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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PHILLIP WILKERSON: Sojourner (2013)

Updated: May 6, 2020

Phil Wilkerson is a master in the art of drawing ambient music forms and Sojourner amply shows it

1 Epiphany 12:12

2 Sanctuary 6:09

3 Sunlit Drift 5:06

4 Gates of Mercy 15:56

5 An Endless Light 9:45

6 The Awaiting Presence 22:16

(CD-r/DDL 71:44) (V.F.)

(Ambient soundscapes EM)

We cannot travel in more ambient phases than with SOJOURNER. For his last album, Phillip Wilkerson has wanted to drag a listener captive by wrapping layers of a morphic synth in an intense introspective journey drawn by immersive landscapes which feed on our ambiguity to define them. An intense meditative journey which offers all the hillsides of a universe of meditation where the torments desecrate the desires of tranquillity on long structures, on profound ambient spaces that Phil Wilkerson modulates by bringing significant tones nuances and shades in each track in order to maintain an interest always captive.

A wave with a deep tone opens the contemplative sweetness of Epiphany. Here, and like everywhere in SOJOURNER, the rhythm is absent to let the sonic life radiate from its dreamy strata whose slow sinuosities rock our sleepy dreams. Those who know the oceanic softness of M'Oceans, from Michael Stearns, will be familiar with the slow movements of the synth layers that float between two spaces radiating of their translucent ocean breezes. We drift between sonic waves or cosmic spaces that the feeling of emptiness submerges us with an implacable reality. And the effect is even more striking with headphones. But how do we describe the ambient music? It's a bit like describing a mottled white canvas of fine curved lines and contiguous shapes but whose appeal remains magnetic or haunting. Sanctuary and Sunlit Drift are two short titles that offer a more cathedral approach with amorphous synth lines that hover like seraphic bugles. The tone is brighter. Gates of Mercy offers a more ambiospheric approach very close to Steve Roach's interstellar dreams. The fine synth movements draw slow harmonies whose iridescent breaths slide like the songs of astral mermaids. The synthesist and sculptor of introspective atmospheres structures his music with a slow and subtle emotional gradation which follows the curve of oblong movements with sibylline depths. At this level the dark An Endless Light is more than effective and even caresses the doors of a tenebrous environment. Although Phillip Wilkerson wants to avoid a possible immersion in the obscure universes of dark ambient music, he stumbles with astonishing grace in The Awaiting Presence. The opening is strangely musical with morning breezes blowing on delicate arpeggios which move furtively on a long carpet of dreamlike breaths. Here again, one cannot ignore the influence of Steve Roach's dead electronic structures with this fine movement of muted rhythm which sculpts a fascinating introspective pilgrimage. And little by little the breaths of opalescent synths envelop the silence of lost steps with an impressive string of breaths where absent voices and spiritual breezes merge in a huge immersive canvas, plunging the listener into his depths. There where Phil Wilkerson was aiming at.

Sylvain Lupari (August 27th, 2013) ***½**

Available at Phillip Wilkerson Bandcamp

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