Paul Ellis Five Bliss Machines on the Infinite Stage (2022)
“Personally, I don't remember having heard such an intense work by Paul Ellis”
1 A Universe is a Cell which is a Universe 18:46
2 Little did he Know 11:34
3 Five Bliss Machines on the Infinite Stage 18:33
4 Stars end Canon 15:47
5 Ebb and Flow 13:21
(CD/DDL 78:01) (V.F.)
(Berlin School Ambient Music)
This is the 4th album that Paul Ellis appends his name to in 2022. Unbroken Spirit, with Jared White, started things up in February. Then came Pulse Width and Panoramas CD III in May. Lately, the excellent, and one of the very beautiful surprises in 2022, Clouds and Terrain with Pabellón Sintético came to tickle our ears. And here is FIVE BLISS MACHINES ON THE INFINITE STAGE, Ellis' 3rd album produced by Groove nl in 2022, to end this productive year of the American musician on a note as fascinating as seductive. What the musician proposes here is nothing less than a very good Berlin School wrapped in the unique atmospheres of this artist who manages to put in music his breathtaking soundscapes of the United States' Pacific Northwest, close to Mount Saint Helens, where he lives and where he takes his inspiration from. In fact, the title is inspired by the 5 peaks of the Cascade Mountain Range, which can be seen on the photo on the back cover of the CD. From the onset, Paul redirects me to the review I redacted about Clouds and Terrain, where I wrote that Pabellón Sintético had the ascending in terms of rhythm structures. The native of Washington State corrects me and instead points out that having worked with Jared White, and Pablo Bilbao has inspired him to built rhythmic patterns again that we find in both of these albums and, contrary to what I thought, it was him who crafted most of the percussion and bass parts on these albums. Especially on Clouds and Terrain. And it is well felt on FIVE BLISS MACHINES ON THE INFINITE STAGE, where we are in the realm of a new electronic psychedelia as well as of the refined, hypnotic and soothing electronic music (EM). This is true art for the ears with 5 long tracks and their rhythmic patterns as fascinating as improbable that are finely elaborated on good and long magnetizing structures, even if the paradoxes meet each other in new identities. Personally, I don't remember having heard such an intense work by Paul Ellis.
A Universe is a Cell which is a Universe is typical of the Ellis repertoire with a sound fauna and a musical tension that screws our ears to our headphones. Our senses are on alert and are literally seduced by this ambient rhythm structure that marvellously merges the progressive and electronic music of the 70's in a more contemporary tone. Breezes of mist slightly misshapen, synth lines that undulate with faint owl-like ululating, and waves that stretch into musical arabesques are among the meditative elements that open its slow, haunting flow. The rhythm emerges around the 3rd minute. The bass releases four notes and the rising vibrations collide with percussive chords of which the metallic and gaseous resonance is undeniably reminiscent of Tangerine Dream in the White Eagle and Hyperborea years. The setting is unctuous with an immense palette of tones, some of which have a cosmic essence, innate to the musician's style as he unleashes his inspiration in his atmospheric phases that often flirt with a texture and a sibylline vision. There is a storm of sounds and sound effects that rages silently in this setting dominated by the bass that makes whispering its fretboard in symbiosis with these percussive bursts, while the guitar scatters dreamy chords in an ambience abundantly covered with a mist whose essence is similar to that which surrounds the 5 mountain peaks. The track sifts through its 18 minutes in an evolution of rhythm and ambiences where the guitar and keyboard weave an irreparable link between some old Pink Floyd and Dream in a more current musical envelope. There is a light form of drama in this album by the presence of these layers of buzzing wind and this shadow of bass which weave panoramas feeling their erosions. This is how Little did he Know begins. The breezes howl in the shimmering effects of a kaleidoscopic hive that filters them in whirring roars. Reverberating waves stretch their twists on the reflection of some chords that try to climb towards summits where percussive thunders are rolling, and that psychotronic sound effects are enshrouding a sonic sky which is gradually oxidizing. The synth releases absent tunes while the keyboard lets shine pearlized chords in a long atmospheric phase that is supported by 5 cadenced chords. Arpeggios, wandering like innocent fireflies, twirl around this ambient rhythmic framework and its shadow rendered by a bass line whose comings and goings are in symbiosis with these percussive chords that crumble as if breaking a rhythmic mirror still trying to form itself.
The synth laments, on a dark musical background, add a dramatic intonation to the opening of the title track. Already, an ambient rhythm fizzes like the muffled clacking of small metallic elytra of a fauna of digital butterflies under jeremiads that draw the arabesques of astral whales' complaints. The decor extends a dark shadow with a synth become more sibylline and whose floating harmonies give this sensation to hear a mourned trumpet player. A flute and its subdivided airs flood our hearing with tender dreamlike outbursts, gliding on these orchestral mists that float on the twirling movement of this foraging ambient rhythm. Early morning bird chirps irradiate the panorama of Five Bliss Machines on the Infinite Stage where air and water feign timidly through the trees and their branches and the sinuosity of the landscape. The percussions fall in a disorderly fashion around the 8th minute, carrying in its resonance the heavy amphibian murmurs of a humming bass. From passive ambient, the rhythm unveils its finely jerky framework with a sequencer that unfolds a procession of moiré arpeggios. Its patterns adopt either an ascending movement or a stationary volute of which the capers turn into a fine aerial melody. The opening of Stars end Canon shimmers with synth tunes that weave the album's nostalgic ties to those that sounded like TD's trumpets on the '77 North American tour. We have a beautiful atmospheric opening that is rich in sounds and in little bits of melodies that make their way to the river of our emotions, like this bright ritornello that twists and turns under the long zigzagging effects of waves and undulating synth lines. A rhythmic movement is heard around the 4th minute, accompanying this lullaby that flows in two tones and two axes. Lyrical! Stars end Canon unravels its cloak of atmospheric poetry until a bass kick shakes its foundation around the 6th minute. The structure suddenly becomes haloed with a dramatic texture that is supported by those vibrant bass notes, as the sequences begin to swirl like rhythmic flakes. One hears several sonic elements shining around this duality between snippets of harmonies and rhythms that swirl in this intense mosaic where the rhythm sequence takes its ascendancy in the last third. Ebb and Flow announces its rhythmic colors from its opening with a very good movement, very Berlin School, of the sequencer. The bass lets off its reverberating shadows on this rising movement, adding that dramatic music texture that extends its aura to the height of FIVE BLISS MACHINES ON THE INFINITE STAGE. This rhythm hugs an inverted spiral movement that seems to absorb a plethora of sound particles that tinkle in harmony with its pace. The second minute brings us a splendid upward movement from a pulsating bass line sequence, giving even more Berliner relief to the rhythm. It's heavy, slow and it swirls like the best moments of Redshift and/or Arc on a heavy Moog. A fascinating melody sticks to this structure, adding a chthonian zest to this track obviously inspired by vintage Tangerine Dream. Ebb and Flow reaches its atmospheric passage about 20 seconds after the last bass hit. That is to say around the 6th minute. The synth deploys oblong atmospheric wings where two contrasting tones inject color and sibylline elements to a passage of more or less 3 minutes, before the rhythm reappears in another form, more spasmodic, where good synth chants shine and guitar textures roar. This is quite a way to conclude a powerful and intense album, as much in rhythm as in atmospheric elements, by a Paul Ellis who is at his zenith on FIVE BLISS MACHINES ON THE INFINITE STAGE.
Sylvain Lupari (November 28th, 2022) ****½*
Available at Groove nl
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