I Am Here

Paul Ellis

I Am Here


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Finalist - ZMR Music Award - Best Electronic Album

About I Am Here


1   She Who Watches

2   Chinook Wind

3   1 AM On An Island In The Columbia River

Ancient and modern come together on “I Am Here,” as veteran musician/composer Paul Ellis creates an electronic music portrait inspired by the mysterious rock carvings of the Chinook Tribe of Native Americans who lived in the Columbia River Gorge 15,000 years ago. Just as they left their mark etched in stone, so Paul Ellis paints in sound from a palette that includes synthesizers, sequencers, guitar, bass, and voice.

The three long form compositions on the album, two in the 20 minute range, and one almost 30 minutes in length, have a spellbinding quality that is constantly evolving, and draws favorable comparison to the electronic music artistry of Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra, Craig Padilla, Patrick O’Hearn, and Jean Michel Jarre. Pulsing sequencers provide forward momentum over a soundscape of lush keyboard orchestration, classic analog synthesizer tones, atmospheric textures, and otherworldly effects. While his previous release on the Lotuspike label drew rave critical reviews, Paul calls this new album: “my finest sequencer work to date.” He goes on to describe his music as creating “mesmerizing environments highly detailed, but open ended enough to allow breathing room.”

Fans of electronic music as well as those seeking an enchanting and entrancing listening experience will not want to miss this latest release by one of the premier artists of the genre on his timeless tribute to the continuity and kinship of life on earth.


Paul Ellis pays tribute to the Chinook tribe of the Columbia River Gorge on his new three-track release, I Am Here, and in the same nod acknowledges his musical inspirations with work that rings with the familiar while still being potently original. Berlin-School structures dominate the mix here, with powerful, criss-crossing sequencer lines weaving a minimalist foundation for soaring melodies. Along the way, the points of reference tickle the ear–downward-curling twiddles borrowed from Jarre, ominous bass lines ported out of early Tangerine Dream. That’s part of the pleasure of I Am Here, particularly if your tastes are anchored in the sounds of early electronic music. Nostalgia, however, is not the bigger part of the disc. It’s Ellis’ strong narrative hand as he guides this trio through symphonic movements as they progress. Tone and timbre change in each like new colors being added to a painting, the whole developing and revealing itself over time. “She Who Watches” starts the journey with an echoing thump on a drum and the high whistle of throat singing. A sinewy synth line pulls itself up out of the sound and blossoms into rich ambient chords. The sequencer comes in from a distance, and Ellis calmly builds the intensity in airy layers. There’s a great shift around the 10-minute mark that rings of Jarre, an extended sequencer arpeggio that curls in tight spirals around you then flares out into deep bass and spreading chords. “Chinook Wind” drifts in on a wafting sequencer pulse and a lightly sing-songy minimalist phrase. The simple cadence becomes a bit hypnotic, small shifts in key keeping your mind involved. There’s a great sense of expectancy, of waiting for something to evolve. When this track shifts into its second movement, it’s distinct and deliberate. The sequencing falls away, an undulating bass drone takes up the bottom end, rising and falling like a prayer chant, and Ellis brings in lush string sounds that vary from the high cry of violin to the grumble of cello. This is a beautiful, quiet passage. Then, out of nowhere, the sequencer jams back in like a jolt of energy and the piece moves off, not at high speed, but definitely at cruising speed. Later in the track Ellis lays down a very distinct  Tangerine Dream vibe that will carry well into “1 AM On An Island in the Columbia River.”  The slow, menacing open of this closing track is carried on the aforementioned TD bass twang. It emerges from a murk of synth sighs and electronic twiddle and takes up a heartbeat rhyhtm. Ellis deftly interlaces his sequencer lines into a polyrhythmic tapestry and sets his melodies free to fly over them. This half-hour piece is overflowing with expertly crafted sequencer work. The interplay is a pure pleasure to sit back and try to follow. There’s a wonderful sense of the artist at play and being very much in love with his sound as he takes it through its paces.

I Am Here is a vibrant and energetic work that all but demands that you play it at volume. It delights in its old-school roots and wears them proudly, making it a real joy for analog fans. Its optimistic spirit really works its way into your system. It’s feel-good electronic, a disc you’re going to return to often. An amazing set of pieces from Paul Ellis that should be finding a home on many “Best Of” lists come year’s end.

- John Shanahan, Hypnagogue

Sensing the artist within the context of his body of work is easy with synthesist Paul Ellis. From his cassette culture days as the daring kid-with-a-synth and early electronic workouts with Dweller at the Threshold to the several Hypnos and Groove Unlimited album releases of alternately blazing then contemplative Spacemusic, Paul Ellis may be detected (in varying stages of life) in his music. His CD I Am Here (68'04") actually gives away his present whereabouts. The inspiration for the three lengthy tracks contained herein are the result of Ellis looking outside of himself a bit more than he has on past ruminations. Yet the overall experience of listening to I Am Here feels as if Ellis has found some huge new territory inside. This record is never less than intriguing. Possessed by a distinctive creative vision and an ability to keep listeners engaged until the very end Paul Ellis drops a silver chain of sound in an odd sequencer arithmetic that builds larger cycles from smaller ones, plays his signature sounds in an advanced arrangement of chords and melodies, then slows it all down into a hazy middle distance time - all in a captivating pulse for the internet age. On I Am Here Paul Ellis demonstrates that he understands this music technically, but also in a deeper way. Composing and playing at full capacity it is as if, in the act of flexing his mind, he has discovered new musical possibilities. He is advancing the genre away from mere knob twiddling, drone roaming and effect tweaking - outward towards a compositionally complex and elegant form of serious, yet heart-felt, fascinating minimalist music. Paul Ellis has found his voice through non-verbal communication. I Am Here is unexpectedly perfect.

- Chuck van Zyl, Star's End

In the words of the composer, "I Am Here" is a sort of a counterpart to his previous album "From Out Of The Vast Comes Nearness", released on the same label. The concept album and its music is inspired by the Chinook tribe of Native Americans who once resided in the Columbia River Gorge, their rock art and culture.

The cd contains three expansive pieces (two 20-minute pieces aalong one of 29 minutes) that sonically see a return to large canvas soundscapes, interlocking sequencers, powerful percussion and an array of gently unfolding synthesizers patterns. Next to a beautiful kaleidoscope of vintage and modern sounds. Despite its fascinating complex sound design, Mr Ellis has composed transparent and spacious tapestries of multi-coloured pads and solo-voices with lots of detail, breaks and hidden dynamics.

In addition, there’s a fascinating, passionate current pushing things forward, while the ever-changing, at times minimal sonic landscape heads into unexpecting directions as it keeps releasing its array of tasty and rich flavours. Especially on the emotive "Chinook Wind" and the epic final piece, the tantelizing retro feel is very strong.

All in all, the impressive and never failing "I Am Here" (again with a top-notch mastering job by Ben Cox) is one exciting ride. It’s a real grower that breaths the immense and the timeless, while wandering into alternate dimensions.

- Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion

Taking cues from the analogue electronic space music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Jean-Michael Jarre, veteran American composer Ellis here crafts a series of three extended soundscapes that honor the ancient Chinook people and a small island Ellis recently discovered that holds a very mystical allure.

Beginning with the 20-minute "She Who Watches", Ellis' constructs complex and shimmery rhythmic electronic spaces -- percolating sequences, deep synth textures, and dabblings in melody that don't point to pop-song structures, but to celestial expanses. "Chinook Wind" follows, and is another 20 minutes of wispy and fleeting synth-strings, bells, and chimings that are simultaneously elegant, mysterious, and amorphous. At about the 12 minute mark, it opens up to lovely strings and flowing water. This, for me, is a crescendo of "I Am Here". Just lovely.

The final track, the 29-minute "I Am On An Island In The Columbia River", evolves from flowing Berlin-style sequencer-driven sounds to space ambience. It's a beautiful journey that Ellis has created with "I Am Here", and I'm glad to have taken a ride.

- Todd Zachritz, Goatsden

Long-form melodic electronica.
Synths and sequencers in colourful profusion reveal the ever-changing breezy landscape of I Am Here. Opening with a huge distant drum boom and a peculiar voice-like tone keening in the air, the expansive sound of Paul Ellis is immediately obvious. Smooth drones and rippling arpeggio patterns soon lay down the basic terrain, shifting and changing in natural progression. The sonorous rumble of drums builds as the music develops, sharpened by programmed hits and in places solidifying into open-sided beats. Passages of strongly rhythmic sequencer forms, bass pulses and lazy percussives make up the rock mass of the compositions, moody introductions and spacious interludes often opening up the air. A plaintive cello of Celtic intensity wafts across the beatless dronescape that occupies the mid-point of Chinook Wind; peculiar wind-borne presences and dull chimes inhabit the opening space of I Am On An Island In The Columbia River and a vibrant array of Berlin inspired electronica burbles, throbs, soars and coruscates throughout.

I Am Here is presented in a twin-panel card wallet - no plastic. The package has a bright, fresh feel to it; crisp outdoor photographs of vast skies and broken reflections. On the front cover is a landscape that sweeps over lake-side rocks, broad waters, undulating tree lines and distant snow peaks. A closer look picks out the carved form that animates one of the nearby rocks, its ancient graven eyes appearing to stare right at the viewer. Then the grey waterfowl transfixed before its stony vision. The rear cover has a more crepuscular tone; dark silhouettes against the low beam of the sun - a human figure in the middle of the river in direct line with the brightest light. Track titles are here and simple sleeve notes. The inner panels hold two smaller pictures of broader panoramas - one includes the artist in situ. Marked rock textures and words from the title act as backdrop to thanks, love, credits and some background details.

Composer and musician Paul Ellis' thirteenth album I Am Here is a powerful tribute to a nation long gone. Inspired by the presence of the ancient Chinook people on a small island at the Columbia River Gorge, the album establishes a suite of beguiling landscapes touched with the nostalgia of distant enigmatic civilizations. Released via the Spotted Peccary subsidiary label Lotuspike, I Am Here is comprised of three lengthy recordings: two at almost twenty minutes each and one running for twenty eight minutes thirty three. Referring to this suite as “my finest sequencer work to date,” Paul talks of his music as revealing “mesmerizing environments highly detailed, but open ended enough to allow breathing room.”

- Paul Jury, Morpheus Music Reviews

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