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Othon - The God Within

Ever since Pineal which was inspired by trips into the Brazilian Amazon where he witnessed sacred ceremonies and experienced the psychedelic Ayahuasca under the watchful eye of the shamans, Othon has been on a personal journey but for The God Within he took his fans, following a successful crowdfunding campaign resulting in the album Kodama and subsequently The God Within. Kodama also featured string arrangements from The McCarricks, who also appeared on Against Nature, a JK Huysmans inspired album Othon recorded with Marc Almond and Jeremy Reed. The God Within is the first truly solo album from Othon and it represents another step in Othon's self-discovery and artistic development.

The origins of The God Within came from a show Othon performed at London's Tate Modern as part of Wolfgang Tillmans: South Tank, a series of curated events coinciding with an exhibition of photographs, videos and digital images from the award winning German artist. For this esteemed performance Othon prepared only half of the material, with the rest "downloaded on the spot in the transcendent state of expanded consciousness". It's an approach that Othon has continued for the recording of The God Within, with half of the twelve tracks all pre-titled "Meditiation" describing and relating to Othon's spiritual journey so much so that they were "channelled" in a heightened transcendent state. Alongside a number of composed tracks it results in an album that flows seamlessly and one you need to really shut the doors and switch off all your distracting devices and to sit down, listen and really immerse yourself in with from beginning to end.

The God Within sets off to 'Soul Sailor Sailing' its waves of rippling classical notes, beautifully dramatizing the magnificence of the ocean waves, gushing onwards in a journey that is melodic and romantic, with flurries that open up into wide oceans closing quietly as it segues into the gentle sparse piano chords of 'Meditation 1: Voice of a Vast Inner Space', layered with passages of Ayahuasca singing and the slightest of electronic treatments. Those evocative Ayahausca chants and songs of Amazonian shamans have also graced previous Othon releases such as Pineal and Cobra Coral and especially Othon AYA Remixes Vol 1, the inaugural release on his own Conscious Expansion label which featured startling club mixes of Amazonian 'medicine songs'. The God Within is a much more personal recording intended as indicated on the press notes as loosely describing the momentous inner journey of the Yogi-Meditator from Pratayahara (withdrawal of the senses) all the way to 'Samadhi', the blissful merging with the Absolute and the initiate's highest goal.

A melodic dreaminess hangs over 'Tortured by Doubt' as piano notes tumble quickly, setting off on a myriad of journeys, whilst remaining anchored to a recurring melodic motif. It is as if within these competing melodies we are confused, too busy or perhaps just too scared to look within to follow our true desires. It is, however, another example of Othon's genius mastery as a composer and accomplished pianist. The following track, 'Meditation 2: The Rise and Fall of the Cycles of Desire' is much more sombre and pensive. Amidst heavier stabbed piano chords, piano notes unfurl and contract with a tentativeness; creating a sense of spaciousness and stillness allowing us to draw back from distractions to achieve a sense of focus. If there's a sense of holding back here then 'Boundless Love' lets go furnished with a tender sensuousness sprinkled with caressing chords and notes forging a joyousness and warmth so strong you yearn to be swept up and wrapped in its arms. The whole track exudes that feeling of love, Othon strives for and continually speaks of.

Building from darker tentative beginnings with hammered chords 'Meditation 3: Reclaiming my Sensitivity' passes through a mid section filled with space and silence, its tender chimes leaving ample room for contemplation, thought and feeling. Somehow it reminds me of the piano scores of Nature and Organisation and Current 93, and maybe that's not too surprising since Othon has a background working with both David Tibet and Peter Christopherson of Coil. 'In Suffering We Grow' continues that sense of reflection, with a quickened piano score dipping into tender contemplative movements, and chiming ripples which map out a sense of growth. It's a beautiful classical score of renewal and rebirth. Streaming into the evocative 'Meditation 4: Riding the Astral Waves' returns to the journeying water based theme with spacious chords and notes and silent pauses, only broken by the wash of the sea lapping on the shore, a reminder that we are a mere speck in the vastness of nature.

'Forgiving The Past' is a beautiful reverie, an emotive reminisce passing through wide open spaces as notes open up into melancholic realms, carrying with it a sense of letting go, unburdening oneself from a lifetime of travails, troubles and pressures. 'Meditation 5: Memories Like Sirens' the shortest of Othon's channellings is bathed in gentle notes surrounding you like warm, loving arms before 'Meditation 6: Cosmic Cycles' the final meditation piece flits slowly between heavier bass chords and lighter piano chime as if existing in a hinterland somewhere between suffering and joy.

The God Within reaches its conclusion on the delightful 'Samadhi'. It marks the journey's end and it is something that The God Within has been working up to and it doesn't fail to deliver. From its opening melodic waves and ripples evocatively signifying life's joy and struggles, notes are tossed around in a sea of rumbling bass chords, sinking into passages of quiet contemplative melody before it resurfaces reinvigorated and boundless as the piano peaks and rushes, accompanied by ascending electronics, finally achieving that state of oneness, that expanded consciousness finely attuned to nature and the cosmos.

On Othon's previous albums Ernesto Tomasini and Marc Almond provided vocal theatrics and dramatics but on The God Within Othon looks deep inwards to discover the real Othon, in an introspective and transcendent album which flows wonderfully from one track to the next and reaches outwards in dreamy, evocative piano scores and meditations that will captivate and enthral listeners as they accompany Othon on his most personal and intimate of journeys. The God Within is available digitally but we recommend getting hold of one of the 300 vinyl copies pressed on clear vinyl, housed in a stunning Dan Hillier designed (outer and inner) sleeve, hand-numbered and signed by Othon. The God Within is available from Conscious Expansion bandcamp