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The Peter Ulrich Collaboration – The Painted Caravan album review

A triumph of real instruments over studio wizadry.

The Peter Ulrich Collection

When we first saw this CD, we have to comment on how impressed we were with the artwork and the sleeve of the CD, which is colourful and original, as if a real artist has taken their time to craft it. The album sleeve folds out into segments and the lyrics are encased in a mini book of lyrics. It makes you realise why getting music in hard-form is 100% better than downloading, for this very reason alone! Call us old-fashioned, but we like it this way! We are very impressed with this, top effort for creativity! Time to investigate the contents.

The album immediately immerses the listener in its colourful creative visual canvas with In This Or Other Skin, which is a song obout loss, war, and passion. It is a song that stirs up some strong feelings and it’s a really great song, with great vocals and it almost leaves you feeling a bit ‘floaty’, that is the way we felt when we heard it! The following song is called Pureland, which is another easy-on ear song. The Secret Gardener has a heavy bass, reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins. Dark Lover is inspired by Eastern European and Balkan music, unusually combined with Patti Smith-esque vocals, that give it a punk rock edge.

The harmonies in the album are great and the use of the ethnic instruments and sounds leave a feeling of wonderment and we love the musical knowledge that has gone into the songs. This is what impresses us the most about this album. The uilleann pipes, bagpipes, ocarina, Yuet ch’in (Chinese moon guitar), Mayan drum, Wagner tuba, and darabuka bring a completely different spin on to the record and how many releases can you recall having so many different styles/influences on them? Not many, that’s for sure! Top marks again for creativity and making an effort in bringing these instruments to the masses and for all to learn about/be intrigued about.

Across the album there are many moments and songs that sound quite samey. Almost as if one some falls into the next and you’re not sure which song is playing and they don’t really differ from one song to the next, so it’s a little difficult to describe them all individually, as many songs on the album have a very similar feel, style and sound. A few of our favourite songs on the album however, are the dramatic Drug Of War and also a folk ballad called Hanging Man, which almost sounds a bit like you’ve heard something similar to this track before and it is easily the best song on the album.

The Painted Caravan is a great album and a lot of work has gone into the making of it. In an age of digitally enhanced albums, it makes a great change to hear people experimenting with actual instruments, rather than relying on the computer to make the music and we completely take our hats off to it for that.

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