MICHAEL GARRISON: In the Regions of Sun Return and Beyond (1979-1991)
“This is what we can call a wonderful EM album filled with analog tones and beats”
1 To the Other Side of the Sky 5:24
2 The Search 5:48
3 Dreams 3:47
4 Take A Chance 3:34
5 Twilights Return 4:47
6 Escape 4:39
7 Animation 2:43
8 Theme to Onday 5:55
9 The Black Hole 2:19
10 For You and Me 4:01
11 The Voyage 6:01
Windspell Records WS 112856 (1979 41:01)
Windspell Music – RE 79 CD
(CD 49:02) (V.F.)
(Cosmic Rock, Pacific School)
Finally! Finally, and thanks to my friend Nick who has all his albums, I will finally write about Michael Garrison's music in my webzine. He and Larry Fast are two American pioneers of analog EM with sequenced rhythms. If Synergy (Larry Fast) has become a reference in creativity, Garrison has remained faithful to a style that flirts a lot with Jean-Michel Jarre's, cosmic rock and synth-pop. An outstanding melodist, he has been able to adapt his compositions to short and often catchy structures. Born in Oregon, his inspiration for EM comes from the Voyager 1 and 2 missions. There is no denying the influences of Jean-Michel Jarre on the cosmic envelope, except that the rhythms and melodies are his signature. IN THE REGIONS OF SUN RETURN was a real favorite in 1979 that propelled his music outside the United States. Built on a minimal vision, the rhythms are propelled by monstrous bass-sequences that vibrate floors and walls alike, while the percussions play on their echoes adding more depth to the album's rhythms. The artist, like this album, is one of the great forgotten in my top 50 list. And yet, every time I listen to IN THE REGIONS OF SUN RETURN, I wonder why...Note that my preference goes to the first edition which I find flawless. IN THE REGIONS OF SUN RETURN AND BEYOND removes an important track from the album while adding 4 tracks including two very good ones from the Eclipse album, released 3 years later.
Cosmic breaths and interstellar whales' laments are at the origin of To the Other Side of the Sky which throws us a superb bass-sequence line as throbbing as seizing. I remember how I loved the soft, slow rhythm that came out of this opening. Filled of analog tones and dialects, the rhythm rises little by little to hang on a first impulse of a synth whose cosmic haze lets pass a harmonic line with moans as low as high that will cry all along this lunar downtempo. The Search proposes a structure in parallel with a very good synth which scatters chants and aerial solos on another structure guided by these bass-sequences whose rise is supported by percussive effects sounding like cymbals. We remain in the domain of the catchy and slow rhythms full of vintage cosmic effects. We are in 1979! Dreams reminds us of this with a cosmic windstorm and those radioactive dust particles that cling to the sad airs of the synth. Airs that hover in a cosmic setting as real as our imagination can picture it with a retention effect to absorb our emotions. The 1991 version of the album features two tracks anchored in the Eclipse album and sung by a female voice. In a theatrical opening, Take A Chance takes off with that bass, more in cosmic rock mode here, and percussions whose echoing effect adds substantial depth to this catchy track that features Michael Garrison's very first synth solos in the album. Inserted in this edition, it breaks the mold of ambient rhythms that decorated the A-side of the LP of the time, which offered with Twilight Return a series of sequenced and looped synth lines in a kaleidoscope spinning and turning on an ascending rhythm sequence, always backed by cymbal clashes. The synth solos take care of the rest by drawing us into these cosmic depths equal to the multiple analog tones that escape from everywhere in the listening room.
Escape was the first track of the B-side and ejects with the same percussive decor and this bass line-sequences that never ends to throb. Here, the synth solos dominate as much as this harmonic line which plays with the degree of the impulses. The rhythm is diverted a first time to take a harmonic form which saws both our legs. A superb track that bows in a finale that was perfect for the very ambient The Distance from Here, which we find on a compilation album Tranquility Cove. This new edition of IN THE REGIONS OF SUN RETURN AND BEYOND replaces it with a static pace that really breathes the ambiences of the original version, Animation. Built on the echo of melodious sequences attached to each other, the rhythm grow into a circular spasmodic structure. The sequenced balls are resplendent in shimmering colors with semi-luminous flashes, thus playing on nuances and also giving a harmonic depth that is in symbiosis with the rhythm. I've always loved Theme to Onday and its melancholy opening where a synth timidly traces a prismatic melodic approach that will get lost in a structured rhythmic pattern in the backbone of Take A Chance. A superb track with a synth that hums over the echo of percussions and hazy layers as thick as they are intense. Originally, the album closed with the excellent The Voyage. But this new edition offers 2 new tracks that follow each other before The Voyage. The Black Hole is a cosmic atmospheric track with layers of synthesizers settling in an outpouring of analog tones inherent to the album. For You and Me is an excellent track that turns a little slower than Take A Chance and which also comes from the album Eclipse. The rhythm is catchy with that famous bass line. The female voice sings in duel with the synth which imitates her rather well. The Voyage ends this first trip on Michael Garrison's wings with a bouncing rhythm, always supported by this bass line and these percussions which always resound in echo, almost spasmodic from where brilliant synth solos stand out. Hybrid solos, playing on two opposite tonalities in a cosmic decor truer than imagination.
This is the end of my very first review about a musician who died too early, but who stopped composing ME in the early 90's. IN THE REGIONS OF SUN RETURN AND BEYOND concedes some lengths, totally absent on the 1979 edition which is a wonderful EM album that I put back in my iPod, thanks to my friend Nick. Discontinued, one can still hope to find the album on specialized sites like Groove nl. There is Ebay but beware of CD-r copies. A perfect CD with a rich cosmic envelope, rhythms as catchy as those melodies that gently eat our ears. 😊
Sylvain Lupari (9/18/21) *****
Available at Groove nl