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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

WILKERSON & RUSSELL: Dark Measures (2021)

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

This is arguably one of the most melodic, if not seraphic albums in Dark Ambient

1 Unopened Doors 10:35

2 Evening's Embrace 11:11

3 Myriad Visions 8:43

4 Deep Lane 9:22

5 Distant Vistas 8:15

6 Unbroken Devotion 7:28

7 Faring Forward 4:50

(CD/DDL 60:23) (V.F.)

(Dark Ambient)

A reverberating shadow infiltrates our ears as Unopened Doors opens. A trickle of voices and another with more musical translucence draws the line between Phillip Wilkerson's melodious vision and Chris Russell's slightly darker one. But no matter, DARK MEASURES will remain as dark as its title. Barely moving, like a big boa replete, Unopened Doors offers a slow march where our souls wander on a barely winding road. There is very little correlation between the music and the title, other than rustling and door banging towards the finale. This second Wilkerson & Russell collaboration is arguably one of the most melodic, if not seraphic albums in the Dark Ambient style. Composed and concocted in person, the duo respects each other's vision in a wonderful album that transcends the limits imposed for ages by this genre. We are far from the nebulous Vague Traces, released in 2014, here, with a more electronic music and a more melodic vision that shares in all fairness the dimensions of this album.

Playing on the same register, Evening's Embrace offers nuances in the antinomian colors of the two musicians who worked side-by-side to make this album. And it shows not only by the complicity of the color palettes but also by the more melodic approach of Wilkerson who gives a rejuvenating filter to Russell's Dark Ambient vision. And on this track, as on all of DARK MEASURES. These threads of melody are well inserted in this buzzing mass that moves forward without impulses. A very beautiful title which makes me think of the Juta Takahashi universe, whereas the pearl of the pearls of this album is undoubtedly Myriad Visions. The first rhythmic movements are found on the jerky impulses which come in loops from a modular synth. This vision of impromptu jerks takes us back to the time when music moved without sequencers or percussions. The approach is more cosmic, giving the illusion of a star fall that reconstitutes itself before falling on a ground in constant spasmodic movement. It's like floating between two sonic and rhythmic storms while picking the best of both here and there. I like the tone of Deep Lane and its hint of organ layers that evolve with a slight hum. Quaking, these layers go ahead through the muffled dockings of other layers that accumulate as they jostle slightly, creating a huge reverberating shadow. We are straddling the gates of purgatory here. Distant Vistas stands out with a much more ethereal structure, despite its shadowy passages. The music expands with a collection of limpid timbres that shimmer like a lake whose quietude is disturbed by prismatic breezes. At times, my ears feel as if I am hearing an electric guitar casting its pearls into a flowing water, while the rustling, whispering sounds arouse the ears' curiosity. The track exploits its serenity by rolling its waves of sounds on top of waves of sounds, wrapping us tightly for a long astral journey. Unbroken Devotion is in the same class as Evening's Embrace. Its tenderness is matched only by this warm, nasal melody sailing on a shroud woven in the shadow of darkness. As the thread of the melody fades, the music drifts towards a mass of reverberations where celestial trumpets trumpet and heavy winds ululate. This fusion of a melody lying on a tenebrous mass brings a sibylline vision of the most enchanting to an ambient music which quietly gets swallowed towards the darkness by the jolts of a hesitant belt. Faring Forward ends this beautiful album in a vision that instantly recalls that passage of angels in Chronos' Angels, Bells and Pastorale, a wonderful album from Michael Stearns. This is another highlight in DARK MEASURES that deserves every second of its careful discovery. A brilliant tour de force from Wilkerson & Russell and the Spotted Peccary label. That comes out tomorrow in manufactured CD and 24Bits H-Q download on the platforms of the American label that gave us an excellent 2021 year in music.

Sylvain Lupari (December 9th, 2021) ****½*

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