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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Otarion Logos (2023)

Another great album of narrative EM which has this gift of tormenting our soul

1 Announcement of the Savior 9:21

2 Birth of the Lord 4:03

3 John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus 3:10

4 Temptation in the Desert 7:24

5 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me 3:53

6 The Transfiguration 7:25

7 Jesus Prayer 5:30

8 Exaltation on the Cross 9:07

9 Sheol 2:45

10 Resurrection of Jesus Christ 7:26

11 The Ascension 4:49

12 Pentecost 8:42

(CD-(r)/DDL 73:42) (V.F.)

(Progressive E-Rock, Cinema)

I may as well say it from the start; the crusades, the massacres and the sexual scandals that have always been part of the history of the Christian religion have made me an atheist. Paradoxically, I like to listen to those feature films extolling the stories of Moses and Jesus Christ that swarm our television screens during the Easter era. And I thought, well, maybe it's time to talk about this new opus from Otarion entitled LOGOS. Initially, I thought it was a nod to the music of Tangerine Dream. And yet, from the first listen I felt that Rainer Klein's new offering had more of a pastoral feel to it than fragrances of the electronic music (EM) of Franke, Froese and Schmoelling's metal years. There is a rather biblical cinematic intensity that hovers over the 12 structures, with the exception of Pentecost, of this new album that MellowJet Records has just released in CD-(r) format and for download on its website. Following in the lyrical footsteps of No Time Was Lost and Prayer from the Deep, LOGOS offers narrative structures with shimmering melodies that weave some pretty good earworms, and a strong cinematic essence connected to bass layers, as well as bass blasts that project dramatic auras.

An elegiac breeze is at the origin of Announcement of the Savior. A barely discernible rhythm line undulates quite vividly through the decor, creating a zigzagging approach under the reverberations of a bass layer that projects a cinematic-dramatic aura. The percussions are raging around the 140-second mark, giving a vigorous boost to this driving electronic rock. A line of moiré arpeggios is grafted onto it, making a recurring air shimmer as the bass stuns the senses with a presence that overlaps the dynamism of the percussions. The rhythm is interspersed with short phases, twice and excluding the finale, of meditative melodies before returning to its base with a series of riffs, a cadenced melody and especially guitar howls that flirt with Coldplay's dramatic style. The track ends under sinuous reverberating shadows where short ambient melodies of an electric guitar are resting. Birth of the Lord makes tinkling a soft, seraphic melody in its opening. Dancing and lightly singing arpeggios multiply in a carousel of cadenced harmonies that twinkle like a choir of Bethlehem stars. The rhythmic structure remains in the same dimension as the previous track and draws its emotional intensity from these riffs and the chanting stars that accompany its progression. John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus offers a rhythm structure ideal to make our neurons dance. Much like the previous track, the music is centered around a melodic keyboard approach that makes a melody hover like a big leaf falling in a twirling spiral from an imaginary tree. It's a lighthearted track that borders on Easy Listening and New Age. On the other hand, its second half is more gloomy with a rhythm that bubbles a bit more in a static state. Temptation in the Desert is a very intense track with bits of melodies that grab the soul over a slow pace and a heavy sky that is covered by swarms of guitar riffs and of orchestral arrangements. The keyboard screws an empirical melody with a cadence that matches the percussions. The track is divided into 3 parts by less intense phases where the percussions still plough a slow and slightly lively rhythm, like a rock waltz. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me is more of a meditative ambient genre with emotionally charged synth lines that waltz on the bed of reverberations provided by the dramatic texture of the bass shadows. A beautiful piano layers a melody that makes its effect on the strings of our soul. Short and sweet!

There are moments in Otarion's albums when you want to stop time. The Transfiguration is one of those moments! It is a beautiful track full of vibrational waves that weave a dense panorama of emotions and tenderness. Rainer Klein's magical fingers transpose his nostalgia on a piano with harmonies so sensitive that our backbone tries to leave our body. The violins orchestrate a moment of passive captivity to this music that percussions weigh down in a dimension of slow tempo where we have this feeling of dancing in the clouds. Then, the guitar completes a tandem with the keyboard by singing these whining and melancholic tunes that make our knees soft. How beautiful it is! Jesus Prayer is in a continuation, but in more meditative ambient style. Exaltation on the Cross lands between the ears with a structure of sequenced arpeggios that ripple and shimmer like a distant Halloween tune. The heaviness of the bass spreads a carpet of radioactive reverberations, bringing a dramatic touch to an opening that is more sibylline than seraphic. The track evolves into an approach of rhythm without spirit which is provided by percussions that pound a structure which becomes intensely dramatic. Especially when the guitar riffs start to bite in this more cinematographic than rhythmic vision of a track fueled as much by sequenced arpeggios, buzzing bass shadows, laments occluded by a synth in hellish whining mode and percussions as solid as the extent of the guitar riffs. The melody that pierces this velum of intensity with its 6 chords is the kind to weave an earworm, while the organ layer plunges us into a much darker universe. Sheol is a short interlude as important as The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and Jesus Prayer. Its distant melody crosses the borders of Resurrection of Jesus Christ to shine with more musicality. Built on the same principle as Exaltation on the Cross and with the melodramatic ardor of Transfiguration, the music has more cinematic than rhythmic vision, yet without being a meditative atmospheric genre. It's melodic and meditative with dramatic impulses screwed into the percussive surges and laments of that synth/guitar fusion that dominates some of LOGOS soundscapes. And those puny crystal musical pearls that trail their melodious grooves across the track's horizons are as poignant as a tear blade. We still hear them, after the album is over! The Ascension is the most electronic of the ambient tracks on the album. It's a pretty intense track because of its scarlet-tinted panorama. In a structure that evolves towards a more sober and less cinematic electronic rock, Pentecost concludes LOGOS with a music built on the principles of the other 5 long tracks of this album that charmed me as much as Constellations and the Red Thread Front, a very nice album that Otarion made back in 2016.

Sylvain Lupari (April 11th, 2023) ****½*

Available at MellowJet Records

(NB: Text in blue are links you can click on)

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