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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

OWANN: Eternal Return (2016)

Between rhythms and ambiences, the music here travels with the elegance of the most beautiful sonic poems

1 Return to Sils-Maria 9:40

2 Frozen 5:56

3 White Forest 6:48

4 Silvaplana 15:40

5 Muottas Muragl 5:25

6 Eternal Return 8:00

7 Walking in Surlei 20:12

8 Memories 4:24

(Digipak / DDL 76:05) (V.F.)

(Mostly ambient Berlin School)

Like winds coming from icy summits, a distant humming sweeps the horizons of Return to Sils-Maria. We hear waves there to roll in the air, as these snowbanks which tumble down from the mountains. And then, the noise of the void which widens its veil of the sadness. And behind these 90 seconds, a superb movement of crystal clear sequences pierces the mystery and draws spheroidal circles of which the graceful movements of the fairy ballerinas swirl on the slow amplitudes of a completely delicious bass line. We dance and dance in our head with these fairies, like we waltz on the theatrical ice where are tipping over the fogs and the frosts of the cold. We are not alone. No! Layers of synth with perfumes as much heavy as black wrap these embraces of an unreal touch, so giving more tonus to the circular rhythm of Return to Sils-Maria which is a splendid opening to this 2nd long-awaited album from Owann. Inspired by the several stays of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Sils-Maria between 1881 and 1883, Johan De Paepe undertook a kind of musical pilgrimage in the winter of 2016. Blown by the beauty of the landscapes, his trip inspired him the title of ETERNAL RETURN following a concept, a contents of thoughts, wrote by Friedrich Nietzsche during a stay in the enchanting décor of this small village of Switzerland. This sound collection of Owann is so traced on the model of his very beautiful Particles; an album intensely poetic. And between rhythms and ambiences, his music travels with the elegance of the most beautiful sonic poems. After this small jewel which is Return to Sils-Maria, Frozen throws us in a state of hibernation with slow synth layers filled of sizzling and grave tones which infuse a delicate sibylline perfume. The undulation of the layers makes sing the cold in a universe of deep ambient moods as penetrating as that of the Steve Roach. The opening of White Forest is like a fine drizzle which crystallizes its embrace. If the movement is slow, it's still melodious with a piano which tosses its notes as thousands of branches which burst under the torture of the cold. We even hear the ghosts of the forest here to snivel of solitude. We can even imagine their breaths get congeal in the cold while the echo of the keyboard chords gets lost among these heavy effects of reverberations which hide the lunar decoration of ETERNAL RETURN. After an introduction of ambiences where our ears get beatified in front of a concert of drones which accumulate its iridescent lamentations in a symphony for cold hummings, Silvaplana glitters between our ears as these Michael Stearns' mirages in M'Ocean! Fluid but relatively quiet, the sequenced waves stack static loops of rhythm which let fall some repetitive harmonious filets where hide murmurs and humming of an astral choir. This is a splendid title which little by little takes the shape a very good morphic slow dance.

Muottas Muragl is a crossing between the ambient moods of Frozen and White Forest with pinched keyboard chords which reveal a perfume of Steve Howe. Intense and dramatic, like the title-track which also proposes a wall of breaths and hummings in a warmer and also more sibylline envelope. The same recipe is kept for the opening of the sublime Walking in Surlei which will climb all the roads of the Berlin School EM style with its delicately jerky structure of rhythm where the sequences possess this breath of glass flute while keeping a percussive approach. A wide carpet of mist unties some strands which roam like starving spectres. Simply joyous. The music dives into an ambiosonic void after the point of 8:30 minutes. Then a sweet movement of sequences so close to those of Klaus Schulze's contemporary years emerges. The beat gets on its feet again some 90 seconds farther. As much beautiful and magnetic as its first phase, it adopts an approach closer to Electronica with a nice morphic down-tempo. The bangings, the mute choir and the effects of resounding drones lead this wonderful title in a completely unexpected territory. Brilliant! Hat to Owann for it. Memories concludes this superb album of Johan De Paepe with a piano which throws its notes as we filter our souvenirs. The melody which results from it is like a shower of tears over the most beautiful moments of a life passage already too far. Yes, a very beautiful album my friends.

Sylvain Lupari (November 29th, 2016) ****½*

Available at Owann's Bandcamp

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