This is an album on which three sounds are superimposed: techno at the base, new cosmic music in the form, and trance in the spirit. Petar Dundov is a veteran almost 40 years old, who in his career has known both horror (a war in his country, Croatia, in the early nineties, when he started to produce his first tracks) and honour, like when he was one of the first artists to get invited by Jeff Mills himself to join the Axis family (through its subsidiary label Tomorrow), and as a musician he has grown patiently, reaching a level of maturity that seemed to peak on his spectacular debut album, “Escapements” (Music Man, 2008). However, judging from this “Ideas From The Pond”, the best was yet to come. “Escapements” was epic and pulsating techno, a collection of furious escapes into space driven by insistent beats and contrasts, a 4x4 version of the material Gavin Russom was producing at the time, and it was precisely Russom who remixed “Oasis” on that golden vinyl with “Sparkling Stars” on the A-side. Dundov was the Balkan cousin of the American youth addicted to the cosmic music of the seventies, and the blood brother of the galactic travellers from Detroit, and it seemed logical to think that one day the two paths would become one.
“Ideas From The Pond” is, obviously, the result of those two ways coming together. In almost 80 minutes, Dundov draws from the memories of his youth and his great skill to dramatise an orgy of arpeggios and layers of galactic synthesisers with infinite patience and the cold-bloodedness of a serial killer, in what seems to be the perfect marriage between Carl Craig's techno as 69, the dreamy convolutions of Cosmic Baby (and, by extension, the complete back catalogue of the MFS label), and the old school of the Kosmische sound, from Tangerine Dream on. In fact, the first (title) track on the album, which sounds like Conrad Schnitzler's 'static ballet', erroneously suggests a turn towards to new age in the vein of Klaus Schulze and his peers, Robert Schroeder and Harald Grosskopf, a tangle of synths that seem to chase each other in an angelical contrast, with airy arpeggios, and that ambition, so close to where Emeralds are right now, is, without a doubt, crucial on the whole album. “Distant Shores”, including the guitar solo, doesn't stray far from the influence of Manuel Göttsching (which means he's working the same emotional ground as Mark McGuire solo), and “Brownian Interplay”, right until the beat comes in, after an eternal intro but still eight minutes from the end, is the kind of track that should never leave any DJ’s record bag, or Serato folder, standing side by side with Daphni's remixes of “Does It Look Like I’m Here?”.
What Petar Dundov has that sets him apart from the Emeralds, Oneohtrix Point Never and other race horses from the Software and Spectrum Spools stable is a very different sentimental education, in Flaubert’s terms. Age is an important factor, but the historical context is even more so: Dundov comes from a country that is still recovering from a war, his escapism is purer, more intense than that of a post-grad student with lots of spare time listening to Philip Glass at home at night, and he has already got the baggage of a life of love and addiction to warm, transporting techno that has flirted incessantly with trance. It would be very hard, ridiculous even, to tag Dundev as hypnagogic pop (if there were any trace of pop on “Ideas From The Pond”, it would be in the ten minutes of “Together”, where there are melodies that appear reminiscent of two secondary Kraftwerk classics, “Spacelab” and “Metropolis”, with an intro that could come from some old Paul Van Dyk record), even more so with the dreamed remake of the soundtrack of “Risky Business”, sublimated on “Around One”.
What's interesting about “Ideas From The Pond” is that, after listening to it many times, it never ends up being what it seems. Just when you think it's an updated version of Kosmische Musik, you get a whiff of psychedelic house, and from seventies Germany you suddenly find yourself in nineties England. When you're listening to a minutely-calculated Detroit techno exercise, in come some excessive arrangements and a flying melody that take the affair to the quicksand of trance, which he then escapes from with some moderate keyboards that never paint too many colours and end up returning to the source, the arpeggios of Chris Franke in Tangerine Dream, the more relaxed parts of Harmonia, Klaus Schulze's “Floating”, only to bounce to the re-creation of that gliding German music, via IDM (the amplitude, the calm, the obsession with detail) that we also hear on Luke Abbott's album “Holkham Drones” and James Holden's “Triangle Folds” single. That said, it might seem that “Ideas From The Pond” is the definitive electronic album of 2012. Well, it is not, but it is a harmonious album in its construction, deep in its trajectory, beautiful and human, and when needed, there's always a beat that can take it from the club to the bedroom and vice versa. In an ideal world, this album would take him right to the top.