BEKKI WILLIAMS: Shadow of the Wind (2014 Remaster)
“Well, it maybe not in my usual tastes but this has to be the most elegiac EM opus that I heard!”
1 Cartagra 6:37 2 Mistral 8:33 3 Sirocco 6:58 4 Silhouettes 5:41 5 Night Flier 5:03 6 River of Night's Dreaming 7:48 7 The Talisman 6:51 8 Zahira 5:57 9 Azmara 8:30 10 Hymn (for Her) 3:41 11 The Talisman (Asana remix) 6:36 AD Music | AD108CD
(CD/DDL 72:45) (V.F.) (Melodious symphonic E-rock)
SHADOW OF THE WIND had particularly seduced the criticisms during its year of release in 1997. A musical work with a very theatrical flavor, this 2nd album of Bekki Williams was a command from the Radio BBC in order to accompany a projection of the classic The Son of the Sheikh, immortalized by Rudolph Valentino's play. The album has known its hours of glory with some of its tracks which were aired fairly in radio shows, both in Europe and in the USA, and also found themselves on various compilations, among which the famous German magazine Schwingungen. Years passed by and the CDs became all sold out. It is following to fans' requests, and from new curious ears, that the English label AD Music has undertaken the initiatives with Bekki Williams so as to give a 2nd sonic skin to this album which reflects marvellously the tales of 1001 nights of a charming Arab world which exceeds all the images, the ones that we see and the others that we can only imagine, from this classic of George Fitzmaurice.
And Cartagra sets the tone with some romantic note of piano from which the hesitating harmonies are taken away by a thin stroboscopic line and slightly beating sequences. From ambient, Cartagra becomes cheerful with a very Mediterranean melody which ends up by twitching on a solid symphonic e-rock which is coated by a synth very near of the 80's with airs of romance and tones of trumpet and flute a la Kenny G. It's a very lively piece of music with a structure which skips of its spasms slightly hiccupping, a la Yanni style of e-beat, in good orchestrations where the choir and the poignant violins are courting in the hammering of good electronic percussions. Mistral follows by suggesting a soft Arabian ballad with very beautiful arrangements to make cry a tree trunk. The tempo is romantic, heavy and slow with good percussions which whip the breaths of the astral violins. It rests from time to time into ephemeral and very filmic ambient passages; we have the head full of images of the dunes of the Middle East here, where we feel being transported by these very moving salvoes of violins. It's good candy for the ears that we also find on the very beautiful, slower and more romantic, Azmara; a track which is going to make you a hole in the soul. The kind of music which is impossible not to like. A music which is constantly moving, passing from romance to livelier beats or to sweet meditative moods where we see the stars of old Persia shining in a sky painted of blue azure; SHADOW OF THE WIND is a mind-blowing sonic experience which has the merit to plunge us literally into our own Arabic cinema. And to add more romance, as if there wasn't enough, Bekki Williams decorates its synths of charming breezes which have a mixture of Arabic flutes and sensual trumpets on a music which has the imprints of the 80s, but with a more rock approach, and where the influence of Yanni, in particular for the Mediterranean harmonies and the lively orchestrations, is very present.
And in this universe bubbling with clanic rhythms are hiding some soft electronic ballads which quietly make their nests at the bottom of our ears. It's the case of Sirocco and Silhouettes of which the heavy and slow rhythms are transported by the winds of soft orchestrations and a synth in the very Persian melody. Night Flier is a more electronic piece of music. A kind of groovy with a pace a bit jerky which also leaves a place for more brief ethereal passages. The synth is rather attractive with an electronic melodious tone. The Talisman is also another electronic track which rocks down the house. It's a good and solid symphonic e-rock. River of Night's Dreaming is another very soft ballad with chords which sparkle in a trail of winds which also takes away the notes of a guitar a bit bohemian. One would say to hear a charmer senses who tries to conquer his love on a fascinating sonic background painted to the colours of a diabolical lullaby. I'm hearing John Carpenter's Halloween. But no matter, the magic is there and quite slowly River of Night's Dreaming floats in the orchestral reveries of the album and on a structure of electronic rhythm of which the excited keys gurgle in Arabic winds. This is very good, and it characterizes the universe to the thousand romances and the thousand torments of Bekki Williams. Zahira is the unreleased track of this new edition of SHADOW OF THE WIND. And either it was written at that time or Bekki Williams has a very good memory of the moods which reigned there because it's a great ballad, slightly livelier and clearly more contemporary, which breathes nostrils at full of the ambiences of that time. The catchy tribal rhythm reminds me a little Amber Dawn that we find on Edge of Human. After a track as poignant as Azmara, Hymn (for Her) finishes to pierce our soul with these notes of a piano, and its clothes of harpsichord, which swirl in oniric Arabic winds. The approach is very lyrical and the track deviates charmingly towards a more orchestral movement, where a serenade waddles stealthily in an attractive Arabian mood places Bekki Williams in a class of her own. No wonder why it's her favorite track. The remix of The Talisman, done by Asana, sounds out of tune all of this atmosphere of contemplativity of the tales of 1 001 Nights. I guess it's the purpose. And it blasts the quiet moods out of the sands. This is a big infectious up-beat, even if the 1 000 artificial violins of synths try to tame these sequences which pound as starving gargoyles and which always leave this soft perfume filled by a sonic poetry, as I rarely heard.
Sylvain Lupari (September 4th, 2014) *****
Available at AD Music