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 for Journeyscapes Radio