Pacific Horizons ‎– Witches/ A Prayer (2013, Pacific Wizard Foundation) [english review]

 Perhaps the most important characteristic in an artist, in our case a music composer or a band, is the ability to evolve his or its style, to boldly reconstruct his or its previous artistic achievements. The new material that will occur could be characterized by an element of fluidity and uncertainty, but in this way, new material could be also categorized as essentially experimental.

So, when I visited the Pacific Horizons Soundcloud profile and, as tagging of a preview of their new work, I saw the strange compound word "balerostep", I immediately assumed that the Californian band will try hard to expand their sound into new, unexplored territories. Indeed, after a few listens of their new EP, I confirmed my hypothesis. With a cerebral and "sound digging" approach, Pacific Horizons evolve their sound and confirm their fluid and adventurous music identity.

The EP, like the previous ones, consists of two lengthy compositions which are respectively divided on both sides of the 45" vinyl. The title of the first composition is Witches Of Castanenda. Fans of Pacific Horizons will not be surprised by the reference in the field of occultism, through Carlos Castanenda, because similar references could be found in their previous releases too. The track is somehow dedicated to a more dark side of the famous writer, specifically to his relation with a group of women, who were his students and lovers, towards the last years of his life. Reports and rumors of that time, but also later articles, like this, reveal that women were manipulated by Castanenda. This dark and mysterious story culminated when the women, after Castanenda’s death in 1998, disappeared without a trace. Three of the five missing women, who were most closely related to their mentor, were called "witches of Castanenda". The bones of one of the "witches" were found several years later in Death Valley, California. The rest of them still remain missing.

For a listener who has knowledge of these events, Witches Of Castanenda can be considered as a hymn, or rather a music ritual for the lost witches. The atmosphere is evocative and the tone becomes increasingly epic. In terms of music genres, the definition "balerostep" is quite suitable, as we can find elements of both the old balearic or acid house from the late 80s-early 90s and of the broader "bass music".

The track begins with a dominant melody on the piano, accompanied by classic house rhythm in 4/4, which, however, is enriched with some dubstep  features. Also, the presence of psychedelia is critical, as an electropop / darkwave influence.

The evolution of the composition is smooth, as melody and rhythm mingle harmoniously, but in the last minutes a very interesting surprise awaits us: an epic climax, a crescendo. In the presentation of a band’s previous EP, we criticized the flatness of the compositions, the lack of a climax. So, the finale of the new track is more than accepted:  the beat is getting more aggressive and a heavy techno synth, restless percussion, along with piano chords like angry gunshots are introduced.

The second  track of the EP is entitled A Prayer For Santa Ana, a more low-key composition but without lacking experimentation Once more, a piano melody is dominant in a classic deep house pattern, enriched with eerie ambient keyboards and electric guitar arpeggios which remind us both psychedelic rock and flamenco. Also, a dubstep element, although is not leading, colors the composition in a very interesting way. At the end of the track, a tribal percussion is introduced. The closure is fully consistent of the solemn atmosphere of a prayer: an effect of a starting storm and people who talk in a cheerful tone, but in an incomprehensible language, most likely the result of some experimentation on the original sound source.

Pacific Horizons wish to tell us stories or, better, to share with us their feelings, evoked by stories, places, images and myths. They create electronic dance music, ideal for a night party, that, like a shamanic ritual, will change the perception of the participants, as a fresh artistic approach manages to do. For this reason, they leverage the tradition of the occult, especially in the titles and artwork of their releases. Indeed, in a climate of genuine mystical symbolism, the band makes interesting allusions for the most attentive listeners or "readers" of their work. For example, if and when you’ll get the vinyl release, take a close look at the both sides of record under strong light...

title pic: Maurice Tabard, Eye and Beach (1949)

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