Otarion / Evolution

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Otarion / Evolution

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Otarion’s first album ‘Es Werde Licht’ was very popular amongst SMD customers. The evocative soundscapes were particularly impressive but the rhythms and melodies were also well done. In my opinion though ‘Evolution’, the second album, moves on from the first to scale new heights, particularly in the rhythm and melody departments. When the final version was submitted to me I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I played it in constant rotation for days, nothing else got a look in and with the quality of releases coming out at that time this was a major accomplishment. Hearing it again to do this review is frustrating. I would much rather listen than write but I hope some of the enthusiasm I have for it comes over because I think what we have here is a classic. Church bells chime over thick atmospheric synth pads. ‘Twilight’ sets an uneasy faintly haunting scene for the beginning of the album. We then drift into ‘Innovation’ and POW! A brilliantly infectious rhythm and slashing laser lead line hit home. A sequence starts up and a contrasting lighter melody plays over the top. Yet another lead drives along in the middle. All the melodies are so damned catchy that they will get you playing air keyboard like a lunatic and turning the volume up to neighbor hating proportions. What a belter! We flow into the next part ‘Second Step’, creating images of being on the highest part of the Earth looking around for hundreds of miles. Then we get a most delicate but stunningly beautiful melody. Swirls of sound take you even higher on the thermals then an exciting sequence starts and drives us onwards. Unbelievably ‘Paradise Island’ continues to deliver yet more fantastic melodies, loads of them in fact, all woven together over the most delicate sonic backdrop in the way only a true craftsman knows how. I wish it could have gone on longer but we move into the next section ‘Fusions’ on the back of a jetstream and screaming lead. Where on earth do I go from here? I’ve run out of superlatives already and we are less than half way through the album. Things quieten down and become very relaxing giving me time to collect my thoughts. A storm starts to brew and out of it flows a gorgeous and delicate high register sequence. Another more urgent one is layered over the top and things reach a sudden climax with a rhythmic flourish then calm down again though the sequences are just as infectious as before. The tension returns and the lead from the beginning of the track comes back but even meaner than before. The rhythm reappears and I just wanted to throw my head back with eyes closed and lose myself in the music. Calm again descends. ‘Place of Mystery’ is suitably mysterious drifting on a sea of serenity, calming us nicely before ‘Transformation’. Another brace of sequences strike up, one bass and the other melodic. It is as if the foot has been put down on the accelerator again as we go hurtling down the road. A lead line and foot taping rhythm are introduced and we shift into warp drive getting faster all the time then suddenly slow down but this is only a temporary pause. A fantastic lead blasts over the top with an even more devastating one right on its heals slashing through anything that gets in its path, then crash- sudden halt. The waves break on the shore and we move into the title track. Tranquil pads sooth our fevered brow but somewhere in the background the next assault is brewing. A stuttering sequence starts up, followed by another. We then return to a technique that is now becoming common, a rhythmic flourish builds the tension which breaks in explosive style from which the melodies return with fresh vigour to build the tension once again. Rather ironic considering the title of this piece but melodically this is like John Dyson at his very best but more intense. ‘Birth of Atmosphere’ has a stormy beginning. At three minutes a sequence rumbles forward adding to the feeling still further. The tension builds but there is no release until the final number ‘Open End’ which is a ball breaking rhythmic tour de force which brings the CD to suitably triumphant conclusion. Now go get yourself a lager and press play again. In the last mag Graham rightly raved about Arcane’s ‘Future Wreck’ being one of the best retro albums ever but with Otarion’s ‘Evolution’ I think we have the best rhythmic / melodic album I have ever heard. Think this review is a little OTT? Well maybe, but just listen to the album and tell me what you think. The first half of 2000 is turning out to be one of my favourite times for EM releases ever. (DL) ;\ ‘\’