Ovum

Chronotope Project

Ovum

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About Ovum

Tracks:

1   Olduvai Dreams

2   Ovum

3   Mariposa

4   Emanation

5   Primordial

6   Epiphany

7   Starry Messenger

Pulsing with life and emotion, Chronotope Project’s seventh album, OVUM, is infused with subtle creations of delicate melodic electronic music that seem to come from deep within a dream. Drifting synth textures and spellbinding rhythms wind their way through each track, guiding the musical flow and occasionally supporting cello, flute, Irish whistle, and other organic expressions of melody that are both earthly and angelic. The expansive and thought-provoking soundscapes of OVUM float effortlessly through an array of moods that range from tranquil and mysterious to soaring and open-hearted, offering an impressive ambient electronic experience full of wonder and serenity.

The recognizable hypnotic dreamscapes – always at the nucleus of the Chronotope Project sound – are abundant on OVUM, and composer Jeffery Ericson Allen’s resources include a wide range of hardware and software synthesizers, acoustic instruments and environmental soundscapes. Subtle Berlin-style sequences periodically emerge to lend an incandescent undercurrent to the harmonic and melodic narratives that breathe life into each piece. Ethereal synthesizer pads paint cloud-like harmonies with cirrus strokes, while tribal percussion sometimes appears in the texture to propel a piece to its climax. As with many previous Chronotope Project creations, the expressive sound of the Haken Continuum Fingerboard is frequently featured as a solo instrument.

As an archetypal symbol in art, literature and mythology, the ovum represents the Cosmic Zero; awaiting gestation, growth and differentiation, it embodies pure potentiality and possibility. On a conceptual level, the album’s music, track titles, and artwork combine to poetically reflect on the nature of beginnings, seeds, and primordial states of being. The album’s tracks – inspired by ancient ancestors (Olduvai Dreams), meditation (Ovum), the transformation and first flight of a butterfly (Mariposa), Greek cosmological theory (Emanation), primordial life (Primordial), inner truth (Epiphany), and scientific discovery (Starry Messenger) – all express this overall theme of existence, growth, and fulfillment as the slowly developing soundscapes of OVUM reveal their secrets to those who listen deeply.

OVUM is the seventh album by Jeffery Ericson Allen as Chronotope Project, and the third to be released on the Spotted Peccary label.

Reviews

It would be hard to imagine a more perfectly realized ambient electronic set than Ovum, the seventh Chronotope Project album from Oregon-based composer Jeffrey Ericson Allen and his third for the esteemed Spotted Peccary imprint. A balance of incredible nuance is struck between acoustic and electronic sounds on the fifty-one-minute recording, and Allen demonstrates incredible sensitivity in his shaping of sound materials and compositional design. Even describing it as an ambient electronic release seems inadequate when its contents are considerably more riveting than the ambient norm. In keeping with the title, the seven pieces explore concepts associated with beginnings, gestation, development, potentiality, and primordial states of being. Track titles reinforce the association, whether directly (“Ovum,” “Primordial,” “Emanation”) or indirectly (“Mariposa,” which has to do with the transformation and first flight of a butterfly). To realize these respective visions, Allen used a variety of hardware and software synthesizers, including the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, a custom-designed synthesizer with a touch-sensitive playing surface tailor-made for pitch-shifting and tremolo effects; on the acoustic side, instruments such as cello, flute, Irish whistle, and percussion add distinguishing character to the material, and an occasional field recording also finds its way into the mix. Such a personalized sonic identity enables Allen's Chronotope Project to stand alone, though there is one track where a connection between his work and Steve Roach's might be identified: when tribal percussion elements and subtle rhythm pulsations emerge alongside ethereal synth textures during “Olduvai Dreams,” it's possible to hear echoes of Roach's style in the production. That being said, Allen does ultimately individuate the piece by integrating woodwind and cello flourishes into the entrancing soundscape. Another element that stamps the music with the Chronotope Project signature is a steel guitar-like sound (Fingerboard-generated, I'm guessing) whose ear-catching swoop first appears on the tranquil title track, a remarkably poised evocation where softly shimmering sounds remain aloft in a state of slow-motion suspension, and surfaces repeatedly thereafter. “Mariposa” combines the pitch-shifting of the Fingerboard, the resonant pluck of an acoustic string instrument, and tablas to disarming, dream-like effect, while “Primordial,” with its blend of humming insect sounds and glimmering synth textures, conjures the vision of a dawning world. Whereas “Emanation” expresses a forlorn quality, “Epiphany” conveys the kind of wide-eyed wonder one associates with personal revelation (interestingly, a faint trace of Ravel's Bolero is suggested by the piece's melodic trajectory and gradual escalation in intensity). That the seven pieces on Ovum were produced with exceptional skill is obvious, but the album is less about technical execution than it is the high level of artistry exemplified by the material. It's Allen's superior command of composition and sound design that truly distinguishes this release. - Ron Schepper, Textura
Chronotope Project is the recording alias of Oregonian ambient/electronic music composer and cellist Jeffrey Ericson Allen. His seventh recording, titled Ovum, is likewise his third release on the prestigious Spotted Peccary Music label, following his excellent Passages and Dawn Treader albums. Comprised of seven compositions spanning fifty-one minutes of organic-electronic bliss, Allen creates deeply immersive, lushly ambient soundscapes that juxtapose synthetic tones and textures with natural instruments such as cello, flute and Irish whistle. Most notably, as with Chronotope Project’s previous albums, the Haken Continuum Fingerboard is frequently featured as a solo instrument where it often takes precedence as a key signature element. Conveyed by visually captivating artwork intended to represent a primordial state of being, each composition audibly illustrates a subtle emergence from either an earthly seed or cosmic source, which gradually unfolds into a continuously evolving and metamorphosing journey.

Inspired by our distant ancestors, the opening piece, “Olduvia Dreams”, effectively transports the listener to remote islands in the Pacific or Indian ocean. Guided along by churning textures and ethno-tribal percussion, the composition eventually blossoms into a luxuriantly flowing arrangement of sensual earthly delight. Exuding the essence of a tropical rainforest, Gamelan-like timbres, ethereal tones and fluttering flutes further paint a surreal and primeval paradise. Deeply meditative and supremely mesmerizing, the title track, “Ovum”, slowly unfurls into an all-encompassing environment permeated by haunting glissando throughout, as the piece effectively evokes subtle shapes and colors that seemingly morph into suspended liquid formations. Illustrating the transitional process of metamorphosis, “Mariposa” (Spanish for ‘butterfly’) ensues with soaring glissando and a drifty bassline amid lightly rhythmic Berlin-School sequencing. The particularly spellbinding, “Primordial”, seemingly evokes a biotic alien world of primeval oceanic lifeforms and nocturnal bioluminescence. In an ode to scientific discovery, “Starry Messenger” perfectly concludes the album with an encircling illuminated environment comprised of iridescent bell-timbres in tandem with prolonged arcs of cello and flute. An indescribably beautiful piece that perceptively alters one's state of mind, it seemingly leaves the listener with a feeling of elevated awareness and conscious expansion.

Destined to become one of this year’s favorite albums, Ovum is easily Chronotope Project’s most impressively cutting-edge work to date. Although distinct unto itself, stylistic and atmospheric parallels to artists such as Ishq and Robert Rich as well as the album Ambient 4: On Land by Brian Eno can be drawn. Feeling simultaneously rooted to earth yet linked with the cosmos, Ovum is certainly not to be missed, undoubtedly earning Jeffrey Ericson Allen a spot at the round table of ambient music’s finest! - Candice Michelle, Journeyscapes Radio
Chronotope Project is the music of Oregonian composer, cellist and electronic music producer Jeffrey Ericson Allen, and 'Ovum' is his seventh album under this name, and third on the Spotted Peccary label. And of course, the first time I'm hearing anything by Chronotope Project. "Chronotope" refers to the essential unity of time and space, a concept with numerous expressions in literature, physics and the arts. According to the artist, "Ovum is a concept album that poetically reflects on the nature of beginnings, seeds, and primordial states of being. As an archetypal symbol in art, literature and mythology, the Ovum represents pure potentiality and possibility, the indwelling and self-organizing élan vital that gives rise to life in its manifold forms." Yes, yes, all well and good you say, but how does it actually sound? 'Ovum' has the ambience of a lazy Sunday afternoon occasionally infused with mild percussion. There is a fair amount of flute in some of these gentle synthetic atmospheres giving it a more natural sound. Sequencing, when utilized, is subtle, and enhances rather than dominates. Over the seven tracks on this serene album the music is delicate without falling into stereotypical "New Age". I understand that Jeffrey employs the Haken Continuum Fingerboard which can effect a smooth glissando technique you just can't get from ordinary keyboard synthesizers, so elongated sustained guitar/pedal steel sounds are easy to emulate, as well as other instruments requiring lengthy sustain and slidey notes. He also incorporates subtle Javanese (gamelan) elements giving the music a placid world music flavor at times. 'Ovum' is an album I've played many times in my book & record store, usually in the morning when I'm in the mood for a laid back and peaceful atmosphere. 'Ovum' can be perfect for contemplation, doing yoga or tai chi, reading, or just chilling. Melodic without putting melodies in your head you'd rather not have stick around, Chronotope Project has come up with the antidote to over-stimulation in a world that is just full of it. Relaxing, enjoyable and a wonderful addition to the mellower side of ambient in your collection. - Steve Mecca, Chain D.L.K
Chronotope Project aka Jeffrey Ericson Allen hails from Oregon with 7 releases under his belt so far and now he makes that 8 with the release of Ovum on Spotted Peccary records on August 4, 2017. Ovum is an introspective journey that borders on being mystical as it calls forth deep feelings from within the listener bringing them into the open and allowing them to be examined in a peaceful and safe environment. Human beings are often reluctant to look deep within themselves because of what they might find I suppose but music is one of those forces that seems to be able to bypass some of our learned safeguards allowing us to look into places that we ordinarily would not delve too deeply into.

Ovum consists of 7 tracks and all of them are more than long enough to allow for deep diving into the otherworldly aspects of ourselves which exist at both a conscious and an unconscious level. The album starts off with a song called Olduvai Dreams which touches an older part of the listener’s mind, a part that is tribal in nature, perhaps even a little more primitive than what we are accustomed to in the 21st century. With flutes that hearken to a Native American musical influence and a slow undulating rhythm played out on the drums the music begins to shift the listener’s consciousness into a frame that will more readily accept the journey that lies ahead. I don’t know for sure but when I looked up the term Olduvai I found that it refers to Olduvai Gorge which was an important archaeological dig in Tanzania that offers some of the oldest evidence of humankind’s evolution.

Olduvai Dreams might be the musical equivalent of the changes that this ancient tribe of humans was going through as evolution led them inexorably forward. The song begins in a formless fashion with drifts and swirls but no tangible rhythm or direction until the moment when life moves these humans forward in the next evolutionary step which comes in at about the 2 minute mark which is when we first hear the rhythm that will be with us the for the rest of the song. The music becomes more complex as the song progresses even as life became more complex during this time period for those early humans. This is an excellent piece of music and a wonderful way to start this album.

The title track of this album, Ovum, which is track 2, is a subdued composition that deals in ebbs and flows and the feeling of floating all the while moving towards something that is intangible and ethereal. The word ovum is a mature female reproductive cell capable of producing life if fertilized so perhaps the song is an anticipatory song of what this cell might be. It is a brooding song that evokes an reflective feeling in the listener as they drift along this slow moving current toward a destination that is yet to be revealed. The music is very atmospheric and washes over you like waves gently lapping at the shoreline. Not in a harsh way but like a soft insistent nudging to keep you moving onward.

My favorite song on the album comes at the very end and it is a song called Starry Messenger. This song is a 9 minute journey that takes the listener to the place that they have been journeying to since the first track began. To me the song points to a place of enlightenment and wisdom. The music is not the rhythmic music that started this album off but more peaceful music which might represent a person whose journey has been successfully completed and where wisdom has been obtained. It is a peaceful song that speaks to the heart and the mind at the same time and offers the traveler a place to rest and contemplate their journey. Instrumentation is deliberately kept sparse so as to enhance this feeling of completion and relaxation.

Jeffrey Ericson Allen aka Chronotope Project has delivered a wonderful journey inward and back again in the form of this latest album release. The relaxing atmospheres that permeate this album caresses deep listeners and rewards them for their efforts as he weaves a musical tapestry that deals with life both ancestral and current day. Jeffrey has shown that he is an accomplished composer and musician with Ovum and that he is able to craft engaging music that is captivating while also being able to create a narrative flow that nudges listeners forward to the journey’s end. The music has a mysterious and haunting quality about it that conveys an emotional message to those listeners who quiet themselves enough to hear it. All in all Ovum is an album that deserves your time and attention and should probably be in your musical collection. Recommended by Ambient Visions. - Michael Foster, Ambient Visions
A new album of Chronotope Project always arouses the curiosity of the lovers of ambient music which is endowed with a portal towards universes of harmonies. Uniting marvelously the capacities of a synth with instruments more acoustic as well as with the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, Chronotope Project has found itself a special place in my discography of melodic ambient music. Softer and less dominated by oriental tribal music, “Ovum” proposes a very beautiful electronic prose with a good and soft mixture of rhythms which never perturb, but not at all, our passage towards our inner mind or sleep. This is very good album when we want to put our brain to off … It's by a delicate wave very captivating which makes sparkle the songs of prism that "Olduvai Dreams" calls out to our subconscious. Tears of cello add a melancholic dimension to this introduction which soaks in sound samplings of a morning in spring. A sound life wakes up in our ears with fluty breezes which caress the heat of the soft aboriginal percussions, whereas Jeffrey Ericson Allen multiplies his sound textures with orchestrations and layers of ethereal voices. With a very sensitive dexterity, the multi-instrumentalist from Oregon leads the quiet rhythm of "Olduvai Dreams" towards a bolero loaded of emotionalism with some very beautiful harmonies of the multiple layers of flutes and where the intensity lives more in the tone of the percussions than in the rhythm which always stays in the field of a spiritual trance. A good way to start! The title-track is the contrast of this inviting rhythm with an ode to serenity which is fed by a heap of layers and their very diversified tones. Flutes and Haken Continuum Fingerboard, which makes no more and no less the effect of a Steel guitar but with the probability of a Theremin, dominate these vibes of linear breezes. A nice track with a good crescendo, "Mariposa" proposes rather a more sibylline approach with more acute waves which blow on a light ambient rhythm. The music approaches a more accentuated phase with a line of bass which gives a more moving dimension to a music which would do very well in a poetic movie. "Emanation" is a small pearl. Its introduction soaks in the mysticism of the spiritual meditations with dark breezes which tremble like being blown by a dark organ. The flutes widen a panorama of charms with very good tunes which hum on a delicate movement of a sequencer in mode ambient Berlin School. The electronic effects which sparkle here and there add a more esoteric touch. We are in the meditative music very near the harmonies of the New Age. "Essential" seems to be a continuation of "Ovum", the title-track, while "Epiphany" espouses a little bit the ambient rhythm of "Emanation", but with more vigor in it. The long sighs of the Haken Continuum Fingerboard really make its effect and add a very emotional depth here. These nostalgic tears feed a twinkling carousel of arpeggios which oscillate in the warm fluty winds of "Starry Messenger". A title as soft and beautiful as "Emanation" and which is also endowed of a very beautiful poetic approach. Soft and quiet with a texture of atmospheres which distance itself because of the presence of the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, “Ovum” makes migrate, more and more, the music of Jeffrey Ericson Allen towards Robert Rich's territories with a musical prose which reminds me of the one and only Darshan Ambient. A mixture of genres as improbable as extremely delicious which has literally seduced me a little after the first autumnal breezes of "Olduvai Dreams". And if you like a very lyrical music with a tone so unique as that of the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, too you will be fast seduced by this mixture of esoteric music and nevertheless so near the New Age. A very rare fact in my discography; “Ovum” accompanies me from now on in my sleepy nights in the same way as with this music which is explorer of sleep made by Steve Roach, Vangelis, Michael Stearns and The Glimmer Room. A very beautiful album for sensitive souls. - Sylvain Lupari, Synth & Sequences

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