The Peter Ulrich Collaboration: The Painted Caravan (AIS Records) An unexpectedly rich and song-filled showcase here from Peter Ulrich--whom you’d be excused for not knowing was the drummer of cult Aussie/UK band Dead Can Dance, since said group was not renowned for putting their picture on their album covers. There are a lot of players here, most relatively unsung, but as the “collaboration” of the band name implies, the sonics here are focused, decidedly non-Dead Can Dancelike, and more impressive than you might expect.
Best known for his work as the percussionist for global-goth purveyors Dead Can Dance and This Mortal Coil, Peter Ulrich launched his own solo career in 1999 with the release of Pathways and Dawns. Much of that album was a collaboration with former bandmate Brendan Perry and followed a path very similar to Dead Can Dance's lush, dark worldbeat textures. Released in 2005, Enter the Mysterium was a bit less dense, but still combined dark, brooding dream pop with ancient medieval sounds for a resoundingly heavy feel. For his third solo effort, 2013's The Painted Caravan, Ulrich has enlisted a new group of musicians working under the project name the Peter Ulrich Collaboration. While his affections for dark, ancient music remain, his sound has expanded in a number of ways. From the Celtic folk opening ballad "In This or Other Skin" to the more straightforward rock of "The Secret Gardener," Ulrich's sound has opened up considerably, using a wider range of colors than before. The Painted Caravan sounds less like a studio project and more like a big, unruly band full of personality. In addition to his own lead vocals, the album features multiple female vocalists and a variety of instruments ranging from horns to electric guitars to bagpipes. Fans of Ulrich's earlier work won't be disappointed, but this colorful and enjoyable record is a bold step forward for the artist.
Online reviewer Simon Smith of Higher Plains Music -
“Quite simply ‘The Painted Caravan’ is utterly phenomenal from start to finish. Peter Ulrich and his collaborators (mainly Trebor Lloyd, Sara Wendt, David Steele and Anne Husick) have pulled out all the stops, said goodbye to any conformity and became trailblazers and pioneers of musical art. Easily a contender for album of the year.”
“The Independent” has described The Painted Caravan in Music Week as "a smorgasbord of music past, present and future, and a bona fide contender. A collaboration to be cherished,”
Top UK music magazine R2, has given the album a four star rating.