JIM OTTAWAY: When Eternity Touches Time (2020)
Updated: Jul 27
“This is a splendid album with a creative percussive life and great melodious synth lines which release poignant solos”
1 Parallel Worlds 6:09
2 Second Sight 5:40
3 Clouds Hide the Sun 5:05
4 Playing with Fire 7:01
5 Diamonds in the Rain 5:37
6 No In-Betweens 6:04
7 Perpetual Epiphany 6:54
8 The Skies the Limit 5:56
9 Between Truth and Dreams 4:08
When Eternity Touches Time 6:00
11 Isolated Realms 7:05
12 Eternal Changelessness 10:19
(CD/DDL 75:44) (V.F.)
(E-Rock, Melodic, Berlin School, Electronica)
Sleepy layers surround the opening of Parallel Worlds. What was announced like an ambient title immediately turns into an undulating rhythm with streamers molded in lines of bass sequences which run everywhere in a rhythmic canvas that only EM can offer. The hundred steps of the sequencer are full of organic tones while far from the decor, fluty mists remind us of the meditative signature of the Australian musician. And before the 2 minutes mark, the synth sculpts this harmonic line that we will whistle a few days later, asking ourselves where this tune comes from. Parallel Worlds adopts its evolution which explodes its minimalist rhythm for the ardor of an electronic rock propelled by captivating percussions. This is how Parallel Worlds is done and so are the 11 other titles of WHEN ETERNITY TOUCHES TIME. What an album from Jim Ottaway my friends! Percussive effects, sound effects linked to an organic fauna and / or to psybient and highly contagious synth solos are elements that polish the progression of the 12 tracks of this album which literally saw off my legs as its conception is without flaws.
Let's jump right away to this choir of distorted murmurs which gives a sibylline ambience to the opening of Second Sight. A spiral of muffled footsteps, rising and falling through the mists of these inaudible murmurs, structures an ambient rhythm to which is grafted tinkles and keyboard pads from which short lines arpeggios thirsty of melody are escaping. This structure is like a mortuary carousel that percussions end up guiding towards a catchy rhythm where hides this satyr and his bewitching flute. Clouds Hide the Sun follows with a ballad à la Tangerine Dream style. The rhythm is slightly catchy, with a good mesh of the sequencer and percussions where weird noises lurk which arouse curiosity and which will give new impulses, more stroboscopic, to a structure which constantly reflects on its future. Our curiosity well aroused, we will not notice until later the synth which is beautiful with an intuitive harmonic line from which beautiful solos emerge. Playing with Fire gives itself a cosmic impetus and is inspired by the harmonious vision of Clouds Hide the Sun to make its rhythm beat and make its synth sing. Arched on a line of bass sequences which oscillate briskly with the metallic clapping of percussions and of hands, the rhythm is an extension of the Berlin School in sober dance music mode. The synth throws cosmic sound effects and bits of melodies linked to a master line that coos with the innocence of an alien song. And like each track on this album, the last third of the rhythm takes advantage of the percussions to be as dominant as the synthesized melodies. Except that here, it's more of a guitar and its sober solos which gives a more rock touch to Playing with Fire. It's besides a guitar-synth which weaves the melancholic landmarks of Diamonds in the Rain, a good slow ballad with a music which sticks to the spirit of its title.
These are delicate arpeggios that ring at the opening of No In-Betweens. The approach is meditative with these harmonious solos that roll with braids while placing pads here and there. Suspended in our ears and between two ideas, No In-Betweens finally borrows a down-tempo, deserved for the very good bass line, in an ambient Electronica model. The only ambient title of WHEN ETERNITY TOUCHES TIME, Perpetual Epiphany is an ode to serenity. The synth guides a melodious vision which seems to be blown away by emotions and especially animated by rhythmic accessories well hidden in the decor. Accessories which quietly follow a curve drawn in a form of crescendo which won't reach the emotivity of a bolero but which will overflow the ambiences of the title towards another form of ambient Electronica. Engulfed by very good arrangements, The Skies the Limit is supported by a buzzing bass line and percussions with catchy clicks in order to blow its nice melody which has an essence of the Middle East. Between Truth and Dreams piques our curiosity with the sounds of electric shocks dancing the cha-cha in front of a Tangerine Dream kind of rock, Exit era, embarks us on the train of the sweet melodies of WHEN ETERNITY TOUCHES TIME. An earworm is to be expected in this very electronic title! The title-track takes us to very New Age / Easy Listening territories with a beautiful melodious vision, almost angelic, sets on a constantly moving structure. Echo effects and percussive clicks add to the charms already well stigmatized in this melody as endearing as catchy. Isolated Realms establishes a rhythm which trots in a path set with percussive elements which will redirect its rhythmic axis. Like in Clouds Hide the Sun we are obsessed with this fauna of percussive elements that we forget these hard-hitting solos that Jim Ottaway weaves throughout his last album which ends with Eternal Changelessness, a cross between the New Age style of the title-track and the beautiful ballads of Tangerine Dream, Melrose era.
Let's say from the outset that WHEN ETERNITY TOUCHES TIME is a splendid album that literally took me by surprise. There is not a second too long in these 76 minutes sewn in creativity and ingenuity. Each title is of purpose for very nice melodies easy to assimilate on which is attached in parallel an interesting sound fauna rich of inventiveness. And as each title is progressing in this setting, the synth releases wonderful melodious lines and brilliant, poignant solos which remind us how good is EM. Melodious and complex! It is possible in this album of which each title becomes a box of surprises for the ears. Hat Jim!
Sylvain Lupari (July 26th, 2020) ****½*
Available at Jim Ottaway Bandcamp