PAUL ELLIS: I Am Here (2012)
“I Am Here is an intense and dramatic Berlin School which swirls in a fascinating mixture of old and new musical orientations”
Abandoning the tranquility of the musical landscapes of From out of the Vast Comes Nearness, Paul Ellis attacks I AM HERE with a surprising rhythmic fury. Heavy and threatening rhythms which pulsate in all senses under the bites of tens of undisciplined keys are forging the surprising soundscape of this album which is also layered by amazing impulses of a synth and kits multiple pads flying with madness over the striking reminiscences of Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre. A strangely powerful (and disturbing I should add) opus, I AM HERE gets tame with all the patience that Paul Ellis has put here to weave this surrealist musical panorama which is inspired by the paintings that the prehistoric men drawn formerly on the walls of the caves of Columbia River Gorge. Ready? Jump on your headphones cause it's going to rock like I rarely heard from an EM album composed by a North American synthesist. The land of serene electronic poets.
A charge of percussions awakens a strange choir with breaths of silver when synth blades made of a strong Dream scent is covering the first rattles of She Who Watches sequenced keys. These sequences waddle shyly in emptiness, embraced that they are by a whirlwind of synth layers which is controlling this lascivious ascent. This intro is of an implacable sound wealth with a rhythm which turns on itself under a dense soundscape made of synth lines and breezes. The heavy warning shots of the powerful chords are resounding among sequences became puny, and under the tortuous breezes of a synth with multi forms of breathes. And slowly She Who Watches changes its rhythmic skin, suspended in the twists of a motionless maelstrom from where flee metallic gases before that the second part bursts out under the knocks of big drums. The wind turns and the breaths of synths swirl with strength, multiplying tenfold the velocity of sequences and these heavy resonant chords which will escape in order to form a fluid and harmonious rhythm. A rhythm which pours of its sparkling curves under melodic synth solos. The winds of Chinook Wind sing of their dissonance but mesmerizing voices on a bed of carillons which tinkle among metallic gases. Turning in minimalist loops, these howling winds are holding onto the heavy impulses of an implosive synth to create a powerful sound storm from where a multitude of jumping keys are running away. The movement calms down at around the 7th minute to embrace some more ethereal reliefs with muffled winds which blow over the lamentations of a shaman Berber isolated between mountains sides. Nearly 3 minutes after the silence of the lost souls, the movement takes back its strength of origin but with more furious sequences which pound in all senses under of cyclic singings which remind me strangely some of acerbic Meredith Monk's incantations. I must admit that it's a piece of music difficult to tame.
And the ambiguity, as much as for rhythms as ambiences, remains all entire with 1 A.M. On an Island in the Columbia River. This long title of 30 minutes will destabilize more than an ear. The intro is stuffed with head winds which blow in a strange vocal multiplicity. Strange tones are pulsating while that the rustlings which rustle on metallic walls add even more to the hearing confusion which invades the listener. Far off, a pulsation made of vapor increases quietly its strength to resound with all its echoing timbre in a temporary void before forging a heavy and pulsating rhythm which bangs in a space-time fills of related tones. Another rhythmic phase is settling down and winds this heavy pulsation whereas that a tender mellotron pushes the breaths of its mellifluous flute over a heavy resounding rhythm. And so is made 1 A.M. On an Island in the Columbia River. Strongly inspired by Tangerine Dream's Stratosfear era, this long epic track evolves by inter-linked segments which brings us to the borders of the taciturn atmospheres of the Dream and the cosmic ones of Jean-Michel Jarre. The mellotron is charming, the glaucous pulsations are disturbing and these lines of sequences which crisscross a universe in continual movements add a disarming touch to a title as much furious as poetic which rages and softens in the will of Paul Ellis' ancestral visions.
I AM HERE is an intense work. This Paul Ellis' 13th opus is a real running fire of rhythms which seethe in intense magmatic envelopes of synths molded in the fluids of anger. I rarely heard a so intense and powerful album which depicts the fears and incredulities of the first peoples on a continent set up on the mystery of the planetary upheavals. This is intense and dramatic Berlin School which swirls in a fascinating mixture of old and new musical orientations of a genre which never seems to dry up. The avant-gardism and audacious ears are going to make a real delight of it.
Sylvain Lupari (October 11th, 2012) ****¼*
Available at Spotted Peccary