KUUTANA: Undiscovered Shores (2013)
Updated: Mar 17
“If you like melodious patterns which lie on soft rhythms, then the sonic scapes of Undiscovered Shores are the place to be”
1 A Summer in Antartica 5:53 2 Undiscovered Shores 4:50 3 A Beautiful Day on New Earth 5:04 4 Ocean Sunset Romance 5:40 5 Fireflies in the Moonlight 4:48 6 Walking Towards the Light 5:56 7 Rain Dance 5:41 8 The Hidden World 6:25 9 Ion Storm on Jupiter Station 6:45 Kuutana Music (DDL 51:02) (V.F.) (Mix of Chill, ambient and E-Rock)
The idea to listen to UNDISCOVERED SHORES came to me while I was listening to the very ambient Rebirth. There are things like that which remain so inexplicable! And I was pleasantly surprised. At first, the etiquette of New Age that some attach to the musical genre of Kuutana had made me very hesitating. And even if the approach of the Canadian musician is melodious, we are far, very far to be honest, of the New Age or soft music genre. It's melodious for sure and beautifully crafted with strong arrangements. But New Age? I'm not quite sure about it. Kuutana is the musician behind the intercontinental project of EM; Sequential Dreams. An interesting project which groups as many artists around the planet as styles. And a little as the essence of Sequential Dreams, his music, to say the least on his 5th album, embraces a brochette of style which goes from Chill out to e-rock and then ambient while remaining always rather accessible.
A Summer in Antartica proposes a peaceful intro with two layers of sequences which interlace their figures of static rhythms in a kind of a rather meditative ascending movement. Delicate arpeggios float weakly in the streaks of a shower of falling stars. Their incoherent movements form an evasive melody which will decorate the 6 minutes of A Summer in Antartica. And quite slowly the introductory atmospheres migrate to a good down-tempo heavily clubbed by double bass pulsations and good percussions. Decorated with these delicate glittering arpeggios, the rhythm is slow and lively. Also wiping the bites of a kind of e-guitar, it gets lost in a more ambient phase where the pulsations and the percussions have difficulty in following the parade of arpeggios always molded in the harmony. It's just a brief moment of distraction, because A Summer in Antarctica will be reborn with its mix of slow and down-tempo deliciously exhilarating. Layers of rhythms mixed in diversity which beat beneath the nests of charming melodies, the music of follows the instincts of its sculptor who has the gift to seduce anytime. Let's take the title-track, which is doubtless the best moment, and its rhythm embroidered in a surprising meshing of metallic and slamming percussions a la Jarre and good bass sequences. But its key point is its harmonious envelope with a superb Asian fluty line which coos under the storm of the percussions and the sequenced keys. Our ears are leaving with it and refuse to bring it back. It's a very good track! A little more nervous than A Summer in Antartica, A Beautiful Day on New Earth is a music piece which is very near Vangelis' repertoire. It's a beautiful melody, with some pretty good melodramatic arrangements and arpeggios which always breathe of these evanescent harmonies, which moves on a good mid-tempo. Moreover, the limpidity of the arpeggios is an object of seduction on this opus of Kuutana. It prints melodies which pierce literally the flow of the rhythms or the passivity of the ambiences, as in Fireflies in the Moonlight; another good mid-tempo which nests very well between the ears. They also forge a fascinating astral melody on this rhythm full of pulsations which pound beneath this approach of clanic dance which is Rain Dance. Ocean Sunset Romance is a nice slow dance, which bears perfectly its naming, filled with elements of tenderness which hesitates between a slow and heavy rhythm and its ambient passages. A little as The Hidden World which eventually becomes a good Electronica with a Sino-industrial aroma. Puzzling, but fascinating. The influences of Tangerine Dream and of the TDI years will never have been so obvious as here. Another key point of UNDISCOVERED SHORES is the arrangements. At this level, the influences of Vangelis are very present and they perfume an ambient structure such as Walking Towards the Light, which becomes a good track blown by an intensity of which we feel the ascendancy only once the first 3 minutes are passed, and also Ion Storm on Jupiter Station which concludes the 5th opus of Kuutana in an ambiocosmic approach knotted in the spells of these good, and somehow a little poignant, arrangements.
Now does a melodious and rousing EM should be tagged as New Age? Well, that's not my game to open and animate this kind of debate. Let say that good EM should be call good EM. And that's the story of UNDISCOVERED SHORES. Between Kitaro and Vangelis, while going from Tangerine Dream and a Jean-Michel Jarre in the summits of their dissension with their first generations of disappointed fans, this is a rather beautiful surprise which will please above all to fans of a more accessible EM rather than a complex one. We are far from Easy Listening and from New Age because the arrangements of Kuutana are skillful. They enhance his soft rhythms and his charming melodies of a rich, of a diversified sound envelope and especially very attractive for the ear.
Sylvain Lupari (July 16th, 2015) ***½**
Available at Borders Edge Music