Christian Wittman Orion Nebula (2023)
Updated: Jul 20
“This is a sonic journey through C.W.'s many styles that we undertake without too much difficulty”
1 Nursery of Stars 6:38
2 Messier 42 7:02
3 Interstellar Particles 7:07
4 Sinus Magnus 7:34
5 Trapezium Cluster 6:55
6 Molecular Cloud Complex 7:21
7 Solar Masses 6:16
8 Stellar Winds 4:36
9 Gravitational Collapse 5:21
(DDL/CD-(r) 58:54) (V.F.)
(Cosmic ambient music)
I've been trying to review a Christian Wittman album for a long time. We exchanged a few e-mails in which he sent me links to download his music so that I could begin a series of reviews of his works. The problem! Every time I put one of his albums between my ears, he'd make another and post it on his Bandcamp site. In fact, this member of the mythical French band Lightwave, a group co-founded with Christoph Harbonnier in the mid-80's which is still very active, and which had ex-Tangerine Dream keyboardist Paul Haslinger as its 3rd musician, replacing Serge Leroy, produces albums in a speed that the ears can't find the time needed to acclimatize, to tame such a large number of music releases. I finally gave up! Little was heard of Christian Wittman in the past years. He returned to the spheres of electronic music (EM) in the early 20's. Since then, he has released over 50 download albums featuring his experiments in electro-acoustic music, his Dark Ambient works nourished by the suspense of space, and/or simply his cosmic ambient music. Like with ORION NEBULA, an album without rhythmic life, but loaded with an atmospheric one. But above all, this is the French musician-synthesist's first album on a major label, Cyclical Dreams.
Nursery of Stars lets us hear immediately what the almost 60 minutes of ORION NEBULA will be made of. A synth layer, shaded with a metallic blue hue, floats peacefully into an opening that traces one of the many musical milky ways of Whitman's debut album on the Argentinian label. The French musician appropriately plays on the tonal modulations of this layer of cosmic quietude, adding color and emotion, notably with the perception of hearing the breezes of absent voices, as well as shadier hues that radiate the resplendence of astral violins, like that of the darker depths of the abyss. The contrasting tones of these chords shimmer and buzz, crumbling melodies that we finish in our heads. Most of these elements and layers woven into the blend of chords and sound effects are found on the other 8 structures of the album, with a few nuances near. Messier 42 follows with another slow, rhythmically lifeless movement. This is the quintessence of ORION NEBULA. To maintain our listening interest, the ex-Lightwave member plays with the hues of his chords, mixing them into layers that flirt as much with serenity as with anguish. This discreet duel between luminescence and its opposite constantly arouses the curiosity of our ears, even creating music that would suit films and/or documentaries on the depths of the Cosmos. Drones, astral monk murmurs and elegiac chants are drifting peacefully through Messier 42, subduing our senses and putting them inside an empty space shuttle. Interstellar Particles simulates what astral travel can be like. The music and its various elements plunge us into a state of weightlessness, where our ears float between the tinkling chords that forge the incomplete melodies found throughout the album. They create flashes of sounds between the hum of cosmic gases and the drizzles of meteorite dust. It takes just a little imagination to make you think you're in a NASA simulator.
Voice effects and tinkling chords that fall curtly are swept up and jostled in the variable forces of Sinus Magnus' buzzing winds. This track floats between Dark Ambient and experimental ambient. We're more in the Ray Lynch style with this vision of Buddhist meditative music that comes from the ever-cosmic ambiences of Trapezium Cluster. The tinkling chords that wander between tones of meditative chimes or glass tinkling for prosperity are also legion on this album. Along with the synthesizer's moans, they adorn the long, drifting movement of the ambient Molecular Cloud Complex, while imposing a small organic touch. The moans are more strident, a little like a beast in agony, in Solar Masses. The slightly fluty shadow that emerges to blow melodies mixed in these hues brings a sibylline nuance to this track. That flirts more with Christian Wittman's Dark Ambient style. The orchestrations, woven between oboe and violin textures, temper this vision a little as they travel to our ears. Stellar Winds is a bit like Sinus Magnus, with its pulsating vibrations and layers of iridescent screeching, where we can even hear a stridulation of intergalactic locusts and birds from Mars humming a tune for a black spring. Gravitational Collapse ends ORION NEBULA's vision of dark ambient music, where we feel more like we're in a cave than in space. Although the vibrating, droning synth wave takes us back there momentarily. Except that there's always the lapping of suspended water and the chthonian murmurs that surround these ambiences drifting between the depths of the Earth and the beginning of the Cosmos. Which is very likely!
Everything that comes from Cyclical Dreams is proposed in a vision where EM turns to be a more accessible art form. And so, it is with this ORION NEBULA! Without being as accessible as the word suggests, this collection of purely atmospheric and cosmic tracks by Christian Wittman flirts with the kind of musical poetry that can take us on a journey through his styles without too much difficulty.
Sylvain Lupari (July 11th, 2023) ***¼**
Available at Cyclical Dreams Bandcamp
(NB: Texts in blue are links you can click on)