1 Voyager 12:13
2 Edge of Morning 9:18
3 Cabala 8:56
4 Troll Valley 7:32
5 Moonwind 8:19
6 Chase the Evening 19:53
7 For the Wales 13:36
8 Jabular 9:25
9 Lunar Shadows 5:02
Groove 010 (CD 79:52 / DDL 94:20) *****
(E-rock from the Jive EM era)
Here is an album that I completely ignored when people had extolled it some years ago. It's been a lot of moons since that I had heard about Wavestar. During my night-explorations and during my chats on Napster in the early 2000's to be exact (A little reminder here; we had and still have so few information, connoisseurs and music guides and music stores in Canada that the only way of knowing things was with Napster and MSN at the dawn of the 00's). In these chats I had heard so great things with a great deal of enthusiasm about the band . Some of my new Internet friends had insisted even to say that it was the best EM album made in England. The first one especially to make the charts and to have received very good reviews. I ordered it then at Groove. I didn't go through the first listening. "Voyager" sounded to me as a weak imitation of Tangerine Dream and the very Kitaro style in "Edge of Morning" had totally disillusioned me. Within the framework of the 20th radio show of Murmure du Son, I started a small exploration of the England School model. I was thinking of artists like Mark Shreeve, Ian Boddy and Andy Pickford. And there, an acquaintance of mine puts me back on track and tells me: you forgot Wavestar. I have explained my first attempts! In front of his insistence and especially a post on my Facebook contacts about “Monnwind” (sometimes celestial bodies really align themselves strangely), I reattempt the adventure but this time with a more professional approach; it was a matter of credibility of our radio show. Thus this time, I shouldn't miss my shot; I understood clearly that this “Monnwind” from Wavestar was and still is a major album in the field of EM in England. And perhaps the springboard of England School. And it's a little bit true...
A delicate line of flute falls like a sonic drop in the ocean without sounds. Electronic effects, a little like bangings, resound in the room. And the line of flute becomes a wandering melody which whistles in cosmos. Layers of voices spread a veil of serenity while the fluty singing that of esoteric charms. Explosions and effects of mist surround this introduction of "Voyager" which, subtly, draws an approach a bit dramatic with layers of mists which become now orchestral emotions. I have to admit that this slow and very ambient introduction of "Voyager" is more attractive today than that time where I was looking for more beats, for furious rhythms or for structures of sequences a la Poland style. A delicate rivulet of sequences shines behind the 5th minute of "Voyager". The movement gallops and the fat sequences zigzag, go up and come down with grace. With fluidity. It's catchy. It's very appealing. The rhythm becomes fury with a mixture of tones in the sequences and with the addition of percussions. The synth pads which fall remind this period splendor of the Dream and of its 86 tour. What had annoyed me in 1999 still annoys me today, but a little less; the synth and its fragile fluty harmonies which sound so much like Kitaro on rock. They are omnipresent. But beyond this, we have to greet the very good work of stereo and the play of sequences and percussions. The nuances and the subtle gap between the strikes are elements of seduction which remind so much the work of Chris Franke. And it sounds so much like the period of Underwater Sunlight. But with long twisted synth solos, which was really rare in this MIDI era, which overfly, glide and decorate an electronic rhythm as furious as very catchy. My mind became easy to gain: I was now hook on this album. Certainly there are always these ambient harmonies a la Silk Road from Kitaro on "Edge of Morning", but my girlfriend Lise just loves it. I ended by succumbing too. "Cabala" is a strong electronic rock with a meshing of sequences and percussions where float brief fluty harmonies but especially very good synth solos. These solos are the main advantage, according to my tastes and to the evolution of EM, of this “Monnwind”. The synths are great. "Troll Valley" is a track filled by very lugubrious, very intriguing moods borrowed to the dark and haunting charms of Walter Christian Rothe's Let The Night Last Forever, released 2 years before. It's kind of very disturbing. Like a music theme for a horror movie where spirits run after our soul in long endless corridors. I adored this track which had totally escaped me in 1999. There are scents of future Shreeve, Redshift even on it. The title-track? Ah...This one is very beautiful. It's a nice cosmic blues which does a full of references to Pink Floyd, both in Dark Side of the Moon and in Wish you Were Here. Solos, we would say a mixture of guitar and synth, float with a beautiful lasciviousness on a heavy, slow and soft rhythm. That sounds so much like Pink Floyd, in particular with these delicate synth pads where one would believe that Rick Wright was part of Wavestar, that it can delighted as well as irritated. It depends. The comments received during the recording of the broadcast are going in both ways. I have found it very good. Immersive, relax and a bit sensual. But not as much as my Lise who has really adored it. When the weepy harmonies of Kitaro meet the sequenced rhythms of Tangerine Dream, it gives "Chase the Evening" which is a long musical piece in the purest of the 70's traditions, but with a tone of the 80's. The intro is very ambiospherical with some enveloping synth layers full of drizzle and prism. Dark chords resonant of threat fall there, adding a bit of angst in a place where we have the feeling to be swallowed by the cosmos. A line of sequences escapes. The movement of the rhythm is fluid and draws parallel lines which brush themselves with some subtle gap in the jumping keys of the sequencing. It's like uncountable roller coasters trails where is missing rails. It's very good. Lots of good solos. And it is so like the heart of the influences of the England School movement. And it ends with long plaintive solos which cry in a very ambiospherical finale where ring these carillons from which the constant presence fainted in this tornado of rhythm which ate the heart of "Chase the Evening"."For the Wales" is more ambiospherical. It's rather a long cosmic movement with evanescent synth lines and where are dancing some innocent arpeggios on muffled and slow impulses of a keyboard with lot of progressive rock perfumes. A mythical album, and with reasons, “Monnwind” has had a number of editions. This one from Groove is the best according to my ears. A downloadable version appeared at the end of 2012 and presents 2 unreleased tracks. One is in the same lineage of "Cabala", be the fiery "Jabular", as well as a more ambient track, a more cosmic Kitaro genre, in "Lunar Shadows". They are not necessities and I find that the sound makes very retro. As if something was missing.
I owe some apologies to those who praised me this “Monnwind” from Wavestar. Yes I needed a couple of listening, but in the end I found that very good. One of the finest EM opus in this area for sure. Surprisingly, this kind of fusion between the styles of Kitaro, Tangerine Dream and even Pink Floyd releases sonic perfumes and electronic anthems which are totally bewitching. There are these solos also. Their long twist bring us back to the basics of EM and filled our ears of this magic of the 70's. In brief, it's a wonderful surprise that I discovered on the late.... But it's never too late. Isn't it?
Sylvain Lupari (May 18th, 2015)