SON OF OHM: Wandering Monk (2020)
Updated: Mar 8, 2021
“Resolutely quiet with 4 ambient tracks revolving around the same core, this is a good album where it's quite possible to meditate on”
1 Galactic Domes 10:56
2 Orange and Blue 7:11
3 The Vault 10:31
4 Soft Mountains 15:57
(DDL 44:38) (V.F.)
(Ambient Analog EM)
A squall of wooshh raises Galactic Domes to our ears. A series of chords dance there a cha-cha-cha out of tune, but not enough so that we do not make this link, on a series of minimalist riffs of a guitar transformed into a metronome. Synth solos dance on this binary rhythm which discreetly nuances its approach just enough to be noticed with hesitation. Constantly playing with the imbalance of his rhythmic framework, Leonardo Wijma grafts an electronic rhythm sounding like clogs which click while jumping. My ears are captivated by this fight between the softness and the morphic violence of this rhythm literally designed to receive brilliant flashes from its author. Flashes like solos with shaded tones that whirl between these analog electronic noises that fed Klaus Schulze's bats. We also hear a tape-delay as well as solos of a guitarist crisscrossing the deserted roads on his horse-drawn cart. In short, a whole monument of tranquility always on the verge of imploding. Ahhh… How good it feels to reconnect with the music of Son of Ohm, this brilliant Dutch guitarist divided between analog EM and alternative Krautrock that he likes to make us hear with his other Astral Son project. And the flavors of these two projects encroaching on one or the other, here we have a very refined EM created around 4 titles with almost identical magnetizing textures on an album called WANDERING MONK. This is how Orange and Blue offers a similar structure, just a little more lively, with chords that come and go in a line dance choreography. A twin line is inserted but with a fluty tone and finally, percussions a little on the same beat complete this other minimalist structure conceived with more velocity than Galactic Domes. The fights between synth and mellotron are quite divine until a fascinating cackle pervades the moods a little before the 5th minute. I also hear the vibrations of very discreet gongs on this completely hallucinating floating structure.
Another gust of wind but completely different result with The Vault. The title is built around another series of chords, 3 here, which come and go, like these videos of advancing cats recoil forever. The synth sound is very psychedelic with its Iraqi tinte that sway between these Farfisa chords. The guitar riffs replace the first dominant chords, giving this invisible impetus which blows with more velocity on this enigmatic air since it is now dominated by a prismatic song undulating like a flame in the belly on fire of a belly dancer. The pace slows down with a final that has become rhythmless being attracted by the spectral side of The Vault. Longer title of WANDERING MONK, Soft Mountains also embraces the floating textures of the first three titles, but with a vision of ether in its reverberating winds like the shadow of its mirror. Everything is slow here. The ascent begins with a sinuous line like this snake whose forked tongue spits the venom of the reverberation waves. Keyboard chords play there with morphic slowness, wandering in this silvering universe where even the wooshh and wiishh appear as poor children. Effects only cast in these synths from a similar period filter through this aspiration without rhythmic aspiration. Obsessed as we are by these organ chords à la Ray Manzarek, we hardly notice this evolution in the texture of the undulating lines which doubled and became tightly woven in the soundscapes of Soft Mountains. The incessant upward movement becomes the arena of this organ prayer as well as its solos and those of the synth which are interrupted by sound effects from different sources, giving this aspect of Californian psychedelic music from the 70's. The organ and/or the electric piano is the main attraction of this title whose slow evolution is activated mainly at the level of the counter which, around 12 minutes, suggests a kind of musical stuttering which will be lost in the oblong sinuosities of the synth.
A resolutely quiet album with 4 ambient tracks revolving around the same core, Son of Ohm's WANDERING MONK nonetheless remains a good album where it's quite possible to meditate. The music and its textures have airs of patchoulis marinated in innocence with a slight opening for 70's psychedelia.
Sylvain Lupari (March 8th, 2021) ***½**
Available at Son of Ohm Bandcamp