Just...wow. That was my first, and continuing impression of Odonata,
the first album from Amethystium.
The overall feel of the album is vast, soaring, and always in
motion, and ranging in feel from intimate to immense. There is over a
full hour of music here to drive, study, or just kick back to.
Every musical genre undergoes an
arc of development beginning with the early pioneers in the
particular musical style, and a stage in developing the mature sound,
and the 'handing off'
of the mature techniques and styles to the next stage of
development. There are many wonderful musical pioneers and innovators
in the Electronic/Gothic/World Fusion/New Age category- like Tangerine
to name a few. It is obvious that Amethystium
has been a good student of the sonic and emotional styles of these 'elders',
because this album both invokes and transcends them all. One can
clearly hear the homage to these various musical works in the body of
the album, but it also has a unique voice of its own. This is clearly
the mature flowering of this genre- a climb to a well-developed high
point of sonic excellence. For a first outing, it is awesome. This
one is going to stay in your CD players for a while, folks. I'd even
venture to say that it might even become a 'desert
The sonic landscape is a
very eclectic one: Middle Eastern blends with Celtic, and Sanskrit
chants segue over to Gregorian chants. A familiar sample of
Tibetan/Nepalese street sounds accents a couple of the cuts (Avalon
and Lhasa)- one I recognized from Delirium's Karma: Enchantment.
Clearly, there is a lot of creative cross-pollination in World Fusion
today. I love it- one sample from an old Tibetan field recording or
Gregorian chant can say entirely different things in different
opens with a deep, welling floating bass chime- reminiscent to me of
a foggy night- and quickly brings in the rhythms that will propel the
listener on their way. The opening "Opaque"
is reminiscent of some of the best later albums of Tangerine
Dream, including the Sanskrit
chanter, and the static chorus. If I didn't know better, I would have
thought I was listening to TD- who is a very mature, highly skilled
electronic fusion group on their own. It delights me that Amethystium
begins at this point- and climbs higher.
Homages and cross pollination and
close attention to sonic detail are prevalent throughout the album. "Ilona"
has a Celtic feel to it, with chanting monks and a soaring vocal
that brings some of Enigma's works to mind, but with a lighter touch.
The synth voice, high and clear, reminded me a little of some of
Yanni's early efforts.
became a favorite for me from early on. Starting off with a Middle
Eastern flavor, with flute and percussion, it climbs through minor
chord progressions and percussion changes, and a Sanskrit chant and
rhythmic piano. The musical tension continues to build until about
four and a half minutes into the piece, it bursts into a yearning,
minor key glissando synth melody that will stay with you long after
the music is silent.
begins with a floating Native American flute flavor, and quickly
bursts into the 'traveling' rhythms that propel much of the album. It
is a rich mixture- you will want to listen on both headphones and
speakers. Is that chain mail being dropped in a loop in my left ear?
Sure sounds like it! It is little details like this that make the
album a sonic delight to listen to, and each playing brings a new
dimension of audio delights to enjoy.
leaves the 'traveling rhythm'
behind for some quietly romantic introspection that is reminiscent
on his best albums. But it is only a hint of Kitaro,
an homage- the music and style is clearly Amethystium's own.
brings the mystique of the ancient land into focus with a deep,
mysterious bass opening, segueing into a questioning synth line and a
chanting quality to the rhythm. We are all seekers here, it says. We
wish to know more. Will the stones and hills give answers? Are those
fairy bells we hear? And children's laughter? This is a prime example
of a familiar sound sample given a new perspective in a different
A lovely chorus brings mystical
overtones to "Calantha",
continuing the yearning-seeking theme begun in Avalon. Rich
arpeggios and a gliding synth voice take us soaring through this piece.
brings shakuhachi flutes, droning strings, and a solemn dance rhythm
into play to continue the yearning mystical feel of the middle
section of the album. A male Indian chanter highlights this piece.
The traveling rhythm returns in "Fairyland",
opening the final part of the album. "Paean"
brings back the soaring Kitaro-esque synth voice to lead the
listener deeper into the music and complex rhythms.
Voices" is probably the most
'enigmatic' of the pieces, opening with the familiar "Ave/Hosanna"
chant of Gregorian monks so popular with both Enigma
and others. Clearly a homage, Amethystium
reminds us of its musical and stylistic roots, and then takes us
higher. Despite the familiar style, it is still as fresh and
interesting as ever.
round off the album, bringing more of the wonderfully layered
rhythms and sounds accented a wonderful flute solo on "Ascension".
is quietly introspective with delightful sonic nuances and piano. "Lhasa"
finishes the album with Buddhist monks, and the impression of more
horizons to explore.
is a wonderful first outing for Amethystium,
and if they continue on the path they are currently on, weaving
their own unique sound from the threads provided, I predict that we
will have many more musical delights in the future.
Reviewed by Lorie Johnson for Ambient Visions