Chronotope Project aka Jeffrey Ericson Allen hails from Oregon with 7 releases under his belt so far and now he makes that 8 with the release of Ovum on Spotted Peccary records on August 4, 2017. Ovum is an introspective journey that borders on being mystical as it calls forth deep feelings from within the listener bringing them into the open and allowing them to be examined in a peaceful and safe environment. Human beings are often reluctant to look deep within themselves because of what they might find I suppose but music is one of those forces that seems to be able to bypass some of our learned safeguards allowing us to look into places that we ordinarily would not delve too deeply into.
Ovum consists of 7 tracks and all of them are more than long enough to allow for deep diving into the otherworldly aspects of ourselves which exist at both a conscious and an unconscious level. The album starts off with a song called Olduvai Dreams which touches an older part of the listener’s mind, a part that is tribal in nature, perhaps even a little more primitive than what we are accustomed to in the 21st century. With flutes that hearken to a Native American musical influence and a slow undulating rhythm played out on the drums the music begins to shift the listener’s consciousness into a frame that will more readily accept the journey that lies ahead. I don’t know for sure but when I looked up the term Olduvai I found that it refers to Olduvai Gorge which was an important archaeological dig in Tanzania that offers some of the oldest evidence of humankind’s evolution.
Olduvai Dreams might be the musical equivalent of the changes that this ancient tribe of humans was going through as evolution led them inexorably forward. The song begins in a formless fashion with drifts and swirls but no tangible rhythm or direction until the moment when life moves these humans forward in the next evolutionary step which comes in at about the 2 minute mark which is when we first hear the rhythm that will be with us the for the rest of the song. The music becomes more complex as the song progresses even as life became more complex during this time period for those early humans. This is an excellent piece of music and a wonderful way to start this album.
The title track of this album, Ovum, which is track 2, is a subdued composition that deals in ebbs and flows and the feeling of floating all the while moving towards something that is intangible and ethereal. The word ovum is a mature female reproductive cell capable of producing life if fertilized so perhaps the song is an anticipatory song of what this cell might be. It is a brooding song that evokes an reflective feeling in the listener as they drift along this slow moving current toward a destination that is yet to be revealed. The music is very atmospheric and washes over you like waves gently lapping at the shoreline. Not in a harsh way but like a soft insistent nudging to keep you moving onward.
My favorite song on the album comes at the very end and it is a song called Starry Messenger. This song is a 9 minute journey that takes the listener to the place that they have been journeying to since the first track began. To me the song points to a place of enlightenment and wisdom. The music is not the rhythmic music that started this album off but more peaceful music which might represent a person whose journey has been successfully completed and where wisdom has been obtained. It is a peaceful song that speaks to the heart and the mind at the same time and offers the traveler a place to rest and contemplate their journey. Instrumentation is deliberately kept sparse so as to enhance this feeling of completion and relaxation.
Jeffrey Ericson Allen aka Chronotope Project has delivered a wonderful journey inward and back again in the form of this latest album release. The relaxing atmospheres that permeate this album caresses deep listeners and rewards them for their efforts as he weaves a musical tapestry that deals with life both ancestral and current day. Jeffrey has shown that he is an accomplished composer and musician with Ovum and that he is able to craft engaging music that is captivating while also being able to create a narrative flow that nudges listeners forward to the journey’s end. The music has a mysterious and haunting quality about it that conveys an emotional message to those listeners who quiet themselves enough to hear it. All in all Ovum is an album that deserves your time and attention and should probably be in your musical collection. Recommended by Ambient Visions.
Reviewed by Michael Foster for Ambient Visions