Leading with a clear and consistent level of artistry, the sort that’s all at once emotive and captivating, the Final Reflections album from the Peter Ulrich Collaboration project makes for a uniquely creative and compelling experience; one that effectively connects the dots between cinematic escapism and musicianship.
Beginning with the spacious yet dramatic tones and marching intensity of Artificial Man, there’s an immediate level of thoughtfulness, provocative writing and conceptual depth. For an opening track, this one refuses to adhere to expectation, and there’s something notably unsettling and intriguing about the whole project from here on in.
Lessons of Love follows the opener and lightens the mood significantly, introducing the full collaborative reach, with layers of acoustic folk intimacy, vocal choruses, and a fine balance between fullness and delicacy. The melodic development is beautiful, the scene set is supported by a somewhat medieval aura, and meanwhile another poetic and intriguing story rains down around you.
Afterwards, darkness returns, as beautifully raspy and expressive vocals guide you through the mildly industrial yet brilliantly passionate Severely Blessed. I was reminded of Alanis’ vocal progression and strain on Uninvited. Severely Blessed is a fascinating song, with a few subtle yet flawlessly placed elements of artistry and movement; a definite early highlight.
Pirate Jane then injects a welcomed touch of country swing, another new voice, another new mood and a brilliant moment of knees up, organic rhythm and colour – as well as a decidedly heartfelt and honest performance and string of lyrics.
Nightwalker and The Love Witch keeps the musicality consistent and furthers the vibe of the former track, yet here we get another superbly unique melodic development, a gritty and characterful voice, and one more completely engrossing story-line.
This album very quickly presents itself as well-worth revisiting a few times over – the details and moments on display are vast, and it’s easy to miss an instance of poetic wow or mystery the first time around.
During the latter half, Hawk Dreams leads with a hypnotic riff and a few softly psychedelic layers, which pave the way well for a simple anthem of a song. Short-form melody and easily accessible imagery work well in this setting. The vocal then climbs into the fuller and slightly heavier weight of Swimming In My Sleep – another deeply interesting song that leans far more towards artistic intent than the simple appeal of musical comfort.
Squaring the Circle makes for a tribal moment of quiet expression and subtle darkness towards the end, followed intermittently by some wonderfully ambient riff-work. Again, there’s depth to the story, and it pays to focus on the intricacies and the changing stages.
A slow burner yet a definite highlight, Love’s Skeleton (Remixed and remastered from The Painted Caravan), is a beautifully complex and ever-evolving piece of music and writing, which meanders its way through spacious artistry and satisfying melodic outbursts in a skillful and film-like manner.
Then, to bring things to a finish, Hanging Man (Remixed and remastered from The Painted Caravan) is a powerful moment of traditional folk, intertwined with medieval rhythms and a raw, acoustic aura. Beautifully delicate yet emotional vocals hold tight to your attention as the story pours through. Another highlight, partly familiar but welcomed in being so – there’s a purity and a level of creativity that appeals for its upfront authenticity. Everyone involved lets the moment do what it needs to do – a quality that actually shines brightly throughout this project.
Without a doubt, an album that makes and breaks its own rules every step of the way. A refreshing listen, professionally crafted yet offering unwavering creative freedom.