OTARION: Extensive (2019)
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
“Like Bernd Scholl (MellowJet), I heard a lot of albums in my life and I'm still listening a lot each year and I can confirm that this Otarion album is a heck of a great one”
1 Unreality 6:20 2 The Way 7:07 3 Unpredictable 7:20 4 Crucial Now 8:24 5 Wayward 7:19 6 The Summit 7:12 7 Stay Tuned to Understand 14:16 8 Recollection 6:42 9 Welcome to Reality 10:22
(CD-R/DDL 75:01) (V.F.)
(Heavy electronic progressive & symphonic rock)
Expect the unexpected! This adage fits very well to the music of Otarion. But never like in EXTENSIVE where Rainer Klein transcends the musical genre of the German label MellowJet Records, which is more oriented towards a style of Electronica, if even not Techno. Except for Otarion! And yet we felt it coming from album to album! The synthesist-musician native of Siegen was increasingly eyeing the big heavy electronic progressive and symphonic rock with a cinematic vision. That's exactly what his latest album is made of. With guitars that sound like those comets raging and screaming of emotions in Thorsten Quaeschning's repertoire, with immersive organ layers spit with a high level of intensity and those heavy and slow rhythms, EXTENSIVE gathers all the absolute ingredients to create a poignant soundtrack that can be glued to some very different stories of life. Apart from these elements that give shivers to the soul, the 75 minutes of this music flow without interruptions, with a Rainer Klein in full control of Otarion and who is weaving a more than intense album where riffs of guitars and keyboards, the sequences and the drum. Not to mention the many percussive effects that are running in a heavy electronic rock without air bubbles, nor bubbles of water in the foundation. And say that it all starts with innocent piano notes cajoling some distant electronic breezes.
Unreality offers a sad introduction laid down by these piano notes that raise the layers of voice while awakening a guitar already spewing its venom. The intensity rises like this water which gradually floods these roads when the flow is jostled by time. Barely arrived, the percussions hit for a slow but heavy rhythm. Helped by synth layers with vaporous essences and this guitar that stretches its long roaring riffs in tune with the moods, the air buzzes. And it's this guitar that drives Unreality to its implosion from where come back from the limbos these fragile notes of a piano forgotten the time of 5 minutes. Footsteps resound on the bitumen of a neighborhood in awake, The Way and a pianist extend its splendid melody that will be recurrent in EXTENSIVE. She clings to the up-tempo directed by agitated percussions, like troubled water. Time stops, and the melody returns to take possession of our senses. The rhythm that comes back is dressed of tender and enveloping layers from an organ which encloses it in a down-tempo. The pianist returns for a third verse and the rhythm takes the controls by subtly increasing the emotional current that flows in the veins of this album. The pianist abandons his piano after a last melodious essay, his steps resonant and moving away in a nebulous zone bring us to sonic hoops whose shocks make emerge the spectral song of a Martenot wave. It's from these elements and of a sinister song of a church organ that Unpredictable inscribes its presence in order to give the first rhythmical impulse to EXTENSIVE. Percussions and bass pulsations structure these rhythms which gallop slowly to explode sooner or later. The synth and the guitar duel and exchanging solos vibrant with emotions as this rhythm is racing in order to crash in a kind of interrupted coitus. But the ambiences are of fire and the Martenot waves multiply the attacks on a structure which deploys its lines of pulsations as well as its effects of echoes from some invisible percussive elements, thus vivifying a structure which bubbles without exploding. This portion is very similar to the Tangerine Dream choreographies of the Sonic Poem Series. We are getting to Crucial Now and its intense ambiospherical introduction. Layers of an old organ, piano notes and effects of electronic winds that percussions lead to a gothic down-tempo. Heavy and slow, as well as flogged by raging guitar strata, Crucial Now wraps itself in synth layers with sour-tempered colors which are not that opaque to contain the sedentary violence which gets lively beneath its flight. After one to two seconds of silence, Wayward plunges into an opening filled with floating hoops and stray piano notes. Sequences are rolling with a nervous but static flow. We feel an imminent implosion that will occur with the arrival of the percussions, brilliant here, which overlap the rhythm under the charms of these organ pads. We dive into a furious apocalyptic rock with a finely stroboscopic passage with a very lively bass line. The violence of EXTENSIVE is blooming in all its splendor.
The Summit offers an equally nebulous introduction to Crucial Now. Except that the moods are taking a nosedive near the 3rd minute. First, it's a series of riffs in mode staccato that agitate our feet. Then real lively and jerky electric guitar riffs blow up the chthonian ambiences of The Summit which becomes a real electronic heavy-rock. A big heavy symphonic and cinematographic rock! The hesitant piano notes come back to tease the opening of Stay Tuned to Understand. The creaking tones of the ardent guitar stretch their groans over a mini concert of stridulations. Thunders, or muffled explosions, add to the weight of the crepuscular ambiences where the tic-tac of the time still seem to defy the elements in place. Percussive elements are probing these ambiences, they sound like hobbling hooves, from which rise even more scarlet strata of a guitar/synth fusion in this universe of paradoxes. Everything seems to freeze in time, when in reality everything is moving, but in waiting. Orchestrations add at the weight of this sinister casing, as well as electronic effects which flicker between the harmonic perfumes that are always rebuilding in the piano bed. And the further we go, the more this Shakespearian drama is tightening around the Stay Tuned to Understand ambiances that a line of ascensional bass travels from now on. Guitar solos burst out among these hooves hobbling on hard ground. Intense, this opening evaporates its torments in a delicate lullaby of a piano and in slow orchestrations which monitor the rain and the possible bad weather. These moving thoughts of the piano slide into the opening of Recollection where percussive arpeggios tinkle and dance around this melody which can not silence these roaring beasts from the underworld. Orchestrations weave a bed of violins which throw a little of this mist that make you cry. The percussions are even more captivating our emotions with slow strikes as heavy of sense, while Recollection continues to turn with another face and especially different emotions to embrace a heavy final and tugged by synth solos as vivid as strata of violins. It's in chimes of church bells that Welcome to Reality comes to our ears. The end approaches and the arpeggios tinkle among rather iconoclastic sighs of the keyboard. The tone is set, this final will not be done in heavenly limbo. The mephistophelic decor of EXTENSIVE weaves its seductive canvases with songs of mermaids of the apocalypse in this musical tension worthy of the confines of darkness. Horror-like movie moods, the music changes its tone after the last squealing of hinges and hints of the bells. And if a sweet melody woven into the pipes of an organ rises, that doesn't mean that we are entering an ethereal phase. Not at all! EXTENSIVE dies as it has lived and conquered. An excellent opus from Rainer Klein's Otarion. And this at all levels ...
Sylvain Lupari (April 25th, 2019) *****
Available at Otarion's Bandcamp