Main CD Releases
Unbroken Spirit - 2022
I had decided that I was going to explore more rhythmic based Spacemusic once I had finished wrapping up work on a couple albums. Jared White and I had been chatting and he suggested we try working on an album together and I figured that would be a good place to start on that as I knew he loved a lot of the same music I did in that zone, like Schmoelling era 80's TD, Ulrich Schnauss, Patrick O'Hearn, William Orbit, etc. Right aw we were startinbg work on it covid hit so we had to do most of the work remotely, which was disappointing because I was looking forward to creating it live in the moment. But it wasn't meant to be in that direction. It's fine, because I'm happy with the outcome.
“An album as surprising as unexpected that is very strong and very good. Paul Ellis handles the electronic percussions in the rhythm sections and plays all the guitar parts on UNBROKEN SPIRIT, and Jared brings in synth textures and sparkling arppegios and velvet bass on an album that will surprise Paul's fans. Ellis' desire combined with White's musical genre could only result in an album that is very different than what the Washington State native is used to offering us. Inspired mainly by the second part of TD's Johannes Schmoelling period, UNBROKEN SPIRIT also gets a good Patrick O'Hearn-like rumbling bass line and Jean-Michel Jarre orchestrations.
The thundering percussions structure a rhythm that is already changing form even before the 40th second. The hyper driving electronic rock rhythm of Incoming Electrical Storm reflects the spirit of the track. The percussions slam like Jerome Froese likes to do and paired with the pulsating sequences and the bass pulses, it forms a fiery rhythm that is supported by a bass line with the unfolding harmonies of Patrick O'Hearn. The percussions add one layer on top of another, creating a perpetually shifting rhythm with flashes of sound reminiscent of Tangerine Dream's heyday in Le Parc. Incoming Electrical Storm takes an orchestral tangent that sounds very Jean-Michel Jarre just before the 6th minute, showing a very versatile evolution where even essences of William Orbit in his Cargo period join the orchestral dimension in the second half of this very energetic track. The falling organ layer at the opening of Windfall Light is reminiscent of Genesis' Watcher of the Sky and casts a cloudy aura over a nice acoustic guitar driven opening. Bells, and twisted streaks of synth may awaken in some of us the Legend period. From ethereal, with muffled whispers, the structure clings to a more animated vision of a bass-sequence line that gets nibbled by fascinating organic effects. Moreover, these disparate and well-concealed noises in this album are elements that arouse the curiosity of the ears in its quietest moments, like the electronic serenade aspect of this opening. And over a static rock structure, Paul Ellis layers good harmonies, solos and riff lines from an aggressive guitar that melodically rages over a bouncy electronic structure.
Wave Approaching from a Great Distance gives a mystical appearance to the stream of bouncy sequences in its opening that also supports the ghostly streaks of the synth. The stage is set for a mysterious introduction that takes its time to turn into a good circular structure not too far from Berlin School and closer to an evolving dance music that is filled with thundering synth solos wailing like a guitar. Navigating between ambient transitional phases and high-energy rhythm structures, October Sunset offers an evolving structure with the same character as Windfall Light, especially in the synth solos, but with a musical voluptuousness that is unique to Paul Ellis and Jared White. A very big track that we've listened to again and again, always finding a trick or two that our ears have forgotten to catch. The transition phase that brings us beyond the 7th minute is one of the strong points of UNBROKEN SPIRIT. The striking percussions of On the Precipice take us back to the world of Le Parc. The structure is slower but heavier with a spasmodic sequencer backbone. thundering rhythm lines with jumping sequences in a perfect switching cohesion. Trillion Stars is another energetic track with a very voracious guitar in the second part. The title-track concludes this impressive rhythmic album with a beautiful ballad that rests the ears a bit with a circular movement composed of sequences that flutter with the dragging chords of the bass line. The synth puts a delicate lunar melody between its breaths guided by nostalgia. A nice way to conclude an album as surprising as unexpected from Paul Ellis and Jared White, who affix an identity of their own in an energetic and melodious album which is very strong and very, very good, hats off to you Boys!
Sylvain Lupari - Synth and Sequences ****½*
Panoramas 3 - 2022
"These 2 pieces were the first two I made for this series. The first album had the last two pieces I made so they're kind of released in reverse order of their creation. The first track on this 3rd Panoramas album was the first I made and one thing I noticed about it was that I listened to it a lot more than normal while working on them. And I was inspired to make all of them from that starting point. Bonnie and I were hiking in the mountains a lot in this period and the hikes seemed to bring a different mood home and inspired me to create new ones.
This third CD in the Panoramas series offers a much more intense atmospheric vision
than the first two albums that sweeps our ears with a palette of sounds where the elements of
nature flirt with a slightly more cosmic vision.
The music of this PANORAMAS CDIII is very intense, I am not making it up!
You have to hear the opening of Opal Creek in Autumn Brush Strokes to get the full meaning.
The drones are letting through these organic particles that gradually become a
kind of dance of lappings which is undulating in a seductive pattern of orchestrations.
We feel a cosmic hold which proposes a more intense finale with a big layer of
buzzing and reverberating breaths. Its emotional charge and its level of intensity
make our mind buzz with a strong atmospheric essence that gives an incredible depth to
this last part of Paul Ellis' trilogy. Recommended.
-Sylvain Lupari "Synths and Sequences"
"This trilogy is incredibly beautiful! A perfect, subtle , atmospheric and spacious journey. Listen to this marvel!"
-Pablo Bilbao (Cyclical Dreams)
Panoramas 2 - 2021
Silver Star In Winter Monochrome being the first one. Strangely enough about 9 months later I wound up buying a house in the Silver Star Mountain range, which I had no idea was going to happen when I started this. It was simply one of my favorite places to hike. I came home after a particularly good day inspired to write a long form piece about how it made me feel. Now it's home.
Trillium Lake and the Blue Reflection. I remember coming back from there and I could hear how I wanted the intro to sound before beginning to write it. Not the specific melodies, but the textures: Rhodes piano sound surrounded by pads. That's what the scenes I was looking at "sounded like" in my head. It took a spontaneous life of it's own and it was as if I was watching it objectively as I created it. Like someone else was writing it and I was just listening to it unfold. I felt strongly enough about these two pieces that I kept creating more. I noticed that I never got tired of listening to them. They put me in a good mood. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
“Long segments that develop quietly in moments of ecstasy, making the listening obsessive.
A cornucopia full of detail and beauty”
-Sylvain Lupari Synth Sequences
4 1/2 stars out of 5
Panoramas 1 - 2021
When I was young and in very quiet, natural settings, I could hear a kind of music in everything. This was an experience that was so common to me that I assumed everyone also heard this sustained, evolving sound, but I was quickly disabused of this notion that it was common when I tried to explain it to anyone. Later in my teenage years I bumped into a few early electronic music albums that seemed to reflect and generate that feeling I had and the inner music I used to hear. This led to my fascination with synthesizers and how, with them, I could create an environment and explore a kind of music that was inherently free on all levels: the form of the music, the timbre and tone. It was the freedom that really got me hooked, with the ability to paint my own sound worlds. With Panoramas I am injecting a certain amount of chaos into the compositional process to emulate the randomness in what you hear when you're in the middle of a forest. I would deeply listen and realize that every bird, insect, wind, or water sound would happen with their own independent rhythms and melodies yet somehow this chaos did not really produce any discord. So for Panoramas, I took random musical expressions a step further than I had before, I laid down several initial tracks and as each one was added I muted all the other tracks so I could only hear what I was recording at that moment. So, it forced me to pay attention to each individual sound during its creation which made each sound arise in its own unique way. Next, I would layer another set of music and textures over the top while listening to the earlier tracks, which made part of the music conscious and reacting to the other sounds. I spent a long time working on these environments to get the balance between chaos and order right. This is my transmission of the inner sound of the Pacific Northwest.
Paul Ellis has never confined his work to one medium or one space. With his Panoramas 1 (62'33") he returns to the genre of Electronic Music and its quest to penetrate the cosmic darkness. In a direct connection to the most elemental part of the listener this work generates drama through sheer sound. Like a comet heading for a distant star Panoramas 1 spends most of its energy searching. The deeply felt interior resonances of its two long tracks were, not really composed, but rather they seem discovered. As a thousand dreams gently burn, chill currents suggest a scene, and create a mood. Passing the limits of known forces we fall through space. Tones collide and combine. Even when chords move in contrary motion Ellis soon somehow finds accord. The timbre of his expressions are fascinating - of such shades lush and tender their beauty feels electric. Each section comes at us in a ramble of cello, a pursuit of melody, a duress of atmosphere. The musical language is lulling and languid. Even as Ellis navigates a vista of sequencer patterns and keyboard leads, we become even more anchored to the intensity of this singular synthetic voice. Serving as an entry point, such elliptical exploration is just the beginning of a three part CD set. The music on this introductory, wide-ranging album delivers a treasury of moods and atmospheres.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 9 September 2021
"Rich, spacious, absolutely loaded with points of interest!"
Rainforest and Pavement - 2020
For me this album explores both my life in an urban setting, the bustling city and the time I spend hiking in the forests.
Here in the Pacific Northwest there are a lot of rain forests so I go hiking for balance... to breathe in the fresh air and get away from the neurosis of the city.
At the same time I have to admit that I love aspects of living in the city... The energy and the progress, the ideas and resources....I seem to need both, so the album is sort of an exploration between this dichotomy.
As I emerge from the forests I see where the pavement begins...
"An amazing drama is played out here with mini luminous spirals which undulate, invited by ambient washes and propulsive sequences and excellent orchestrations which plunges us into the edge of a forest that only the brightness can restore its greenery of yesteryear. The movements of the synth weave undulating lines and layers which mate in music until penetrating this timeless spiral of nature and man made cities. An album like no other, but expected from the great Paul Ellis.
4 1/2 stars out of 5
-Sylvain Lupari Synth Sequences
Interstellar Nataraja - 2019
Interstellar Nataraja is one long track, a 78 minute journey. I did not make it easy for DJ's by making it this way (Sorry, not sorry.), but I genuinely love that aspect of the original Spacemusic albums. Very long pieces that take you through a variety of soundscapes. Normally I prefer to keep my impressions of what the music "means" to myself as I like everyone to have their own ideas of what is being suggested by the music, but here the imagery of what I felt writing it is so strong I will tell you my personal storyline I was thinking of while I wrote it. The album starts out in space with a sparkling, shifting texture that I created to be a sort of 3D stained glass window portraying galaxies or nebula. Sounds appear in the foreground, and then re-appear in the distance. This section dissolves into a shimmering segue where sirens arise and warn of a dark zone approaching, the listener goes through it to discover another shimmering zone with a deep pulsing bass. You enter an unknown menacing area that is snapping and pulsing while a phasing Mellotron sound arises and leads you out of it towards a planet on which you land and and enter a rainforest where you hear howling animal sounds. Working your way up to a plateau you see magnificent forest and mountain ranges, wild winds wrap around you in this terrestrial place. Arpeggios start up and welcome you to an ancient city covered in moss and empty, but still intact. This section is more melodic than what came before and it suggests a certain melancholy while you wonder about the lives that rose and fell here. You continue travelling and approach a desert with a wide sky and sense of openness that you did not feel in the forest.
This album has darker sections than I normally write and I tried to keep it spontaneous and I let go of control more often than normal in the sense I really focused on having the music arise more spontaneously than normal.
"Creativity at the top of its art! This is what comes to mind in order to better describe this amazing album from Paul Ellis. It is with amazement and great pleasure that Paul makes his comeback here. Built primarily with analog equipment, Paul offers a complex album that will captivate you from the first listen. All the textures of the great masters of Spacemusic infuse this album, which will enchant you little by little until its finale, which literally took me by surprise. This album is designed with an astonishing power of seduction, of attraction. A great album composed, played and mixed by a masters hand. Five Stars"
- Sylvain Lupari "Synths and Sequences"
"Another outstanding release by my favorite artist! I recommend a good subwoofer to capture the deep bass intro blending seamlessly into intricate multi-layered Berlin School style segments. Very Inspired work! Five Stars!"
- John Rothrock
"Nataraja is an image of the Hindu god Shiva as the "Cosmic lord of the dance" Does it herald some interstellar musical dance? YES! It is a spiritual dance, full of passion, contemplation and meditation. Here we are dealing with ambient music from meditation to mystical passion. Beautiful electronic music with a dash of classical guitar."
-Zeimowit Poniatowski "Generator"
Moth In Flames - 2015
Moth In Flames (as well as the album "Now Then", which was composed shortly after this.) was written during a time when I favored a brighter and more precise sound and a more harmonically sophisticated direction for the electronic soundworlds pioneered by the visionary electronic bands of the 70's. I wanted to keep the hypnotic qualities of minimalist patterns, but to have more frequent key modulations and in many cases created long chordal sequences to weave solos through later. (In the case of "Waves For Durga", I did not change keys, I used droning for the Indian Raga-like flavor of the piece.)
I found it fascinating and was challenged in creating mesmerizing, dreamy soundscapes with a brighter, sharply focused and precise palette of sounds. I would recommend paying attention to how the solos weave through the harmonic and tonal contexts of this album.
"Moth In Flames" is about an artist becoming completely lost in the work, itself. It has led to a quality recording for which Paul spent a lot of time crafting each sound. All of the elements come together on this exciting, exquisitely paced and quite complex album. An arc of captivating sounds, pads and sequencer patterns featured in carefully crafted compositions that all contain a beautiful sense of space and emotion. This is a fascinating piece of sonic art definitely worth many listens."
-Bert Strollenberg, Sonic Immersion
"In each album release Paul Ellis finds his moment. A big thinker, his music is realized to be exactly itself. The wonder of it is how often his experiments succeed. On this album nothing is overblown - and none of it fails to hold our interest. Moth In Flames flits between subtleties and intricacies, and a guiding fuss free propulsion. Once the listeners internal narrative aligns with Ellis's arrangements our minds begin moving faster than our heart rates. It is in this transformation of the knower that the living movement of music is transferred. The listener grows and changes with these ten starry-eyed tracks, until the music gently returns us to ourselves."
-Chuck Van Zyl, Stars End Radio
I listened to Moth in Flames and I love its versatility, which makes it one of my favorite albums by Paul Ellis. The music here is fluid, it has romantic elements and both contemplative and dramatic motifs in it. The introduction is soft, creating the impression that someone is standing on the beach in the night, enjoying the quiet whisper of the waves. Then suddenly the water dances as the moonlight reveals what has been hiding between the waves. The second song begins with an inviting note, like the dance of fire. The rhythm of this dance is as gentle as the flutter of a moth's wings. Birds Migrating Over The Prison, as its title suggests, has a dramatic effect with menacing accents in the first part, followed by relaxation that feels like a liberation. And finally pure happiness. Oh Well, Dear Silence induces a meditation state with its harmonious notes that create a balance between self and nature. She Walks in Beauty gives way to contemplation, inviting you to see below the surface. Lights of a Departing Train makes you travel with your mind to faraway places, always enjoying new views. You don't want the journey to stop. This train of sound can take you anywhere... Let it transport you beyond all boundaries. Coeur De Lion has a joyful, and yet contemplative note. That heart belongs to an elusive entity that's lurking in the shadows. Waves of Durga, with its oriental undertone, is full of heroic movements of sound and light. This is the moment for you to listen to the music emerging from the light. Stained Glass Observatory gives you the impression that you are floating through time and space. You don't know where you're headed, but you enjoy the currents that sweep over your senses and carry you away. Between the Trees; Mount Hood is about craving. The solemn quality here, along with the sound of the night creatures make you want to reach to the top of the mountain. You won't stop climbing, despite the sinuosity and dangers lurking around, because there's always the hope of a good ending, like the light beckoning at the top of the mountain.
I Am Here - 2012
This album is the one that I point to when someone expresses an interest in the more classic forms of Berlin School. I have spent a great deal of effort coming up with my own unique ways of expressing those roots, though. On I Am Here I really let loose time-wise and created 20 to 30 minute tracks, huge canvas stuff. I kept evolving the music and changing the patterns, but I also kept the mesmerizing minimalist pulses of more classic forms to retain the magical effect of notes falling into eternity. The theme of this album was bumping into an old Native American site in the Columbia River Gorge that the Chinook tribe used for several thousands of years. It had a profound effect on me and I did some research on them and visualized them the entire time I wrote music for this album.
Possessed by a distinctive creative vision and an ability to keep listeners engaged until the very end Paul Ellis drops a silver chain of sound in an odd sequencer arithmetic that builds larger cycles from smaller ones, plays his signature sounds in an advanced arrangement of chords and melodies, then slows it all down into a hazy middle distance time. On I Am Here Paul Ellis demonstrates that he understands this music technically, but also in a deeper way. Composing and playing at full capacity it is as if, in the act of flexing his mind, he has discovered new musical possibilities. He is advancing the genre away from mere knob twiddling, drone roaming and effect tweaking - outward towards a compositionally complex and elegant form of serious, yet heart-felt, fascinating minimalist music. Paul Ellis has found his voice through non-verbal communication. I Am Here is unexpectedly perfect.
- Chuck van Zyl, Star's End
I Am Here is a vibrant and energetic work that all but demands that you play it at volume. It delights in its old-school roots and wears them proudly, making it a real joy for analog fans. Its optimistic spirit really works its way into your system. It’s feel-good electronic, a disc you’re going to return to often. An amazing set of pieces from Paul Ellis that should be finding a home on many “Best Of” lists come year’s end.
- John Shanahan, Hypnagogue
There’s a fascinating, passionate current pushing things forward here, while the ever-changing, at times minimal sonic landscape heads into unexpected directions as it keeps releasing its array of tasty and rich flavors. Especially on the emotive "Chinook Wind" and the epic final piece, the magical feel is very strong. All in all, the impressive and never failing "I Am Here" is one exciting ride. It’s a real grower that breathes the immense and the timeless, while wandering into alternate dimensions.
- Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion
From Out Of The Vast Comes Nearness - 2011
This was the first album I did with Spotted Peccary. It's the light side to the next album's (I Am Here) shadow. I wrote both albums in relation to eacch other. They are both self contained, but meant as complementary to each other, like a set, or bookends. I usually name this one as a starting place for people curious about my work. You'll hear some of my favorite counterpoint sequences as well as bubbling organic landscapes. Two of my favorite styles to explore.
I’ve had this loop literally for hours without it wearing out its welcome. It has energy, narrative, drama and fun injected in it. A superb work and a must-hear from Paul Ellis.
- John Shanahan, Hypnagogue
On From Out of the Vast Comes Nearness, synthesist Paul Ellis has realized a most distinctive and vivid work. With its five compositions so stylistically sharp and quietly new, listeners will find themselves falling in love with Ellis' work all over again. Preceded by several noteworthy albums, From Out of the Vast Comes Nearness finds Ellis continuing to reach for and grasp musical moods and cerebral atmospheres heretofore undiscovered. This album is really quite an achievement. The music, and the direction it is going, is new - without being hard on the ears. We may wonder, how has Paul Ellis has been able to do this consistently for so many years? Superb.
- Chuck van Zyl, Star's End
"From Out Of The Vast Comes Nearness" is a deep listening experience and should be your choice if you’re looking for long extended impressionistic ambient/space music with a contemporary touch.
- Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion
"From Out Of The Vast Comes Nearness, Paul Ellis’ latest album of new music, is a purely electronic expression of five long-form pieces that blend ambient sound design with rhythmic electronics, recalling the classic works of genre masters like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze or Vangelis; but with a restrained modern air. With a mixture of synthesized sonics, both melodic and cerebral, the music brings to mind the unfolding expanse of the cosmos, stated with a graceful patience that propels the steadily evolving, constantly moving synthscapes to a highly personal level. Fans of Paul’s style will recognize his signature immediately, and while this new work retains familiar elements from his earlier releases, it is perhaps his most reflective album to date. Paul’s usual high production standard is maintained here, and his talent for sound design and the careful orchestration of each piece makes every element of the mix sit perfectly in place with an attention to detail that draws us closer with each listen. From Out Of The Vast Comes Nearness is packaged in a dual gatefold presentation, in the tradition of the vinyl record jacket, with beautiful photography from master artist Pablo Magne, whose visual style will be familiar to fans of Paul’s other works such as Silent Conversations or Echo System."
The Last Hiding Place of Beauty - 2009
Up to this album I tended toward writing albums with shorter compositions (relative to Spacemusic, of course). I always aimed for a variety of sound-worlds concisely written so as not to overstay their welcome. but here I wanted to start writing more expansive, large canvas sound paintings. Something to swim around in for a while. The first track is still a favorite of mine.
Paul Ellis has developed himself into a mighty force in electronic music.
With "The Last Hiding Place Of Beauty" he undoubtedly again has released a future classic. It is a great thing if a musician keeps on doing things better. With Paul Ellis this is surely the case. With "The Last Hiding Place Of Beauty" he has released the ultimate mix between electronics and acoustics and has created a unique style of his own.
2009. Paul Rijkens
Just when you thought it was impossible to repeat the success of Paul's previous albums, in comes "The Last Hiding Place of Beauty" and there's nothing left to do other than to admit that the man has created an absolute masterpiece. Again.
2009. Artemi Pugachov / Encyclopedia of Electronic Music
Is Electronic Music an Art or a Science? Paul Ellis will tell you that it is both.
His CD The Last Hiding Place of Beauty is straight out of Ellis' own inner theater - traveling from his mind to ours. This beautifully constructed work includes bold and truly innovative ideas. From relentless sequencer phrases that jump through dramatic key changes and vivid sonic forms rolling to Prog inspired crescendos, to the dreamy inwardness of an adagio for Mellotron and synth; The Last Hiding Place of Beauty lingers on exquisite instrumental detail without halting the music's momentum. By combining equal portions of Classical, Ambient and Spacemusic with smart synth and acoustic instrumental arrangements - Ellis' synthesized orchestra yields a most listenable art.
Knowing that the imaginary lines of genre are only there to be crossed Paul Ellis demonstrates a sense of ease and adventure that comes with longevity.
2009. Chuck van Zyl / STAR'S END
The Infinity Room - 2006
I decided for this album to edit each track so that they were all exactly 10 minutes. 6 tracks = 1 hour. This was because of the first track "Tick Tock" ....Time / Infinity.
One is temporal, one is transcendant. it seemed to carry through as a theme for the album. I worked with one of my two favorite Finnish bands: Nemesis, on the track "Forever Endeavor" I created the bubbling sample and hold sequence and what they sent back was pure magic. One of my favorite collaborations.
Ellis carefully layers elemental tones and distinctive accents over an ever-shifting foundation of chords to form a range of new and expressive synthetic arrangements. His synthesizers, powered by a current both electrical and imaginational, allow Ellis to inhabit his own musical territory - somewhere between a new cinematic spacemusic and an ultra-cerebral prog-rock. Each of the six tracks begin simply, but in time evoke complex meditations. The vivid sonic compounds are the magic and essence of The Infinity Room. Each piece possesses a unique and original narrative formed out of engaging melodies, a beautiful contrast of harmony and a continuum of classic and newfound sounds. With this work, Ellis proves that carefully arranged and composed melodious electronic music made up of complexly modulated sounds and dramatic tonal shifts need not sound obtuse, overly intellectual or trite. From cosmic stillness, to shining brilliance, to sensory seduction, Ellis' imaginative scoring and captivating intensity conjure up new visions with each session.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END
Having been a music reviewer for many years, every once in a while an artist or band comes along that completely inspires me to such a level with their musical creativity and I am happy to say that Paul Ellis ranks among the few that have. Paul manages to create a sound that constantly evolves and develops through time and space, combining some of the most effective sequencing work to be found from any musician on this planet. He is well aware of the self-identity within his music and he offers something for everyone who has even the minutest interest in the EM genre. He has produced several albums that are as equally effective in their own right and I would highly recommend any of them without hesitation. This is an absolutely superb album and I can't recommend this highly enough. Those who are uninspired by some of the recent EM artists of the day seriously need to grab this album which is bound to rekindle some of the magic of true and pure EM, of which this is the very finest example.
What is striking is that the music seems to be in the exact middle of any scale you could use to define it; with rare exceptions, it is neither slow nor fast; neither loud nor quiet; and neither happy nor sad. And yet, rather than finding a mundane middle ground, it hits the sweet spot, the perfect center of what it should be. That makes The Infinity Room Paul’s best effort to date, and something special.
-Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
Silent Conversations - 2005
This album is a personal favorite. Lots of guest artists on this one that I enjoyed playing music with. There was a random, chance elements strongly influencing how each piece was made, and for an example I would like to focus on the creation of the piece piece "Silent Conversations". I saw Brenda performing on cello, supporting a belly dancer and was impressed with her musicality and so I approached her and asked her if she would be open to recording a track with me. She had listened to Echoes so she knew my work and agreed to. The day before I had just created a track where I liked the music, but not the recording. So I asked Brenda to play along exactly as I played it at first, but at any time of her choosing to break off and start improvising against the original tracks. To provide counterpoint to what I had written. While she did this I swept the sound of her cello through various processes, like phasing and echoes that I manipulated in real time, reacting to what she played. Two days after this I heard Alison singing in a choir and her voice was incredibly beautiful. I gave her a mix of the piece and asked her if she would like to record on it and she agreed. She was not familiar with ambient or spacemusic at all and it took her a little while to catch on, but once she did she flew like an angel, Her parts started later than Brenda's but I also had her follow she my lines exactly for a while then took off on her own musically, improvising against the original interweaving with Brenda's cello. Lastly I removed the original part that it was based on so there was just the cello and voice which were having a conversation with a part that was not there anymore. I added brushstrokes of ambient synthesizer over the top of it and I was done. I feel it remains one of the most sublime recordings I have ever done and every time I hear it I am taken back to those couple of random days where everything clicked in such a random way. Much of the other tracks were created during a week in Tucson visiting Steve Roach and creating tracks while we were there. He mastered "The Sacred Ordinary" during this time and later when I finished this album he mastered this, too.
The new PAUL ELLIS CD called "Silent conversations". Is a fabulous follow up to "The Sacred Ordinary". He is joined, among others, by Steve Roach on this release. The basses on this album are so tight and deep that it will bring sheer tremors to your body. And the sequencing is so outlandish and unique that I wonder how he made this! To all space music fans, this will be the best space album, for decades. Great production. and that is putting it mildly."
2005. Ron Boots / Groove Unlimited
Paul Ellis understands that his purpose as an artist is to envision and communicate. His album Silent Conversations (76'30"), like its author, is a complicated treasure. The nine tracks display Ellis' impeccable sonic sense and an incredible facility with his instruments.
The building momentum of the rhythmic sections resolve into big-sounding, fast moving tributes to sheer synthesizer power, while the title track is tender and more poetic, and offers a beautiful space for reflection. Operating beyond mere brainy acrobatics, Ellis shapes each movement with loving care. His concentric circles of sequencer patterns exhibit an irreducible complexity, all parts are necessary for the work to function. The rhythmic cross currents of these interlocking beats are artfully woven, not from the tick of a clock, but from the beat of a heart. Ellis commands a striking range of electronic color and texture.
From the brittle sounds of vintage Mellotron flutes and the vibrato of classic Rhodes piano, to innovative synth modulations and stretched acoustic samples, to the icy peels of synth strings and pieces of melody tossed back and forth, Silent Conversations is an episodic travelogue through the advanced magic of Ellis' animated musical imagination.
2005. Chuck van Zyl / STAR'S END
Silent Conversations will prove revealing and rewarding for long-time Ellis fans as they discover new-found subgenres that the artist is comfortable exploring and traversing. While I was surprised at some of the directions he has taken, I wasn't (nor shouldn't have been) surprised to witness the diversity and scope of his talent. I'd love for him to further plumb the lands of cyber-EM jazz, as those were the tracks which blew me away the fastest here.
However, all of Silent Conversations is worthy of your attention and the CD offers proof that Ellis is a solitary visionary when it comes to forming an alchemy of past and future electronic music.
2005. Bill Binkelman / Wind And Wire
Echo System - 2004
Craig Padilla and I had struck up a friendship online and at one point we decided to record an album together. A few weeks later he showed up in a pickup truck and I was surprised to see that he had packed almost all of his studio into it. After setting everything up we had a routine that I always like to follow when collaborating, which is to set up sounds and sequences in the morning, take a break for a couple hours, then come back later in the evening and start the recording improvised sessions. This went really well anbd working with him was effortless. There is one track called "Death Of An ARP" which is exactly what happened. The sequence was chugging along when suddenly the ARP stopped working. I yelled "Keep going!" and we did. and it's a favorite track. You can hear it in the track if you listen. We had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun, and one of my favorite memories was that at the time he looked a lot like Encore-era Peter Baumann, with his short hair. Once while being completely immersed in the music I glanced up and did a double take.... "Whaaaaat? Oh wait, it's Craig!". We laughed hysterically when I told him later. Its still a favorite. I think we got a good blend of minimalist Spacemusic. Later, he drove back home and I continued working on it adding a few brushstrokes here and there.
This collaboration is rooted in the love of classic Euro-German 70's synth music and the desire to keep the fire burning today. Like Paul Ellis's inspired solo work, this doesn't stand in the imitative shadow of great works of the past, but draws inspiration from them. The pieces have a nice live feel and playful quality, with resonate sequences and pulsing melodic forms throughout. It feels good in the ears, and like the best electronic music it lights up the imagination and stimulates the brain in interesting ways.
2004. Steve Roach
I'm a fan of traveling to beautiful places and EM has been part of my journeys for over 20 years. Occasionally the trip and music seem to become inseparable in my memory. Echo System did just that on my trip to Yosemite. Even though I had several new CD's,
What I like about ES is the organic qualities of the sound, the sequences slowly bubbling up from depths and melodies dancing about. ES only got better the louder I turned it up.
2004. Steve T. Whitely
This release stands out from the spate of Berlin style sequenced music that is released on a consistent basis by this and other labels. The musicians have forged a winning formula, combining soft ambient pads with many short rhythmic sequences and executing the style with a clear sense of enjoyment and confidence that is communicated to the listener.
2004. Mark Morton
Like anything that Paul Ellis is involved in (such as Dweller At The Threshold & his solo work) this album, a collaboration with Craig Padilla, takes those well-used teutonic elements but, rather than slavishly sticking to the accepted norms of this style as so many do is not afraid to take the music onto somewhere new. Again the duo's more individual approach to the use of sounds & textures is what makes the music the succes it is, elevating the album above many of it's contemporaries & marking both artists out as important names to remember for the future.
2004. Carl Jenkinson
The Sacred Ordinary - 2004
This album was recorded after "Into The Liquid Unknown". 4 of the tracks (1, 2, 3 and 7)
were recorded with Rudy Adrian who had flown up from New Zealand and was touring the US. He stayed with us for about a week and, like Echo System with Craig Padilla we would set up in the morning, getting our sounds and sequences ready, then would spend the afternoon doing something else, then return home in the evening and record some improvised sessions. After he left to continue his tour I continued to work on the pieces until they were done. Later I took the tracks with me to Steve Roach's studio where he mastered them. Of all the tracks here my favorite is "Shining". the buildup still gets me. There are literally several hundred tracks and sounds on this. in some cases a sound only appears once, briefly. The overall effect is kaleidoscopic.
On Sacred Ordinary Paul’s artistry of creating a palette of rich emotional sounds sets a foundation from which he weaves a series of electronic web like pieces with a keen sense of melodic invention and dimensional symmetry. There is an hint of nostalgia in these tracks as well if one has been privy to the classic melodic sequencer style electronic music periods over the past few decades. This brings another kind of depth to the experience while at the same time this music is really about the here and now as it unfolds with a kind a graceful patience and awareness to detail that keeps pulling you in deeper with each play.
2003. Steve Roach
Nothing Ordinary about this one...Sounds like a classic album that has somehow slipped through the net. It has a timeless quality to it that I hear very, very rarely these days. a kind of mellow sadness pervades some of the tracks but it nevertheless leaves you feeling genuinely uplifted... It draws you in with its simple surface appearance that belies the subtly complex undercurrent. A real human feeling soaks through this album.
2003. Paul Nagle / Sound on Sound
'The Sacred Ordinary' continues Paul Ellis' quest of fusing rhythm and melody into one unique and personal voice. The end result is one of the most listenable and interesting electronic recordings of the past decade.
2003. Jeff Pearce / To the Shores of Heaven, Bleed
Paul Ellis' latest solo work is worth getting just for the opening track, "Icon", alone, as it unfolds during its nine-plus minutes as a hauntingly beautiful slowly evolving composition, suffused with a combination of Berlin school sequencing and floating ambient textures, fine-tuned with an almost neo-classical elegance, thanks to the presence of a flute solo to die for! This is one of the best tracks released on any album this year and is probably the finest work Ellis has ever done (and he'll be hard-pressed to top it, as well). The juxtaposition of multiple layers of sequenced pulses and notes pulsating underneath the lilting flute and amidst sparkling sun showers of synth notes is gorgeous.
The Sacred Ordinary is a work of both intelligence and passion, mixing accessible and melodic elements, often suffused with emotion and drama, with more cerebral soundscape elements and cyber-futurism. Ellis balances the intellectual with the aesthetic in a way that showcases both brains and heart. The Sacred Ordinary earns high marks as a musical venture which pays homage to the past even while gliding into the future.
2004. Bill Binkelman / Wind & Wire
Synthesist Paul Ellis has come to prominence lately with a string of impressive and acclaimed Berlin School sequencer albums... Somewhere at the intersection of ambient synthscapes and entrancing sequences lies The Sacred Ordinary, Ellis's latest record... This is dramatic electronic music, well paced and with ever-changing sequences that feel like gentle showers brushing over the listener's body. Ellis is careful to intersperse the track with many random tones and sounds to keep the listener actively involved--it's a strength that prevents the sequencing from getting too repetitive... the sequences and synthwork here are top notch--sure to please any fan of modern synthesis... a very entertaining and diverse work that often manages to transcend the boundaries of its genre as it attempts to reach ever higher into the stratosphere.
2004. Brian Bieniowski / The Ambient Review
"The Sacred Ordinary" might be the strongest Berlin school CD of the new millennium and it is certainly one of the best of that style - EVER! The compositions have depth, soul, class and integrity. Paul's virtuosity on all boards – key, mixing and engineering – is at its peak! This is a great CD, high on the list of 2003's best!
2004. Jim Brenholts
Having experienced the genius of Into the Liquid Unknown I didn't know where Paul would go from there. But when I heard his 2004 album, The Sacred Ordinary released by Groove I soon found out. Well I thought the last one was brilliant, and then this. I listened to it with headphones the first time I played it, and boy, am i glad I did.
From the beautiful opening track Icon through the next amazing sequencer track Shining which has to be heard to be believed and totally blew me away (there's another equally brilliant one later), through to the sublime and divine final track, Slowly Beating Wings this album is a pure joy to behold.
I hold this album up as probably the Holy Grail of EM.
It is pure unadulterated magnificence and genius from start to finish, and Paul's best work that i have so far heard. The production on it is also magnificent. Can he do better than this? Who knows where Paul is concerned. I wouldn't bet against him.
2006. Roy Jackson
Into The Liquid Unknown - 2001
On Into The Liquid Unknown, Paul Ellis explores new areas of the genre by using his own life and times to re-interpret the familiar doctrine of '70s cosmic music. Common references do surface. Ellis, a remarkably talented synth programmer, gives us the silky smooth pads and authoritative, commanding e-rhythms associated with good spacemusic. The emotional side of the music comes out too, in the album's insightful harmonic selection and progressions. But Ellis is involved in music to make something new every time and the album's sound design and energy come from a different place than that of his peers. So, if not purely as an experiment in sound, why then does this album exist?
Into The Liquid Unknown seems less about streaking through interstellar space, supernatural revelation or reactualizing mythic events than it is about the light of human reason. Ellis looks to music for that which he cannot find in himself. As you listen to any of the pieces on this album, you are in the midst of a thought process as Ellis attempts to bring the order of the cosmos to the chaos of life. Into The Liquid Unknown was created through the intertwining of technology, aesthetic and individual quality. The relationship between Ellis and his music is a complex one and drawn onto disc for us to contemplate that which is held in the mind of the artist.
- Chuck van Zyl / STAR'S END
Paul Ellis is a talented electronic artist who displays a fine sense of sound design, melodic invention, composition and improvisation. He draws from the minimal-sequencer style school while merging with space and classic electronic soundscapes shaped into a space all his own. With that said, trying to place this in any one category is a moot point. This release has inspired great reviews across the board
Paul Ellis is making a music that, while still reflecting his roots, moves into a space that hasn't been trampled. INTO THE LIQUID UNKNOWN is built around analog synthesizer sounds and interlocking sequencer patterns that build into maze-like designs. His lines are clearly etched into black space, rhythms are suggested more than played, with melodic lines squeezing through filters and delays, morphing in endlessly fascinating patterns.
– John Diliberto / Echoes
INTO THE LIQUID UNKNOWN by Paul Ellis is a bright and distinctive piece of modern electronic music. Those of you who are more interested in true e-music -- shifting synthesizer patterns, beautiful resonances, expressions of the soul of the machine -- will delight in this fantastic, fresh recording.
Using a dash of classic European e-music as a reference point, but never for a minute sounding like an artist exploring any path buts Ellis's own, INTO THE LIQUID UNKNOWN supplies that modern synth music "fix" for listeners who remember their excitement at first hearing Wendy Carlos, Jean-Michel Jarre, Synergy, or early Tangerine Dream... but for people who already own all those albums and don't want to hear them re-done. this album utilizes just the right limited measure of "classic" and moves on from there to create something new.
- Mike Griffin / Hypnos
Appears To Vanish - 2000
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.
-Dave Law - Synth Music Direct
"Appears to Vanish" opens with the coolest vintage synth, a rich, thickly textured electric piano. Assorted noises drop in, then a delicious high-pitched lead line, reminiscent of the latter part of the Yes classic "The Gates of Delerium" from their "Relayer" album. At 2:40, a pulsing bass line begins. Synth strings sweep in over the top, and the result is sure to please fans of Tangerine Dream, around "Force Majeure" or "Tangram." The music is patient, rising a key at the five-minute mark, as layer or two is added, including more strings and some really nice piano, which blends just right.
Though the opening minutes are excellent, a bubbly bass synth walks the rhythm up and down, carrying a variety of sounds along with it. The music gets more active, but not too busy. Throughout, the sound is purely electronic. Rhythm is supplied by sequencers. Like some of my favorite TD, it's only after listening awhile that you realize, hey, there aren't any drums here. Forget it, don't need 'em.
"Appears to Vanish" is a three-part 45-minute track, with several distinct musical movements. To start "Part 2," a really fun rhythmic sequence begins, surrounded by water and electronics. A very Jarre-like passage begins five minutes later, harkening back to the glory days of "Oxygene" and "Equinoxe." The shifting sounds and themes over the next several minutes are nothing short of fantastic, truly stellar electronic music. The leads, the sequencing, the transitions, all deftly executed. "Part 3" begins just past the thirty-minute mark, with ominous sounding clanging bells, followed by melltron flutes. A variety of cool synths and electronics complete the remainder of this very satisfying sonic excursion.
Several tracks from that CD are combined deftly into one large electronic feast. Enjoy.
Phil Derby / Sequences magazine
During this album, Paul swerves off the beaten track and then delights you with a tour of lands and places you never new existed. The music never stays in one place for too long, and you'll be introduced to more and more interesting sights and experiences as the journey progresses. All you have to do is be a little attentive, and be open to these new experiences so that you don't miss out on all the wonderful things that will pass before you.
You will be so absorbed by this 70 minute tour, that you won't believe by the end of it that you were travelling for that long, and will be left still wanting more.
Well fortunately, there is plenty more where that came from when you're ready for it, as Paul has many more trips lined up for you. All you have to do is book.
- Roy Jackson