PAUL ELLIS: Rainforest And Pavement (2020)
Updated: Jul 2
“It needs a third ear to listen to the 11 verses and the 78 minutes of this Paul Ellis album dominated by the desire to create”
1 Rainforest and Pavement 5:13
2 Northwest Cedar Coliseum 5:51
3 Eyes in the Dark 9:49
4 Liquid Sorcery 7:11
5 Rose Gold, Bronze and Copper 8:25
6 Snow Flurry in Lamp Post Glow 6:16
7 Drifting Through an Astral Doorway 8:30
8 Spectre of the Ancient City of Ur 7:26
9 Conversations for Neon Cello and Haunted Orchestra 5:53
10 The Way that Autumn Came to the Trees 4:28
11 Misty Light of a Forest at Dawn 9:29
(CD/DDL 78:36) (V.F.)
(Art for Ears)
A bass pulsation seems to play with the effect of its weak echo at the opening of Rainforest and Pavement. Clinkings, like crystal-shaped drops of water, sparkle and their drops evaporate in chords of a guitar finely linked to the layers of mist which adorn the introductory landscape of RAINFOREST AND PAVEMENT. Pensive and dreamy, Paul Ellis is on his last album which has just been released on the Dutch label Groove nl. It's in a context of constant agonising indecision between the comfort, the energy of the cities and the hikes in the tropical forests that Paul Ellis wove the main lines of his album. There is therefore a strange ambience where his intimate vision gets lost in the vastness of these forests located on the North West Coast of the United States, place of residence of the musician from Washington state. A textural album where sounds turned in grains which become walls of tranquility or canvases of a neurotic vision, RAINFOREST AND PAVEMENT jumps from one extreme to the other in an album designed to be tamed over a few, if not several, listenings. The ambient textures dominate as much as this need to relax far from the cities, while this demon of the cities surprises with torrents of sounds and of static rhythms that it would take a third ear to listen to the 11 verses and the 78 minutes of an album dominated by the desire to create...
Northwest Cedar Coliseum is a good Berlin School that gives us confidence after the sweet and serene title-track. Under a carpet of mist rises a waddling movement which flutters in an ascending form. Another series of arpeggios activates behind the main rhythm structure, pushing this rhythm towards a noisy phase where momentary percussive effects are grafted. Go up and down, rhythm and rest, Northwest Cedar Coliseum is more in the Pacific School genre, I'm thinking among others of Alpha Wave Movement here, with its structure embellished by sonic pyrotechnic effects. A great title! The ambient rhythms here are mainly driven by a bass line and its elastic arches which radiate like Patrick O'Hearn's good bass. Its movement is more often sneaky, like a wolf playing with its prey. It's also at the heart of Eyes in the Dark where acoustics dominate electronics with a good guitar which covers a fairly psychedelic presence of the synths, except for this fascinating fluty melody. The acoustic riffs spill a bit of gall which gives a strange texture to the rather quirky atmospheres of Eyes in the Dark. Resolutely more in ambient music mode than driven by sequencer, the adventure in the country of Paul Ellis continues with its long canvas of reverberations and synthesizer tones of vintage years in Liquid Sorcery. This longer title of RAINFOREST AND PAVEMENT is like abstract sound art with synthesized doodles that twist like newborns of reverberant materials. Here too we hear these layers of mist from the Baumann years trying to create a mold to collect these elongated twisted shapes which float in a liquid of witchcraft. Each Paul Ellis album brings a title that gets us out of our ears! Rose Gold, Bronze and Copper is this title and offers quite a whole big progressive and psychedelic electronic rock. On a totally wild rhythmic structure, it looks like dozens of steps running in all directions, forged around oscillating loops of all colors and dimensions, are flowing rough riffs and are running joggers playing flutes. There is a fabric of percussions programmed here which add to this fleeting madness of a title which has a little baby in Specter of the Ancient City of Ur. The synths howl and everything turns in inexhaustible loops in this title which could have been born from 'a merger between Gryphon and Synergy.
After this title hard for the ears and inexplicable for the imagination, Paul Ellis returns with another creative and progressive Berlin School in Snow Flurry in Lamp Post Glow. If the opening breathes the freedom of Tomita in Snowflakes are Dancing, what breathes behind this sound image is still conceived in the psychotronic style with reverberations of all kinds. On the other hand, the sequencer ignores this hallucinogenic aestheticism by sculpting this Berlin School which goes up and down until no more sounds can't come from it in a race against the neurosis of a city in full drift. Another great title that requires more than one listening, but already the attraction is there to stimulate this desire to discover an effective Berlin School, even if it's a different. Drifting Through an Astral Doorway offers a slow rhythm with a sequencer releasing a line of bass sequences which advance furtively and gropingly in a glaucous universe reminiscent of the dark corridors of Tangerine Dream in the 70's that Mister Ellis faithfully restores on his guitar. After a breath of mist, Specter of the Ancient City of Ur extends its texture with a line of lively oscillations rolling randomly until it's grafted into a heavy stationary movement fed by loops of oscillations in a universe where is pearling water from everywhere. There are still a lot of Rose Gold, Bronze and Copper essences here. Crystal drops also fall and tinkle in the mysterious setting of Conversations for Neon Cello and Haunted Orchestra. The atmospheres stick to the unreal vision of the title with resonant moans and sinuous reverberation lines that wind their way through a semi-organic area. The hopping rhythm structure of The Way that Autumn Came to the Trees respects the ambient rhythm parameters of RAINFOREST AND PAVEMENT. Always sneaky, it hobbles in a vintage EM universe with its metallic residue mist that surrounds the bits of solos from a guitar and a synth filled with blues accompanied by a bass with elastic chords. Misty Light of a Forest at Dawn ends this album in an enchanting setting. The lines of reverberating moans fill an introduction where clarity tries to update in a sibylline union with darkness. A drama is played out here with mini luminous spirals which undulate here and there, invited by fluty airs and good orchestrations which plunges us into the edge of a forest that only the brightness can restore its greenery of yesteryear. The movements of the synth weave undulating lines and layers which mate in music until penetrating this timeless spiral which sounds so much like Michael Stearns' Chronos, to a lesser extent, where we finally grasp the essentials of Misty Light of a Forest at Dawn and of RAINFOREST AND PAVEMENT. An album like no other, but a great Paul Ellis.
Sylvain Lupari (July 1st, 2020) ****¼*
Available at Groove NL