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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Chronotope Project Chronology (2023)

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

A superb album of ambient rhythms for those who like to dream with their eyes open

1 Unwinding the Dream (remix) 6:12

2 Mind's I 6:27

3 Solar Winds (remix) 9:05

4 Ghost in the Machine 4:36

5 Tonglen 10:31

6 Arctic Spring 3:37

7 Chrysalis (remix) 9:56

8 Dharma Rain (remix) 6:04

9 No Birth, No Death (remix) 8:27

10 The Unbearable Lightness of Being 7:38

(CD Digipack/DDL 72:38) (V.F.)

(Progressive New Age Ambient)

Chronotope Project is a musical project by Oregonian musician Jeffrey Ericson Allen, which focuses on gentle rhythms. Ambient sequenced rhythms, a kind of ambient Berlin School if you will, with musical panoramas that aren't too charged with sounds and/or layers of sounds. The soundscapes are as light as the Oregon sky on a warm summer's evening. CHRONOLOGY is a 6th opus on the Spotted Peccary label and an 11th overall since Solar Winds in 2012. I'm taking us back to those early days, as this new opus from the American cellist is a chronology of tracks composed since that time, that he has remixed and arranged in a different form to that offered since. There are 5 tracks from his first 5 albums, those that are remixes, and 5 tracks that didn't find their way onto albums released over the years. Even one track, Arctic Spring, is said to have been composed as far back as 1995. The music remains in the Chronotope Project register, with meditative rhythms and harmonic structures that flirt with the progressive New Age genre.

Unwinding the Dream (remix) gives us a good taste of the light rhythms offered on this new release from Chronotope Project. The sequencer makes glitter a line of silvery arpeggios, shimmering on the spot with a thousand stationary reflections. In addition to its buzzing shadow, the synth pours in waves that extend their moans over this cadence, where a scanned chord also falls, accentuating the rhythm's dynamic a little more. But the rhythm remains gentle and meditative. A kind of Pacific School! Seraphic voices lurk behind these cries, testifying to the esoteric dimensions Jeffrey Ericson Allen likes to explore in his music. And this dimension is present on the majority of tracks on CHRONOLOGY. At the very least, it's present on Mind's, which also features a light rhythm. An ambient rhythm as gentle as fingers tapping a half-stretched sheet of silk. A meditative rhythm that flows like a semi-excited reverie, undulating under a tonal bloom in the colors of a rainbow banished from the heavens. A more nuanced shadow balances the ochre aspect of the ambiences, while the synth shimmers stardust that blooms around the celestial voice layers. Hollow winds, almost singing and often droning, waves that evaporate to reform into nasal voices, a fiery eclipse synth line that snakes its way through this universe and a layer of celestial voices make up Solar Winds (remix). Purely ambient, the track plays on the intonations of its waves and textures of narrative winds to modulate our emotions on its silent outbursts. Ghost in the Machine sounds like a driving electronic rock track, so meditative is Solar Winds (remix). Its rhythm is structured on a sequenced bass line and clattering percussions. It undulates upwards in a kind of astral groove, its contours softened by the fluidity of the bass. The setting is typical of what we've been hearing since Unwinding the Dream (remix). Distant Tibetan bell tinkling can be heard in the enveloping sonic magma behind Tonglen. This long track features an ambient structure that flirts with the New Age Zen movement, with panpipes singing between clouds of celestial voices and philharmonic arrangements. It's very Ray Lynch in his astral way, but with a heightened level of emotionality due to the oriental harmonies of the panpipes. The voice layers add this esoteric dimension with textures that are more sibylline than angelic. Delicately drummed tribal percussions caress these moods after the 5-minute mark. The rhythm is a meditative trance. But not at all violent. Very gentle, with a medicinal, a transcendental vision with its voices and Indian acoustic guitar chords which get grafted onto a meditative whole rather poignant.

Arctic Spring is a very slow track, with tears of cello caressing our ears over an ambient rhythm imposed by the bass chords of an acoustic guitar. The synth draws a firmament of ice with cinematic orchestrations and a delicate essence of astral flute. We enter the heart of CHRONOLOGY with the excellent Chrysalis (remix). Its rhythm is as gentle as a tribal caress carried by the warm winds of the Jamaican coast. The synth multiplies layers of orchestrations with droning cello laments. The track's rhythm is beautifully modulated, giving way to tender impulses, shared by both rhythm and orchestrations, which contrast with its slightly quavering side during these same impulses. A very good track! Dharma Rain (remix) spins like an allegorical merry-go-round under a delicate rain sculpted by shimmering arpeggios. This structure is as if imprisoned in a suspended ball of rain, where a ballerina dances on the axes of a lunar eclipse. A distant astral choir makes its discreet humming heard. The texture of the gamelan percussions and the way it is deployed sculpts an ambient, an ascending rhythm. Very celestial and lyrical. No Birth, No Death (remix) is also based on this stationary rhythm structure, sparkling with a thousand suspended beats. The movement draws oblong oscillations that gather synth chants, hazy orchestrations and other electronic flourishes that are the hallmark of an album whose rhythmic portion is inseparable from its meditative vision. The Unbearable Lightness of Being brings CHRONOLOGY to a close with the texture of a tender, moving film score. It's a more orchestral track, with string ensemble and various flutes. The music exudes a ballerina's choreography, as the slow waltz of orchestration sweeps you along. The bass and timpanis rolls draw shadows of drama, while the joys of the string instruments counterbalance the impact, taking the music into areas where our thoughts have become the enchantments of others. It's beautiful, and Jeffrey Ericson Allen couldn't have composed more beautiful music to end an album of this dimension. A superb Chronotope Project album for those who like ambient music. Who like to dream with their eyes open and/or meditate behind eyelids that are drawing multicolored arabesques.

Sylvain Lupari (October 18th, 2023) ****½*

Available at Spotted Peccary Bandcamp

(NB: Texts in blue are links you can click on)

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