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Solitaire — Nocturnes & Fearless
(Projekt no #, 1997/2023, DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2024-02-21

Nocturnes & Fearless Cover art

Tribal rhythms and ribbons of floating ambient textures in combination have a way of pulling the listener into an irresistible soundworld that offers a mystical groove and a widescreen landscape for meditation all at  the same time. That’s not the only thing one will find on these final two albums from Germany’s Solitaire, but it’s certainly a large portion of what’s served up on these two. In the beginning, in 1989, Solitaire was the duo of Elmar Schulte and Ruediger Gleisberg. And their debut album Altered States was released in 1990, but by the second album, Plains and Skies, Gleisberg and Schulte had parted ways, with Schulte now beginning to work with Steve Roach, and by the third album, Ritual Ground, Roach had become a full member of the duo. By 1995 Schulte and Gleisberg had begun working together again and released the six track album Fearless, which features guest players on guitar (Tim Steil and Rainer Schultz) percussion (Amir Baghiri) and Astrid Soika (vocals) and was followed in 1997 by their final album Nocturnes, which featured several additional guests Adda Schade on e-bow, Danae on vocals (and lyrics) and Amir Baghiri again on didgeridoo and percussion. The ethnic and tribal elements on both albums blossom into something splendidly beautiful and stunningly unique, but it’s the voices, more than anything — and especially on the first two tracks from Nocturnes (“Kabbalah” and the title cut), that reach way above and beyond any of the standard electronic and ambient sounds that one is likely to encounter anywhere. Fearless opens with the interesting number “One Small Step” that takes a repeating spoken loop from the 1969 moon landing and plots against an intensely funky bottom beat with all sorts of strange ambient and psychedelic sounds floating in the ether around it; a similar funky beat amid spoken sounds is achieved on “One Minute Warning” from the Noctirne album. Perhaps it’s the more expansive tracks like “Drift,” “Simulation of Gods,” and “Tribes” with their undercurrents of ethnic drums and psychedelic textures that do the most to open up a trance-like feeling from the listener’s perspective. This combined release is just brimming with beauty and power throughout its fourteen tracks, delivering the goods on many levels.

Filed under: Reissues, 2023 releases, 1997 recordings

Related artist(s): Solitaire (Elmar Schulte)

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