CHRIS RUSSELL: Presence (2019)
Updated: Sep 3
“This is for fans of Dark Ambient music where territories of fear and serenity are the purpose for strange musical phenomena's”
1 Amber Clouds 6:38
2 Dark Matter 6:24
3 Charon Base 6:04
4 Presence 16:24
5 Aphelion 8:06
6 Teide 1 8:38
7 Planemo Unfolding 16:04
(DDL 68:18) (V.F.)
After a last album on Spotted Peccary, Chris Russell carries his dark tales of spectral and astral mechanics in an opus rather difficult to tame, but in a sound fauna that can give shivers when a fragile balanced imagination defies it in the darkness. PRESENCE proposes a series of 7 titles of an unfathomable depth where the machines, like space monsters, dominate their habitat, like the first dinosaurs.
Amber Clouds begins this new chapter of Chris Russell with waves which drop cavernous breezes over an amusement park where one hears the rails of rollercoasters getting collide with crash. The moods are creepy, which doesn't prevent a seductive melody shear them with a ritornello that clings onto the ears. This melody rises above an industrial din and some hoarse, even threatening, breaths which gradually take back their rights submitted by the sculptor of American taciturn ambiences. The Dark Ambient is thick to cut at knife here, as in Dark Matter which hatches by sounds of a beehive buzzing of intensity. The sound masses agglutinate whereas staccato effects are roaming sneakily and are shaking the unfolding of the slices of ambiences. Obscure with a zest of sinister in its perfumes, Dark Matter is at the image of what we have about this matter with sounds that blow the enchantment like the fright, in particular in a 2nd part where the rails of Amber Clouds are even more lively and rowdy. The intro of Charon Base makes me think of the barking of Black Sabbath in E5150, the Mob Rules' album. Instead of a loud Heavy Metal that shakes our ears, we instead have loads of heavy winds that crumble prismed particles while that sibylline breezes emit slightly intriguing songs. The finale plunges us into a black hole filled with hums that belong to the eye of an interstellar tornado.
The long title-piece is driven by roaring and hollow winds whose symbiosis results in a strange symphony of azure winds. Blowing in a bottle and waves that spread the wings of silence appear on the other side of Presence which introduces us into a long moment of serenity slightly jostled by the darker winds of its finale. For meditation or for a prelude to sleep! Aphelion returns with this feeling of tension felt around the gloomiest moods of PRESENCE. Garish layers tear out a panorama soaked of iconoclastic tones. The introductory elements of Charon Base return with more appetite for the paranormal and more voracity for the tympanums with dialogues between spectra, or these inhabitants of the Dark Matter, recluse in an industrial boiler about to explode. It's a mess in the bottom of this boiler that seems to connect to an Alien-controlled ship. The finale is more relaxing, but again the remains of the first 5 minutes are still menacing. Teide 1 is the most melodious of the titles in PRESENCE with a piano that lays its pensive notes in an end-of-the-world setting. The metal is writhing, the sinister is crying, and the souls silenced while reaching for the door to another universe. In short, it's like a meeting between Nosferatu and Max Richter. Planemo Unfolding finishes Chris Russell's first album on Exosphere with a Bermuda Triangle winds storm that turns into metallurgical breezes, with a slight threatening passage, before returning to its original form. Borborygmus of insects and dull pulsations give a second wind to ambiences which sail on the transitory intensities of a music which can challenge this desire to listen it alone on the porch of darkness. And it's a bit much the story of PRESENCE.
Sylvain Lupari (June 4th, 2019) ***½**
Available at Exosphere's Bandcamp