OTARION: Genius (2015)
“Genius is a stunning surprise with a very esthetical EM envelope where scents of Vangelis are roaming in a mix of New Age and New Berlin School”
1 New Visions (4:50)
2 Beauty Lights (4:21)
3 Out of Darkness (8:22)
4 The Genius (8:48)
5 Tears of Laurentius (6:26)
6 Dream of Aratos (9:21)
7 Enjoy the Infinity (9:24)
8 Don't turn Away (7:40)
9 The Inexpressible (8:06)
(CD-r /DDL 67:22) (V.F.)
(Cinematographic, New Berlin School, New Age and Electronica)
The soft piano which caresses our ears will recall certain intros of heavy metal's most sulfurous ballads. Then come some sequences which cavort with fragility and a bass line which snores slowly. Their fusion forges then a kind of trot. A lento which reminds now the slow movements Vangelis' Babylonian rhythms. The sonic esthetic of New Visions is weaved in intensity, in passion. Tears of an e-guitar tear up this slow ride with lamentations that grab me by the roots of my arm's hairs. And the piano is also poignant, awakening in us this structure of dramatic crescendo that has making melt the hardest of us in Chariots of Fire. Honestly? I would have received this album with a note advising me that this is a new Vangelis album that I would have believed it. To say the least, when we hear the first tracks of GENIUS! Otarion is a project of the German musician/synthesist Rainer Klein. And it was utterly unknown to me. I received this album in a batch of CD that Bernd Scholl sent me so that I discover the universe of MellowJet Records. Honestly? The first listening had hardly seduced me. We are far from the complex rhythms of the Berlin School, those digitals of the New Berlin School or yet of the infectious rhythms of Electronica. In fact, I had found that too hyper melodious. Almost near New Age moods. It's when my eyebrows grazed my forehead on some occasions (I had the nose in a book) that I let myself tempted by this last album of Otarion, his 2nd on MellowJet and his 6th since 1997. And now, I decided to talk to you about it.
Beauty Lights sticks to the finale of New Visions, one would say that both are music brothers, with a series of arpeggios which sound like the riffs of an acoustic guitar on ballad. The synth breezes throw a sibylline veil, whereas the jingles of electronic percussions make roll a ghost rhythm. Everything here is built around the rinforzando's model. It's very melodious. The rhythm is present, even slightly lively, without having of real life. Orchestrations, notes of piano and a celestial voice embalm this structure of film music which suddenly dives into a very electronic universe. Everything is of drama and passion in the 67 minutes of the album! Otarion injects constantly elements of drama, here it's this seraphic voice which caresses of its ethereal sighs the dramatic effect of the piano notes which fall with passion, in structures which progress slowly and tirelessly. If New Visions and Beauty Lights will nail you on a cloud, Out of Darkness shows that Otarion can develop complex structures which are always fed by delicacy. After a rather tenebrous intro, where a bass line waves slyly in a metallic din, felted percussions and an angelic choir divert the dark atmospheres of Out of Darkness into the warm airs of nice orchestrations. A flute, kind of Pan style, resists the assaults of still but aggressive sequences, continuing this perpetual fight between EM and New Age which eats away the 9 structures music here. And, while we believe that New Age will dominate, the tempo goes to some good Electronica. Then towards a kind of progressive rock before returning in the charms of a beautiful serene ballad where piano and flute, flavored by blue lotus perfumes, are dancing on a lento beat which is slowly astride over the plains of our subjection. I'm telling you: we hook on it! The title-track always offers these structures of lento where the rhythm gallops in a dress which changes constantly of colors but not of styles. The piano is very ethereal, joyful. The melodic approach is constantly modified on a structure which always gallops but with different speeds in the trot. The electronic guitar is very present and breathes a beautiful tone into a track which always tries to exploit this sense of the drama which seems to live into Rainer Klein. And we hook to this! How to ignore these solitary souls which find love with this wonderful piano which decorates a structure in constant struggle. A structure that is constantly poignant. After the very ambient and very filmic Tears of Laurentius, Dream of Aratos does again touching us as much as in the title-track but with a mix of emotion and with cloudiness. The seraphic voice gets fading. And we let our self being absorbed by the darkness where a small ringing of crystal-clear arpeggios, a la Halloween style, roams in a very Mephistophelian vibe. We go to another side with the very electronic structure, at both dark and lively, which is in perpetual movement Enjoy the Infinity that brings us near the power-land of Electronica. One would believe to hear some Moonbooter here. After a Don't turn Away which prowls between Genius and Dream of Aratos, The Inexpressible ends the album with a slow and heavy rhythm. A rhythm which goes by a very ambiospherical intro before trotting then galloping on the notes of a dreamy piano and the riffs of an electronic guitar. That makes an apocalyptic Wild West style. That makes a structure of music intended to a dark and distressing movie.
As surprising as improbable, I passed by all the ranges of emotion with this very beautiful album of Otarion. If New Visions and Beauty Lights tries to pull you arms' hairs with a tiny plier, the rest of GENIUS will punch you with ambivalent and versatile structures where poignant elements, moods of tenderness and passion are roaming in darkness. And as in the music of Vangelis, there is always a piece of melody or still some beautiful orchestrations which makes us raise all the hairs of our spinal with structures sculptured in slow crescendo which always end by reaching their goal; either surprise us, touch us and amaze us. A wonderful album, very musical and very esthetic, where the order of the tracks and the level of intensity is splendidly used. A little as if it was the soundtrack of our life!
Sylvain Lupari (April 22nd, 2015) ****¼*
Available on MellowJet Records