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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Paul Ellis Moth in Flames (2015)

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

A nice album from Paul Ellis where the ambient and the cosmic moods are adequately teasing magnetising slow beats”

1 In Flagrante Delicto 8:05 2 Moth in Flames 7:18 3 Birds Migrating over the Prison 8:47 4 Oh Well, Dear Silence 5:08 5 She Walks in Beauty 6:07 6 Lights of a Departing Train 7:41 7 Coeur De Lion 3:53 8 Waves for Durga 6:17 9 The Stained Glass Observatory 5:09 10 Between the Trees; Mount Hood 14:47 Spotted Peccary | SPM-2901

(CD/DDL 73:17) (V.F.) (Berlin School)

We don't approach a Paul Ellis' opus like we look at a flashy object! If his artworks are always magnificent to the eye, his music is it just as much for the ears. It's just that we must take time to hear it. To listen to his subtleties, his fineness and his musical arguments which confront in one outstanding artistic aestheticism, as would say my accomplice Robert Hamel. His music is fed by a sound texture which goes beyond fantasy and his selection of album titles in his repertoire sounds just like a painting embellished in the complexity of the imagination. And this album doesn't break away from this signature of the American master of musical abstracted paints. Embroidered around 10 tracks with finely chosen titles and slow evolutions, except for the sequenced driven Waves for Durga and The Stained Glass Observatory, this last album from Paul Ellis is a whole sonic journey in the heart of his ever minimalist structures which develop in cosmic and ambient textures, sometimes even with a zest of Berlin School, ideal to expose the thousand colors of a sound pallet that Paul Ellis never stops renewing.

In Flagrante Delicto reminds me of Vangelis with its ethereal structure where stroll a series of chords lost in some very melancholic synth lines. Synth lines which draw arcs of musing and of which the floating strands resist to these delicate explosions of bass which dig up those of the famous Greek musician in Blade Runner. Moreover, the sound texture of In Flagrante Delicto crosses deliciously these futuristic zones, as well as those of video games, with an armada of chirping and electronic effects. A skeleton of rhythm cogitates a very long time before taking shape with a series of delicately jerky chords which drive in a loops before rolling for a more steady structure. Some people will hear Tangerine Dream's kinds of sound effects. They are not wrong, because no matter where goes the music we cannot ignore these elements which give a fascinating depth to these structures in perpetual evolutions. The title-track offers a delicate vision of ambient rhythm with keyboard's keys dancing like in a very slow cosmic cha-cha-cha where bass pulsations increase their delight like in the soft rhythms of Patrick O'Hearn (at this level, I have tasted with delight the short Coeur De Lion). And slowly Moth in Flames orientates again its movement, like these caterpillars which go out of their cocoon in order to dance with the caresses of the winds. It's very poetic, just like Birds Migrating over the Prison which continues on these structures of ambient rhythms where the chords, and their spectres a bit sizzling, remain finely jerky. The rhythm is slightly hopping and is limping into rich ethereal atmospheres thanks to the warm intensity of the orchestral arrangements. Some dramatic electronic effects are blowing a second part where the tones have an organic nature which goes hand in hand with these charming singings of birds which amaze our ears since the opening of Birds Migrating over the Prison. Oh Well, Dear Silence stays anchored at these rhythms strangely indistinct of MOTH IN FLAMES with chords which move forward and move back in good electronic effects, among which these knocks of ethereal gas which escape at each jet of pulsations. A thin line of sequences emerges out there and swirls delicately into these rich textures decorated with sound graffiti and with discreet solos always very airy from Paul Ellis. After the very ambiospherical She Walks in Beauty, the reference with the first works of Tangerine Dream cannot be ignored here, Lights of a Departing Train offers the first structure of electronic here, to say the least for the introduction. Afterward, the track evaporates the heaviness of its first minutes to offer these chords which dance on the spot with the lost reflections of its introduction. That does very Paul Ellis with a zest of a deconstructed Jazz a la Philip Glass. Waves for Durga is going to seduce for sure those who worship again and again this good old Tangerine Dream with a rhythm which waves delicately in the perfumes of flute and among good hallucinogenic electronic effects. Let's say that our hearing is sharpened right on the spot by this track! The Stained Glass Observatory is a dark track with huge vampiric waves which are waving over a thick cloud of small steps lost in a marble labyrinth. These steps dance like in a tap-dance for insane persons in a sonic decoration deserving of those dark horror movies. With flabby, even ambient, parts of rhythm which wind such as skeletons in search of bones in atmospheres decorated with sound graffiti and hallucinogenic electronic effects, Between the Trees; Mount Hood concludes this last Paul Ellis' electronic ode with the same mysticism as his musical signature which continues to charm and amaze since The Sacred Ordinary. This is a long track built around the same sonic schemas which prevail all around this album with different chapters all interlinked by slow beats lost or wrap in deep ambiosonic moods where this mosaic of soundscapes never seems to find its way.

And yes, this MOTH IN FLAMES is a nice album built around complexities. As much as in its sonic envelope as in its structures of beats, ambient as driven, with a beautiful sound aestheticism to be discovered. Just like Paul Ellis' universe if it's not already done!

Sylvain Lupari (October 10th, 2015) *****

Available at Spotted Peccary

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