OWANN: Particles (2015)
“This is a surprising debut album where Owann overlaps the main genres of modern EM”
1 Close your Eyes 5:28
2 Early Spring Morning River 4:12
3 One Day we will Walk Together 8:46
4 Molecular Orbital 7:39
5 Inside the Crowd 6:21
6 Running on Empty 9:02
7 Eclipse 8:55
8 Silent Rain 6:27
9 Particle Illusions 3:19
10 Ocean of Tranquility 7:39
11 Yaghan 6:31
(DDL 74:25) (V.F.)
(Mostly ambient Berlin School)
The fever of EM, whether it's the ambient and psybient styles or the Berliner model, spreads its epidemic migration towards the Belgian territories. Certainly there is always Dany Budts, and the Syndromeda project, as well as Walter Christian Rothe, for Pillion, who are very respectable standard bearers of this cultural excitement. Then came Nisus, The Roswell Incident and By Senses. And I'm sure that there are names out there that we just don't hear about yet or work in the shadows, like Dries De Vreeze, who polish up the art and its styles, its sub-styles. And then there is this famous B-Wave Festival in Limburg where each autumn some local and international artists fill the ears, and the eyes, to hundreds of spectators who return with other new contaminated followers the following year. Owann, pronounced Johan, is the last one to emerge from this artistic milieu. A close friend of Didier BySenses Dewachtere, moreover the both will form the 3 Towers project which will be on stage at the next B-Wave Festival, Johan De Paepe offers a first opus strongly impregnated on the model of Frigments-Fragments, the first opus also of his friend BySenses. PARTICLES proposes a brochette of 11 tracks which overlap the meditative or the floating ambient styles. Or still the kind of ethereal seraphic and cinematographic as well as the Berlin School as vintage as contemporary. And it's a rather surprising album, and just as much attractive, for somebody who began to his music hardly 4 years ago.
Close your Eyes begins this first sound odyssey of Owann with a stop in the lands of contemplativity. It's a very enveloping ambient track where we have the impression that heavens unfold their long wings of serenity to bring us far from the earthly noises. The astral voyage is slow and we float with the grace of a big swan which spreads its long wings to bring us where the sonic drops are more perfumed by sadness than wet by sounds without soul. I find the signature of Owann for his ambient music very generous in feelings. There are lots of beautiful arrangements. Tracks such as Eclipse, Silent Rain, Ocean of Tranquility and the somber Yaghan are as much intense as very celestial with layers of voices which float between synth lines filled by iridescent colors and/or tears by violins very thoughtful. At times some arpeggios chime with an incredible delicacy there, forging astral melodies which mislaid their airs in seraphic perfumes and in the slow angers of the god Aeolus. Early Spring Morning River is a soft minimalist melody among which the shadows and the echoes of the notes forge a kind of sound cannon sculpted in a beautiful duel between two lines of piano which some tears of violins embrace of a profound melancholic approach. That makes very Philip Glass. That makes a so very filmic music, like One Day we will Walk Together which is a dark, a very melancholic piece of music with a very delicate rhythm, like a Gothic lullaby. It's a rather moving track where the chords increase their emotive intensities as the music progresses.
Molecular Orbital is another small ambient ballad. The rhythm is soft. Based on sober percussions which compete with more lively pulsations, with faster beatings, it lifts a thick cloud of sequences which spin like sparks of a big camp fire towards a sky encircled by beautiful orchestral arrangements. The introduction of Inside the Crowd plunges us literally into the core of the rustles of a crowd before the music widens a mortuary veil which waves as a slow funeral Still there, Owann infuses into his music sweet nuances in tones, in lamentations, sculpting so a soundscape filled by emotions. Running on Empty is the longest and the most delicious track from this collection of PARTICLES. It's a heavy and lively track which is in the spirit of a good dark and audacious Berlin School. The sequences are like sound particles which spin as some loose snow trapped in head winds. They are sharp and flicker like hummingbirds, modeling some brief nervous jerks. Isolated at first, they are fast snatched by a heavy and deep movement of bass and of its pulsations which forge a kind of race for a furious train which rolls at a brisk pace on bare ground or to hillside and lowers its intensity, by a beautiful felted effect, when it sounds the depths and the curves of caves. The whole thing sounds very Redshift. The rhythm also goes off the rails with synth lamentations which slightly brush the somber sinister atmospheres of Gothic Berlin School English is very appealing. Honestly, this is very good and it's one of the best track in its genre this year. Particle Illusions is more in the kind of New Berlin School with a lot fragrances of a more contemporary Tangerine Dream. The sequences waddle in a movement of electronic synth-pop a la Jean-Michel Jarre, in particular with those metallic bangings and a humming pulsation from a throbbing bass line. It's a very catchy piece of music which reflects the very great diversity of a rather attractive album and from an artist of whom I really look forward to hearing him more.
Sylvain Lupari (June 16th, 2015) *****
Available at Owann Bandcamp