It takes a musician of rare talent to make a 45 year old tradition sound urgent in this day and age. Yet, releases by UK synthesist Brendan Pollard are telling a story only time could fully reveal. His album Prologue (65'49") is indebted to the core five LPs cited as establishing the 1970s Berlin-School: Phaedra (1974), Rubycon (1975), Ricochet (1975), Stratosfear (1976) and Encore (1977). Clear and direct, it is a beautiful meditation on the dawn of a bygone era - and adds to electronic fables still being told today.
From his monastery of modular synths Pollard realizes three substantial tracks on this his first studio album in 13 years. As expected, each piece generates a unique atmosphere through which the listener travels. But while advances in music technology have miraculously re-established the sound palette of this decade, it is this artist's continued investigation into the mechanics of the mind and the depth of the spirit that enlivens the sound seekers among us.
Solo synthesizer notes circulate in runs of melody atop the mechanical thrall of pulsing, echoing tone patterns. As the sequencer drives outward, flights of strings lightly interact with the underlying motor of sound. Sometimes soft, always assuring, this release is suffused with a stark tenderness. The darker passages are deep, yet gentle, and use controlled dissonance to open up negative space. Drifting between moods the rush, hover and fade of Pollard's ever-present Mellotron M400 tones and chords moves our thoughts, as does the powerful experience of being in close proximity to an instrument weighted by so much history. In a grand edifice of texture Pollard elevates familiar themes. Cosmic yearning... A curvature of space... The Universe and its warp toward disintegration... Anyone inspired by the era of Kosmische Musik will want to have this release.
Listening to Prologue [along with the four other 2020 releases: Isolated Passages (77'21"), Diffuser (44'37"), Live and More (63'28"), Isolated Passages Two (63'53")] it becomes apparent that a person made this music, not a computer or software, nor a digital device. While the hands-on confidence of this output may be intimidating to mid-level musicians, its expeditionary feel, lack of irony, and the overwhelming presence of optimism and hope will surely move those open to such promises.
The five Tangerine Dream classics cited previously provide a standard Pollard (and his contemporaries) will never meet with his own work... His true success lies in moving the field on to the next moment, and monument. Expressing his truth, Pollard is playing music directly to the people for whom it is meant - the few of us still maintaining a faith in tomorrow.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 19 November 2020