Roland Buehlmann is a multi-instrumentalist based in Switzerland who brought his third solo album Crucial - to life on may 18th, 2019. This eight song album brings together ambient soundscapes, percussive echoes, and the full breadth of Buehlmann's guitar skills to the forefront.
We open with "Kallen," which six minute plus piece with a 90's ambient feel to my ears. We hear the percussion and guitar leading almost as though it takes on the vocal lead role. That being said there are disparate elements which have a symbiotic relationship with each other. There are also multiple sections to this song.
"Higgayon" is a synth melancholy electronic medley. There are a cacophony of melting layers and some of the most unique electronics on this album. If you go through the dissonance of the first two minutes you are rewarded with the clarifying ambience and drifting guitar that echoes in his otherworldly soundscape.
The album transitions into "Buzzing," once we were cleared in "Higgayon," and this is the song that puts things in motion. We were cleared, we were cleaned, and now it is time to move forward with the new wisdom and space that was cleared. There is experimental electronic percussion, multiple layers and the vibe is playful and mischievous.
"Arabon" is the fourth song on the album. It feels like an interlude and very similar to "Higgayon." There is more of a contemplative ambient sound, there is less guitar on this track. It feels as though it is a lead up to the album's namesake song - "Crucial."
"Crucial" feels like a cross between jazz guitar, classical instrumentation, and just a smidgen of rock with distortion. This is the song that brings all of the guitar iterations together. With the drums, we almost get a middle eastern flair mid-song.
"Uvkal" is my favorite song on the album. It is soft, it is more mysterious, and it paints an aural landscape of the inside of Buehlmann's mind. We hear worldly influences, electronica, guitar in distortion and acoustic, we hear a little bit of jarring but mostly a calm. It's a "I know what's going on, so don't mess with me" experience.
We end the album esoterically ambient, drifting. In "Miserere" we have what sounds like a cimbalom, along with a normal rock guitar alternating between distortion and clean. The echoing ambience takes over the context of the whole song which perfectly segways into "Subconsciously." The beginning of the song reminding me of Bjork's latest works in 2018. Electronic woodwinds in this eleven minute piece build up to a clean guitar ready to speak what it needs to. The most dialogue between percussion and guitar happens in this piece on the album.
Overall this album feels like an exploratory soundscape. Definitely a unique voice in the experimental and ambient music scape. If Bjork was more mellow, and Andrew Bird had melting guitar - that stirred together feels like the melting pot that is Roland Buhlmann's "Crucial."
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