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JAMES J. CLENT: Windows in the Sky (2018)

“Windows in the Sky is a rather surprising album with a blend of melodic patterns  and of rhythms build on fast sequencer based electronic rock anthems”

1 Journey of the Exuberant Son 6:30 2 Melancholic Afterglow 5:23 3 The Darkest Matter 4:47 4 Haunted Interlude 2:44 5 Awakening and Redemption 6:28 6 Meditation in Pacific Grove 9:18 7 Um Na Na 6:30 8 Dancing on the Nexus 8:35 9 My Love for You 7:47 10 Storm Clouds 6:00 Groove | GR-253

(CD 64:03) (V.F.) (Mix of melodious music & Endgland School) I am one of those who believe that the guitar has its place in the realm of EM, as long as it does not interfere with the freedom of synths and the creativity of their effects. Even less with the impact and the diversity of rhythms and lines of sequences. Otherwise, it becomes a kind of electronic progressive jazz or rock in the same genre as with the music of Maxxess. Frank Dorritke, with MorPheuSz or in solo, as well as Manuel Göttsching and Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock are good examples of what electric guitar can bring to EM. I have no idea who James J. Clent is and I think he wants it that way. A classically trained musician, he has already collaborated with the Groove label in the compilations Surfing from Beyond, Analogy Volume 2 and Analogy Volume 3. WINDOWS IN THE SKY is a first solo album for the one who has already composed EM with Kees Aerts (Surfacing from Beyond), he also participated to the album Slice of Times (GR-001 in 1997) playing guitar on Friends, and with Gert Emmens (Vintage Contemporaries) between the years 2000 and 2007. The press info from Groove mentions that the music in WINDOWS IN THE SKY can be situated between that of Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream, or that of Frank Dorritke. If actually some rather ethereal harmonies plunge us into the world of Pink Floyd, it's pretty obvious with the astral slow of Melancholic Afterglow, I hear very little of TD, except for the heavy and sharp Storm Clouds, whereas at times we can easily scent FD Projekt's influences. With its 10 tracks for an average duration of 6 minutes each, the music in this first opus of James J. Clent is far from the complexities, favoring a very accessible approach with good melodies and pop-rock rhythms. But on the other hand, it is clear that the guitarist likes good impulses of rhythms with an approach based on sequencers.

Keen and throbbing pulsations surrounded by good percussive effects a little paranoid, the very electronic opening of Journey of the Exuberant Son unblocks towards an electronic rock where the guitar throws good solos and fuzz-wah-wah effects. The setting is still very electronic with a good mesh of electronic percussions, sequences and keyboard riffs. But it's a rather melodious title, designed for the guitar of James J. Clent and his fiery solos. Melancholic Afterglow offers a pretty New Age ethereal soundscape with ocean waves and mermaids murmurs. It's a very astral slow beat with a Pink Floyd style guitar. The impact of The Darkest Matter makes us jump with its big bangs of metal doors. The intro is much electronic with keyboard chords that tinkle in vapors of guitar and synth. The music takes time before taking off and it's pretty well done with a spheroidal structure where sequences and synth solos twirl in symbiosis. It's good heavy, noisy and catchy electronic rock. Haunted Interlude honors the meaning of its title. The atmospheres are nebulous, and the rhythm breathes by a pulsating bass and its chords a little smothered. The keyboard scatters arpeggios of glass which tinkle like a false spectral melody in a decor designed on the colors of its title. After these two electronic tracks, Awakening and Redemption offers a guitar / keyboard duet with dominant solos in a vision where the New Age genre flirts with a melodious rock style and finally a heavy and catchy rock with guitar solos which tickle our thrills on a structure that is very Maxxess. There is an imprint that gives shivers on this title which evolves gracefully within its 6 minutes. The arrangements and the production are huge on this very intense title, and dense at the sound level, which has given me some good chills. Other title rather New Age, in the style of The Coral-Sea or Digital Dance from the Innovative Communication label, Meditation in Pacific Grove offers a light EM with a depth and arrangements that suits its vision rather well. The melody blown on a ritornello of sequenced arpeggios is that kind of thing that obsesses my senses. Um Na Na is a little heavy and mischievous catchy pop thing. A guilty pleasure! Dancing on the Nexus is also ennobled of loudness. It's a jewel of EM with its heavy rhythm spinning as being attached to a long stroboscopic filament. Percussive effects and voices add a dimension which flirts with a form of psychosis while its rhythm, hopping like a goblin with a flute, is an alloy of sequences, electronic percussion and bass that smashes my eardrums as it is so heavy and slow. Two qualifiers that have always seduced me in music! My Love for You is a beautiful cosmic slow with a guitar that flirts slightly with blues on phases that vary the intensities. It's hard not to like! Storm Clouds ends WINDOWS IN THE SKY with the heaviest track of this album. It's a big rock with these metallic percussions a little Jean-Michel Jarre, that we hear on a few occasions, and those spasmodic sequences whose fusions trigger fascinating moments of EM. The percussions are also very solid and are full of percussive effects while the guitar sounds very Tangerine Dream. Especially with a kind of Linda Spa perfumes, yes yes, towards the finale. In all, let's say it's this kind of title that could have appeared on Rockoon and even on 220 Volts.

WINDOWS IN THE SKY is a rather surprising album. Its first titles do not predict at any time all the ferocity that is really hidden behind this album. At first listen, I didn't really jump on this Groove adventure. I was afraid of falling on a music like that in Ambient Joy's Always hold the Light. Although some structures in this James J. Clent album could easily contain text, rest assured there is none, the vast majority enhance the art of the complexity of the heavy, vivid and whirling rhythms unique to the England School. A solid album and I can't wait to hear what will come next …

Sylvain Lupari (November 22nd, 2018) ***¾**

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Available at Groove nl

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