PAUL ELLIS: Panoramas CD-1 (2021)
“An album that is difficult to access but that oh so rewards those audacious ears”
1 Misty Mountain Hideaway 31:58
2 Crown Point Under the Milky Way 30:33
(CD/DDL 62:33) (V.F.)
(Soundscapes, Art for Ears, Ambient)
An airy, piercing synth chant introduces Misty Mountain Hideaway, as well as its thunders tones. Buzzing, organic lines fill a medieval woodland setting while, on another tone, the synth strays into harmonies with a nasal, psychedelic texture. Paul Ellis does psybient! And why not with this slow introduction filled with twisted drones and half-lines of already faded harmonies? In this mythical forest seems to hide a malevolent spirit so much the atmospheres created by Paul Ellis spread a heavy climate of discomfort. A structured rhythmic beginning on sequenced synth pads takes us out of these negative thoughts by creating an ascending rhythmic illusion. Still, the setting and tonal fauna of Misty Mountain Hideaway overflows with negative energy with reverberating twisted lines that lead us to a cellist stretching the sadness of his strings in a bucolic world haunted by the presence of a Machiavellian beast. We reach the 9th minute and still Misty Mountain Hideaway bathes in a universe full of sounds. Without rhythms, nor harmonies. The synth multiplies its sinuous waves and its lines of always unfinished airs while spreading this dichotomous approach where the sound honey flirts with its opposite. Brief fluty tunes are heard embedded in this murky panorama that lets a slow wave of ambient rhythm, led by bass chords, climb the slopes of illusion. The music wanting to remain in the mysteries of great secret forests buried of a green flora, Paul Ellis paints it with the accuracy of its mystery. But the advance in this forest remains pleasant to the ear since the American musician has this art to deploy a bank of sounds and effects always interesting, and often captivating to hear. It's thus that we find ourselves around the 20th minute that a storm bursts at the same time as a rhythm which is not stingy of melody. A solid Berlin School with sequenced jerks to which are grafted enchanting tunes, also dressed in mystery. This rhythmic phase fades out more than 5 minutes later, maintaining a suspense with its hesitant structure whose shortwave telecommunication noises bring us back to this possibility that the invisible hiker has lost his way for good. Not easy to follow, but with a lot of imagination Misty Mountain Hideaway can suit any cause.
Think about it! Two long 30-minute tracks is not the best thing saleable, unless you're a fan of long titles that morph into the passage of their minutes. Or, unless you're a fan of Paul Ellis. PANORAMAS CD-1 is the first of 2 CDs that the musician-synthesist is releasing on Groove nl. The project is quite particular and follows a long process of composing and recording short tracks that have nothing in common and that are combined to form a symbiosis of harmony, rhythm and... chaos. This is exactly what Misty Mountain Hideaway is made of, while Crown Point Under the Milky Way is a project that requires listening, as the ideas and pieces of music put together lead us to 30 minutes of audacious music and its creative rhythmic structure. Its opening, however, is more musical with string instruments trading nostalgic tears over a light hypnotic flow. Yes, there are still those twisting synth lines. But they are of beautiful pastel colors that are soft to the ears. This procession for string orchestra ends up being pleasant to listen to. If you like EM and its immense possibilities, as mentioned by Paul in his synopsis, you can tell that he decorates the strings of his small acoustic ensemble quite well. The ambience changes a bit after the 10th minute to exploit a psybient vision without rhythm but filled with all kinds of tones that have nothing in common except the chaos of the sounds. Tinkling, distorted chirps, oxygenless haze, vaporous gas, vaporous chords and much more are adorning a long moment where the rhythm magically takes shape around the 16th minute. Gas pads are at the origin of it. They influence Paul Ellis' direction as he carves out a circular rhythm born to increase both its power and speed. And this moment rewards our patience when PE annexes noises and sounds that get swallowed by this inverted tornado that even takes on an Electronica beat. An excellent passage where Paul fills our ears to the rim of sounds pleasure. The tribal pulses distance themselves around the 26th minute and the rhythm returns to these gas pads that make a nebulous cha-cha in an evasive vision. They withstand the next 4 minutes of turbulent sounds before disappearing into more celestial orchestrations than in the opening.
There you have it, the first part of PANORAMAS, an album that is difficult to access but that oh so rewards those audacious ears that know that music can have different forms before seducing. Another daring work, Rainforest and Pavement, was not an easy thing too, by the unique Paul Ellis. Panoramas CD-II should be available soon.
Sylvain Lupari (September 10th, 2021) *****
Available at Groove nl