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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

KELLY DAVID: Illusive (2021)

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Not really easy to approach, this album rests on a daring bet where the similarities facilitate its learning level

1 Sentinel 9:20

2 Palione 9:55

3 Distance 7:34

4 Garden of the Forgotten 5:19

5 Top of the Trees 8:03

6 Into the Ether 12:26

7 Northcoast 15:52

(CD/DDL 68:31) (V.F.)

(Progressive Dark Ambient Music)

A long breath in a wooden flute is at the origin of this symphony of wind instruments that cradles our ears in the opening of Sentinel. Sometimes delicate, sometimes rough! As at times ethereal and at other times prismatic, the track drifts between its extremes by exploiting the different textures and personalities of the recorders that stretch their colors when confronted to the caresses of the orchestrations. The cinematographic aspect of this orchestrations' duel confronts us with these extremes where the choir of the angels confronts that of the drones which are as powerful as the most fluid of the voices. And if these scarlet filaments change the temperature of an emotional cycle always at the mercy of the American musician, the music heads towards a reef of confrontations around the 5th minute. The improbable is seductive when these voices of the skies' goddesses are taken hostage by an electronic rock disjointed between the looped riffs of an electric guitar and percussions drummed by the occult force of a one-armed drummer. And if I told you that this passage was obliged in order to smell the paradisiacal side of Sentinel. Would you believe me? And yet, with its first 3 tracks flowing from the same source and invoking serenity through the devil's gate, this brand-new album of Kelly David is woven far from the panoramas of Meditation In Green. We are indeed far from the ambient tribal anthems on this album whose strength is nourished by its sometimes subtle and often blatant paradoxes throughout its 68 minutes and some.

Palione takes over the destiny of Sentinel with an opening sewn in the disproportion of the emotions. Sometimes sudden, to startle, or serene, to make us dream, this bipolar structure brings out sequenced small steps just after its last tonal explosion. A short rhythmic test that is swallowed by the metallic squeals of the orchestrations that are the main essence of a structure that I would say is disjointed, without sounding bad. If the first two tracks are built from the same mold, Distance offers a better musical homogeneity, except for the few beats that disturb its last right. Garden of the Forgotten is like this lost pea in a tomato pot. Its electronic opening is reminiscent of Magnetic Fields I from Jean-Michel Jarre's 3rd album, Magnetic Fields. The sequencer erects a structure spinning on itself with greenish arpeggios dancing madly up until becoming indigo. The dubious breaths of a large piece of machinery in the background makes the ambiences of the title conform with its vision. And here as everywhere in ILLUSIVE, Kelly David seems to lack authority over his music. Probably the best moment of this album! And if we felt a kind of threat on this album from the first seconds of Sentinel, Top of the Trees confirms these doubts. First of all, the crumpling! It's like two sheets of paper being rubbed together over muffled explosions. The soundscape is the clear flow of a narrow river whose shimmering becomes a covetousness of the sequencer. The moans of mechanical dinosaurs are heard a little less clearly than these tools striking the ground within hearing range. Quietly, the water turns into a swarm of arpeggios that the sequencer twirls. And these last vestiges of the sequencer disappear in this tide of iisshh spitting out little by little these disappeared elements, except all traces of what was a rhythmic state as seductive as in Garden of the Forgotten. We enter the last right of the album with two long ambient tracks. If Into the Ether remains a soft whisper of a synth spreading its great protective wings, Northcoast is a track of the Dark Ambient genre with airs of lonely trumpets crawling on a slab of chthonic drones. Long-winded, the track explores the realm of muted impulses that push the bed of ambiences to create swirls and change tonal forms that keep us vibrating until the last breaths of ILLUSIVE.

Not really easy to approach, this last album of Kelly David rests on a daring bet to make the album advance by blocks, there are three of them, where the similarities facilitate its learning level. I must admit that my ears closed like oysters on the first 3 tracks. Afterwards, ILLUSIVE is a little gem of rhythms and ambient landscapes...

Sylvain Lupari (October 14th, 2021) ***½**

Available at Spotted Peccary Bandcamp

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