The phrase Music can take you places might sound like cliché, but you will see the truth in it after listening to Paul Heinerman’s album Oases from 2009. This album will take you on an unforgettable musical journey to Ireland, Greece, North America, India, China and Native America. It is hands down ethnic fusion at its very best, played with integrity and force – and, in the process, perfectly blending modernity in all its shades, illustrating the melting pot of East and West.
Oases is Paul Heinerman’s third album on the Prudence label. His fans have been waiting seven years for the follow up to Private Sun (2001). Previously his style has been close to the good ol’ sound of analogue synths (sample the gorgeous Back to the Highlands from Private Sun to see what I mean, he is a keyboardist after all), while this time around he presents a modern, sequenced sound. Oases shows that Heinerman masters both disciplines, which bodes good for future albums from this fine Dutch artist.
The song Chimengu, released in 2007 as a single, has become a classic (much like the early release of Enigma’s Hello and Welcome from A Posteriori), and the song has been played extensively on web radio stations ever since – and the response has been unanimously positive. With this song fans got an early glimpse into what eventually became Oases.
The album contains 11 tracks, all between 4 and 5,30 minutes. It starts with the song Porta Mundes, which is as beautiful as it is eerie; the pads sound both divine and foreboding while the rhythm is almost too slow to imitate a healthy heartbeat. The female, angelic voice synth enhances the effect; it is a slow, yet very dramatic opening. The Indian (?) samples fit in perfectly.
And speaking of samples; ethnic fusion is nothing without samples (the most famous examples are of course Deep Forest’s massive hit Sweet Lullaby and Enigma’s MCMXC a.D.). On the cover of Oases Heinerman tells us the names of the sample collections used, which I find to be something all artists should do – as long as they themselves have not been in the field (or studio) and recorded the samples. But another thing I have to mention about the samples is the mixing of Western (Gregorian) and Eastern (Indian and Chinese) samples. Someone might object to this, but I find it to be an interesting and quite different cultural mix.
Oases is perfectly blending modernity in all its shades, illustrating the melting pot of East and West.
The track Homines Regnum is another winner. The strings sound like Vangelis, and the Gregorian AND Indian samples are just right for this soundscape. The rhythm is catchy and the mixing is nothing but masterful. Again; this is ethnic fusion at its best.
The musical voyage continues to Africa (track 4), China (track 5), Japan (track 6) and all the way up to India (track 7). The three last tracks, Across the Ocean, Indian Sunrise and Oasis, are without samples, and more like Heinerman’s previous two albums – with nice keyboard leads and bright piano melodies. Old fans will feel right at home! Still, after 10 simply incredible tracks, Heinerman does not deliver a disappointing title & ending track. The sax on Oasis reminds me of the sax on Mike Oldfield’s Misty (from Tr3s Lunas). It is a meditative and dreamy song that makes a perfect ending to the album.
All in all Oases is a fantastic album. It is a true find, like an oasis in a desert. Paul Heinerman does not often release albums, so perhaps we will get another album in 2016 or so. I’m looking forward to that!
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