors of the gigs in 2013 may find a nice souvenir, for all others this album simply is a new release by Michael Brueckner containing tracks, that have not been released anywhere before.

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Review by ProgArchives:
Based on recordings taken from concerts, rehearsals and even `live in the studio' pieces, 2013's `Thirteen Rites of Passage' is a retrospective collection from German electronic ambient composer Michael Brückner. Not simply some loose assortment of random unrelated tracks cobbled together from different sources, the artist has instead carefully taken the guts of the recordings, rearranged the basic ideas and given them subtle remixing, and the results work perfectly well as a new cohesive musical statement. The artist was determined to include no overdubs or studio additions, although some editing down of much longer tracks was necessary, but thankfully none of the material suffers in the slightest from this decision.
`Thirteen Rites of Passage' is a fully instrumental mix of seven ambient quieter pieces and more energetic rhythmic percussion driven tracks, full of spontaneity and constant movement. Every piece is immersed in deep space atmosphere with plenty of mystery and wonder, very rarely dark or foreboding, and it's constantly at the more melodic end of progressive-electronic music. Many of the compositions are built around gradually unwinding synth builds, swirling soloing and a hypnotic and trance-like repetition of loops and beats. Given the live environment they emerged from, it's not surprising to find that many moments throughout the compositions are quite up-tempo, but there's several opportunities for pure serene ambient music to emerge. There may be brief recognisable nods to the vintage masters such as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze throughout, but Brückner employs modern and contemporary influences and production styles, determined not to simply offer tired recreations of what has come before or lazy hero worship.

The almost fifteen minute opener `Fluctuation Number Three' moves through cooled icy New Age veils and abstract freeform drones before pattering beats and delirious synth noodling erupts with a mantra-like rapture before a chill-out comedown to softly end on. Melancholic imperial synth towers genuflect before the higher power of the title track `Thirteen Rites of Passage', light gleaming through glassy electronic ripples, pulsating low- key beats and floating hypnotic driftings. Listen to how carefully Michael controls `A Train of Thought'. Twinkling electronic starfield skylines glisten and cooing exhaling breath waves of synths lap around a constantly closing in beat and a maddening pulsing loop that aggressively attack in the second half.

Reflective and thoughtful piano sweeps around placid synth washes and a trickling unobtrusive little beat throughout the refined and wondrous `Gentle Passages', `Spine Transfer dotcom' ramps up sleek dance/club beats over symphonic rising synths before flowing into `The Goddess of the Amber's droning electronic ethereal flotation tank shimmerings, crystalline machine slices and alien jungle chirping ambience. `Fluctuation Number One' makes for a fitting epic closer with a beautiful sweeping darker drama to the synths that take on a stirring and striking cinematic elegance over a skittering beat.

SynGate Records is a label known for endless quality electronic releases, and Michael Brückner always shows that he is an electronic artist of great variety, subtle intelligence and supreme taste. While he has offered more challenging and demanding electronic works such as `Ombra - Revisited' and `In Letzter Konsequez' in recent years, this one is instantly easier to approach, full of life and colour with consistently strong melodic qualities, and it would make for an ideal introduction for listeners curious about his music. Considering these recordings were taken from numerous concerts around Germany, perhaps Mr Brückner or even the SynGate label may be encouraged to deliver a proper release of some full live performances? Hint Hint!

Four stars.


released January 14, 2013



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