City Canyons 2013
Dismals away, ex-DEAD CAN DANCE drummer embarks on a rural journey of his own mapping.
There’s always been a movement in Peter Ulrich’s personal trek as, going solo, the percussionist immensely expanded his instrumental palette and shifted his onus from rhythm to the rhyme and reason. “The Painted Caravan,” a further step in the folk direction from Ulrich’s 1999 debut “Pathways And Dawns” and its 2005’s successor “Enter The Mysterium,” sees Peter explore the acoustic edge of gloom in the company of kindred spirits of various musical stripes, yet not without a tremulous intimacy. It ushers the listener in with the march of “In This Or Other Skin” and lets go only when the Shakespear-like epic of “Tempest” hushes the trumpet-helped belligerence of the anger-filled, aching cuts such as “Drug Of War” that tells the story of a battle-addicted soldier – arguably the one introduced at the album’s beginning where hope finds a home, too.
It shines in the idealist lucidity of “Children Of The Rain” – adorned with birds’ songs and sounds of water – and not for nothing the smooth caress and twangy guitar of “Starship (Golden Eye)” open up a psyched-up cosmic vista in the velvet darkness. More rustic settings conjure up the ghost of a prime-period FAIRPORT CONVENTION on drone-spiked ballads like the conceptually linked “The Desert” or “Pureland,” whereas “The Secret Gardener” brings an uplifting electric crunch to the brass-brandishing party, and “Fanfare For The Last Tribe” offers a trip to the Renaissance fair – with a world music twist of a chant. Still, the beauty of it all hides in the shadow of death, in the fantastic “Hanging Man,” sung by Sara Wendtbut, and desperate plea “Love’s Skeleton” as voiced by David Steele which grows into a new horn-lighted march to glory. So even though the paint on Peter Ulrich’s caravan mighl look gory, it’s very tempting to jump onto his wagon and ride into the sunset.