Peter Ulrich’s music career has often been one of unusual decisions – most of them coming down to his unique instrumentation. Whilst you can say he is a folk singer and musician, he does so with the entire worlds resources of instruments. As a result, you’ll jump continent to continent and often time periods in the space of three or four tracks! Rounding out a trilogy of collective albums, ‘Final Reflections’ continues to showcase that expanded palette in one of the most interesting albums of 2019.
Take the opening track ‘Artificial Man’. Between the warbling folk vocals, beautiful harp, caravan percussion, breezy synths and Persian tinged strings you’ll find kalimbas and aboriginal styled backing vocals. That’s just one track, smashing all that together. ‘Lessons of Love’ pulls in harpsichords, hushed chamber-folk vocals and muted percussion and woodwinds. It’s as if we’ve moved from the Middle East to the Baroque period in ten minutes. Perhaps it is the vast chasms that make it difficult to pidgeon Peter Ulrich’s style but for me, that’s why I am so impressed with his works.
‘Severely Blessed’ takes nods from the Dead Can Dance ‘Into the Labrinth’ album but mixes it with a vocalist more at home in The Cure. The extended instrumental sections are where the track really comes alive as dissonant guitar solos mix with exotic Arabian percussion. Throughout the album, the production does a fantastic job of pulling often tiny and smaller instruments to the front of the mix and awaken your ears. It’s something Peter Ulrich has been doing since ‘Enter The Mysterium’ and it continues to stand out. Standing out is exactly what jaunty shanty ‘Pirate Jane’ does. The barn dance vibes are so embraced here its almost parody like and the track will bring you plenty of smiles.
The second half of the album settles more towards a gypsy world folk genre and is all the better for it. ‘Nightwalker and Love Witch’ and ‘Hawk Dream’ feel like sister songs musically with the latter being a personal favourite. They both capture the drama and heightened theatrics that gipsy folk can provide. ‘Swimming in My Sleep’ is a luscious waltz that sounds like a fever dream of acoustic guitars, floating vocals and jazzy strings. It’s a very busy song that you may need a few listens to click with but its a piece I’ve often returned to outside of the album. ‘Squaring the Circle’ neatly brings Peter in as vocalist for the final original track. It sounds like a lost song from ‘Pathways and Dawns’ and brings things full circle – pun intended.
As bonus extras, there are remixed and remastered versions of ‘Love’s Skeleton’ and ‘Hanging Man’ from the previous album ‘The Painted Caravan’. The changes are subtle but they’ve had an instrument rebalance. The vocals are clearer and pipes are crystal clear. ‘Love’s Skeleton’ really benefits from this as the final third feels much creepier.
I do hope that this isn’t the final album of Peter Ulrich’s music career. I don’t know of any other artists that quite scratch the same itch. ‘Final Reflections’ comfortably demonstrates that Peter can throw a kitchen sink from any instrument set into a folk setting and make it entertaining. There’s an inherent childlike glee throughout that spills over to the listener as you discover new sounds. An excellent end to the Peter Ulrich Collaboration trilogy.
Recommended track: Artifical Man
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