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Passages is the sixth album by composer Jeffrey Ericson Allen as Chronotope Project, and the second to be released through Spotted Peccary Music. Its five tracks represent various aspects of passage or transformation through the agency of a solitary questing soul, seeking unity in the midst of chaos and impenetrable mystery.
Informed by the language of archetypes and potent literary symbols, it is an extension of the composer’s evolving style of musical storytelling. Allen shares, “Passages emerged during a period of very intense personal introspection, helping me to unearth and illuminate a certain unvoiced longing that lives deep inside me. When inner necessity demands expression, but words fail, only music suffices to bridge this gap.”
Within Passages, rich sonorities combine atmospherics, drones, pads and solo synths, tabla and frame drum, bells and throat singing, and rhythmic sequences, synthesizing the composers vision of sound into reality – all emotively manifested through the use of the expressive, protagonistic voice of the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, a core element of Chronotope Project’s signature sound.
From expansive and effervescent ever-shifting liquid metamorphoses of sound, to brooding Middle-Eastern modal counterpoints, Passages is a potent sonic visage of emotional tonalities that range from a calmly meditative state to a truly hypnotic-ecstatic immersion.
Newly released “PASSAGES”, by [ Chronotope Project ], is the latest musical evolution of Oregonian US national, Jeffrey Ericson Allen. With six releases to his name and a strong background in the Modern Composition / Space-ambient approach, the work shares a kinship with the celestial-ambient style of “Rafael Anton Irisari”, “Earlyguard”, “Cold Womb Descent.” [ PASSAGES ] is ingeniously structured and offers an intelligent gateway to new-age sound. Despite sparse backbone arrangements, it evokes subtle and vivid textures. The album's luscious modulation reflects Jeffrey's ability to craft and produce euphoric melodies (à la Eno’s ) in a style is that is simply one of a kind.
PASSAGES consist of five pieces, and if I may, I quote the following paragraph from the composer's description of its inception:
“PASSAGES is without doubt the most introspective of my six releases to date. Its source material emerged from the deep unconscious, to such an extent that during the initial phases of composing it, I was hardly aware of what I was doing. (I have come to agree with Buckminster Fuller, who used to say, "If you know what you're doing, you're wasting your time!") After a volcanic unearthing of that material, I gave each of the pieces a long incubation period, allowing them to breathe and settle, even forgetting them completely, returning only months later to craft and shape them with care. In that sense, each of the five pieces can be understood as "passages" from the unconscious to the conscious, from formless, pure expression to coherent, musically intelligible form. That is, in essence, the more general aim of my work as an artist.”
Clearly the above statement indicates just how the composer’s personal experience conditioned the contrasting phases of the album's genesis. Using spotless technique to achieve the most impeccable results, this latest offering, PASSAGES, goes beyond the Space and Celestial sound of its 2014 predecessor, DHARMA RAIN. While the album’s five tracks share characteristic nuances of his sparse and elongated ambience, PASSAGES also provides a captivating look at what occurs when a prodigious creativity is introduced into otherwise subdued atmospheres. Most of the album consists of deliberately-paced instrumentals and calculated sequences, emphasizing cosmic and void themes as opposed to plain and solid drones. There is a lot to digest on this album and the more I listen to it, the more I get drawn in.
In a nutshell, PASSAGES is arguably the most appealing album of [ Chronotope Project ] to date. The five track album clocks close to an hour with its complex embroidery of sounds, not once faltering across its extended run time. Throughout the album, stunning / chiming melodies ebb and flow between soft and intricate experimental electronics and deep resonances that cradle the listener, finally detonating into a turbulence of beautifully orchestrated sonorities. PASSAGES is simultaneously melodic and rhythmic in character. The songs are highly revealing, almost hallucinatory in quality, with an expressive development of futuristic depth. PASSAGES is like experiencing a reassuring dream while being awake, and even if some moments are unquestionably dark, they are temporary excursions that lead one, almost like the path on a thin bridge, to another side, where everything suddenly appears bigger and greener.
The best part of PASSAGES is that you can literally experience the composer stretching his wings to new heights. Jeffrey’s mysticism and focus keep the sound always present and compelling to the listener, inviting an intimate relationship with his creativity. This fifty five minutes of new and original composition is the perfect continuation of Jeffrey's artistry. Listeners are in for a MEGA treat on this one: electronics, guitars, tablas, flute and looping are infused into the celestial-ambient textures, constellating a mystical atmosphere tinged with oriental vibrancy. Before I wrap-up with the composer philosophy, I have to say it in the simplest of terms, PASSAGES IS BREATHTAKINGLY GORGEOUS.
The liner notes of the album sum up Jeffrey's philosophy and approach to the work:
"There is no clear path to what we seek. We navigate the myriad passages of life's vast labyrinth with only the flickering wick of our understanding to light the way. What remains, when the journey has no destination? Mystery, unimaginably immense - music, the phantom shapes that appears out of the darkness when we surrender our purposes and listen deeply to the heartbeat of creation."- Mog, Humming Frequencies
‘Passages’ is the sixth album from Chronotope Project, the recording alias of ambient music composer Jeffrey Ericson Allen. Released on the long-established Spotted Peccary Music label, ‘Passages’ easily sits among the finest in its impressive catalog of ambient/electronic music. Comprised of five compositions all spanning anywhere from eight to twelve minutes long, Jeffrey weaves synthesizers, tablas and frame drums into a deeply atmospheric soundscape infused with subtle shamanic/tribal nuances throughout.
“Churning the Ether” introduces the album with cavernous drones, swirling icy timbres and electro-organic percussion. Imparting a sense of having traveled back in time, this gradually metamorphosing composition brings images to mind of ancient relics and mysterious cave paintings. Moving along a hypnotically flowing current engulfed by enveloping electronic layers, its mode continues on the equally mesmerizing “The Waters of Life”. Here, the lulling sound of churning waters and encompassing bell tones create an immersive experience that feels like embarking on a night voyage by small boat across mist-filled waters. Directing our attention skyward is “Solaris”, a breathtakingly haunting composition filled with metallic timbres and spacious drones. This somewhat forbidding and esoteric number feels like being in the presence of an ancient astronomical observatory. “Moontide” progresses into murkier shadows amidst nocturnal vestiges and eerie metallic drones, culminating in what’s perhaps the darkest piece on the album. We finally reach the title track, “Passages,” where an illuminated stream of liquid ambience is gently guided along by subtle tribal percussion.
I’ve been thoroughly impressed by everything I’ve heard thus far from Chronotope Project, and ‘Passages’ is certainly no exception. Alluding more to ‘inner’ rather than ‘outer’ space, this album will appeal, especially, to many listeners who enjoy the music of Steve Roach, Jon Jenkins and other contemporaries who’ve explored similar atmospheric terrain. A top-notch recording that easily ranks among this year’s favorites, ‘Passages’ is absolutely not to be missed by fans of dreamily hypnotic ambient music!- Candice Michelle, Journeyscapes
Passages by Chronotope Project opens as would a storm blowing in from paradise. Jeffrey Ericson Allen's drifting approach - warm in tone, and pleasantly melody-led - gives this music a welcome and distinctively uncommon atmosphere. With clarity and attention he articulates five tracks worth of spacey, hazy realizations of a live electronic load - yet warmed by the dependable pleasures of this musician's soothing leads and consonant harmonic content. Moments of sinuous sonic curves wind lazily, then speed onto more linear routes. Overlapping planes of burnished chords build, as large aural forms rumble through the sound field. Soft sequencer patterns roll with an ever-brightening pulse, while sustained, steady notes calm and console. From chronicles of desolation, and still chill zones, to vigorous workouts of charged musical intrigue, Passages places the monumental right next to the incidental. Its ashen landscapes and moonlit fields, and then a fleeting moment of light at dusk, are meant to hold, then lighten the spirit. Chronotope Project thinks of the listener as a sensory register, and asks softly for our active engagement with his creation - so that these two solitudes may at last touch.- Chuck van Zyl, Star's End
A distant dark breeze, sculptured in the wood, gets up on the West. It's sonic envelope growing, it brings a turbulence of crystal clear sequences which sparkle in symbiosis with fine jerky pulsations. Quietly and out of the oblivion is taking shape "Churning the Ether". Here, and in every 5 spheres of “Passages”, the flora of sounds and their propensity to change forms and tones calls the metamorphosis of the movements. The rhythm evolves with the flexibility of a feather which opposes to the direction of winds. And the feather is heavy! And the winds are vicious! Chords of what sounds like a Sitar and long laments of sharp breaths (one would say songs blown in a long horn or a Didge from another planet) and of hoarse mooing are squabbling those misty harmonies while the Tablas percussions, the lively and jerky pulsations as well as a superb series of sequences tinted of bluish prickles redirect the roots of this ambient rhythm towards other internal tearings. Between the soft Hindu trance and the rhythms of the Earth, "Churning the Ether" sets the tone to an album where Chronotope Project brings his perception of ambient music towards a confrontation of ideologies. And the sound is as wonderful as its rich palette of dark tones made in the last diaphanous rays.
“Passages” is Jeffrey Ericsson Allen's 2nd album on the Spotted Peccary label. And as with the very good Dawn Treader the American musician native of the Oregon displays his non-conventional arsenal of instruments in order to offer a sound narrative of a solitary soul in search of harmony in the middle of chaos and the closed doors of mystery. If "Churning the Ether" fascinates by its rhythm charmingly smothered in an avalanche of magma of sounds and of ambient elements, the suite always remains so mysterious but terribly quieter. The lapping of "The Water of Life" rocks a delicate dangling of arpeggios which weave a pensive harmony and its reflections in suspension. The thick layers of synth and the multiple breezes add a very nostalgic dimension with aerial chants and laments of which the contrasts add to the weight of the sadness. The soft rhythmic cradle of "The Water of Life" follows an ascending curve with fine tom-toms which beat of an ethereal delicacy, increasing all its contrast. "Solaris" is a title denuded of sequences and beats. The winds, their singings and their slow evasive litanies flow all over, like the sorrow of the trial of our soul. We can hear some arpeggios to sparkle here and there. But their movement and their brightness are like of vain joys which are dying in the twilights of our profound introspections. It's especially very meditative and very dark. It's like a journey all black between these lost and painful souvenirs hard to find. The shagreen and the fear of losing ourselves could not have a more lugubrious face than here. "Moontide" raises the degree of intensity of the atmospheres with some long very musical laments which divide their pensive harmonies between the passivity of long hummings and the texture of the synth winds. Some delicate manual percussions stir up the fire of the floating shades. That does like the very ambient approaches of Rudy Adrian's New Zealand panoramas. The title-track is like this feeling to have succeed your quest. The rhythm is light and sounds like a legion of prisms shaken by delicate winds and of which the reflections bring towards a state of hypnosis. The harmonies are always embroidered around these astral breezes which seem to come straight from the Tibetan world and inject a breath of meditation, even in their envelopes at the antipodes of serenity.
I am not an expert of ambient music or/and music of ambiences. I know the music of Steve Roach, Robert Rich and some artists here and there who write at times this music style which was very appreciated before the sequencing and the electronic rhythms came. Having said that, the music of Chronotope Project, whether it is in this “Passages” or yet in Dawn Treader, brings something particular to the kind with a different approach in the modulation of the ambient airs and the subtle revisions of their phases. The use of the Haken Continuum Fingerboard and of oriental tom-toms add colors to the sound textures and to the ambient rhythms that our senses just cannot run away from a very attentive listening. For lovers of ambient music, although "Churning the Ether" and the title-track can raise passion and a deep interest among all fans of EM.- Sylvain Lupari, Synth & Sequences