BEKKI WILLIAMS: Elysian Fields (Remastered) (1996/2015)
“This is a solid album with a great orchestral EM filled of catchy melodies which always tickle the limits of New Age”
1 Megaera 3:39 2 Elysian Fields (Part 1) 6:01 3 Charon 4:57 4 Moons of Artemis 4:24 5 Hera 3:05 6 Aphrodites's Lament 6:49 7 Secrets of the Labyrinth 6:58 8 Icarus 4:57 9 In the Arms of Morpheus 6:08 10 A Glance from Medusa 7:09 11 Elysian Fields (Part 2) 10:12 AD Music | AD150CD
(CD/DDL 59:12) (V.F.) (Synth-Pop, Orchestral & New Age)
At its release in 1996, ELYSIAN FIELDS had really hit the jackpot! Let's see the contexts. EM of the Berlin School style had lost its points of references in an EM oriented, with the possibilities ceaselessly renewed by the new digital/digital equipments, towards an approach resolutely more pop rock. Beatboxes, riffs of false guitars and fast flow of electronic percussions deviated the formerly floating atmospheres and the rhythms of ether of EM on ashes of a new EM taken away by the waves of the Synth-Pop and of the New Wave music. Tangerine Dream had also laid the foundations for a new EM which quietly found its followers in the emerging movement from the England School. Ian Boddy, Mark Shreeve, John Dyson and highly esteemed Andy Pickford were the standard bearers of a style that the critics have always confused with the New Age and even of the ambient style (Sic!). It's in this stride that Bekki Williams proposes a first album which will seduce everybody with its rhythms as lively as the melodies tinted with a very feminine poetry which are wrapped up in beautiful orchestrations to be made capsize the souls of the most romantic. Between New Age and Synth-Pop sieved of a delicate ambient perfume, ELYSIAN FIELDS deserved certainly the media attention of this time. Out of print for 2 years, the album finds its way again in a new remastered version which includes a bonus track while keeping those charms of the 90's tones. Tones which aged, but of which the beauty of its envelope is still very charming.
Let's forget the very pink-candy intro of Megaera, and its fluty spasmodic voices, in order to concentrate us on the rhythm of lead which is transported by good electronic percussions and by a synth with very shrill solos. We are in the good lands of EM here. Megaera is a solid e-rock which had made the lovers of the genre salivate during its first appearance on a compilation from the AD Music label back in 1995. The rhythm is heavy and alive, in the pure spirit of Tangerine Dream of the dad and son Froese years, but with more passion. More melody in the soul. Icarus is as much wild and lively with some very retro electronic percussions and a synth with very aggressive melody. Elysian Fields (Part 1) was also part of this 95 compilation. It's Ying and the Yang. If Megaera ploughs us the senses. Elysian Fields (Part 1) softens them with a sweet opening where fanciful violins caress the ascents of chords forged in glass. The rhythm which follows is in the kind of pure ambient ballad with breezes of voice which lead us to a silky orchestration of which the harmonies overfly a slow, almost lascivious, rhythm ploughed down by heavy percussions where a kind of guitar does into romance. Melodious and very beautiful and above all filled with orchestrations which are giving goose bumps. It didn't quite work on me, but my love Lise adored it. Charon is a good track knotted in the darkness with lines of sequences which flicker in the torments of percussions which roll like a trolls' walking. The effects and the orchestrations set up a structure rather near of a good Synth-Pop. Moons of Artemis is livelier with a pattern of great sequences and good percussions. The rhythm is fluid and becomes more spasmodic while the harmonies blow against current. The orchestrations, quite in an Oriental mood, remind me of Yanni, while one of my friends finds a resemblance with the structures of Andy Pickford here. The same goes for A Glance from Medusa and its very Arabic orchestrations which encircle a heavy structure which is getting jerky. That does very cavalcade in movies.
Hera is a beautiful moment of tenderness rendered by a delicate piano. The orchestrations are hugely wrapping and encircle marvelously the very melancholic side of the music. Impossible not to like it! Aphrodites's Lament is the bonus track. And it's newly written by Bekki Williams with the help of David Barker. Nasal singings are covering a very ambient intro while that quite slowly the rhythm beats more and more with a meshing of sequences and percussions which skip with liveliness in ambiences haloed by voices of nymphs, by beautiful orchestrations and, always, by this nasal synth. The finale makes very pastiche with these surges of synths which call back why Bekki Williams was retained by the BBC Radio in the adventure Shadow of the Wind. Secrets of the Labyrinth propose a rather ambient intro with dark lines of synth which release hybrid sound particles. We do not know if it is some water or dusts from cosmos. A line of sequences forges an interesting structure of delicately jerky rhythm where effects of guitar meditate beneath effects of synth washes. The rhythm is circular with a dark approach and the jumping keys become more insistent as Secrets of the Labyrinth progresses and goes down into a heavy symphonic coat. After a furious Icarus, In the Arms of Morpheus calms down things with a rather vaporous intro where percussions drum a pensive rhythm. A rhythm all the same rather heavy which will remain stillness and which can make us lulled languishingly of the trunk, because of the orchestrations, under the sweet caresses of the singings of flutes and the harmonies of a synthesized sax. Elysian Fields Part 2 is a very intense track, the best here imho, with beautiful orchestral caresses from the harmonies which are really going to weave to you an earworm. The music loses of its intensity a little after the 7th minute when a very beautiful piano scatters the harmonious beginnings of this delicious saga which is ELYSIAN FIELDS. This is very nice, it's soft and very oniric. And it concludes an album which leaves me perplexed! Because when I listen to it I feel like this unfaithful soul who deceives his beloved one, because the other one is more attractive, is more charming. While one perfectly knows that it does not have the ounce of the depth of this first one who guides our senses since for so long. If you like a good, a very alive and a well-orchestrated EM with outbursts that will give you goosebumps to the soul with its strong flavor of New Age which gets lost in very lively structures of rhythms, this ELYSIAN FIELDS from Bekki Williams is going to seduce you to the bone!
Sylvain Lupari (October 2nd, 2015) *****
Available at AD Music