PAUL LAWLER: OPUS (2013)
“Original, powerful and very musical, OPUS is a wonderful album which deserves amply the price of its download”
1 Opus 10:34 2 Thor Hammer 6:32 (feat. Zlatko Perica) 3 Fire Wings 6:18 4 Sun Dog 5:24 5 Post Apocalyptic Rodeo 5:51 (feat. Zlatko Perica) 6 Bringers of the Star 5:47 7 Creation Concept 7:36 8 Tesla Code 6:43 (feat. Paul Speer) 9 Tomorrow's People 6:45 Paul Lawler Music
(DDL 61:30) (V.F.) (Cinematographic E-Rock)
In the myths and legends of Arcane, Paul Lawler is considered as being the ex-keyboard player of this mythical trio of an unknown origin. OPUS is his 8th album solo since the release of Bronx Age in 1997. And if you think to hear a scission of Arcane there, you will have a pleasant surprise. In fact, OPUS is hard to label. Paul Lawler overturns the order of things by offering an album which embraces a vast majority of styles in a musical pattern deserving of a weird movie soundtrack, a kind of mix of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino making a cosmic western in the streets of London during the 2000's. From stormy to poetic, OPUS jostles us from back to front with of solid electronic rock, where the explosive Zlatko Perica has nothing to envy to Eddie Van Halen, of beautiful solitary ballads and of cosmic atmospheres that make us regret his departure from Arcane (will he returns one day?). In brief, it's a strong album built with a master's hand where the styles melt themselves in an astonishing musical mosaic.
The title-track gets into our ears with a meshing of dark waves and oneiric breaths which float in a mood marked by mystery and intensity. These lines agglutinate themselves, mixing their gleaming reflections and their dark breezes in the eddies of a vampiric bass line, while that piercing sirens roar in loops to announce the first rhythmic stammering of Opus. And this rhythm settles down by jingles and pulsations of a bass-drum which beats a linear measure under a howling avalanche of strata sounding like Synergy's and some heavy reverberating drones. The synth spreads its superb lyrical solos which coo in a waltzing fog while the percussions and the heavy resonant pulsations make the ears tremble. Ears which find certain comfort in the grace of very beautiful solos filled by analog perfumes. Opus adopts then a stunning rhythmic ride with an approach which sounds strangely as Ennio Morricone's. And the riffs fall! They are heavy and sharp-edged, lifting some cosmic particles which dance in these very beautiful solos. Solos which unite marvellously rock and electronic, tearing the ambiences of this track impregnated by cinematographic fragrances. Thor Hammer pursues the quest of OPUS' heavy e-rock approach with a chain of sequences which swirls such as the blades of a helix cutting the winds. The muffled percussions go down and hammer a blazing rhythm which pants under soft dreamy strata of a synth and its solos a bit symphonic. The guitar of Zlatko Perica adopts this very melodious musical approach before that the Croatian guitarist bites Thor Hammer of his violent incisive solos. Solos which roar and tear the harmonious paintings of a track which bends its spinal beneath those powerful riffs and some jerky arrangements. These violent solos fly from their shrill laments over a rivulet of sequenced keys which shine between these ethereal ambiences and those jerky rhythms which tear the 6 minutes of Thor Hammer. After the shimmering of fine sequences waving in a dreamlike envelope, Fire Wings also falls under the knocks of percussions, forging one of another heavy rhythms of OPUS. Sequences continue to glitter. Skipping in a harmonious ballet they rock the lamentations of a tearful synth which cries for its mists sieved on a rhythm, always guided by good percussions, which increases subtly its pace. Quietly Fire Wings becomes more intense. Mixing marvellously the crises of synths, and their brief apocalyptic solos, in the orchestral arrangements which thunder in the heavy pulsating reverberations, Fire Wings reveals a surprising musicality of which the wealth gets harmonizes with a rhythm and its progression stuffed by more rhythmic percussions. Hits of felted percussions, sounding like knocks of furtive clogs in a night soaked with a hostile fog, awaken the intro of Sun Dog which espouses a suave down-tempo as weightier as its knocks of percussions. The synth separates the harmonies of the rhythm with beautiful solos which fade in tones of guitars, bringing Sun Dog toward a more poignant portion. It's a beautiful down-tempo in tints of rock.
Speaking of rock, we would believe to hear Van Halen who wants to explode at all costs our loudspeakers in the opening of Post Apocalyptic Rodeo. The solo is powerful and heart-rending. It puts the table for a rhythm hammered by knocks of percussions and of pulsations, as well as their shadows, which forge a totally strange apocalyptic march that strata and solos of synth decorate with the same Dantesque aroma. And, as in each of the titles on OPUS, Paul Lawler takes a jealous care of weaving an electronic universe where every minute is thought for an artistic pattern as rich as musical. Bringers of the Star is the perfect example. Delicate bangings of percussions are shaping a beautiful synth-pop which sounds like the walking of a solitary cowboy. The vocoder is even molding the muddled thoughts of the knight of sands while that the synth draws beautiful solos tunes which are rocked by rivulets of twinkling arpeggios. Every detail is magnificently well thought. Simplistic but magnificently effective. It's the track that had the most effect on me at the first listening. There is a great bunch of good tracks on this album and the best is doubtless Creation Concept. Is it its cosmic approach, where lines of white noises squeeze into a sinister mood? Is it these fine pulsations which shape the arcs of a suave down-tempo that the Martenot waves are kissing with tenderness? Is it this delicate procession where are added fine tones as cosmic as organic which bind themselves in the good percussions, increasing a little more the measure of the down-tempo? Or is it this solo of morphic guitar and these lamentations of apocalyptic sirens that plant the nail in our column, which make of Creation Concept one of the very beautiful lunar ballads? Needs to hear to see! Tesla Code is the most puzzling track of here. I imagined myself that it will be a thing of New Age with Paul Speer's presence on guitar but it's the very opposite. A violent whirlwind of hyperactive sequences is swirling in the breaths of a synth and its warning solos of disasters. The percussions plough this infectious rhythm of good strikings, colliding so the frenzied dance of the uncontrollable ions. And abruptly everything stops. Paul Speer spreads his breaths of guitars in the shape of solos lunar which complain in an ethereal landscape where sparkles this threatening rivulet of sequences, announcing that the rhythm did not die and that it will return with all the power of its filmic vision in the 2nd part. Tomorrow's People is ending this Paul Lawler's surprising and superb album with a heavy rhythm. A rhythm of sensual down-tempo which bears the harmonies in the hybrid tones of a synth of which the lamentations of an electro-organic sound fauna continues to cement the perception of an apocalyptic album where extraterrestrials invade the streets of a London became a vast desert of iodized particles.
This Paul Lawler is quite a perfectionist. All the strength of OPUS lies on this desire to want at all costs dress each of its seconds of a sound, a sequence, a striking of percussion and a breath of synth which exploits totally its multidimensional sound and harmonious fragrances. This is not Berlin School. That's music! EM and its versatile forms which create a universe of magic where the atmospheres are very at ease in these rhythms cut and structured with such detail that the bewitchment is multiplies by ten in this environment of which the cinematographic colours are harmonized with those scenarios that we build up ourselves. Original, powerful and very musical, OPUS is a wonderful album which deserves amply the price of its download.
Sylvain Lupari (March 18th, 2013) *****
Available at Paul Lawler's Bandcamp