Roland Bühlmann 2020


Painting sonic vistas, Switzerland-bred polymath finds his way to the meaning of life.

According to this Swiss musician, his creative approach as an artist with Aspergers requires following certain patterns, yet while lesser mortals’ oeuvre would turn repetitive under the circumstances, Roland Bühlmann’s motifs are simply a canvas on which unexpected designs get placed when any apparent mold has been broken. That’s why, while the multi-instrumentalist’s fourth album may seem to arrive in the wake of 2019’s "Crucial" – a record simultaneously robust and frail – “Dubnos” will form a solid image in the listener’s mind’s eye. More so, if its predecessor felt fiercely original, there’s a respectful nod towards such ambient prog giants as Michael Oldfield and Edgar Froese now, even though none of the numbers on display can be considered derivative.

Nor they are abstract – no matter what the first impression of single passages is. From the barely-there oscillating figures which cut through the glacial waves of “Mighla” before guitar filigree and effects unfurl the folk-informed, mesmeric aural panorama where delicate strum and liquid flurries gradually become more and more tangible and heavy, to the dynamically disturbing, often bumblebee-like finale of “Galgallim” whose title means “Waves” in Hebrew, these pieces ooze out an overwhelming sensation of freedom. It’s woven into the very fiber, into the exotic textural depth of the metal-encrusted, bass-laden, albeit immensely spacious, title track and the ethereally anguished “Aaschutz” that feature koto and, on the latter, David Cross‘ electric violin, but the elegant “Omnalén” bridges melodic abyss with sparse soaring and a fervent rifferama, and the organ-oiled, squealing “Ubiquitous” offers a hard-to-resist funky groove for a cosmic fandango.

It’s a labyrinthine, epic opus which keeps on revealing fresh layers and new meanings every time the album is being spun. Patterns like this are a pleasure and adventure to pursue.


March 18, 2021

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