May 7, 2008

Ornament - Bleu


(2004)
Australian dance label Psy Harmonics occasionally takes welcome detours into the ambient zone. The debut album Bleu from Melbourne duo Ornament (Simon Polinski and Joe Creighton) is one such release and is an absolute gem. It's warm, spacious and alive, with fully-fleshed arrangements and seductive textures. Neither is it the sound of ambient-downtempo you might expect from a psy-trance label. It's less bleepy and synthetic and often less busy too. The mastering seems to have deliberately softened the top-end sounds, creating the aural perception of bigger spaces and more rounded surfaces rather than sharp, well-defined edges. In places there's a classical logic to the album's flow. Two pieces have their own separate "overtures" which give you a main theme before going on to a more extended development of the same idea. Highlights include "The Jesse Tree", a slow and sexy 4/4 rock jam with guitar soloing that's extended but restrained. "To Love Is To Laugh" is based around an oddly touching narrative sampled from a documentary about Eskimos. Best of all is the breathtaking choral-based piece "Yehuvaroom". Its looped, chiming melody establishes a powerful sense expectancy and mystery to which string sounds and other melody lines are added, all bathed in carefully timed choral swells of exquisite beauty.
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