Paul Ellis - Appears to Vanish
Neu Harmony NH016
A lone organ sound gives the beginning of the first part a rather Gothic feel. This is compounded still further when at just over a minute it is replaced by angelic wordless vocal effects. You can just imagine the mist swirling round some abandoned monastery where the echoes of its long dead inhabitants still reverberate from one ruined wall to another. These all disappear before three minutes, the mood well and truly set as a deep note repeatedly resonates from the speakers and an ominous melodic motif makes proceedings seem even more sinister.
At six minutes a gentle sequence can be heard but it is at the eight minute mark when a rumbling bass sequence makes its devastating entrance that the mood turns from being ominous to being aggressive but at the same time exciting. A lead line and even faster sequence comes in as if we are now being chased with menace lurking around every corner. The transition to 'Part 2' is devastating, in full flow from 'Part 1' we quickly put the breaks on. There is a second's silence then a mysterious swirling melody strikes up. At just over four minutes we are left to a tinkling sequence and atmospheric pads then the sound of a mellotron. Just after the half way mark another brace of sequences develop, one deep bass and the other of a much higher register. We surge forwards once again. This would be great music for a car chase such is the feeling of speed and excitement.
Gothic overtones return for the beginning of 'Part 3' as a bell rings out over an ominous rumbling sequence. The sequence becomes more prominent and goes through various mutations and subtle mood changes, at one moment swelling in intensity and at the next subsiding. Finally we have the twenty five minute 'Mysterious Sketches'. This track in fact started life as an album (as yet unpublished) in its own right which highlighted what a superb composer Paul is. What we have here is a condensed version of that album concentrating on the sequencer based style found on the rest of this CD. Indeed we are straight into sequencer mode accompanied by some fine melodies. One line sort of asking a question with the second supplying the answer. Things calm down slightly but then the sequence becomes even more awesome and bass heavy. There are so many subtle melodies going on weaving in and out of each other that your mind is first yanked in one direction then another but it is the beauty of the whole that captivates most. Actually the track is just as effective when stripped of the main sequence.
At the six minute mark a poignant melody is allowed to drift in the air. At seven minutes we move into another section which brings images of vast caverns, large droplets of water falling from the roof to impact on the floor then spraying in all directions. The mood then swiftly changes again as further mutations take us to a more mechanical world where strange futuristic machines pulsate away then suddenly stop and we enter a watery scene with strange animal noises. When the sequence arrives it is as if the sun has just broken through sending rays of light bouncing off still pools of water. It all goes to show just how descriptive sequencer music can be when the instruments are placed in the right hands. The final four minutes see yet another change in mood, as if night has returned and evil creatures venture out again to feed on whatever is unfortunate enough to still remain in their domain.
In case you have been thinking that you have heard of this artist before but can't quite place him it might help to tell you that he is one half of Dweller at the Threshold. The other half, Dave Fulton, recently released a fine album that mainly explored dark ambient realms. Paul on the other hand has come up with a more sequencer based album full of adroit melodies and juxtapositions. Dweller lies somewhere in the middle. (DL)