Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Showing a passion and commitment to his art that goes way beyond the usual, polymathic musician Kai, AKA Esprit D’Air, is known for his epic flights into new realms and ‘Oceans’ is his latest grand opus.
Over a staggering twenty tracks, this thematically drawn work brings sweeping soundscapes that draw you into its atmospheric journey, blending modern technical hard rock with some more prog style leanings.
Opener ‘Into the Oceans’ is a gentle and short instrumental that sees the listener diving into the waves before a tumultuous flurry of riffing explodes, starting the headlong journey into a kaleidoscope of colours that would shame a coral reef.
With a quicksilver deftness, the artist brings cascades of notes that range from the crushing to the soaring, riffs explode in a bruising rain or with the power to lift you up high into the stratosphere.
‘Leviathan’ is as heavy and huge as the name suggests and ‘Nebulae’ sparkles with the interplay between guitar and keys, both swooping and weaving as the drums and bass thunder away.
There’s a touch of symphonic metal in the opening to ‘Amethyst’ and this grandiose vision is a thread
that runs through the whole of ‘Oceans’, the ambitious vision sometimes breathtaking.
Amongst the high drama there’s some real grit too as Ryo Kinoshita from Crystal Lakes adds his feral growl to a punishing ‘The Abyss’ and Sisters of Mercy’s Christo crops up with great effect on the
fiery ‘Dead Zone’.
Whilst the album is certainly lengthy, what makes it compelling is the dynamic light and shade that Kai brings to things. Certainly, there’s a good proportion of heavy duty riffing and a blitzkrieg from drums and bass but there’s tracks that sooth and gently caress rather than pummel.
Amongst the chiming and rolling guitars of ‘Glaciers’ and the gloriously thrilling ‘Calling You’, the stripped down, pure calm of ‘Moonlight Tides’ is a welcome stop on the journey and illustrates that Esprit D’Air is so much more than a ferocious machine.
This deft mix of musicianship and melody is brought together in a machine that is both sleek and Powerful but distinctly human at its core, the industrial strength force matched with a silky-smooth spirit. Altogether, it’s a wonderous and impressive journey and one well worth taking. Dazzling.
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