2018 / Jim Ottaway
Review by Kathy Parsons
Close on the heels of winning two major Zone Music Reporter Awards this year, Australian composer/ multi-instrumentalist Jim Ottaway returns with Yesterday Passing, a collection of fourteen original electronic pieces that capture thoughts and emotions of his past, memories of family and friends, and the simplicity of older times. Ottaway was awarded “Best Ambient Album of 2017” for Deep Space Blue (which was also nominated for “2017 Album of the Year”) and “Best Electronic Album of 2017” for Timeless e-Motion by ZMR; Deep Space Blue also received the silver medal in the Ambient category from Global Music Awards.
Yesterday Passing is Ottaway’s twelfth international release and his twenty-fifth album since 2004. The music on this album doesn’t often fit in the ambient category and shows a different side of Ottaway’s music. Electronic instrumentation with strong melodies and catchy rhythms drive the album, which is not only beautiful, but is thoroughly enjoyable from the first note to the last. More than once, I’ve been reminded of some of Ray Lynch’s most memorable music, although I’m not making a comparison. Ottaway excels in a variety of genres of music and often composes for film and television.
Yesterday Passing begins with “Distant Friend,” a very dark and almost mournful piece that moves slowly with symphonic strings, voices (no lyrics), electronic instrumentation and effects, and powerful accents in the deep bass range. “Big” and cinematic, it’s a very strong start! “Lightning Strikes Twice” is much lighter and is one of the tracks that reminds me a bit of Lynch. The bittersweet melody is transported by a strong rhythm that keeps it moving forward. I love this one! “A Moment In Time (Song for Joseph)” has a gently swirling motion propelled by a strong beat that dances on air. “Back In Time” has what could be called a “classic” new age sound with electronic instrumentation, lots of reverb, and a slow toe-tapping beat. The title track has a simple, direct melody that feels nostalgic, but not overly sentimental. It’s a beautiful piece with a melody strong enough to support lyrics that tell a story of your own choosing. The title for “The Day Our World Changed” could signal a dark day, but this piece is definitely not about a devastating event. The melody has a warm poignance that isn’t quite carefree, but is close. “What Darkness Hides” is another favorite. It has some “spacey” atmospheric sounds as well as a relaxed, peaceful melody that soothes as it enchants. “Simplicity” is a real charmer! The melody has a guitar/keyboard sound that is light and innocent over gentle instrumentation and a hypnotic rhythm. “Fun Times” is intoxicating! Jazz and funk elements over a driving beat create a party atmosphere that makes it impossible to sit still (I’m dancing in my chair here!) - also a favorite! The last piece is a bonus track called “Another Christmas Eve,” which was originally composed in 2004. This one is sentimental and feels kind of lonely - a beautiful piece that includes a passage from Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.”
Yesterday Passing is very likely to be on my Favorites list for 2018! It’s a great album from start to finish and I very highly recommend it! It’s available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
June 12, 2018