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Album Review: Threshold of the Universe
Jim Ottaway
Cover image of the album Threshold of the Universe by Jim Ottaway
Threshold of the Universe
Jim Ottaway
2021 / Jim Ottaway
70 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Unless you are one of the world's few multi-billionaires, it's highly unlikely that you (or I!) will ever have the opportunity to visit deep space personally. An excellent (and MUCH cheaper) alternative is to experience Australian composer/electronic musician Jim Ottaway's space music albums - especially his latest one, Threshold of the Universe. The recipient of many awards for his music, Ottaway also composes for film and television; this is his sixteenth international release. Ottaway composed the nine tracks for this album between August 2007 and June 2021, and all of them are live improvised studio recordings with minimal overdubs. Obviously a master of electronic music, the sound quality of the recording is flawless.

In the liner notes of the CD, Jim Ottaway describes the album: "Experience a journey through infinite space to the threshold of the universe. Along the way you will see the spectacular parallel suns, visit an alien star, and get a glimpse of the two trillion galaxies in our universe. During this journey through space and time you will also see intriguing dark matter through distorted starlight, the celestial beauty of the thousands of stars in each of the galaxies, as well as many other wonders of the universe. Put on your headphones...sit back...relax... Enjoy the journey." (That's the easy part!!!)

Threshold of the Universe begins with "Beyond Space and Time," an atmospheric odyssey to a different dimension that is dark and mysterious without being at all dangerous or frightening. Ethereal voices and electric guitar are ambient additions to the gracefully floating keyboard sounds. The hypnotic "Starburst In Celestial Darkness" takes us on a weightless voyage through deep darkness with occasional flashes of brilliant light - very smooth and relaxing! "Infinite Space" is still very ambient but has stronger rhythmic patterns. The combination of sounds on this one gives the feeling that there is a LOT going on out in space as we cruise through on our journey. "Alien Star" also has some very interesting rhythmic elements that give the feeling of movement, sometimes with a sense of urgency. I really like this one! "Two Trillion Galaxies" expresses both the vastness of space and the variety of activity that goes on out there - intriguing! "Dark Matter in Distorted Starlight" is quite possibly the darkest yet most visual of the nine pieces. Sounds come and go like things that pass by us - some smoothly and some more percussively - as we experience the profound and endless darkness. The title track closes the album with a peaceful warmth and a heavenly calm. Both relaxing and uplifting, it's a great finish to a great album!

Threshold of the Universe is ambient space music at its best! It is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, Spotify and other streaming sites as well as from JimOttaway.com. No mask required for this trip!
September 22, 2021
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