For many years, the early recordings of Michael Stearns were very sought after. Now, in a fruitful collaboration with Groove Unlimited, the grand master of ambient and spacemusic offers a renewed "encounter" with his old days in a remastered form. After "Ancient Leaves", "Floating Whispers", "Lyra" and "Plunge" this is the sixth remaster. The fifth is "Morning Jewel".|
- Sirens [5:04]
- Marriage Chords [9:40]
- M'Ocean [6:40]
- Lightplay [7:11]
- Vicki's Dance [5:25]
- Fireflies' Delight [9:38]
- Walking Song [2:21]
"M’Ocean" was originally released in 1983 on cassette by the Continuum Montage label under the title "Light Play" and re-released for the first time on CD by the Sonic Atmospheres label a year later. Hearing the first notes of "M’Ocean", you can immediately hear Michael’s massive and distinguished sound with which he received world fame a couple of years later with classics like "Planetary Unfolding", "Chronos" and "Encounter". This piece, "Sirens", was written and performed entirely on an Oberheim OB8-synth immediately Michael took it out of its box. Dear musician, do you recognize this feeling? "M’Ocean" can also be regarded a Michael Stearns classic: from the little symphonies "Sirens" and "Lightplay", the intense ambiences of "Marriage Chords", the sequencer-driven title track and "Fireflies Delight" and the pastoral voices in "Vickey’s Dance" to Igor Stravinsky’s "Walking Song". A real warming-up for all the great things to come.
Michael Stearns is one of the biggest names in contemporary electronic music. This early music already shows why.
2000. Press information
How not let ourselves being enthralled by so much luminescence which glitters around rhythms lost in musical envelopes decorated by thousand of tones with brightness of diamonds? It's been a while since I want to talk to you about “M’Ocean”, but each time I was intimidated at the idea of approaching this chronicle. I wonder how to find the words and how to formulate my sentences to describe aptly all the beauty which hides behind every note of this Michael Stearns' extremely poetical work. “M’Ocean” is a symphony of luminosities and iridescent tones which irradiate on passive rhythms and oceanic ambiences of which the eddies are weaving enchanting seraphic structures. It’s a wonderful album soaked with an abyssal magnetism in the multiple crystal clear tones which glitter as pearls of water on the blades of fire from a burning sun, creating a superb mixture of oniric moods and paradisiacal rhythms.
A first surge of bottom comes to snatch us and "Sirens" entails us in the abyssal ravines of “M’Ocean”. The intro is nuanced between its lyrical layers and others darker which undulate in the swirls to crystalline reflections while the descent is striking of a morbid reality as a drowning in the lands of Poseidon. And there, the nymphs of the bluish depths let hear their singings of astral mermaids with tones which sparkle as prismatic songs in the Eden of immortal exhilaration. And as on the great majority of the structures filled by glimmering musical mirrors, the morphic envelope of "Sirens" sings to us the infinity between the light of the darkness and the blackness of its bites to vanish in the abyss, like being sucked up by the nothingness. With its lines of synth waltzing in indecision, "Marriage Chords" caresses delicately our senses. Soft sleep-inducing impetuses, floating as astral jellyfishes on a twinkling bed of starfishes, weave a lakeside reverie which draws its s trength from the slow undulations of strata from which the iridescent outlines run aground on a cosmic bank. These waves which withdraw from sands are slightly bubbling and implode of their fine whitish particles in a splendid soporific whirlwind, awakening the thoughts of the majestic title-track which melts in our ears with all the harmonic presence of “M’Ocean”. Guitar riffs and delicate percussions lift this poetic rhythm which sparkles of its thousand musical prisms, tickling fine passive undulations which let themselves carried away by delicate waves of surface. And "M'Ocean" to swirl lasciviously around a bass line with elongated silent notes, plunging into sea beds and scattering the debris of a submarine fauna which sings of its million prismatic particles. "Lightplay" deepens, with all the dramatic intensity, the melodious portion of "Sirens" second half. It’s an extremely poignant and powerful title where mermaids sing, whistle and chant in a twinkling torrent of synth l ayers in a heavy moving crescendo. If the first part is bursting out of emotion, the second one entails us towards a more melodic stream where shine thousands of crystalline tones, as sea bees around the hive of Poseidon. Sweet silvery ringings pierce the aquatic dunes, guiding "Vicki’s Dance" towards voices of Shamans which cast the spell for the dance of shady waters. The rhythm becomes dense and espouses a heavy rotatory movement which displays its sequences as rhythmic lappings around an ephemeral spiral. In spite of the movement’s power, "Vicki’s Dance" preserves all of “M’Ocean” oniric cachet with a finale as much poetic as the poems of the marine nymphs. With all its sequences which crisscross and swirl in a stunning immortal dance, "Fireflies' Delight" decorates “M’Ocean” of an apotheosis finale. The intro floats of its glittery veils, awakening one by one some sequences which swirl around a sober and dramatic line of bass. The fireflies are flitting and spinning with the grace of their suppleness, creating a rangy swirling wave which widens its exhilaration in a delicate musical tumult where Caribbean percussions and passive swiftness preserve all the harmonic ease of a finale which lets predict that life comes from oceanic tears. "Walking Song", a short reprise of an Igor Stravinsky's title, ends a powerful opus of which your ears will ask for more, again and again, for years to come.
Innovating with a first hybrid synth (Oberheim OB8) which catches and restores all the depth and the nuances of an art divinely lyrical, Michael Stearns pushes away the limits of the astral musical poetry with an album powerfully poetical that has words only its immense magnificence. “M’Ocean” is a work apart where no comparison holds. On the contrary, it’s the album which influenced a whole musicians' generation and of which these influences can be hear a lot on almost everywhere in the chessboard of the contemporary EM. This remastered edition, released by Groove back in 2000, reflects finally all the depth of this grand musical work which had shaken a handful of initiated during its first version in 1983 under the title of Light Play. It’s an inescapable work. A classic of ambient and melodic EM and if you don’t still have it, say to yourselves that you are definitely missing something!
2012. Sylvain Lupari / gutsofdarkness.com & synth&sequences.com
Michael Stearns fans must be in heaven this year, as he has a plethora of both new releases and reissues. M'Ocean was originally released in 1983 on cassette, a year later on CD on the long defunct Sonic Atmospheres label. Now digitally remastered and repackaged, it is thankfully available once again. The music is full of shimmering brightness, balancing low deep drones with elegant metallic highs. It is rich with texture.
I absolutely love the majestic build up on 'Sirens,' which seems to escalate so much at the 2:00 mark that its going to crash, and indeed it does a few seconds later, passing away into oblivion, leaving tinkling bells over quiet electronic atmospheres. The music floats quietly for awhile, but then becomes incredibly intense once again.
'Sirens' is a great balancing act of opposing musical tendencies, with palpable tension between the two. Anyone who thinks electronic music can't be delivered with passion must listen to 'Marriage Chords,' which aches with yearning, and yet guys will think it sounds cool – honest! Musical purists may notice that the title track has been shortened by about three minutes from its original version, but I have to say that it doesn't seem to compromise the musical integrity. When Stearns remastered it, he must have edited carefully, because the beginning and ending of 'M'Ocean' remains intact as far as I could tell.
The same is true of 'Fireflies' Delight,' which is only shortened about a minute from the original, and still runs almost ten minutes. The sound and packaging are superior to the original. In fact, 'Fireflies' Delight' is awfully cute and bouncy, so I wouldn't have minded if another minute or two had been lopped off.
'Lightplay' is as close to Vangelis as Michael Stearns has ever sounded, again very sweeping and majestic. Perfectly titled, the music sparkles, and literally sounds like sunlight dancing off the ocean, viewed from underneath. Like some of the preceding tracks, it also builds to a very intense crescendo.
This makes 'Vicki's Dance' a welcome respite, with its very calming, quieting effect.
'Walking Song' is actually a classical piece from Igor Stravinsky, nicely updated Stearns' style. Quiet and reflective, it brings 'M'Ocean' to a stop.