Reviews of Jim Ottaway's Music

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JIM OTTAWAY: Timeless e-Motion

Jim Ottaway is an Australia-based electronic music composer with an impressive catalog of recordings that range from ambient-space to chill-out electronica. While his latest album, Timeless e-Motion, combines stylistic characteristics of both, it’s also a bit different from anything Jim has previously recorded. Namely, he employs greater elements of classic electronic space music in the vein of Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre, all while infusing his compositions with a wholly up-to-date and modern feel via his vast arsenal of electronic music equipment and gear. Comprised of thirteen tracks spanning sixty-five minuets, the album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Jim between the years of 2013 and 2016.

“Sequence of Life” opens with a dynamic and rhythmic arrangement of sequencers and pulsing effects. A fantastic introduction, it conveys a feeling of moving through space and time. Following next is the hauntingly beautiful “Timeless e-Motion”, which gently paces along on a dreamily floating, liquid-like current. Easily my favorite piece on the album, hazy tones, scattering chimes and vocal-like washes are carried along by a hypnotic bassline and rhythmic pulse, which gradually evolves into a subtle chill beat. Digital bleeps and signals echo throughout, as if emanating from somewhere deep in the galaxy. At just over eight minutes in length, this piece could easily drift on forever, perhaps while one endlessly tries to solve the infinite mysteries of our vast and largely unknowable universe. Varying between the more dynamic, travelling pace of the first track and the floating ambience of the title track, the compositions always seem to move in a linear, forward motion. Each employs a varied degree of digital sequencing, synthesized vocals, spacey signals and pulsating electronic rhythms. The seventh track, “Behind Close Eyes”, is another especially notable and mesmerizing piece, which effectively brings to mind that of being in virtual reality or dreamlike simulation. Despite these distinctive sci-fi motifs, the compositions herein convey human warmth and a conscious presence throughout, as if musically illustrating a narrative of the cosmos and how it relates to life here on earth. Another favorite is the twelfth track, “Cosmic Shift”, a classic ambient-space number characterized by ethereal chords, sparkling chimes and a wondrous sense of mystery, as one can easily imagine numerous constellations of twinkling stars against a stark midnight sky. Aptly concluding the album is “Timeless e-Motion (radio edit)”, which clocks in at just over five minutes, lending itself as a sort of reprise of the title track to wrap-up this fantastical cosmic journey.

Jim Ottaway’s previous album, Southern Cross, was one of my favorite recordings of 2016 and this one is surely destined to become another. In fact, Timeless e-Motion may very well be the best output from this amazingly talented artist thus far, unquestionably solidifying Jim’s place as a distinctive and innovative electronic music composer. Fusing ambient, modern electronica and classic space music, I can detect several decades of musical influences here, as Jim masterfully carves out his own sound and style that he has both developed and gradually improved on over the years. Lending itself to an emotive sci-fi quality, the music of Timeless e-Motion conveys a mesmerizing notion of having entered some futuristic parallel dream-world that’s dominated by themes of hyperspace, wormholes and time-travel. Likewise permeated by an ever-present and intangible mystery throughout, this album is both an interstellar and inner voyage that’s absolutely not to be missed!

Candice Michelle
Journeyscapes
(USA)

January 2017


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JIM OTTAWAY: Timeless e-Motion

It’s back to his roots for Aussie musician Jim Ottaway as he ends a successful 2016 with a power play of an album that has us deep within his EM weave, creating a pulsating end to a fantastic year for him.

Starting with the electronically sublime Sequence of Life, Ottaway brings a David Wright style to your eager musical ears dear reader. This throbbing rhythmic opus is the perfect opener for the album.

Flowing with grace and speed we move calmly to the title track, Timeless e- Motion, the moment to be proud is upon the artist, and he should be, this is one of the finest slices of EM have heard for many a year. A speculative start builds and progresses with all the experience of a master musician, which of course Ottaway is. To get that rank, you not only have to feel your music, you have to BE your music, something Ottaway does with ease. This is eight plus minutes of electronic bliss, is smooth, paced and classy.

The sultry and swirling Skies Rain Down is superb, from the very beginning the mood is set, and one can feel those strong sullen storm clouds hovering with intent above our heads, waiting to open up. The anticipation built into this composition by Ottaway’s synths is off the scale, one can literally taste the tension.

I have stood on Reality’s Edge and survived, while that’s a story for another day, this music would have been the perfect soundtrack for my Twilight Zone moment! Ottaway has really created something mysterious, yet incredibly powerful here; this razors edge of a piece is ready to explode, but cleverly contains itself, whilst picking up energy and momentum along the way.

I adored landing in sequence heaven, on this our fifth track entitled Blurred Vision. Perhaps Jim has invented his own brand of EM here, can we say Aussie School? The tempo is balanced to perfection, and the lightness on the keys creates a multi-layered effect for us the listener, there are some delightful patterns to enjoy here.

Game Over, I love saying that in triumph, and here is the musical backdrop for my power play. This is a real trance filled moment of electronica that is deep, heavy and perhaps could even be used in a future Fast and Furious movie; this is a composition that has great movement and intent and delivered perfectly by the artist.

As we skip into the second half of the album Timeless e-Motion by Jim Ottaway, we come across a piece called Behind Closed Eyes. A fascinating title and an even more fascinating construction, we have an ambient back drop with some very tight sequences within, and a paced keyboard that manifests a third dimension of musical reality, this is truly artistic and very well performed. The speed I am writing at is even amazing me, the addictive pace and tempo of the music is so compelling, I even have to stop myself, and remember to breathe. So I am somewhat relieved to have a moment to gather myself again on the piece Desperate Measures, even so you can still feel the energy in the background, building like the engine of a train, the fine paced percussion delivers an almost chill out moment of bliss.

The title sometimes says it all; on Towards the Unknown you have that very scenario. A soft and careful synth leads us by the hand into a world of vast areas of space as of yet uncharted musically. If you’re a musician and want to use drum pads in your music, but need to make sure you get the balance right, then you need to go no further than listening to this track, the added female vocalisations were a touch of class to include too.

Always time for something a little different and on Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained, we have just that. For some reason whilst listening to this I found myself wandering mentally around the Tate Modern in London, it is music that allows you to add your own interpretation to the tones given, and perhaps for me, this is a little slice of surrealism that fitted the bill nicely and as Jim says, Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained!

We move deeper into the labyrinths of the album now with Evolutionary Phase. The pulsating beat leads us into a piece that seems to create itself as it goes. I found this track compelling to listen to, as I was eager with every note played to see where the artist would take me next, a completely intriguing composition indeed.

Our last official arrangement is called Cosmic Shift and here Ottaway gives us a glimpse through the curtains at his musical galaxy, through a composition that has a real essence of Kevin Kendle and Jonn Serrie about it. The beautiful floaty style here is the perfect way to leave the listener. Although that’s not strictly true, as he also gifts us a radio edit of the title track Timeless e-Motion to take with us as well, a musical present that we will be more than eager to have.

Timeless e-Motion I think is Ottaway’s best so far, there is a power and intent here that is completely undeniable, the performance is confident and the production sublime, all in all I think when 2016 is done and dusted, Ottaway will look back on a fantastic year musically for him, and at its apex will sit this album, which is one of the best synth based EM albums I have heard for a long, long while. If you’re a fan of electronic styled music, this is a must have release, don’t even hesitate, just get it now!

Steve Sheppard
One World Music Radio
(Cyprus/UK)

January 2017


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JIM OTTAWAY: Timeless e-Motion

The title of this album wants to reflect the 'almost' endless motion of life along some of the emotions that we experience as we go through life's journey. As such, Down Under-based composer Mr Ottaway came up with a quite energizing, rhythmic-oriented but not too busy outcome featuring various sub-genres of electronic music including electronic rock, Berlin School and ambient.

The 12 accessible pieces, of which "Sequence of Life" and "Evolutionary Phase" have quite a Robert Schroeder vibe to it, will please those fond of mellow-melodic and groovy EM, incorporating elements from the general-melodic electronics from the British Isles and Germany. An exception though is "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" turning out bare, too synthetic and (compared to the other tracks) sounding too much out of the box. The final track "Cosmic Shift" is also different but nice as it features pure, rather ethereal ambient textures in the style of Jim’s previous album "Southern Cross".

Bert Strolenberg
Sonic Immersion
(The Netherlands)

January 2017


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JIM OTTAWAY: Southern Cross

Jim Ottaway takes his inspiration for Southern Cross from the night sky view from his Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia, home. In trying to capture its beauty, he lays out an hour’s worth of pad-driven spacemusic, slow moving and broad in scope. While the album does not chart new stellar territory, it does a great job of describing these heavenly vistas while giving us an immersive journey. To some degree, this is a set-it-and-forget-it work, one that’s going to go about its business in quieting the space and setting you adrift whether you’re paying attention or not. When you do decide to tune in closely, however, you’re treated to well-woven layers of sound and effect, with a great deal of attention given to the use of small background sounds. One of the things I appreciate most about Southern Cross is that Ottaway doesn’t give in to going down the obvious spacemusic path. You know the one, where we start quietly, thrown in a roar of metaphorical engine noise, ramp up the tempo, and then shift it back down. It’s not here, and that’s good. Instead, we get deep, telescopic stargazing, the churn and drift of nebular clouds. The five main tracks, representing the points of the cross, Alpha through Epsilon, flow together well, with only slight pauses marking the move to each new track. I have tended to get so lost in the music here that it seemed like Ottaway had laid them out without actual end points. (Although I do find the ending of “Delta Crucis” to be a bit rough.) Alpha, Gamma, and Epsilon each spool out slowly across just over fourteen minutes, with Beta and Delta acting as brief waypoints of eight and a half and five an half minutes, respectively. By the time you’ve visited “Alpha Crucis” and “Beta Crucis,” you’ve been in almost half an hour’s worth of seamless drift. “Beta…” in particular comes in slow and amorphous, the refracting and shifting of stellar dust. Ottaway puts a slight warble into some of the tones here, a nice ear-catching bit of texture. “Gamma Crucis” brings a shift in feel, with Ottaway playing with ringing metallic sounds and, overall, a darker sensibility. Tremolo chords feel like ripples in the fabric of space, and long, low pads chart their course through the background. Toward the end, Ottaway shifts into territory that almost loses me. He goes a little science fiction-y with various bloops and swoops of the knob-twisting analog type. They’re fine, and it can be argued that they come at a point where we could theoretically use a shift in tone—for me it’s just almost too much. To his credit, if you listen closely, these sounds exist in small blurbs throughout the piece, and come to the forefront later. “Delta Crucis” carries the darker tone. At just over five minutes, I’m not sure it adds that much to the flow; the other pieces feel more like full expressions and explorations. The main voyage concludes with the very deep “Epsilon Crucis,” a track that merits its own repeat play. Close your eyes and let 14 minutes of very light pads just flow across you. Bright tones highlight a slowly developing melody, and the sense is just a blissful, coasting float accented with starshine. The album closes with “Southern Cross (Timeless Motion),” and in a nice choice by Ottaway, we’re given a subtle, constant drum pulse meting out a steady rhythm over more rich pad work. It acts like a nice “welcome back” after your long, deep trek out to the stars.

Southern Cross was my introduction to Jim Ottaway’s music. His catalog goes back to 2004. With this album, however, my interest is definitely piqued to hear more of his work. His spacey vistas are descriptive without being overdone or obvious. The album plays well at low volume, and offers a lot of interest in a deep listen. Take your own voyage out to the Southern Cross soon.

John Shanahan
Hypnagogue
(USA)

December 2016


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JIM OTTAWAY: Southern Cross

We adored Invisible Vortex here at One World Music Radio and so did you, the album reached number 1 and is much loved by fans and presenters alike, so it is with glee that I get a chance to review the latest work from the artist called Southern Cross.

I have been listening to a lot of space based music lately, my dear friend Kevin Kendle has so many wonderful albums out and is at last taking his deep skies series on the road, but he wasn’t that artist that I likened this album to when I first listened to it. Southern Cross, starts with such a mellow floating state of ambience it really reminded me of Jonn Serrie. Alpha Crucis is superb, it’s one of those tracks you could listen to for hours, the sheer ambience and sensitivity used here by the artist is beyond sublime.

There are many electronic music artists around these days, but you will have to go a long way to match Jim Ottaway, his touch and delicacy on the keyboards is so creative, but so masterful. Take a listen to Beta Crucis, the atmospheric layers and utter quality of this composition is simply gorgeous, the sequences are subtle and very sweet.

One really feels a part of the whole universe through this album; you can feel a sense of merging with the oneness, especially on this track called Gamma Crucis, which is near on 15 minutes of space themed bliss. This music isn’t the long form drone you may have come to expect from the more dark realms of the ambient music genre, it’s neither positive nor negative, it just, is. Space exists in a realm of zero emotions, and somehow Jim Ottaway, through his immense skill as a musician and as a man who clearly feels his music, has manifested something here so exact and real, but so very encapsulating. There is a superb segment at just over 9 minutes, when the whole arrangement almost goes ethereal and rather haunting, listen out for that.

The shortest piece of the album at just over 5 minutes is called Delta Crucis, this entire album is dedicated to each of the stars in the Southern Cross and the constellation itself, and Ottaway has created something so ancient here in doing so. This piece has a real radiating energy of vastness about it, its essence musically, has slightly more power than the other tracks, perhaps this is the youngest of the stars, and Ottaway’s performance on synths and keyboards here almost creates a level of latent vibrancy within this creation.

Dear reader and listener, when you arrive at Epsilon Crucis, you will have arrived at my favourite track from the album. This does remind me of the work of space maestro Kendle and contains that certain warmth and organic feel too. Ottaway in my opinion has produced just over 14 minutes of music; you will simply never want to return home from. Whilst listening to this piece I was almost drawn into a galactic meditational energy and like the previously aforementioned artist, Jim Ottaway has hit right into the heart of this region of space and in my view delivered perfect composition, one that at times I felt deeply moved by.

We now leave the album with a round up and if you like, a musical over view of the constellation the Southern Cross we can add (Timeless Motion) and we can enjoy a bass that gives us a real universal heartbeat, this track almost seems primeval and through this outer worldly offering we can also feel the life force of the indigenous peoples of our planet. This is truly an exceptional way to leave what is a superb album.

Jim Ottaway mused in his liner notes and I quote “I have tried to capture the beauty and mystique of the Southern Cross in this album” Well Jim, I can tell you that you did more than try, you have manifested in my opinion your best album so far and honoured the elders, ancestors and ancients in the process. Jim Ottaway HAS brought into being THE official galactic soundtrack for this region of space and has illustrated that perfectly. Jim Ottaway is a true genius of the electronic space genre, his music is timeless and a total testament to the honesty, dedication and love that he puts into his work, you really have to get this one.

Steve Sheppard
One World Music Radio
(Cyprus/UK)

June 2016


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JIM OTTAWAY: Southern Cross

Jim's music is a peaceful drift that surrounds you and envelops you with an unhurried relaxing ebb and flow of synths that is very soothing and very comforting. It is apparent that Jim is well versed in coaxing just the right sounds out of his equipment and then crafting that sound into the marvelous soundscapes that you will hear on Southern Cross. Southern Cross is Jim's latest effort and is aptly named after the asterism the Southern Cross in the constellation of Crux which is visible in the Southern Hemisphere.

The individual songs on this album are named after the stars that comprise the Southern Cross and the album closes out with a track simply called Southern Cross. (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Southern Cross) Gazing into the night sky and observing the familiar patterns in the sky gives you a feeling of wonder or simply one of reverence for what you are looking at. The vastness of space and the beauty that such a pattern as the Southern Cross represents obviously struck Jim with an urge to try and musically capture that image that has left its mark on so many hearts who have stood staring up at the night sky. What comes to mind was the line from the movie Contact where Ellie's father told her small moves as she was searching the ham radio dial for other operators to talk to. Jim's album Southern Cross makes good use of this philosophy with the music he has recorded for this release.

The slow waves of sound that Jim uses to sonically paint these stars along with the darker feel that the music evokes is perfect for capturing the velvet blackness of space with these small pinpricks of starlight shining so brightly against the darkness. Jim has blended some interesting sound effects into the music itself that made me think of the old sci-fi movies that used sounds similar to those to give you an impression of otherworldliness and that is exactly what they do here in Jim's music. They make you think of someplace that isn't here on earth. It triggers these memories in the listener and it enhances the experience of the music by shifting your mind to a point not of this planet and of course that is exactly what you want to have happen when you are listening to music about a constellation in the sky.

Jim has expertly woven these elements together in these 6 spacey tracks of music and maintains this feeling of being elsewhere throughout the entire recording. The music is very even from track to track so that nothing disturbs the listener's journey out into the darkness of space with each song melding very nicely into the next. To me that is an important decision that an artist makes when recording an album like this which is how do I blend the songs on this album so that my individual songs each have their own identity but on the album as a whole the journey will be seamless from beginning to end. Jim has done a great job on Southern Cross because he has created a journey that carries you along on the slow cosmic wave that drifts among the stars for the duration of the album.

With six songs that have a running time of 1 hour and 9 minutes this excursion allows a listener to deeply immerse themselves in the darkness of space with some outstanding music as their companion. Jim Ottaway shows that he is a talented composer and musician as he creates the perfect soundscape to go star gazing with. It would be a great to take this out with you on your portable player and simply use it as the backdrop for your natural sky planetarium as you lie under the stars and think about our insignificance compared with the endlessness of the space that lies above us. Although by the time that you reach the track Epsilon the music has taken on a lighter touch and seems to have modulated to a slightly warmer tone perhaps denoting that even space can seem inviting and nurturing as you grow accustomed to your surroundings. It leaves you feeling good about the journey and happy that you took the time to explore the space which you can see from where you are realizing that the insignificance that we feel when we first started looking into space turns into acceptance that we are an integral part of the cosmos no matter how small we might feel in the grand scheme of things.

Perhaps Epsilon being the last star in the Southern Cross that we have journeyed to in this song that it is more a song of completion and being pleased that we made the journey of discovery to begin with. Perhaps it illustrates that trips like this no matter how daunting at the beginning are worth the effort when our destination is finally achieved. And maybe at that point you realize that many more such trips will occur in your lifetime and that all of them hold the potential of self-discovery and of finding your place in this vast universe filled with wonders like the Southern Cross multiplied to infinity.

Southern Cross is Jim's 24th album and it is easy to see that his many years of experience with synths and working with his music during the creating, recording, mixing and mastering has given Jim a great understanding of how to achieve such a wonderful range of moods with his music and it is easy to see on Southern Cross that he has taken all of this experience, understanding and emotion and poured it into this latest release. I look at the last song on this album as a time to journey back home and celebrate the trip that has just been made. You will hear the closest thing to a beat on this song as there is a pulse that lightly punctuates the synths that have been your constant companion during the previous parts of this excursion. The sounds of a piano offer you a further reason to come back down to earth as the soundscape begins to take on a more terrestrial feel as the album winds down from the journey you have just been on.

While I was unfamiliar with Jim's music before I received this album I must admit that it was a pleasant discovery to find such an accomplished musician that I had not heard of before. Only goes to show that the talent that surrounds us in this world is vast and requires us as listeners to be vigilant and keep exploring and searching to make sure that we don't miss a talent like Jim's who was new to me even though he had released 24 previous albums. You'll want to look for Southern Cross and get your own copy so that you can take many journeys into the night sky with Jim's music as your companion. And remember just because the album is called Southern Cross doesn't mean you can't use it to look at other constellations no matter where you may find yourself when your eyes turn skyward. Enjoy!

Michael Foster
Ambient Visions
(USA)

June 2016


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JIM OTTAWAY: Southern Cross

Jim Ottaway expresses his creativity by connecting things: the night sky, synthesizer technology, a positive musical standpoint... Using the concept of The Cosmos to search his own inner depths, Ottaway understands that something singular may spark multiple themes. With his eyes on the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere he gives us Southern Cross (69'39"), a gorgeous album of six atmospheric mood pieces. It is a captivating, often glorious listening experience. Fully and effectively imagined, these works each open a warm and beautiful space, then move slowly through it - taking time to take in its surroundings. Reminding us of a realm much larger than ourselves, Ottaway's hope is for the listener to come away from this spacey aural encounter with a better connection to The Universe. Music and sounds drift in from nowhere, establish themselves, and then fade away without warning. As if in some amazing, converging, coincidence of sounds, we are pushed towards the center of this sonic universe. Synthetic textures meld together to form compositions which feel transcendent, yet tethered to The Earth. Throughout Southern Cross harmony and timbre mutually reinforce each other. Faint chimes cast above luminescent chords provide a slow contemplative pace, while reverberant strings shift from dark keys to light. The experience is quiet and beautiful. Most times consoling, but occasionally questioning, Southern Cross is a subtle journey into beautiful musical and interstellar planes. The grandeur of consonant harmonies is grounded in the detailed and imaginative electronic modulations just beneath the aural glow surrounding each track. The result is beautifully flowing and transporting music - contemplative for the mind, while warming to the heart. This frontier will never close - so long as artists like Jim Ottaway are out there working, exploring and expanding the Spacemusic genre at such an advanced level.

Chuck van Zyl
Star's End
(USA)

May 2016


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JIM OTTAWAY: Southern Cross

Jim Ottaway is a composer, producer and studio performer residing at the Gold Coast hinterland of Queensland, Australia who has released 23 independent albums in his homeland.

The concept album "Southern Cross", his ninth international release, is a work containing six lengthy compositions of cosmic ambient music made between May 2013 and February 2016. From the start one enters a harmonic and soft breathing space of flowing textural farscapes inspired by the constellation of Crux which features the Southern Cross. From the third track on, some mysticism starts to penetrate the drifting soundscapes that remain tranquil, freeform and imaginative while softening and turning even dreamier on the last two compositions.

"Southern Cross" is interesting space music from Down Under which I feel could be even deeper and more spaced-out (but maybe I’m a bit spoiled by the quality works of Hollan Holmes, Havdis, Altus or Serrie).

Bert Strolenberg
Sonic Immersion
(The Netherlands)

April 2016


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JIM OTTAWAY: Southern Cross

"Southern Cross" is the follow-up to electronic music composer Jim Ottaway’s highly energetic "Invisible Vortex" album. Named for a distinctive constellation in the Southern Hemisphere, "Southern Cross" is Jim’s first intrinsically ambient-space album since "Liquid Moon", which was originally released in Australia in 2011, and later internationally in 2014. Comprised of six tracks spanning seventy minutes total, the album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Jim, as well as lovingly dedicated to the memory of his mother Madge who passed away in 2015.

"Alpha Crucis" opens the album with a rumbling vibration, followed by expansive chords and a rainstick-type sound, which frequently returns throughout the compositions. Imparting an immediate sense of deep space exploration, it’s fourteen minutes and twenty seconds of pure atmospheric bliss. Alluringly arcane, this mood is carried into "Beta Crucis", where swirling chimes mimic a galaxy filled with twinkling stars. Moving into the darkest piece, "Gamma Crucis", linear time seems to dissolve and physical distance is no longer a barrier to the furthest reaches of space. This especially noteworthy piece is permeated by a wonderfully eerie creepiness that’s filled with the sounds of deep drones, ghostly voices, alien signals and glowing pulsars. More traces of light shine through the vast darkness on "Delta Crucis", as if drifting among a meteor shower – before giving way to "Epsilon Crucis", the album’s warmest, most ethereal composition. Closing out the album is the phenomenal "Southern Cross (Timeless Motion)", with its rhythmic pulse beaming like a quasar amidst swirling chimes and a melodious drone, before dissipating into a sea of stardust.

Sitting at the meeting point of both pure ambient and classic space music, "Southern Cross" is easily Jim’s most groundbreaking album to date. I frequently had to remind myself that the many otherworldly sounds herein were actually coming from a recording studio and not some distant location of the galaxy, thanks to the impressive array of state-of-the-art recording equipment and software detailed in the liner notes. An especially rewarding headphone experience, "Southern Cross" is a must-have album for both fans of ambient-space music and astronomy enthusiasts!

Candice Michelle
Journeyscapes
(USA)

April 2016


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JIM OTTAWAY: Invisible Vortex

Jim Ottaway is an electronic music composer from Australia, whose album "Invisible Vortex" was created using an impressive array of electronic music gear and equipment, including several different keyboards and synthesizers. Dedicated in part to the memory of Tangerine Dream founder, Edgar Froese (1944-2015), notable influences of musical styles spanning several decades are evident, in particular, 80s-era European electronic music, 90s-era trance-techno, modern electronica, chill-out and a touch of progressive rock.

The highly energetic "Come Dance with Me" opens the album with a trance-techno dance-floor beat, digital bleeps and scratchy sounds, as the listener embarks on an interstellar voyage through space and time. "Alien Cries" follows next, which is characterized by a pronounced bassline and an electronic rock rhythm. Finally giving way to what is perhaps the album’s pinnacle, is a track called "Takin' the Time". Featuring Rick Fenn of the 70s-era British rock group 10cc on guitar, this incredible piece evokes the wonders of the universe, with its intergalactic, otherworldly tone, which is conveyed by swirling chimes, voice-like effects, and a potent driving rhythm. Right from the opening sequencers on "Just Another Dream", which is a lighter trance-techno track, I could detect the nod to Tangerine Dream; perhaps not surprising, since the piece is a glowing tribute to the band’s soundtracks for "Risky Business", "Thief" and "Sorcerer". "Call for Peace" is another favorite, a slower piece led by a pronounced staccato down-beat and alternating hazy, distorted effects. A bonus 'Chill Out Mix' of the same tune closes out the album, clocking in at a full eleven minutes and twenty seconds. This slower-paced alternate version is equably carried along by a muffled breakbeat, until it eventually drifts away into oblivion.

Jim Ottaway has done a stellar job of connecting the past with the future on "Invisible Vortex", by combining the sensibilities of both vintage and modern electronic music. The compositions herein explore the limitless bounds of space and time, sending the listener soaring above the stratosphere and cruising into the cosmos. The highly outgoing, dynamic and active nature of this album makes for a thoroughly rewarding sonic adventure, which will certainly appeal to electronic music enthusiasts who enjoy aural concepts exploring science fiction and retro-futuristic worlds.

Candice Michelle
Journeyscapes
(USA)

April 2016


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JIM OTTAWAY: Invisible Vortex

Energetic-rhythmic synth music is what’s on the menu on Jim Ottaway’s "Invisible Vortex", revealing the other musical side of this synthesist from Down Under. It’s an album full of song-based, up-beat and sometimes even dancy compositions revealing a commercial and contemporary sound.

The album offers totally different stuff compared to Mr Ottaway’s ambient-space endeavours, speaking to the listener in an upfront, strong technology-flavoured voice. One of the pieces is a new version of the piece "Takin' the Time" featuring the guitar work of 10CC’s Rick Fenn, while "Just Another Dream" is meant as a tribute to the Tangerine Dream’s OST’s "Risky Business", "Thief" and "Sorcerer".

I don’t feel much connection to this type of music, but "Invisible Vortex" will tick some boxes for those preferring modern and vibrant instrumental electronics.

Bert Strolenberg
Sonic Immersion
(The Netherlands)

2016


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JIM OTTAWAY: Reflections

Another album - another world. This time he chooses one of deceptively effortless simplicity, where the vast depths of spacey synths are topped with easy flowing melodies played on a variety of synths and keys, all really heartwarming and easy to digest. Many of these tracks are also provided with a rhythmic base. But, cleverly for such an album, Ottaway has kept the rhythms in line with the spirit, feel and languid qualities of the tracks, so much so that the electronic, electro-percussive and sequenced rhythms are always deceptively lightweight, in keeping with the oceans of melodies that pour from every track, long and short.

For such an easy listening album, it's actually remarkably cohesive, the way it slides and glides into your consciousness, a mark of a composer who's feeling it rather than faking it, in other words, producing commercial, flowing synth music from the heart rather than attempting to provide something that's commercial but sounds like it's been done by numbers. The eleven minute 'Seashore Sunrise' is one of the best tracks as it also has that vast depth of cosmic bliss so prevalent on previous Ottaway space synth excursions.

For all its ease, the tracks are varied so that, while the feel is maintained throughout, the sounds are many and varied, and you rarely feel that you are hearing the same sonic combination twice, even though cohesion runs through the album's compositions like blood through your veins. Overall, it's exceedingly pleasant, easy on the ear, music for any occasion that's languid and relaxed, and the perfect late-night accompaniment to unwinding from a hard and tiring day.

Andy Garibaldi
Dead Earnest
(Dundee, Scotland, UK)

November 2010


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JIM OTTAWAY: Centauri

In my late hours when I'm at the keyboard, not reviewing, but doing everything else that you do on a computer late at night that doesn't have an x-certificate attached to it, this has become the album of choice - the "late night" album of blissful, cosmic instrumental synthesizer music that you can just put on the player and let it drift. Now this may make you think it's bland or faceless or simply background music - far from it! Any of those would annoy you, make you want to reach for the "stop" button and try something else. No - this has a depth to it, a structure, a direction, and, even for cosmic synth music, a real feel of warmth behind it, without it conforming to the sweet and sugary end of the genre epitomised by Serrie and the like, or the weird and wonderful end of the genre as practised by the DiN label roster.

Inspired by the cosmos - no surprises there - it remains a multi-textured drift through space where everything moves all the time and nothing stays in one place for too long, and that's what makes it work - throughout the album's 7 tracks, from 6 to 12 minutes long, you're taken on a voyage among the stars that's a positive pleasure and, while it's not something you'll go away remembering on a compositional level, you do go away and remember that the album was the perfect calming influence from the rigours of modern day living without ever being bland or boring or challenging - and you can't say fairer than that. As a cosmic synth album goes, this has got what it takes.

Andy Garibaldi
Dead Earnest
(Dundee, Scotland, UK)

November 2009


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JIM OTTAWAY: Firestorm

Latest album from the synth guy from 'down under' and it essentially sees him departing from what you've come to regard as a more space music approach, as a new instrumental album is chock-full of eleven tracks where the main focus is on melody, light rhythms and musical simplicity. Throughout an album that has tracks ranging from five to just under nine minutes long, you'll hear synth music that is easy on the ear and highly enjoyable by virtue of the atmospheres that the musician still manages to create, his love of space synth music coming into play as he ensures that, however simple the melodies and rhythms are, there is always a textural flow, a subtle undercurrent and somehow a warming glow that shines along the way.

It would be unfair to single out any track in particular as they all follow a very similar path. There are times in your musical listening life when you want something to listen to that's just going to flow over you, something on which you don't need to devote 100% concentration, and yet music that you want as something much more than mere 'background music', something with melody and a bit of muscle that will keep you engaged and yet not lose your interest, and this is that very album.

Andy Garibaldi
Dead Earnest
(Dundee, Scotland, UK)

2008


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JIM OTTAWAY: Orion

After a number of predominantly spacey synth music CD's, this new album is... well, errrr... a spacey synth music CD. So, bearing in mind there's tons of these things around and that, these days, I'm only reviewing the ones that really move me, what is it about this one that achieves its aim? Well, for a start, evident right from the opening track, he's finally got the right mix of depth of texture allied to a warm, rich soundscape and, most importantly, an ever shifting pattern of flowing layers of cosmic bliss, all delivered with a deeply felt sense of emotion, something that many such sound-sculpting efforts, fail to provide. Seven and half minutes glide by in a heartbeat, and at no time are you looking down at the floor or staring up at the ceiling wondering when things will develop.

Thematically, if you could call it that, the next six and half minute track, continues in this vein, as it feels like one fourteen minute piece that's opened up before you. The near ten minute 'Stellar Wind' adds an almost early Tangerine Dream styled bubbling synth undercurrent, something that in the early seventies would have developed into a sequencer rhythm but here in Ottaway's hands, remains the foundation for some gorgeous cosmic explorations, all performed slowly but always evolving and never standing still. It's truly got what many call an "analogue warmth" to it, but one that seems to stand above many others in its field. Just a tad short of fourteen minutes, 'Frozen Star' continues in this vein, seriously atmospheric, seriously cosmic, but now with more what you'd call "leading" soundscapes upfront, which imply melody but don't actually provide it, again something that stops it being a boring piece of wandering aimlessness on the one hand, or overtly twee and frightful, on the other.

With four further tracks on the album between seven and ten minutes apiece, all mining this rich seam of cosmic bliss, it's consistent, it delivers what it promises, it's a worthy addition to any space synth music collection, it's great to listen to when you just want to chill out to something atmospheric or have on as background while you're writing your next novel or planning the bathroom. In short, recommended!

Andy Garibaldi
Dead Earnest
(Dundee, Scotland, UK)

2008


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JIM OTTAWAY: Eclipse

The one word that really sums up this album once you've played it is 'magical'. In synth music terms - for it is an instrumental synths/keys dominated album - it's quite lightweight and easy going, but that's not to belie its decided sense of structure, purpose, direction and strength. The opener, 'Longing For Home', sets things off with a steady rolling electro-percussive rhythm as the waves of synths spread out and assorted melodic layers flow and bounce down below, the whole thing never standing still, and sounding quite mesmerising as late eighties Tangerine Dream-esque lead synths take hold and fly.

'New Voyage' starts with sampled Gregorian Chant to provide that timeless quality as a lone synth emerges and hangs in cosmic suspense before swoop echo, a sequencer beat starts to roll, synths shimmer and the piece starts its journey, initially quite airy and light, despite the bass depth of the distant sequencer, as the leads pass by and unfurl. Slowly it builds, eventually leading to a more solid electro-percussive undercurrent while the lead and textural synths largely stay within their already chosen sea of dynamics and melody. 'The Search' is more sprightly, altogether stronger, more strident and more in keeping with a teutonic tradition from the late '80's/early '90's, as melodies, lurching rhythms and ever increasing layers provide the human emotion to keep the whole thing sizzling, even though its pace is quite sedate, even though the rhythms themselves are quite solid.

The near fourteen minute title track is a thing of beauty with initial melody lines and sprawling synth surrounds mixing with cosmic bliss and upfront lead synths to provide a slowly expanding sea of synth melodies and harmonies. Eventually, a rhythm begins and the track takes on the strength of the crisp and echoed slow percussive cracks and crashes. Albeit with very slowly added textures and melodies, this pattern continues in spellbinding fashion right to the end of the track. The near 9 minute 'Curiosity' is a real anthem of a track, slowly blossoming out into this canyon-sized slice of synth-laden beauty, with strong hints of early eighties Tangerine Dream flowing through its veins as it slowly sprawls its heady way across everything it touches. The album ends on 11 minutes of 'Sequential Meditation' as layers of string synths rise up in a fogbank of electronics, the sparkling rhythms dancing all around as the strong and strident synth-percussive rhythm enters and starts to take the whole instrumental into altogether other areas.

Overall, as I said, quite magical, nothing too testing, but then again, nothing too obvious - and it works too!

Andy Garibaldi
Dead Earnest
(Dundee, Scotland, UK)

2007


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JIM OTTAWAY: Aurora

Debut album from new Australian synthesist which opens with a two and a half minute track that is absolutely spellbinding as layers of flowing, floating synths create this magical expanse and immediately your attention is drawn to it as it slowly fades and you wonder what's around the corner. String synths herald the warm sounding, analogue arrival of the nine minute 'Fortune' as the warm sounding, stretched out melodies rise slowly in majestic fashion, all quite beautiful, cosmic and blissfully symphonic, a space music track that is, once again, absolutely magical but infused with slowly flowing melodic content, more Serrie/ Braheny-esque than the more amorphous compositions of someone such as Roach. From here it's onto the near thirteen minute 'Aurora Borealis' where a new universe of space and cosmic synth layers are built up, and here, as the album builds and strengthens, so you find a deep river of cosmic bass synth giving extra depth to the soaring magic that is the flowing synth layers which occupy the glorious full-sounding musical landscape, cosmic electronic music that really holds your attention, as the layers change and develop.

The five minute 'Light of Day' floats along on a layer of string-like synths with deep bass undercurrents as the majestic sounding lead synths flow slowly along to open another wide-eyed universe of sonic delight. The 3 lengthy and one short tracks that follow all occupy different elements of this expansive sea of space and cosmic synths music, the whole thing strong, purposeful and superbly played, produced and arranged, to make this one of the best examples of warm, flowing, analogue-sounding cosmic synth music to come along in ages.

Andy Garibaldi
Dead Earnest
(Dundee, Scotland, UK)

November 2007


Please click on the album cover to view album details and purchasing options.

JIM OTTAWAY: Aurora

A sixty-eight minute space synth album, with tracks from just under three to over fourteen minutes long. It starts in cosmic bliss territory, with the nine and a half minute 'Fortune', as classic a slice of sweetly flowing space synths as you'll find, the combination of strings at one end, bass at the other and the expansive synth flow in between, adding up to a beautiful example of floating, drifting space music. The near thirteen minute 'Aurora Borealis' is still space music, with plenty of layers of synth textures, flowing and floating, but here there is an underlying pulsing to the deeper soundscapes that run underneath the main body of the music, while on top there is more melodic variation as the richly textured synth flow, cascades and soars, slowly but surely, as a world of electronic soundscapes unfolds, in this case, altogether darker in mood and more varied in approach.

The five minute 'Light of Day' is a slowly symphonic example of cosmic bliss with strings, delicate tinkling synth ripples and a core of deeply flowing space synths that drift in layers, taking you off to another plane. 'Desert Shadows' is a nine minute composition that could quite easily have fitted in with anything on the legendary 'Western Spaces' album that Steve Roach and friends recorded way back, with its deep cosmic undercurrents, and, again, slowly melodic soundscapes that drift and flow but never stay in one place, always changing shape as the consistency of the deeper flow is maintained.

Three further tracks, two of them quite lengthy, continue the cosmic/space music approach to the same success level as before, serving to make this a 100% cosmic synths music album into which you can travel and become completely caught up in its spell and charm, and as albums in this territory go, it's extremely gorgeous stuff.

Andy Garibaldi
Dead Earnest
(Dundee, Scotland, UK)

April 2006

© Jim Ottaway 2016