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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

AWEN: Shadows (2005)

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

Owen's first album breaths of those sclerosed breaths which plunge the listener in the arid lands of KS' first albums

1 Paradise Lost 16:12

2 Witche's Trance 17:28

3 Armageddon 10:57

4 Darklight 11:08

5 Chamane 22:05

Awen Music

(CD? 77:50) (V.F.)

(Berlin School Vintage)

Here is Awenson's very first album. Released in 2005 under the name Awen, SHADOWS quickly became a hit among vintage-style EM fans. It's a rather difficult album to tame with its 5 long structures more ambient and atmospheric than sequenced. Structures that are abstract and with musical fragrances located in the experimental years of Klaus Schulze. Certainly, there are more intense moments when the rhythm spreads a heaviness quickly weakened by metallic layers and soporific synth layers perfumed with a metallic ether.

A slow eroded oscillation initiates the first hums of Paradise Lost. A cosmic ambience settles in with a very spectral synth whose Martenot waves merge with celestial choirs which sing in a galaxy filled of stars. Twinkling stars, as KS loved to make them shine with its analog sound effects, on drums which tickle its layered pulsations to forge a linear and pulsating sequential line for an elusive rhythm. An acid track with psychedelic-cosmic implosions of the 70's, Paradise Lost bathes in a broth imbued with droop until the 10th minute, where an undulating bass line brings a little warmth with an ascending undulation which winds a universe stuffed of cosmic sound effects and sinuous twisted solos. Witche's Trance is a powerful track that begins with a heavy hazy synth veil whose layers seem to come from a distant crack in time. A heavy sequential line with beautiful oscillatory bends pierces its mystery to lead the introduction of Witche's Trance in a powerful undulatory movement reminiscent of the obscure Rubycon from Tangerine Dream. Hypnotic with its minimalism sequence that whirls around the same pattern, Witche's Trance abandons its synth metallic breaths to embrace sulphureous solos which twirl on a changing rhythmic structure. A structure animated by nervous cymbals and sequenced percussions which lead us into a powerful psychedelic-electronic delirium with superb reminiscences of a TD from the Rubycon years to Force Majeure's. Without real rhythmic life, Armageddon moves by its synth movements which go through different musical phases. A long line of spectral synths discreetly hoots among fine oscillations and cosmic effects with multiple eclectic tones. The velocity of the synth breath swings into a heavy industrial hum. The hum of jerky circles modifying the structure of a linear movement undulating with its slow fluctuations. Armageddon progresses smoothly with its filiform astral layers which float idly in a sound broth from which escapes chimerical organ solos to spread an oneiric sweetness which hovers in a horde of static crackles and slow iridescent layers with very Schulzian sounds.

Built according to the same precepts, Dark Light is nevertheless warmer with its synth approach more musical than caustic, although the heterogeneous elements of the iridescent streaks are always omnipresent, especially towards the finale. But it's a long dark and cosmic track which begins with a suave breath of synth ululating among sounds as caustic as cosmic, including astral gongs which resonate around delicate modulations transforming into tasty solos. Despite the calm inherent in his title, Shaman is a duel between serenity and sorrow. A long track of 22 minutes, it begins with a distant breath that melts with keyboard layers to oscillate in a mysterious ethereal mist. It's a gentle introspective procession that is quickly engulfed in resonant metal hoops that hem in a loop. And throughout his evolution, Shaman will borrow the astral charms of Armageddon and Dark Light to confront them with a strange aggressiveness in layers and wakes synthesized with bellicose metal sounds. A long journey into the lands of Irrlicht and Picture Music, but with a steel sound which can sometimes be aggressive. But a little before the 17th minute, a delicate dangling imbued with a charisma too absent from SHADOWS comes to coax those ears somewhat worn out by this very cold and abstract sound incursion which shows that Joël Bernard can do more than a symphony of abstracted sclerosed music

Sylvain Lupari (November 7th, 2011) ***½**

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