Jon Jenkins has many albums to his credit, including ‘Flow’ and ‘Continuum’ which I feel marks his success in the ambient market. He has worked with such notable names as David Helping, Paul Lackey and Jeff Pearce.
His style is self described as ‘Ambient – Electronic Esoterica’ and I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes bordering on classical with an electronic touch, sometimes almost space music, sometimes a touch of jazz, Jon Jenkins has created a style within a style of music making his compositions unique in a genera that is typically identified as a ‘non-descript’ style of music.
This CD is not the usual ‘ambient’ production in that it is not meant to be soft and non-intrusive as much ambient is. This CD is meant to be turned up and listened to… this is a ‘feel the music’ CD that will leave you wanting more. Jon Jenkins takes ambient to new ground here with some very powerful compositions. There are ten tracks all deserving of serious consideration.
The first track ‘The Calling’ offers space synth and ethereal vocals that rises and fall to rise again in a progression piece. Filled with emotional stanzas, this piece could be considered an introduction to the balance of the work.
The first piece works into the second piece called ‘Zzyzx Road’. This is keyboard with synth backfill that provides a lovely composition, both strong and emotional. A very lovely melody is carried throughout the piece, making this a memorable track in a place where melody is not always memorable, but usually intentionally abstract. This is a very remarkable composition giving ambient music a definition.
‘Through City Light’ returns to the spacey electronica with a clearly identifiable beat and a hint of keyboard melody that tickles the mind as it sweeps you into the mood. More of a ‘jazzy’ feeling emerges but never dominates, giving this again a very unique feel. Another powerful and emotion filled composition.
At this point the pace changes. ‘Secrets of the Virgin’ is a softer composition that drifts in and out of stronger changeovers. We are introduced to an almost romantic composition that seduces you into a calmer place within yourself and explodes into ‘sexy’ vocalizations emphasized by a clearly defined, often orgasmic beat against a keyboard composition that sweeps you off your feet. It will lull you into that calm place and back into the ecstatic beat several times over the course of the composition before allowing you to finally rest.
‘Legacy’ allows us to travel with the music as it lifts us up with keyboard chords suggesting melody, but it is the demanding beat that moves our feet. We stop momentarily to linger in a soft explosion of sound and emotion only to move on again with the beat to the next destination this composition takes us to before allowing you to come finally to rest.
‘Deep sleep and Dying Embers’ is another change of pace, providing a very calming composition, drifting in and out of the mind. Soft, very subtle and very delightful, allowing us a period of relaxation.
We then are called upon to enjoy an almost spiritual composition in ‘The Source’. Suggestions of flute, keyboard, ghostly vocals, powerful musical phrases and strong waves of sound build and wash over you as you allow this piece to move you to another level.
Then there are the delightful fields to wander in ‘Sky of Surrender’. Again, this suggests an almost classical feel to the composition, but never gives into it. We are allowed a feeling of vastness, a never ending horizon that this composition reaches out towards, but it never limits itself to one space. This is a composition that follows the phrasing of the music, not a beat, and is expertly executed allowing us to drift with the music rather than forcing us to follow.
‘Through Different Eyes’ gives us a short, powerful burst of energy with a delightful composition drifting in a strong emotional background. The melody is never lost, as the background seems to force the melody to the front of the piece. Drifting over all this is a lovely vocal accompaniment to the melody that harmonizes rather than distracts. Again, another composition that calls for our attention, rather than allowing itself to settle into the background.
The final track ‘Forever’ caps this CD with another composition that declares open space rather than limited boundaries. This piece is strong, bold and yet is not contained by a beat. The phrases reach out and grab our attention; keyboard blends with synth and vocals to demand we pay attention, and then carries us over the vastness of the composition. The ending of the journey comes with a feeling of timelessness and endless space.
The compositions never become dark or monotonous. There is a definite feeling of uplifting, of carrying you along with the music, so you do not encounter any blockages or distractions to the enjoyment of the compositions. This is a CD to be listened to and enjoyed, rather than pushed to the background as
Jon Jenkins weaves a patchwork of styles and compositions which are not only pleasing as a whole to the ear, but also calls our attention to each piece individually to truly appreciate the blending of styles and textures that create the entire CD. This is not ambient music for the background, but rather it demands we pay attention to the music and allow ourselves to be pulled into it to truly appreciate the works as well as the journey the artist is presenting to us. This is a lovely and masterful effort that should not be overlooked and should be part of your ambient collection. And if you have never heard Jon Jenkins’ work before, this is a great introduction to the talent of this artist.
- MA Foster, Ambient Visions