Ocean Moon-Crystal Harmonics.

Label: Be With.

Format: LP.

2020 has been a busy year for Jon Tye of Seahawks. Earlier this year, Seahawks released a new album Island Visions, which featured a collection of library music they had recorded for KPM. The music on the album focused on the deeper, more spatial side of music. This was something that fascinated Jon Tye and he decided to explore it further on his next album.

This wasn’t another Seahawks album. Instead, he donned his Ocean Moon moniker and recorded another album of library music for KPM, Crystal Harmonics. It’s best described as an album that combines elements of ambient, new age music and  modern classical into a suite of library music. To do this, Jon Tye brought onboard some of his musical friends.

They are some of the brightest musical minds and are regarded as innovators and visionaries. This includes the master of the melody Jon Brooks of The Advisory Circle and Ghostbox; vocalist Seaming To of Graham Massey’s Toolshed and Steve Moore of Zombi whose complex and innovative rhythms are a feature of Crystal Harmonics. Finally, there’s The Grid’s Richard Norris whose plays an important part in the album’s ambient sound. These musicians made their way from Derbyshire, London and America and headed to Cornwall.

When recording of Crystal Harmonics began, Ocean Moon and friends headed to The Centre Of Sound in Cornwall. They were about to record an album that would be released on KPM and it was fitting that four albums from the label’s golden era had influenced Jon Tye. The earliest was Adrian Wagner’s 1975 album The Electronic Light Orchestra. Then there was a triumvirate of albums of modern classical and new age library music from  the mid-eighties. This included Temple Of The Stars, Breath Of Life and Keith Mansfield’s Circles. These classic library music albums influenced Ocean Moon when they recorded Crystal Harmonics.

Side One.

Just like on previous projects, Jon Tye explores the sounds of spaciousness on Crystal Harmonics. The album opener meanders into being with electronic flute and bells being deployed by Ocean Moon. They play their part in a spacious, ethereal and ruminative soundscape that encourages reflection.

The arrangement to Rainbow Ripples sweeps in slowly before arpeggiated synths rise and fall as subtle beats pitter patter in the background. By now, the influence of ambient music and the Berlin School is apparent on this beautiful, dreamy and almost mesmeric soundscape. 

As And Breathe unfolds, vocalist Seaming To’s instructs the listener to “breathe.” Almost hungrily she draws air deep into her lungs as a synth drones and a subtle Fender Rhodes accompanies the vocal. The result is a track inspired by classic new age library music but that wouldn’t sound out of place on a nineties chill out compilation.

Quite different is the cinematic sounding Lost Oceans where Ocean Mean take the listener on a journey to a distant galaxy. Later, the soundscape becomes futuristic and dramatic and sounds like part of the soundtrack to a short sci-fi film.

There’s a degree of tension as New Infinity unfolds and sci-fi synths combine with sweeping pads and crisp beats. Together they create a dramatic backdrop. As the melody repeats pads sweep in and out as beeps and squeaks interject and the drama continues to build and grow before reaching a crescendo.

Closing side one of Crystal Harmonics is the celestial, ethereal  and lysergic sounding White Mirror. It floats lazily along painting pictures in the mind’s eye.

Side Two.

Spiritual sounding with an Eastern influence describes Peace Bells. It’s a beautiful, meditative soundscape that’s one of the album’s highlights. 

Revolving and Evolving meanders gently along. Synths and the sounds of a babbling brook and birds combine to create a laidback and pastoral soundscape. It sounds as if it’s been influenced not just by mid-eighties new age library music but Kominische pioneers Harmonia. 

Mountain Dreaming finds Ocean Moon combining rhythmic synths, a deliberate bursts of zither and birdsong. It’s an unusual, unlikely and imaginative combination of instruments and sounds but one that works and works well.

Playing a leading role in Forest Motion are undulating synth arpeggios, dreamy strings that float along and combine with  percussive electronics as the arrangement reveals its secrets. Later, a curveball is thrown and the tension and drama builds during this cinematic soundscape. It’s as if Ocean Moon are setting the scene. Then it’s all change as the arrangement becomes understated as a myriad of subtle sounds are added and the drama dissipates. 

Sleep Golden is very different to previous tracks and has a much more experimental sound. A piano is played slowly and hesitantly and is combined with Cantonese whispers. Meanwhile, vocals soar elegantly above the arrangement as various sounds sweep in and out during this captivating soundscape. The more one listens the more one is enchanted by it.  

The Long Path closes Crystal Harmonics. It’s a quite beautiful musical journey where bells, drones and chants combine to create a meditative and spiritual sounding soundscape.  

For anyone who is interested in library music, then Ocean Moon’s Crystal Harmonics is an album that will be of interest to them. This is an album of modern library music that has been inspired by the genre’s golden age in two ways.

The first is the album cover which is akin to a homage to KPM’s classic albums from the mid-eighties. Anyone who collects albums of library music from this period will realise that Jon Tye is tipping his hat to KPM’s house style from that period. 

During the recording of Crystal Harmonics Jon Tye has also been inspired by four albums that were released by KPM between 1975 and the mid-eighties. The earliest was Adrian Wagner’s The Electronic Light Orchestra which was released in 1975. Then in the mid-eighties Temple Of The Stars, Breath Of Life and Keith Mansfield’s Circles were released and combined elements of ambient, new age music and modern classical. The influence of these albums shines through on Crystal Harmonics, However that’s not all.

There’s also elements of avant-garde, the Berlin School, experimental and Kominische music. Listen carefully and the influence of Harmonia and Kraftwerk can also be heard. Add to this the sound of birdsong, chants, pastoral, sci-fi sounds,  synth strings and temple bells and the result is a captivating and enchanting album of modern library music where Ocean Moon set out to sooth the listener’s weary soul and succeed in doing so during what’s an antidote to these troubled times.

Ocean Moon-Crystal Harmonics.

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