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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SAYER: Oceans (2020)

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Oceans is built around a good bond between the sequencer, e-percussions, bass line and a keyboard which sculpts the dances of its arpeggios

1 Ocean Expanse 8:04

2 Magnificent Kelp Forests 9:06

3 Jellyfish Bloom 7:13

4 Seahorse Dance 4:58

5 Cities of the Sea (coral reefs) 8:59

6 Majestic Manta Ray 8:23

7 Gentle Giants (whale sharks) 7:58

8 Tranquil Tide Pool 2:42

9 Crab Capers 6:14

10 Migrations 6:19

11 Currents 8:24

(CD/DDL 78:25) (V.F.)

(Electronic Rock)

Ocean Expanse begins this new musical adventure of Sayer with surging waves that roll while spitting a musical foam. Varied sound and voice effects amaze with a tonal range that resembles springs that are twisted when bold and intimidating arpeggios impose a quarter-second of terror. Yes, these coming chords are very Jean-Michel Jarre! Even those which readjust the rhythmic vision dig as deep into our memories as those in The Magnetic Fields. The French synthesist is part of Sayer Seely's DNA, and it's perfect as well, since the Texas' synthesist uses it without going overboard or complacency. Like here where he uses it to create a racetrack for sequencer in a rhythm which increases its rage with good percussions and chords of very fat keyboard. The synth solos begin to flood this rhythmic crossroads after the point of 3 minutes. They dance in the air on an electronic rock supported by ascending sequences and good percussions which would lose their bite without this good bass line. We enter a sphere of tranquility to appreciate the chants of the seagulls. And bing! Ocean Expanse takes the guides from its frenzied rhythm to bring us to Magnificent Kelp Forests. So was Future City, so is OCEANS! An album which clocks at almost 80 minutes with 11 tracks that will fill our ears, this latest album by Sayer follows the main lines of its predecessor with good rhythms woven in a nice bond between the sequencer, the electronic percussions, the bass line and the keyboard which sculpts the dances of its arpeggios. At this level, Sayer's choreography is exceptional in this underwater setting where one can easily imagine his visions. And the solos! They are numerous and superb when flying over constantly changing rhythm patterns, like in Future City.

Magnificent Kelp Forests offers a superb musical concept whose field of charms brings us to the source of this underwater forest. Clear sequences and resonant chords, the rhythm exploits as much a circular approach as a linear one with good percussive effects, like those which remind us that we are underwater, in a vision of electronic ballad or down-tempo. The shimmering blue of the sound is supported by very good synth solos which are like heavenly caresses with a J-M J. timbre. Jellyfish Bloom is one of those titles that wander in the rhythmic limbo of EM. The sequencer unravels a pretty nice circular approach that a keyboard adopts with a series of limpid arpeggios spinning under the innumerable synth solos which are always designed with a harmonic vision. A bit like in Ocean Expanse, Sayer designs a racetrack for circular rhythms and melodies with a crystalline musical approach where you can hear the Jelly Fish coming in troops. Seahorse Dance is a beautiful melody filled with sequences and circular arpeggios which dance in a fascinating ballet which I imagine to be this dance of seduction which ignites the principle of reproduction. The arrangements, both orchestral and electronic, are splendid in this choreography woven into the imagination. Cities of the Sea (coral reefs) is a title for film music lovers! Its overture is common with these sequences which jump awkwardly, like the feet of a Bambi not too tempted to venture on an icy pond. This indecisive walk is enveloped by a majestic synth and its orchestral breezes imagined in the influences of Vangelis. Needless to say, it's very beautiful! Pulsating sequences get impatient by jumping strongly on the spot, irradiating a field of radiation which takes more and more its place in the decor. As long as this movement is found alone and initiates a faster flow of a second line of rhythm which is supported by percussions and by the echo of the last strike. Chthonian voices overload an already heavy setting with a sequencer which throws another line of rhythm whose jerky flow is taken up by the breaths of the orchestrations. It feels like a music for Vikings movies, so much the ambiences are powerful.

The voice of an enchanting mermaid takes us to more oneiric proportions. Always imagining music for films, these seraphic atmospheres of Majestic Manta Ray are chased by a sequencer and its zigzagging rhythm line. A rain of crystalline arpeggios begins to fall and to dance on a meditative introduction which is converted into a good nervous electronic rock. The song of the synth breezes comes a little before the percussions and the title exploits a tangent very present in this album with 3 rhythmic visions which clash in an almost poetic softness. Here, the line of the sequencer adopts a static flow with keys which twirl of nervousness like these lottery balls in an abacus. This movement oscillates at times while another line imposes a more fluid movement by oscillating in a style of electronic rock well supported by percussions and by percussive effects of which the explosions of hues adapt to the songs of the excellent synth weaver of lyrical solos. This complicity is more apparent in a title like Majestic Manta Ray and a title like Gentle Giants (whale sharks) which is a solid electronic rock a little less fierce than Ocean Expanse. Tranquil Tide Pool is a title of aquatic turbulence while Crab Capers offers an ambient rhythm adorned by arpeggios whose iridescent hues and tones of xylophones sculpted in the legends are twirling around its pulsating approach. We hear beautiful ethereal phases which are filled with singing prisms and which flow into a heap of orchestral layers where Crab Capers hesitates between a more vitaminized rhythmic birth and the more cosmic vision of its orientation. Then, you have to follow the surges of the masses with the eyes of our ears to admire how Sayer succeeds so well in sticking titles to his music. On deaf and linear beats, he grafts arpeggios which collide in a luminous static ballet. The tones exalt crystalline prism effects in a removable tonal choreography. On the other side of this decor, he weaves silk veils which fly away in a harmonious vision. And this is how, through these phases, Migrations fly from one point to another in an approach where velocity and intensity go hand in hand. Sayer could only conclude OCEANS in a superb way and that's what he does with Currents! This superb ballad begins with a cosmic vision and intonations of Frédéric Mercier in the soft synth pads from which emerges a carousel of arpeggios twirling in the cosmic mists. Bass pulsations and percussions give a rhythmic depth which is the basis for very beautiful absolutely divine synth solos and whose tunes infiltrate our senses. The sequencer multiplies lines of rhythms of which various intonations converge towards a single dimension, constantly weighing down this rhythmic fabric that the keyboard embraces in order to make the harmonious aspect even richer. The orchestrations of the synth manage to lighten the weight of this mass of rhythms which also flies away in a seraphic vision never reached until then by the 10 other titles which make of OCEANS another very splendid album from Sayer. An album where the blue and the fauna of the artwork are not just on the artwork…

Sylvain Lupari (April 23rd, 2020) *****

Available at Sayer Bandcanp

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