OWANN: State of Mind (2019)
“State of Mind is a beautiful opus with a perfect balance between ambient melodious phases and soft sequenced beats”
1 The time is Now 8:12
2 Serenity 4:24
3 Dawn of a New Day 7:04
4 A Sacred Place 6:32
5 Nebula 6:32
6 Evendim 7:16
7 Varanasi 6:32
8 The Blue Planet 12:37
(Digipack/DDL 59:11) (V.F.)
(Mostly ambient Berlin School)
A photographer who loves to contemplate the natural wonders of our Planet, Owann gives us a vibrant testimony that shows how he is divided regarding his apprehensions for the future of our Earth. Consisting of 8 titles with a perception of sensitivity and intensity shown by avalanche of orchestrations and synth serenades as piercing as poignant, STATE OF MIND offers slow and minimal approaches. Its vision and the idea of it revolve around a walker in the mountains contemplating the vistas in front of his eyes with a nostalgic look at what could become of these same landscapes in 20 years, perhaps even 10! A journey in the fears of the photographer Johan De Paepe who proposes 8 musical snapshots under his musical nom de plume; Owann ...
A distant synth wave makes its way to our ears when clouds come into contact. A smothered crash sets up The time is Now between my Totem speakers. A monologue on the present time is heard on a lifting of wooshh and waashh. Chords twinkle on these waves whose effects of reverberations increase the idle intensity of the moods. The orchestrations replace the waves, increasing even more the level of accentuation which meets its peak with heavy and lifeless percussions. The music of Serenity reminds me of the Interludes capsules from the Mannheim Steamroller music collections. The piano is as delicate and dreamlike as that of Jackson Berkey with a minimal approach and where the pensive notes fall on the same orchestral waves as in the introductory piece. The music breathes the reach of the title with another level of intensity that murmurs along our spine. Sensitive and very beautiful! Dawn of a New Day is one of the very good tracks on the impressive Ambient Nation 5 collection from the Belgian label Wool-E Discs. A must! A Sacred Place also uses this same pensive piano pattern as in Serenity. The notes fall with hesitation and with other more pastoral chords. The sequencer weaves an ambient rhythm that takes more volume when clinking get graft all around. To date, the first segment of STATE OF MIND is embroidered around soundscapes as ambient as the scenery of the mountains. There is of course Dawn of a New Day, but the rest is very aerial.
Nebula changes the game with minimal ambient rhythm sculpted by the continual ascension of a line of bass sequences. Belly bells, keen knocks of percussions and echo effects add depth to this haunting procession, which is covered by synth lines whose gradation of color effects goes in gradation; either flute breezes that one hums, and violins tickled by angels. An astral voice covers the always hesitant chords of what sounds like an acoustic guitar and that swaps in piano.
The waves of an ocean whisper when a movement of the sequencer starts the oscillations of Evendim which are supported by the returns of the waves. This song of oscillations is joined by a choreography of ascending arpeggios which sparkle and dance in symbiosis on the moving floor of the ocean. The sequences invited themselves, accentuating the rhythmic field of a title which privileges the slow orchestrations of violins always very poignant. A nice track with a more ethereal, a more anesthetic finale. Varanasi takes us to another level with Oriental music animated by manual percussions and embellished by a Sitar which pinches its chords and tinkles in a complex universe of synth's multilayers. This Hindu spiritual music stands out a bit from this collection of ambient and of seraphic moods that have no tribal or no folk connections. The rhythm is as well lascivious and bewitching as these delicate Hindu trances and the street voices remind me of Mind Over Matter (Freak Street). It's surprising, and even disturbing, in this little paradise of meditative music, but it also brings another dimension, another color to the moods of STATE OF MIND. Those who remember the music of Ray Lynch will enjoy the opening of The Blue Planet whose Tibetan bells and his Deep Breakfast album's vibes fill ears and senses. The movement is slow with good orchestrations that drift between the clinking of bells and the peaks of emotivity which converge with intensity. Sequences begin to hover around the 3:30 minutes' point. Their fragile fluttering flirts with the reflections of the bells, as well as their echoes, gradually increasing a rhythmic flow that has become more electronic. Nearly 4 minutes later, The Blue Planet finds its point of equilibrium with an atmospheric phase that stimulates a structure of celestial rumblings. Thunders and rain! A heavenly creature, a god of some sort, finally stretches the arm in order to switch off the natural light of the day and so deposit the darkness of another night on Earth. One less or one more ...
STATE OF MIND is a beautiful opus that is in the continuity of Particles and Eternal Return; two albums that testify to Owann's great sensitivity, coupled with his critical eye. The Belgian musician-photographer manages to balance his atmospheres with a mix of acoustic and electronic approach that gives the impression of traveling on his eyes during his excursions and pilgrimages, between sequenced rhythms and moments of serenity. His trademark since Particles.
Sylvain Lupari (June 11th, 2019) *****
Available at Owann's Bandcamp