The new album release from The Peter Ulrich Collaboration Final Reflections features nine songs, two of which are remixed and remastered tracks from 2013’s release The Painted Caravan. The seven new songs are more than worthy additions to Peter Ulrich’s long and rich musical history. Longtime drummer for iconic Dead Can Dance, Ulrich has produced a number of recordings under his own imprimatur since departing the band and his songwriting continues to gain depth and musicality with the passing of time.
The band may bear Ulrich’s name, but its beating heart is the creative collaboration between Ulrich and Trebor “Big T” Lloyd of City Canyons Productions. Their combined musical imagination take listeners on a dizzying stylistic ride through fictional universes, psychedelic music, Goth, folk, art rock, alternative history, Steampunk, and even echoes Dead Can Dance’s atmospheric touches. Each of the new songs on Final Reflections illustrates how they have wisely chosen the musicians to help them realize their ambition.
“Lessons of Love: opens the album on a idyllic melodic note. The deceptively simple sound of this performance is the result of on point orchestration – the musicians understand one another’s roles in weaving this tapestry and play in well-timed sympathy with each other. The atmospheric lead vocals help accentuate the obvious musical spell and backing vocals support the lead at key points in the arrangement. The band’s art rock inclinations come to the fore with the second track “Severely Blessed”. It demonstrates their vocal versatility, if nothing else, but the ominous meshing of electronic and traditional instrumentation comes together well and the arrangement develops in creative ways while obeying every fundamental. It has a level of desperate missing from the first cut and provides the release with a meaningful punch from the start.
“Nightwalker and Love Witch” leads with the female vocals but otherwise achieves an effective mix of male and female voices. The violin laced through this tune gives it a slight melancholy tint, but it otherwise smacks of a ballad in both music and lyric. The Peter Ulrich Collaboration excels with this sort of material and the song’s narrative strengths help it rate among the best moments included on this release. The penultimate new track “Swimming in My Sleep” mixes their folk influences with a arty even progressive approach. It boasts one of the best vocal arrangements among these nine songs and each of the singers shine in their respective parts.
Final Reflections ends with “Squaring the Circle”. The track builds in a patient yet dramatic fashion and incorporates lyrical references spanning an impressive gulf of time. Lyrical contributions may get a short shrift when others evaluate this collection and they shouldn’t; the writing throughout these songs has uniform excellence. The use of woodwinds and the artful piano fills are exquisite touches of color. Five star musicianship is obvious throughout these songs, but the songwriting craft is outstanding as well. The Peter Ulrich Collaboration’s Final Reflections is a fully realized release from this talented unit and concludes their 2019 setting the table for an even better new year to come.