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Deep Space Blue by Jim Ottaway
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 9/12/2017
A beacon of light for when we need to escape
The tale of an astral traveller can be told here, one who floats with the winds of tone and tide, to become one with the sonic nature of sublime electronic music. That opportunity is here right now for us all, a chance to step aboard Starship Ottaway, and plunge into a space deep and blue, with the artist.
That rather elaborate opening statement signifies just how much this album means to me, Jim Ottaway is an Australian electronic musician, who over the years has taken massive strides in this industry and genre, and now must be recognised as one of its modern day leaders. He has been imperious in the world 100 charts with hits like Invisible Vortex, Timeless e Motion and Southern Cross, and here he is again with a more floaty electronic ambient collection of compositions entitled Deep Space Blue.
The opening offering is called Astral Voices; this heavenly arrangement pulls us into a mysterious dimension of sight and sound. There is a deep sense of something wondrous just out of view here, the keyboards and synths of Ottaway manifest a truly vast oasis of musical genius, and I for one would find it easy to get lost in Astral Voices.
In Search of the Lost Star is a totally different composition, the start is almost like a trumpet call to arms, perhaps a reveille of a long distant place once thought to be lost in space and time? One thing is for sure, the music of Jim Ottaway allows the imagination to flow beautifully with his subtle use of keyboards. This is indeed a piece that conveys a slow scan of the immediate systems for a sign of a point of light that seems to have passed away in the midst’s of an interplanetary event. There is a real element of mournfulness about this piece, perhaps even a drone of sadness too, the construction of this arrangement is stunning.
At the midway segment of our flight through music, we come across a composition called 39.5 Light- Years (Trappist 1). There is a certain element of Jonn Serrie here, the slow build up and creation, the master brush strokes of a genius at work, this is one arrangement that you will have to listen carefully, and dedicate a moment not to be disturbed. This long form track has a floaty essence about its overall construction, but also contains lighter elements of classic EM as well, and the swirling nature of this track at almost the half way point, reminds me of Kevin Kendle’s Light from Orion album, and quite simply is one of those pieces that you will find impossible to pull away from it is so addictive.
As we now traverse into the latter half of the release we arrive at the next doorway, once opened it will reveal an opus of well over seven minutes called Stars of Ice. The style and use of synths here has produced a wonderful coldness about the piece that literally forms crystalline shards of music within our minds as it plays. Ottaway’s performance here is quite frankly, amazing, he seems to have created space, perhaps room for us all, to explore this region of space, but holding back on the keyboards, as if allowing our minds to take the track in the direction we wish it to go, and all the while his hands are firmly on the musical tiller.
As we reach the penultimate track, we find to our pleasure the title header Deep Space Blue. As such you have well over eleven minutes to strap yourself in and enjoy the ride, this is truly something special. Ottaway has quite breathtakingly manifested a moment of take off into the blue horizon of the night sky, and the tension and build is simply fantastic. His performance as composer and keyboardist here will live forever, this is simply outstanding and the hallmark of a musician who has really found his musical soul, the repeating base motif, the swirling keyboards, all create a truly magical track of great musical significance.
Our last space dock is a deep and resonating Interplanetary Panspermia and at well over 16 minutes, it’s easily the longest arrangement of the album. The movement and energy of the last track seems to have left the void and we are now in a part of space that is uncharted. The sounds employed here by the artist is akin to a ship scanning for life on the many worlds surveyed, but as of yet finding nothing but lifeless hulks of molten rock. Now it’s useful living where I do, because most earth languages are based on Greek, and Panspermia comes from the Greek (Pan, meaning all and Sperma meaning Seed), I for one completely believe in life on other worlds and in other regions of space, it’s only logical, after all we are here. Jim Ottaway has thus produced a superb long form opus of grandeur that should be the back drop for any movie that features the search for alien life within it.
Deep Space Blue has taken Ottaway back to a deeper side of his musical personality and as such he has created something profound and arcane for us all to dive deep into. Jim Ottaway is a musician of great class and distinction and this album will only emphasise just how far he has come in the industry, and Deep Space Blue is like that beacon of light we can go to, when we need to escape from the mundane realities of life.
Rating: Excellent
Profundo by Joseph Sullinger
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 9/12/2017
Filled with passion and pride
Many will know of Joseph Sullinger for his albums Earth Voyage and more recently Adore. Here the artist reveals his classical and more romantic side, and gives us an opportunity to be a part of this quite wonderful performance, with the album Profundo Romantic Music for the Spanish Classical Guitar.
We start with Op. 11: No 2, Menuet in G Minor, which flows with great respect into Op: 11: No 1, Menuet in G Major, listen to the subtle, but profound distinctiveness of both tracks, the slightly serious intent of the first piece is lifted by the major tones of the second, originally produced by Fernando Sor.
Now I have a Spanish guitar in my music room and I wish I could play it half as well as Joseph. As an example of styles listen to Gran Vals; a more pronounced Spanish ethic can be felt here, and Sullinger continues this theme by performing a second track from the artist Francisco Tarrega entitled Tango. Both of these two dance styled compositions really highlight the amazing standard of Sullinger’s exceptional performance.
This next piece will be very familiar to many, it is called Spanish Romance; whilst its originator is anonymous, this is a perfect example of how a nylon acoustic guitar should be played, and Joseph Sullinger performs with style and class on this most blissful arrangement.
This is a moment to sit on the veranda and blissfully chill out with a glass of Sangria, as the tones of Scherzino Mexicano arrive with its calming influence upon our table. There was something so delightfully sun kissed about this one, and while I write, the cicadas join in with their own choir.
We now return to the works of composer Francisco Tarrega for the next two offerings and can be grateful for this most agreeable performance; Sullinger really takes his time and produces a very classy and somewhat moody presentation for Capricho Arabe and then on the short form piece Etude in Em produces something so moving and memorable for us all to enjoy. I found this particular track quite emotive.
So, we now move into the second half of the release and start that journey with a composition originally from the pen of Agustin Barrios Mangore, this one is called Op. 8: No 4 Waltz in G Major. As an arrangement this has great movement and the quality of Sullinger’s performance is a full flowing and extremely cheerful narrative, as only a Waltz could be.
The artist now delivers to us a track from the composer Isaac Albeniz called Suite Espanola, Op. 47: IV. Cadiz. The implementation of this composition is pristine in its technique and in my view this is one of the most technically gifted tracks off the album.
I adored these next two pieces which are Sullinger’s own compositions, one called Romance, which had a perfect romantic resonance with a little emotive energy thrown into the mix, and then on Rocio a slower, but more radiant composition, this is also a track that could cross genres with ease, beautiful performances abound here, and a total pleasure to listen to as always.
When I arrived at the doorway to this piece from Luys De Navaez, I felt a really defined change to a more middle aged based composition. Then when I checked the date of the composer’s life and works, and found that to be between 1490 and 1547, it all made sense. Joseph Sullinger has produced something different and very intriguing with Guardame Las Vacas.
We now move through the last few corridors of this quite stylish release and come across a track from composer Gasper Sanz called Pavana al Aire Espanola. This is one technically brilliant performance and a good deal of patience must have gone into just getting the sound right, yet another wonderfully enjoyable opus of tone.
We now knock on the last two doors of the album and here the musician gifts us a couple of musical presents to take along our way. The first is Sueno, a fluent, melodic arrangement that seems to weave its way across our minds in a pattern so grand and complex. I personally have learned so much from just listening to this master of the acoustic guitar.
We now finish with Pavana, this reminds me of the style of music I love to play on the rocks of our shores here in Cyprus, and Pavana has that sun kissed and peaceful motif about its construction that you just cannot help but fall in love with.
For those of you like me, who love all things guitar, especially acoustic, you will revel in each and every technically brilliant movement of this release. Joseph Sullinger has produced another master piece here for us to all kick back and enjoy. He has produced and manifested into our realm, an album of lovingly created tracks from the Romantic Classical music genre for Spanish guitar and done so with not just technical brilliance, but with a style filled with passion and pride, this is one not to be missed.
Rating: Excellent
Guitare Mystique by Jim Stubblefield
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 9/7/2017
Jim just keeps getting better!
Acoustically speaking Jim Stubblefield is one of the best in the business, his music has a true flavour and colour and can raise the rhythm’s or soothe the soul and here on his latest release he does both with ease.
You only have to listen to Saint Tropez, the first offering from his latest release Guitare Mystique and you will see why, so fluent and flowing and radiant, the performance here is defiantly sun kissed, the guitars both electric and acoustic work supremely well with the percussion to deliver a perfect opening piece.
As we move to Caravan of Souls we come across a beat driven arrangement that has a deep resonating bass and a magical guitar that draws with ease the narrative of the journey we are on, and at each Caravansary, we stop for water and wipe our brows in the heat of the day. Stubblefield has produced a little slice of perfection here, one that we can admire, one that will leave you jaw dropped at his amazing skills on guitar.
When I walk along our coastline here in Cyprus, sometimes I sit and watch the kingfishers fly across the Azure Ocean, and watch with pleasure the tides of nature take control of the day. The track Azure could easily be a soundtrack for that mental perambulation. There is an emotive deepness within this piece that I adore and a latent power that seems to float in the distance, in what is yet another very classy offering.
I have a weakness for any track that has the word storm in the title; I always feel the subject matter has such potential to produce something amazing. Stubblefield does not let me down on the track Before The Storm, and performs a piece that could easily be the backdrop to November here in the Mediterranean; our season of storms starts then, and like this piece, you can sense them from miles away, and await the roar of thunder and the flash of lightning. Stubblefield uses vocalisations, a rhythmic beat and moody keyboards to create that for us, the guitar is our hand on the tiller in this piece, and safely draws us into a simply amazing composition with sublime genius.
Now I have to be honest here, Jim dropped into our chat room for my Reconnections show and told me the back story behind this piece Café Café. This is Latin chill out at its best, and pays a cheeky tip of the hat to all of those tracks invented by artists that have the word Café in the title somewhere. Anyone for a Latte?
Now we have arrived at the longest song off the album and this one is called Voyager Aeternam. Now I think Aeternam means eternal, if this is so, Stubblefield has manifested something quite brilliant here, as the sound and tempo has that seasoned and ageless feel to it, a journey that lasts forever, the strings (Novi Novog) here add such a wonderful extra dimension to this arrangement.
Moonlight Requiem picks up the tempo very slightly, but has a real mournfulness about its energy, I have been that way recently with the loss of two friends and a family member, and in a way I think this is why this piece spoke to me, this is like a musical dark night of the soul, the strings here are almost eerie and the sombreness of the guitar, adds a true mortal energy to the composition.
Stubblefield is back on familiar terority now with this next piece called Oculus Tempestatis. The artist is in full Incendio mode here and the vocalisations by Moksha Summer were perfect. However don’t be fooled by the guitars, as Stubblefield performs for us on an electric guitar on this one, while the acoustic duties are handed to Stephen Duros, in what is a truly sensational composition.
So we find ourselves at the penultimate doorway of our journey with Jim Stubblefield and come across a track called Rumba Furiosa, Opus 2. This is classic Stubblefield and we even have a duel here with Dan Sistos on the composition. This partnership gives us a really fun number to dance away and tap our feet to.
The last port of call has been reached as we come to the end of the album, but before we go the artist would like to gift us one last musical offering to take along on our way. This present of tone and tune is extremely rhythmic and is called Sueno Pacifico. In a way it feels like we have come full circle, however this upbeat and quite sparkling opus really is the perfect way to leave in truth what has been a really delightful journey to have taken. The electric guitar adds weight to the composition in a Black Magic Woman kind of way.
Guitare Mystique is a breath of fresh air, a magical musical moment we all need from time to time. With each release Stubblefield just keep on getting better and in my view this is the best I have heard so far. This is an album packed with colour, movement, melody and passion, you will also find some of the best guitar based performances you will have heard for ages, which will leave you with only one sensible option, to buy this album as quick as you can and let the contents within, re-energize you as much as it did me.
Rating: Excellent
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