Steve Jolliffe project
Steve deftly takes us on a very musical journey, exploring the spaces between notes and somethimes the spaces between the spaces. Incredibly, we are party to a genius at work, doing what he's best at and completely mastering SPACE. The majesty of this album is immeasurable, with a little nod to Holst and his great work, but daring to go so much further, not being overwhelmed with the emotions beginning to stir in our breasts, the eye on the source, only. Soon galaxies are sweeping us up in their spiralling forms with all the delicacy of soft snowflakes brushing against one's cheek, cool clean air sweeping our necks.
The shaman is launching us on our first journey, the reindeer pulling the sledge negotiating pine trees, brooks, natural boundaries until all of a sudden we realize that there's protons and atoms flying past us, particles of space - and black holes are beckoning us with their mysteriousness. Meteor showers and comets thrill our senses next and the major planets are performing their musical masterpieces in earnest - they don't get too many visitors out here! Loving it, showing off their talents for all those who now forget -- to look up at the night sky's familiar, but still beautiful, show of stars, too slow to switch off the TV, miss that pint.
Now we begin to see faces, smiling happy faces, eskimo faces, American Indian faces, high cheekbones, flowing black hair, Chinese, Japanese characters, European, Indian, African, all the differences, all the similiarities are noted here, in this space. The fine cornucopia of life -- all that lives and breathes on planet Earth is seen as a living representation of God's genius, and continuing genius!
By the time we get to track four, we seem to be negotiating with ease ice cold snowy peaks until the warm stream of a trumpet leads us into the warm valley awaiting us on our descent. And boy, is it worth coming down for. The music surrounds us like hot marshmallows being toasted on a warm fire and lots and lots of hot chocolate filled mugs filling our hands, as the spheres still entertain us on this, the best night of our lives.
He's cracked it! We are led into the inner workings, the sacred space, the pulse, the source. Watch the holograms, hexagrams, platonic solids, crystallines, forming, unforming. Sit back, close those eyes and enjoy - the creation, uncreation, et al.
The comforting sounds of silvery splashes of rainfall beckon us into our own soul space, very safe and personal space where we can relax and still ourselves. Once more, we are lifted into the swirl of the galaxies - cracking through the icy boundaries, the reindeers' feet pounding on the snow, bringing us home! Harmony and energy fusion exhilarates mind, body and soul. New pathways emerging, regeneration of dying brain cells, a full and dynamic initiation into the path of the soul. Blissful space.
From Andre Lefebvre
In the Quiet
CFRU 93.3 FM
The music, the cover, the text and the CD picture, all provide a source of perspective, adding, suggesting, complementing...
The album contains six "tableaux," four of them over 13 minutes long. The cover is highly intriguing, not your usual stars and planets reference to space... the inner picture is of a wild simple and clear beauty, vibrating with energy and a movement that made me feel of a life sacredly surging into unrestrained expression. Very worshipful, if I may use this term. As usual, the production is clean, experienced.
Steve's style once again gives us meaningful themes, with surprising shifts in mood that carry us beyond what we'd actually expect. It's a discovery that requires work on the part of the listener, but one that can be quite rewarding. "Simultaneously all-encompassing and unknowable. It is all around and still untouchable..." reads the presentation. Listen and discover your own response to that.
Expandere: The album's opening, Expandere, marks the way most pieces will evolve: a variation of moods, punctuated by sudden shifts. But instead of being shocked and disatisfied by those shifts, it questioned my listening attitude, and I found I could just as easily experience the same things travelling through the city or the countryside: when you turn your head, the scene might totally change, but still, you're in the moment, and the recipient of the experience.
Expandere starts fluidly to suddenly morph into a symphonic poem with middle-eastern overtones. I had mixed feelings about it, but then upon listening again, I was grateful to leave the dock and enter Steve's world. Here again, ample contrasts, and after a while, you give up "expecting" and find yourself having to follow what the musician is saying through his art. His use of sampled orchestras is clean and original.
Axioum: made me smile. At once I could picture the little boy on the CD label, expressing a sense of grandiose marveling at the mysteries of worlds of his own making. A fitting soundtrack to a child's dreams inhabited by strange creatures and quests of unknown worlds, (remember how Disney creates dream scenes in their cartoons, where creatures and things have a life of their own, morphing into odd shapes and doing impossible things, challenging all laws of gravity and interaction...) each having their own systems of life, different than ours. The use of strings and brass are, to me, a bit reminiscent of 50's sci-fi movies. Steve might have had something different in mind, though...
Ermite: A playful piece, a bit linear, bringing back moog-ish sounds, hard to picture anything in particular for a while. Again, forcing me to just listen, follow, receive, discover, patience, willingness to be surprised, not to impose but welcome...
Euclidean: A "space" sequence starts the journey, lush strings and treated voice samples. This time, I am feeling carried, and again, sudden change, as if we passed a door. What's ahead is a mix of jazz chords and trumpet solo. New change again, movement, travelling, deep and richly emotional strings, sound of distant voices, images coming together from the CD picture, a sense of feeling small and overwhelmed, candidly looking on, already aware of great and untouchable realities, developing an emotional language where thoughts concepts can't travel far enough to circle back to "earth base," to provide a sense of the integrity of all things. Carved from the emotional block of a child busy with concepts beyond his years...
A new movement fades in from silence with a running bass that gives way to wind instruments on a bed of lush strongs, a breathing, floating segment. The bass comes back, fragmented images or contrasting elements of memory...
Steve is not trying to please some popular canon of style and form, but to summon us to experience deeply, just as he is, the relentless call of space.
Cislunar: A collage of various and diverse sonic "landscapes," I found many very interesting themes in this one, although this time, the cohesion eluded me until I reflected on the title. Cislunar: lying between the earth and the moon or the moon's orbit (cislunar space) (Merriam-Webster).
What can we find between the earth and the moon? A collection of wandering space objects, a belt of technological apparatus reflecting us to ourselves. We send signals to space to have them sent back to us so we can talk to each others over the distances separating us... transmissions are lost, others initiated, others come and go, scratching the air with digital noise where we expected real content...
Eros: Entry into visceral space... a taste of elemental emotions, melting into grace and elevation. Bringing back the mix of sequences and symphonic interspersed with the whispers of voices of uncertain origin. A regiment of demands, calling for immediate attention, a roller-coaster ride of a flux of emotions driving deep from within psyche, unearthing a series of mixed memories. Wrestling, overpowered, yet not conquered, participant, yet, subject.
Here, bringing back the opening theme of the album, Steve launches in a dramatic finale that once again marks him as a richly inspired painter of sequences. Some themes are short-lived, but he connects them with brio. After the engagement, rest.
An important contribution from Steve Jolliffe, an epic album for those who don't shy from engaging with the artist with as much intention, and personal investment, as he has in creating the album... Beyond entertaining, it offered me an indwelling experience of ...space... And I can't stop feeling, once again, that Steve's work is unashamedly autobiographical. For which I have great respect.
Regards and blessings,
Sending Healing Waves Over The Airwaves
Live on the Internet
23:00 PM Toronto/NY time
CFRU 93.3 FM Guelph, ON
From Andy Garibaldi, www.cd-services.com
From the minute the fluid sounds of 'Expandere' open the disc to the closing passages of 'Eros", the album moves through symphonic, rhythmic, acoustic and retro-elements in an exciting and driving combination - all synths - no sax. With four lengthy and two shorter tracks, this has to rate as one of the finest albums he's done to date and is sure to appeal to long-time fans as well as gain a legion of new followers for a musician furthering the very roots of classic synth music. The thing you notice about it is how much of a symphonic, almost classical style that pervades the bulk of the material, much of this not sounding out of place on something like In The Nursery's 'Hindle Wakes' only obviously more extended and with more electronic instrumentation involved. Some of the music sets up rhythms that are melodic, progressive and "Berlin" influenced, while the foreground is taken up with endless horizons of string synths, melodic keyboard/synth layers and passages, the feel of the whole album being a mix of depth, warmth and symphonic strength throughout. For those that like the more symphonic, melodic and consistently cohesive side of the synth music fence, then this is as good as they come.
From Archie Patterson, www.eurock.com
Steve is well known as a former member of Tangerine Dream, unfortunately not so well known for his long string of superb solo albums which as of now far transcend the works of Tangerine Dream in their current incarnation. His latest album musically explores the best of all worlds synthetic music wise. From the extended opening track "Expandere" with its symphonic and Arabic influences, to the striking extended closer "Eros" that swirls with arrangements of electronic counterpoint and pulsing polyrhythms, "Space" takes your mind on a sonic carpet ride through the looking glass filling your head with a wide array of sounds and musical creativity.