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CD REVIEW: Burkhard Mahler - Chaos and Time

By: Cyrus Rhodes



"will suck you in like a drug"








Artist: Burkhard Mahler
Album: Chaos and Harmony
Label: Katavi Arts

Genre: Ambient, Eletronica, Modern Euro-Classical

Sounds Like: Enigma, Deep Forest

Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
Best Songs: Ferrari, Dreammachine, Goin On

Weakness: Lackluster Production value, Winded Songs and Production   



Germany’s Burkhard Mahler releases his latest CD entitled Chaos & Harmony in 2011. This is not his first release and Mahler is no stranger to the music business having released several amazing works over the years, thus having established an impressive cult fan base in Europe and abroad.


The CD kicks things off with “Dreammachine 1” a dynamic intro piece that’s serves up hypnotic techno groove against impressive layers of melody and mesmerizing vocal textures that lunge at you from every which direction. Track 2 “Aint Playin” delivers yet another impressive techo-type flow with its thick as a brick rhythm section, nice horn & Hammond Organ accents and cutting edge vocal delivery. Track 3 “Jazzpin for guitars and Piano” shifts gears a bit with it’s smooth as silk Spanish type melody, deep in the pocket groove and impressive solo guitar licks & percussive accents. The music itself has a vibe reminiscent to Deep Forest or Enigma with a nice European flair to it. All songs just flow with sonic grooves, sound effects and catchy vocal accents. Mahler brings to the table 3 vocalists here – Pauline Ndito (Africa) NewSence (USA) Korrupt Dialect (UK). The vocal styles push hard with Americana rap flows that blend with the music well. Mahler’s writing style is melodic, warm, and enjoyable. As this CD slowly unfolds its obvious Mahler’s music has everything you would expect from an Ambient production. The musical presents touches of horns, organ, percussive accents, well placed flutes, keyboard accents, guitar and vocals that are well placed and effective within the context of the mix. You will discover rich ambience everywhere, coupled with many passionate melodies all gently taking you by the hand and leading you on journey. Some hit hard others will suck you in like a drug. From infectious “Goin On” and “Ferrari”  to mesmerizing “Film Score 1”and Morb Singer” to inviting “Burkhard’s piano” to rocking Back 22” this CD has something for just about everyone. There are a few classical gems like “Happy Intro” and “Summernightpiano” that really showcase Mahler’s diversity and playing abilities. The CD ends with Concerto 1 for Piano and Guitars the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.


It’s fair to say the production is a bit winded overall. A few of the songs pushing 5 minutes will test your attention span. Perhaps the catalogue needs to be trimmed up & shortened somewhat making each piece shorter and sweeter. The mix also lacks dynamic. Looking at the liner notes I don’t really know who the Production Engineers were (Recording, Mixing, Mastering). The mix lacks think bottom end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. As a result the overall production has a lack luster quality to it. The cover art concept isn’t very compatible with the musical presentation as a whole and totally misses the mark for me.


Overall this release from Burkhard Mahler is his most marketable work yet. As the title suggests you will get the perfect balance between Chaos & Harmony. It has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing both worlds. Its strong suit is the rich sonic layering, amazing musical diversity and overall consistency of the music. I did not fail to notice many amazing industrial accents woven deep within the fabric of the music. Mahler displays some brilliant creativity here and has solid instincts when it comes to his production style. Burkhard Mahler is a brilliant composer and if you are a fan of all things ambient you should dive head first into “Chaos and Harmony” as soon as possible.


Cyrus Rhodes