Church of Hed — Brandenburg Heights
A modern Berlin School exploration featuring hints of prog, psychedelia, and space rock. A warm and aggressive sound is led by a variety of analog and virtual analog synths. Following the classic Tangerine Dream, Mike Oldfield, or Klaus Schulze format of two 20-minute slabs of electronic music, this album lets you transverse the wormhole between 1975 and 2175.
Brandenburg Heights is a Bandcamp exclusive release, and won’t be available on download from iTunes, Amazon, etc. nor streaming from Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, etc. Support Indie Music!
- Brandenburg Heights, Part 1 (20:45)
- Brandenburg Heights, Part 2 (19:48)
released October 26, 2016
All Music Composed, Improvised, and Played by Paul Williams
Produced by Lance Starbridge
Moog Sub 37, Waldorf Streichfett, Yamaha MM8, Korg Volca Bass,
Korg Volca Keys, Korg Monotribe, Korg Z1, Korg Prophecy, Waldorf
MicroQ, Kawai K5000W, Roland MVS-1, Teenage Electronics PO-12,
Roland TD-8, Boss Dr. Sample, Hardware Devices and Effects
Dedicated to the memory of Paul Kantner and Gilli Smyth
Viva Klaus Schulze!
Front cover art derived from a photo by Jorge Royan
© Jorge Royan / CC BY-SA 3.0
Thanks to all friends, family, and pets
© Copyright 2016, Eternity’s Jest Records, Inc.
1391 W. 5th Ave., PMB 212, Columbus OH 43212
Pete Pardo for Sea of Tranquility
(4.5 stars out of 5)
With space rock veterans Quarkspace now basically non-existent, this leaves drummer/synth wizard Paul Williams with plenty of time on his hands to dive even deeper into his Church of Hed project, and here in 2016 we have another new release, titled Brandenburg Heights. Comprised of just two epic tracks, Brandenburg Heights is 40 minutes of space rock, electronica, psychedelia, prog, jazz-fusion, and ambient flavors, with Williams once again contributing all the music. Here’s a list of the musical equipment used for the album:
Moog Sub 37, Waldorf Streichfett, Yamaha MM8, Korg Volca Bass, Korg Volca Keys, Korg Monotribe, Korg Z1, Korg Prophecy, Waldorf MicroQ, Kawai K5000W, Roland MVS-1, Teenage Electronics PO-12, Roland TD-8, Boss Dr. Sample, Hardware Devices and Effects As with some of his past releases, Paul has dedicated the music on this latest album to some of his fallen heroes, namely Paul Kantner and Gilli Smyth, but he also thanks the great Klaus Schulze for inspiration as well, the German musician/composer’s influence clearly felt throughout these two lengthy tracks. Fluttering synth patterns, piano, and drum loops litter the first part, the melodies soaring but eventually giving way to brooding menace as the ominous synths take the listener into space rock heaven. Part two kicks off with some prog/jazz styled piano and synth noodling before the creepy Pink Floyd/Tangerine Dream explorations take over, Williams use of Moog and various Korg keyboards creating dramatic swells of unsettling terror. Eventually the brooding pace picks up as stabbing synth lines dart in and out of the mix, culminating in a full blown space rock finale that brings to mind Hawkwind, Eloy, Pink Floyd, Schulze, and Tangerine Dream.
Brandenburg Heights is a fascinating listen from start to finish, Paul Williams’ ability to create seamlessly shifting moods quite effective over the course of 40+ minutes of instrumental music. Fans of synth dominated music would be well advised to seek this out!
Peter Thelen for Expose
Church of Hed’s latest involves two side-length tracks of keyboard based electronic rock inspired by the Berlin school of music in its prime over 40 years ago. That’s not to say that this sounds like early Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, and the like, but the two sides of Brandenburg Heights definitely find their inspiration and reason for being there. Church of Hed is one Paul Williams, formerly the drummer and keyboardist of space rockers Quarkspace (a band which seems to be either disbanded or on an uber long hiatus), who since 2002 has been going it alone as this keyboard based project. Here, Williams plays no less than a dozen analog and virtual analog synthesizers, sequencers, samplers, hardware effects and electronic percussion, all of which get used off and on throughout this two-part 40+ minute instrumental epic. There are some occasional heavily processed sounds that appear to have been triggered by vocals, but for all intents and purposes this is dense, heavily sequenced keyboard music beginning to end with some percussive sounds mixed in. Dense layers of various keyboard sounds mix with mysterious swirling sounds, gurgling, bubbling synths, pulsating keyboard bass, all marching forward to a tonic cadence in Williams’ lengthy compositions. There is repetition, as with any sequenced phrasing, and seemingly perpetual bass grooves abound, but ideas shift around and melt into one another as the works move forward in time aggressively, never looking back. As one listens to it, it’s impossible to take it all in at once, there’s too much going on at many different levels, so it’s probably best to focus on one part, and choose another part on the next spin, and so on, until the magnitude of taking it all in doesn’t overwhelm the senses. Needless to say, this one is a grower, new things are revealed with each successive spin.
Andy Garibaldi for GeeForce Music
The instrumental, former Quarkspace, musician, with a brand new album that is undoubtedly the finest album he’s produced to date, all instrumental, mainly electronic and one which will find a place in the hearts and minds of music fans from Tangerine Dream to Sensations Fix, and all points in between.
The album is a single 40+ minute instrumental split across two parts and immediately sets the scene with shifting layers of space synths of extraordinary depth and variety as space synths swoop and soar over a river of electronic undercurrents, only for this Lard Free-esque rhythm that swans up and down like a sine-wave, but one built on solid, mid-paced sequencer like notes, and over which a complete ocean of fathomless depths from more synth textures, layers and surging echoed melodic passages, and even that only feels like half the picture, all sail away to a far-distant destination. This then leaves the rhythm, now even stronger and built on synths and synth-percussives, to strengthen, louder and louder, as a new set of leads is added, this time a kind of lilting piano melody set to a rhythm that sounds like someone’s beating heavily on the top of a trash can – and almost echoes of modern day Faust – as this soaring synth melody flies out on top of the massively deep textural display that is going on above, beyond and all around you, engulfing your space with sound as it all travels forward in strong, strident and unstoppable fashion. But it’s the fact that nothing stays the same, that everything moves and nothing is ever in one place, allied to the image of a mile wide glacier of shifting synths and rhythms, which not only captures but positively demands your attention, leaving you utterly transfixed to an album of electronic music that sounds like few others around, yet also sounds like three decades of the stuff all rolled into one amazing whole, and at its heart, is completely accessible while at the same time being so complex that it’s the sort of thing you’ll love right away, yet want to play time after time, just to discover the hidden depths that you missed on the previous plays – and this is only the first part at just over twenty minutes in length – as it moves and changes shape, veering from swirling whirlpools of electronics, to spacey, cosmic worlds of synth magic……
The just under twenty minute second part, simply continues where the first one left off, initially showcasing piano as notes hang in the air above a phased river of swirling synths, delicately featured percussive beats and yet again, more Tim Blake-esque space synth swoops. The decelerated, yet no less deep and meaningful, pace almost gives you a blissful feeling were it not so dark, although there’s melody at its heart, which gives it the, by now familiar, feeling of endless space in its musical vastness, quietly cosmic yet seething with heat. It drops textures one by one until you’re left with the cycle of phased electronics going round and round, only then a new melody line entwines itself around you, again quite restrained compared with the first part, and with an almost Cosmic Jokers feel to it. But this doesn’t last long, either, and, from the depths, up comes a sequencer rhythm set against distant clattering percussion that cycles round and round in glorious fashion, joined by a huge sea of almost orchestral synth layers that rise up and add strong piano chords to take over the central high ground from the sequencers, as the whole thing continues to rise. Around half-way, it all drops back to a cosmic whisper as the stars come out and deliciously cosmic space synth layers in the vein of vintage early Tangerine Dream, come out to play. Just past 13 minutes and this sudden spark of fast-paced sequencers sounding like Steve Roach in a massive hurry, erupt like meteor showers, add stuttering synth rhythms, distant space synths and the whole thing starts to build, layer, subtract, add and drive, now akin to the colossal delights you witnessed on part 1, as a totally new spectrum of endless electronic avenues, moves inexorably forward, transfixing you in the process, hypnotising you, undoubtedly. Later joined by a lead and high-flying lone synth melody line, this whole cauldron of sound, bubbles away at boiling point before cooling down to a less ferocious and repeated sea of sequencer-like rhythms to fade the track to stillness.
As a complete 40+ minute piece, it’s not a lie to say that this is faultless, almost a masterpiece, and certainly the finest piece of music I’ve heard to date from Church Of Hed, and decidedly an album that anyone into strong and varied, dynamic and consistent, quality and repeat playable electronic music, should really consider owning and enjoying, long, loud and often.