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 POLAR VORTEX - 7th review, by S. Schelle

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BruecknerAmbient
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:19 pm    POLAR VORTEX - 7th review, by S. Schelle Reply with quoteBack to top

Dear friends and listeners,

the day has finally arrived! Mr. Green

POLAR VORTEX by drone ambient pioneer Mathias Grassow and myself is now available!

Download on BC (FLAC 24 bit optional, including great 46 min. bonus track)

https://mathiasgrassow.bandcamp.com/album/2019-polar-vortex

https://michaelbrueckner.bandcamp.com/album/polar-vortex

CD on Databloem (glass mastered limited edition in lush digipak with beautiful artwork)

https://databloem.com/home/1480-mathias-grassow-michael-brueckner-polar-vortex.html

Image


For those interested in the story of the album - here it is:

Mathias and Michael first met in 2011 after finding out that they actually lived near to each other. They discovered that they shared not only their musical tastes, but also had similar spiritual leanings and drew from nearly the same sources of inspiration.

In late 2016, Michael conducted an in-depth interview with Mathias, that reflected their conversations and that painted a large picture of Mathias' musical career, experiences, philosophy and insights.
This interview was published in English, German and Russian on several places in the Internet...

www.ambientvisions.com/mathiasgrassowkreuzblut.htm

From there, it was only a small step to the idea of a musical collaboration, and when Mathias received an invitation to contribute a track for a compilation by another Dutch label, Winter-Light (specialised in dark ambient), he asked Michael if he wanted to join him in thisÔÇŽ Michael did, and more than an hour of music evolved, of which one track was used on the compilation "...that first season", released in January 2017.

winter-light.bandcamp.com/track/the-fall-of-leafs

The next logical step was a full album, so Mathias and Michael met for an inspired and joyful recording session at Mathias' place in the late summer of 2017, where they not only used synths, but also recorded acoustic piano, guitar, cello and percussion, often heavily treated with all kind of effects.

The material recorded for the compilation and the music recorded in the session, plus a wealth of drones provided by Mathias and additional material recorded by Michael, and yet another session with monochord player Doris Hach and singer Cilia di Ponte formed the pool from which, in the end "Polar Vortex" was created.

The result however had slightly moved away from the dark ambient terrain of "The Fall of Leaves" and reflected a wider range of influences and many shades between light and dark. It turned out that the music had somewhat evolved into a direction that did not seem suitable anymore for Winter-Light's catalogue (it had been the original plan to release the album there). So, a new label had to be found - and was found in shape of Databloem (also based in the Netherlands), which had been the home of many classical ambient releases over the years.

The need to find a new label, plus some major changes in Michael's life (a new daytime job) caused considerable delay in the finishing and release of the album, but the result is worth the wait - a magic ambient journey that leads us from mystical regions of the north to realms even beyondÔÇŽ


* * *

Credits:

Mathias Grassow: drones, synthesizer, percussion, processed guitar, processed cello

Michael Br├╝ckner: synthesizer, keyboards, electronics, additional drones, voices

Guest musicians:

Cornelia Kern: piano on "The North"

Cilia di Ponte: vocals on "Shanti"

Doris Hach: monochord on "Shanti"


Album produced by Michael Br├╝ckner

Cover artwork & design by Theo Rabou for Databloem


ENJOY the music! Smile

.

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Last edited by BruecknerAmbient on Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:00 pm; edited 7 times in total

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:38 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

There have already been a few reviews of the album by now; here's one of them, by reviewer Jochen K├Ânig for the online music magazine "musikreviews.de".

Read the original review (in German) here, or my (rough) English translation below...

http://www.musikreviews.de/reviews/2019/Mathias-Grassow--Michael-Brueckner/Polar-Vortex/


* * *

"Polar Vortex" is the first full album collaboration of the musical (and geographical) neighbours Mathias Grassow and Michael Br├╝ckner. A seventy-five-minute trip in slow motion, between dark ambient, rhythmic excursions to soundscapes, drones embellished by percussion, piano, cello and the beguiling vocal accompaniment of Cilia Di Ponte ("Shanti").

Stylistically, it's reminiscent of Klaus Schulze's works, but Grassow and Br├╝ckner's music does not take place in the Berlin school, but rather in the wide fields next to it, or in ruined factories in the light of the setting sun.

This is music that glides gently forward and always has time for finely elaborated distractions, delicate disturbances, and adventures along the way. It rather refers to the more experimental moments in Vangelis' work (without indulging in his desire for cacophony and abstraction) or in the inclusion of world musical elements in Steve Roach, though renouncing the didgeridoo and excursions into the outback. Instead, Doris Hach occasionally adds monochord playing.

"Polar Vortex" is a contemplative sound journey, where tranquillity does not mean standstill and lulling singing bowl aesthetics are avoided. A microcosm in which an incredible amount of small events happen, in which time and space are used for minute shifts and pauses before something new emerges. Or we just sink into the reverberation of the generated sounds.

Grassow and Br├╝ckner play with moods, their musical knowledge and their experiences. The results are magical snapshot for the listener. A small lesson in electronic music that comes along without a raised pedagogical finger. Think about it or simply float away - Your Choice!

CONCLUSION: "Polar Vortex" is a convincing collaboration of the two sound artists Michael Br├╝ckner and Mathias Grassow. A quiet work in which a lot happens. Electronic music that knows its way around the Berlin school ("The Falling Of Leaves", the "melodic" version!), appreciates Dark Ambient, incorporates World Music and celebrates an atmospheric immersion into dreamy intermediate worlds. State of the Electronic Art.

12 (of 15) points

.

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BruecknerAmbient
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:43 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Music journalist Paul Rijkens wrote a review of "Polar Vortex" for the current issue of Dutch print prog rock magazine I/O Pages.

Here's my (rough) English translation of it...

* * *

Review of POLAR VORTEX

The German electronic music artist Michael Br├╝ckner is currently quite active: solo, together with drummer Tommy Betzler (P'Cock, Picture Palace Music, Klaus Schulze), with the groups P'Faun and Bridge To Imla, and now also with his fellow countryman Mathias Grassow.
Grassow is a renowned and experienced ambient musician.

Their joint album Polar Vortex was released via Databloem, a Dutch label dedicated to ambient music.

The album opens in The North with soft strings and effects. It sets the tone for the rest of the music.
Drums Of Shoom is, as the title says, dominated by a (rather heavy) percussive sound. This "primal music" reminds me of certain albums Steve Roach made in the nineties.
There is also pure ambient on the CD in the form of The Waiting Hour, which consists more of pure sounds.
Nice is Xau Etách, with a soft sequence and a lot of atmosphere around it.
This is followed by oriental atmospheres in Shanti. The singing is done by Cilia di Ponte.
The Falling Of Leaves - Melodic V tends most of all tracks on the album to "traditional" electronic music (read: Berlin School) because of the sequences and the flute from the Mellotron.

The combination of these two musicians has resulted in a very special album. I don't find everything equally strong, but in general this is an entertaining recording.



.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:11 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Another review of the album comes from Sylvain Lupari for his online magazine Synth&Sequences. Among other things he says:

ÔÇťAnother sonic immersion not always so easy to tame, this ambient tale from Br├╝ckner & Grassow has many seductive elements, including two thunderous numbersÔÇŁ

(ÔÇŽ)

"You have probably guessed; POLAR VORTEX is not for all ears. I am fortunate enough to discover new music and new musical horizons, and I have the chance to sit down and enjoy the many projects of Michael Br├╝ckner and other artists who like to come out of their comfort zones. And I come out rarely disappointed. In fact, when I don't like, I don't talk about it! And I liked this POLAR VORTEX ÔÇŽ"


Read Sylvain's full review (in English AND French) here:

https://synthsequences.blogspot.com/2019/05/michael-bruckner-mathias-grassow-polar.html

.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:23 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Many thanks to Carsten Agthe for his positive Review of "Polar Vortex" (still by Mathias Grassow and me Wink ) in the current issue of Eclipsed (print) Rock Magazine - which is really cool, because it's one of very few music magazines I still love to read from time to time... ^_^

Read Carsten's original (German) review just at the bottom of this post or my (rough) English translation below:

---------------------------------
Electronic / Drones / Ambient
MATHIAS GRASSOW & MICHAEL BR├ťCKNER
"Polar Vortex"
(Databloem)
7 (of 10) Stars
In the vein of: Steve Roach, Bernhard Woestheinrich*, Tangerine Dream

The collaboration of two electronic heavyweights: drone grandmaster Mathias Grassow and ambient crack Michael Br├╝ckner finally joined forces on an album, and "Polar Vortex" represents exactly the intersection of the intentions of these two musicians.
In the mostly epic pieces (already the opener "The North" casually crosses the 18-minute mark) the worlds of Dark Ambient and the Berlin School come together in a harmonious and appealing way. One could also call it a symbiosis.
Shamanic kettle drums on the one hand ("Drums of Shoom"), esoterically whispering vocals (Cilia di Ponte on "Shanti") on the other hand also add a spiritual component to the work. With "The Falling of Leaves" there is also a deep bow to the sound of the great Tangerine Dream.
And if that's still not enough for you, the download-only title track gives you another 46 minutes of full electronic delivery with that special something.
Top track: Shanti

Carsten Agthe for Eclipsed Rock Magazine

---------------------------------
Electronic / Drones / Ambient
MATHIAS GRASSOW & MICHAEL BR├ťCKNER
"Polar Vortex"
(Databloem)
7 (von 10) Sterne
Artverwandt: Steve Roach, Bernhard Woestheinrich*, Tangerine Dream

Die Kollaboration zweier elektronischer Schwergewichte: Drone-Gro├čmeister Mathias Grassow und Ambientcrack Michael Br├╝ckner pr├Ąsentieren sich endlich mal zusammen auf einem Album. "Polar Vortex" bildet dann auch genau die Schnittmenge der Intentionen der beiden Musiker ab.
In den meist episch angelegten St├╝cken (schon der Opener "The North" ├╝berschreitet l├Ąssig die 18-Minuten-Marke) gehen die Welten des Dark Ambient und der Berliner Schule auf harmonische und ansprechende Weise zusammen. Man k├Ânnte es auch eine Symbiose nennen.
Schamanische Kesseldrums auf der einen ("Drums of Shoom"), esoterisch wispernde Vocals (Cilia di Ponte auf "Shanti") auf der anderen Seite bescheren dem Werk dann auch noch eine spirituelle Komponente. Mit "The Falling of Leaves" gibt es obendrein eine tiefe Verbeugung vor dem Sound der gro├čen Tangerine Dream.
Und wem das alles noch nicht genug ist, der bekommt mit dem Download-only-Titeltrack noch einmal 46 Minuten elektronische Vollbedienung mit dem gewissen Etwas.
Top-Track: Shanti

Carsten Agthe f├╝r Eclipsed Rock Magazin

________________________

* I did suspect that for quite some time, but I guess now I have proof beyond any doubt that I'm a Bernhard W├Âstheinrich copycat! Laughing


https://www.eclipsed.de/de/das-aktuelle-heft-eclipsed-nr-212-07-08-2019

Image

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:02 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Here's another detailed and insightful review by Gunnar Clau├čen for German prog rock online magzine "Babyblaue Seiten" - this time discussing "Polar Vortex"... Shocked


Read the original German review here, or my (rough) English translation below:
http://www.babyblaue-seiten.de/album_18182.html#oben


* * *

I can only guess whether Michael Br├╝ckner is a true admirer of Mathias Grassow and whether his collaboration with him on "Polar Vortex" is something like the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream.
In any case, it is certain that Br├╝ckner already did an extensive interview years ago with Grassow for Ambient-Visions-Magazin, who became famous in the 80's in the wake of Klaus Wiese - that could have been the proverbial foot in the door and thus the first step towards "Polar Vortex".

The styles of Grassow and Br├╝ckner seem to be basically compatible with each other - which, however, makes the distinction between which sound can be assigned to whom a little more difficult than with the also not too old "Monsoon Offerings" with Volker Lankow.
In positive terms this means: Grassow and Br├╝ckner complement each other, and a certain homogeneity of the sound is certainly not the worst possible result. And this consists of comparatively accessible electronics, in which the otherwise familiar ambience of rushing and waving sounds is more of an additional element than a consistently formative stylistic device. Much more determining are instead partly layered chords of howling tones, with which hymnic motives are intoned, soloistic elements and occasional sprinkles of further melodic fragments.
The ambient sounds, on the other hand, actually step into the background, but also perform their work effectively there. This sometimes consists of rhythmic functions (in the opening "The North" a pulsation sets the meter), sometimes of a more precise mood (e.g. also in "The North" by optimistic shimmering, in "The Waiting Hour" by solemn harmony or in "Xau Etách" by mystical diffusity).


Actually Grassow, on the other hand, can be attributed to some elements that normally do not exist in Brückner's oeuvre. Grassow plays for example, which drives the intensity in "Drums Of Shoom" and "Xau Etách", as well as a bizarrely modulated cello later on.
In "Shanti" again a (of course also) processed guitar can be heard, whereas for the vocals to be heard at the beginning and at the end the guest musician Cilia di Ponte is designated (this sounds at least at the beginning once more like New Age world music of the Loreena McKennitt school).
On the other hand, I can't tell who of the musicians has soloed quite classically on the synthesizer in "The Waiting Hour", "Xau Etách" and "The Falling Of Leaves".


It may be that these generally known sound components are the reason why "Polar Vortex" is comparatively accessible as described above.
However, it can also be pointed out that the shorter tracks also contribute to this.

Grassow and Br├╝ckner are still pushing structural developments that brighten or darken the moods. The same happens temporarily in "The North", for example, and "Mirror" also seems to tip over completely with some all-encompassing deep bass tones in the middle (which doesn't happen in the end, though).
Even "The Waiting Hour" as the most abstract, i.e.: Ambient-heavy piece of this album still seems quite tangible, if not catchy, with the combination of drone background and impulsive click sounds (somehow I have to think of gossipboard) and marks an even small climax in between.


Well, the concluding "The Falling Of Leaves", also subtitled as "Melodic Version", is a kind of dessert afterwards, as it tends to lean on the catchy pieces of the Berlin school. But it's not representative for the whole album, because as already mentioned before, Grassow and Br├╝ckner all too often contrast calm and harmonious euphony with rugged or dissonant and therefore stirring moments.

Apart from that I would just like to add that there are only a few lengths on "Polar Vortex" as well - actually I can only start less with the one-sided beginning of "Shanti", and the end is too lengthy. Otherwise, this would be the only significant drop-out on "Polvar Vortex", everywhere else the cooperation between Matthias Grassow and Michael Br├╝ckner seems to have really worked out.
And this should indeed be the result of mutual trust and respect.


by Gunnar Claussen, 11 (of 15) points

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:05 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Great album, really been enjoying it, so no surprise you are getting such good reviews.

Hope you lads consider working together for another album.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:28 am    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

« thirdsystem » wrote:
Great album, really been enjoying it, so no surprise you are getting such good reviews.


Thank You very much - happy You are enjoying the music. Smile
Indeed we received a lot positive feedback not only from reviewers, but from listeners in general...

« thirdsystem » wrote:
Hope you lads consider working together for another album.


There are no plans yet, then again I guess both of us are open to the possibility of another album together at some point in the futureÔÇŽ

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:51 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Congrats and respect to the artists to receive such a good reviews. Well done.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:00 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

« REWO Records » wrote:
Congrats and respect to the artists to receive such a good reviews. Well done.


Thanks a lot, Rene! Smile

And also MANY thanks to our fellow EMportal member Bert Strolenberg for his positive words about the albumÔÇŽ

http://www.sonicimmersion.org/mathias-grassow-michael-bruckner-polar-vortex/ Mr. Green

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:57 pm    (No subject) Reply with quoteBack to top

Many thanks to reviewer Stephan Schelle, who already reported about his impressions of "Polar Vortex" by Mathias Grassow and myself a while ago in his "Musikzirkus Magazin" (but I discovered the review just now).

Read the original (German) version here, or my (rough, quick) translation below...

www.musikzirkus-magazin.de/dateien/Pages/CD_Kritiken/elektronik/mathias_grassow_und_michael_brueckner_polar_vortex.htm


* * *
Drone ambient artist Mathias Grassow and electronic musician Michael Br├╝ckner (who really can't be put into a drawer, his releases are so versatile), have released a joint album titled "Polar Vortex". These two musicians have combined their talents and placed seven tracks on the album, each with a running time of 5:46 to 18:16 minutes.

The share of instrumental duties is as follows:
Mathias Grassow plays synthesizer, cello, guitar and percussion while Michael Br├╝ckner plays keyboards, synthesizer and electronics.
In addition there are three guest musicians on board: Cornelia Kern, who plays piano in "The North", Doris Hach (Monochord) and Cilia di Ponte (vocals) in "Shanti".

The pieces were already recorded in the years 2017 - 2018, but the album will not be released until summer 2019. I had the CD version available for review.

The longest track of the album, the 18:16 minute long "The North" opens the album. Light Dark Ambient moderate sounds start into this opener, which are quickly replaced by effects and surfaces. Floating synth surfaces move through the room to create a symbiosis of ambient and "Berlin School" sounds. In the first minutes, a very atmospheric, calm atmosphere is created, in which the two also make use of spacy sound structures. The track is moving along atmospherically for about 16 minutes, until Cornelia Kern upgrades the track with an atmospheric piano part. She adapts perfectly to the mood with very quiet piano sounds.

Shimmering and mystical sounds determine the picture in the 9:36 minute "Mirror". The piece looks like an ambient mirror cabinet in which the light refracts differently. Here, the two mood images that do not show any melody lines create a mood.

The track "Drums Of Shoom" is more rhythmic. The shamanic rhythm, which sounds like kettledrums, brings a trace of ethnic sounds. The combination of subtle synth surfaces and the shamanic rhythm creates a hypnotic mood over the length of six minutes, just like in a ritual ceremony.

Wafting, dazzling sounds then open the 5:46 minute "The Waiting Hour". This track also seems mysterious and places electronic, ambient mood pictures in the foreground.

"Xau Etách" shows itself from a harmonic side. Here, wonderful surfaces and melodic elements from guitarlicks and rhythmic formations come together. This spreads a certain attraction over the total length of 10:29 minutes. This is mainly due to changing structures, which take on ethnic dimensions in the further course (sounds partly like in 1.000 and 1 Arabian Nights).

In the 15:19 minute "Shanti" Doris Hach (Monochord) and Cilia di Ponte (vocals) are guest musicians.
Cilia uses her voice as an instrument. She creates a mood that seems to come from the Middle East or the Arab world. The veils of sound gently draw through the room, while Cilia places her singing on it, which radiates a spiritual spirit. Mathias and Michael, however, change the atmosphere during the piece and, for example, introduce guitar insertions that seem like a mirage in a desert area surrounded by sand.

The ten-minute "The Falling Of Leaves (Melodic Version)" then concludes. The two use sounds reminiscent of the Berlin veterans Tangerine Dream. But this sound is adorned with cello sounds and thus gets its very own note. A beautiful ending that breathes the spirit of the "Berlin School".

If that's not enough, you can buy the digital album via Bandcamp. This version includes the title track as a bonus track, which brings it to 46 minutes playing length.

"Polar Vortex" is a very nice ambient album on which the two musicians Mathias Grassow and Michael Br├╝ckner have teamed up.
The strengths of the two musicians result in something completely new.



Stephan Schelle, July 2019


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