Imagine that you are about to go see a very sophisticated marionette theater production. It’s about a traveling theater company that performs across the world, while encountering different people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. The production has moments of suspense, action, and romance. Now, imagine the soundtrack that would come along with this production, and that would be a good introduction to Peter Ulrich Collaboration's Final Reflections. It is without a doubt one of the more interesting records I’ve gotten to review in recent months.
Interesting because it features elements of world music, pop music, alternative rock, folk, synth, and a healthy dose of classical influence. Take the first track on the album as an example. “Artificial Man” begins with tense notes from synthesizer piano with accompanying effects. It dissonantly builds, and then a tale begins to unfold. Think Edward Sissorhands meets Frankenstein, in terms of storytelling; an animated figure is contemplating its place in the creator’s world, and it is full of uncertainty and discontent, possibly foreshadowing upcoming conflict.
Next up is “Lessons of Love.” Right off the bat, the music feels like you’re attending a contemporary ball, Victorian England-style. The minstrel inspired melody also features a hint of “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. As its title suggests, the song is about attraction and love. It is followed by the sinister-sounding “Severely Blessed.” The track is about wishing for death but not being able to attain it: “I wish that I was not so severely blessed.” If this is indeed a marionette inspired rock opera, then the lyrics actually make a lot of sense.
“Pirate Jane” comes out like a Jack-in-the-box. The country-inspired song is very different from what we’ve heard so far. The lyrics are about a woman who is a go-getter with a Robin Hood complex and a passion for limitlessness. I’d guess that her goal is to stir up some confrontation in the evolving plot of this story. “Nightwalker and The Love Witch” is once again an unexpected auditory experience. It’s about two lovers who have a deep connection; the nightwalker looks for his partner while asleep.
Then comes “Hawk Dreams,” another country-inspired track. It’s about a loner who is chasing a dream. It is followed by “Swimming In My Sleep,” which has a very mysterious and slightly dramatic tone to it, and is about a dream that someone does not want to wake up from. The pace is picked up with “Squaring the Circle,” which seems to be about secrets about someone’s past that can spark a revolution. If this is a tale, this song is about trouble that may be brewing in the mysterious story-land.
The last two tracks are remixes of songs from a previously-released album. “Love’s Skeleton” and “Hanging Man” both have a very sad quality to them. They seem to be about lost love and missed opportunities, which, I suppose, go well with the rest of this album. The former is sung by a man, the latter is performed by a woman — they seem to complement one another in their stories. All in all, Peter Ulrich Collaboration's Final Reflections is a very unusual, creative, and conceptually striking work of art, and you should check it out!
Note* Album provided for objective review by our partners.