• Sylvain Lupari

JAMES J. CLENT: Powerful Waves (2020)

Updated: Feb 15

The surprise here is hearing JJ Clent straddles a concept album which seeks its identity in the different spheres of EM

1 Fishing in Bermuda 6:18

2 Into the Storm 5:11

3 Antigua Regatta 7:40

4 Crossing the Equator 4:42

5 Blue Ecstacy 6:47

6 Sailing for Perth 9:55

7 A Mile in his Boots 7:30

8 Kitty Hawk 6:42

9 Jadranska Magistrala 4:01

10 Ocean Floor 4:53

11 Motions of Dawn 7:29

12 Odysseus Struggle 6:58

Groove GR-300

(CD/DDL 78:10) (V.F.) (E-Rock)

I was writing in 2018, in the Windows in the Sky review, that I couldn't wait to hear what was to come. So, it's 2 years later that I received this POWERFUL WAVES released by Groove and available as a manufactured CD and also for download after a Ron Boots' mastering. This new album from James J Clent is in the same line as its predecessor with 12 tracks lasting an average of 6 minutes and some dust. The 78 minutes flow without interruption, being linked by the sound of waves or the current of various rivers. In doing so, the openings are more or less long while the structures are revived between short bridges of ambiences.

Fishing in Bermuda starts this new adventure with an atmospheric opening that rolls over ocean waves. Already, the ballad seems to favor with nostalgic chords on an electronic background. It's a good slow tempo well guided by sober electronic percussions and whose essence is nourished by good incisive solos from a dreamy guitar. After a small bridge of ambiences, the rhythm returns in the second half in a much more electronic coating where synth and guitar in turn throw their slightly poignant emotions. A title for everyone with a vision of progressive New Age. The sea links the first two titles whose genre and harmonies reside at the same address. Let's give Into the Storm a faster pace that the guitar espouses with more solos in Maxxess mode. We follow the current to arrive at Antigua Regatta, the first stop of more progressive electronic music. After an atmospheric opening, with thin reflections of the festive rhythms of Jean-Michel Jarre in Waiting for Cousteau, the rhythm follows the ambient curve with harmonies in loops from the guitar. A pulsating bass line begins to hum with a guitar still in harmonious riffs mode. The electronics go wild after the 5th minute. The rhythm becomes forged by a sequencer and adjacent buzzing rhythm lines that go to the same place, but in different visions. There is some Ron Boots in this title! Crossing the Equator is one of the beautiful ballads build to give us chills. The other being this wonderful cosmic slow that is Jadranska Magistrala and which reminds me so much of the duo Peter Seiler and Michael Lorenz in the heyday of IC. Blue Ecstacy follows which, after a rather long introduction, offers a slow tempo firmly rooted in its good bass line. A cosmic blues with an ethereal guitar on an electronic background and a beautiful keyboard on a background of guitar solos. And so on...

Personally, I found titles that are too complex for nothing on this POWERFUL WAVES! Sailing for Perth offers a structure which is at least inhomogeneous between its mismatched phases where the Berlin School flirts with New Age or even Easy Listening. It's like a musical portfolio with too much fluff. In return, a title like Motions of Dawn displays the proof of a very good and intense atmospheric music with a sweet flavor of Kitaro scattered between its 7 minutes. I have also found more empty moments with long introductions where I distance myself from the music and which are saved in extremis by the guitar. A Mile in his Boots, dedicated to Ron Boots, is one of them. Fortunately, the music ignites after the 3rd minute. The last 4 minutes are gold for the ears! There is also a track like Ocean Floor which is an average electronic rock with more majestic guitar solos than the synth ones. I was surprised by the unidentified voice in the opening of Kitty Hawk which is a solid rock structured on a collage of riffs to become fluid and elegant even in a second part more spastic on the rhythmic level. Let's say that Jadranska Magistrala saves this second part of an album that was starting to run out of steam. Simply masterful, the opening of Odysseus Struggle ties into the intensity of Motions of Dawn with a superb mermaid voice that I would like to hear for more than 120 seconds. The tribal beats of a slave ship rock my ears as all in wild electronic rock dressed, Odysseus Struggle trashes about through a stationary phase in order to make my wish come true; hear again those astral moans of that seductive mermaid.

I like what I heard! POWERFUL WAVES no longer gets that breath of fresh air, because of Windows in the Sky. The style and the guitar of James J Clent are more familiar to us, and even more here with flavors of Maxxess which are much more present in this album. Especially in the phases of electronic rock! The surprise here comes more from the fact that the American guitarist straddles a concept album which seeks even more its identity in the different spheres of EM. Hence the charms, and 8 good titles, some of which are very good, out of 10 is very acceptable. Finally, I can't wait to hear the rest of things ...

Sylvain Lupari (February 14th, 2021) *****

SynthSequences.com

Available at Groove nl

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