JOHN PUCHIELE ENSEMBLE: Life Cycle (2013)
Updated: Aug 31
“Life Cycle is a poetic ode written in a delicate symbiosis between symphonic and electronic ambient”
1 From There to Here 2:44
2 First Step 1:53
3 Foundations 2:10
4 The Big Sky 7:07
5 Thinking 10:06
6 Second Step 2:26
7 Life Gets Busy I 6:24
8 Life Gets Busy II 3:29
9 Third Step 2:23
10 Climbing 7:16
11 N.D.E 8:16
12 The Edge of Infinity 4:55
13 From Here to There 2:33
(CD/DDL 61:49) (V.F.) (Classical ambient EM)
Is there a more audacious project than to put in music the life cycle? Nevertheless, it's the impressive challenge that decides to undertake the Torontonian musician and composer John Puchiele. For a long time member of The Glass Orchestra, John Puchiele is not at his first steps with the world of music. He composes music for movies as well as for projects of televisions and cultural of the big Toronto. LIFE CYCLE is a fascinating symphony for an ensemble of strings, piano and synthesizers where the minimalist approach kisses the influences of Steve Reich, Philip Glass while the envelopes of ethereal atmospheres remind by moments the ethnic visions of Steve Roach in a universe softly caressed by gentle and wrapping choirs.
From There to Here transports us into the musical fantasy of John Puchiele with soft synth pads which float and accumulate in a dense orchestral covering from where filter some fine strewed notes of a meditative piano. Straight out, the Toronto's composer fills our ears with a sonic climate which rocks between an astral poetry and an ode for solitary souls. This is soft and ambient with a rather filmic musical sculpture which develops a little more with the short but poignant First Step whose profound orchestral lamentations question our perception about the beauty of this cycle with its heavy scars to come. The heavy notes of a black piano which fall with crash in Foundations root this perception of blackness which spies on this life cycle. It's very dark and the brightness of the resonant notes follows us like an intuitive shadow during a walk where we make a little trial of our life. The Big Sky is simply striking. Both sad and wrapping, the synth pads float such as musical winds borrowing the intense whimpering of violins on a long ambient structure torn by its orchestral cinematographic approach and its slow incantations of synths to the mourners suspended harmonies. We are in Steve Roach's dark and meditative territories here. An astral choir opens the celestial harmonies of Thinking, a track which reminds me the contemplative approaches of Ray Lynch on The Sky of Mind. The way Puchiele embroiders his choirs which float with a surprising maternal compassion is simply touching. One would believe to hear a choir of tearful mothers murmuring their thoughts to absent ears. The electronic and symphonic fusion reaches its peak with Second Step which is even denser, intense, dramatic and wrapping than the first one and Life Gets Busy which offers the first rhythms of LIFE CYCLE. Those are textural rhythms sculptured in hatched riffs of violins of which the sonic canons remind Philip Glass' tortuous ambiences. These philharmonic riffs chop in small parts a mortuary mood that synth pads, weakened into synthetised sighs, bring towards a dense orchestral approach finely detailed by a mesmerizing Babelian cacophony. Puzzling, Life Gets Busy I escapes in the storm of a rebel piano which spits its anarchic notes into the furious Life Gets Busy II. It's a condensed fury where we guess easily the traps and the spirals of a turbulent life. Afterward it's the dead calm with the very ambient Third Step, Climbing and N.D.E; three tracks which overlap such as a stairway rising towards serenity. Very slow, Climbing is as much striking as The Big Sky while N.D.E brings a bit of astral luminosity with chloroformed synth pads which glide among singings of ether. Always in its ambient phase, LIFE CYCLE breathes of its expiations on the very meditative The Edge of Infinity while that From Here to There loops the loop with an orchestral approach as dramatic as the opening track.
When the ambient is beautiful and lyrical! Produced with the biggest care, LIFE CYCLE is a poetic ode written in a delicate symbiosis between symphonic and electronic ambient. John Puchiele weaves the pieces of a surprising evolution where we sometimes get lost, but whose thread we easily find on tracks so much fleshed out as Life Gets Busy and the delicious Climbing to name a few. A little like Michael Stearns in Chronos, John Puchiele uses his choirs with a judicious objectivity, giving a mystic depth to a seraphic work where the maternal softness doesn’t betrayed at no moment the precepts of this ambient work which deserves to throne among Steve Roach's big works. Roach, Reich and Glass; John Puchiele's LIFE CYCLE is in good company.
Sylvain Lupari (August 17th, 2013) ***¾**
Available at John Puchiele Bandcamp