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Othon - Impermanence

Othon Impermanence cover Impermanence is the second full-length album from Othon, a Greek born composer and pianist. His debut album, Digital Angel, was an exercise in flamboyance featuring vocal contributions from David Tibet (Current 93), Marc Almond and the expressive range of the cabaret entertainer Ernesto Tomasini. While much of Digital Angel was based solely on piano and voice, Impermanence is much more varied in its compositions with a larger cast of musicians. The talent of Othon is unmistakable right from the beautiful classical piano score of the title track that opens up the album. Touching and melodic; it's particularly beautiful and this instrumental version marks the first of three appearances of this track.

It's followed by 'At Night' a loose jazzy cabaret piece, about the transformative powers of sex, featuring the stunning range of Ernesto Tomasini. Tomasini's voice embraces both cabaret and theatre with ease. The track captures the essence of impermanence as it continually asks where those fleeting moments of feelings, passion, honesty, beauty, kisses, dreams, magic and heaven have gone.

There's a warmth and humanity to be found in the work of Othon. You can hear it in 'A Trip To Paradise' with the interpretive singer Camille O'Sullivan on vocals. Amidst the ringing guitar chords and sweet strings, is a sensual tale of longing but, for me, the sense of love is encapsulated in the simple lines, when over piano notes and yearning strings O'Sullivan begs "Can you come close and hug me, hug me, hug me".

Tomasini's expansive range is given full flight on 'The Fall', written by the erotic award-winning "naked poet" Ernesto Sarezale. Tomasini's voice soars, switching between falsetto and softly-spoken, as flute gently meanders, shadowed by soft piano notes or bashing piano chords. Lyrically there's an absurdity and theatricality - with lyrics ranging from blood and sperm to a boy metaphorically described as an angel with a wounded wing - that allows this to fare favourably with Antony and the Johnsons 'I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy'.

Sadness and loss isn't confined to the lyrics of Impermanence you can hear it on the instrumental track 'Mystery Star Dance'. It's just as emotive, as it dances from passages of tender piano notes to mournful cello. There's a distinct sadness to be found in the sorrow-filled cello score. Having said that; set against a sweeping string section, 'All Is Too Soon' cuts straight to the heart with Othon on lead vocal. Othon's accented voice maybe doesn't rate when compared to the other vocalists but the emotion in his voice is endearing and hard to miss, as he fondly remembers a childhood friend whose life was lost to drug addiction. Amidst the tinkling bells and weeping strings, it's a moving epitaph that encapsulates the sense of acceptance of a life wasted that is truly enriching at the silky hands of this rough piano boy.

Another of my favourites here is 'A Little Dream'. The combination of harp and oboe is beguiling and coupled with the pure voice of Ernesto Tomasini as he pleads for an acquaintance with a street boy. The effect as it moves from tender desire to vicious longing, wrapped up in the most beautiful score topped off with strings, is positively stunning.

Marc Almond makes his first guest appearance on the second appearance of 'Impermanence' - also featuring Justin Jones of And Also the Trees on guitar. Here Almond's voice is rich and full-bodied, swathed in a chorus of angelic voices and a thick layer of keyboards, as he embodies the full feeling of the transient nature of life and love, and the refusal to accept the "impermanence of it all".

Almond appears on the next track too. Almond made some fine contributions to Digital Angel but he eclipses those appearances with his vocal on 'Last Night I Paid To Close My Eyes' - an alternate version also available on itunes with Tomasini on lead vocal. Overtly theatrical, Almond's voice floats, over the piano with passages of strings and massed backing as he sings of the constant desire for affection, whether physical, spiritual or paid for. It's beautifully poetic ("The four seasons in a glimpse", "The roses weep so sad and still") and touching and all done in less than two minutes. Fantastic.

Another reading of 'Impermanence' closes the album, this time with Ernesto Tomasini taking the lead. This time round the setting is much more classically oriented with strings and organ, as Tomasini sings it straight in falsetto tones. There's no need for varied expression - though I would have paid money to hear Billy Mackenzie tackle this. That said, the closing lines "I deny to accept, The impermanence of it all" would continue to resonate no matter who was lead vocalist.

Othon refers to his style as Pan muzik, and it is particularly apt, as his music is imbued with a sense of sex and sensuality. Impermanence is littered with references to mythology, spirituality and meditation. '59' even appears to these ears at least to be a paean to Aleister Crowley; referring to Yin and Yang, Nuit and other Egyptian terms such as Khabs and Khu amidst other Thelemic imagery.

Digital Angel was a surprisingly delightful release, eliciting impressive contributions from the guest performers, but Impermanence is by far a much stronger piece of work bolstered by a larger ensemble and a larger budget. Comparisons may include Michael Cashmore's work with Marc Almond but the affinity, largely due to Othon's appearance and interests in cabaret and theatre, and with drag, pierced and tattooed individuals push this closer to the outsiders that populated the debut of Antony and the Johnsons. That's a mere pointer, though; Othon is truly out there on his own. Impermanence works on so many levels, in embracing cabaret, theatre, classical to pop song. A stunning, staggering collection of songs, Impermanence represents a singular piece of wondrous beauty. Recommended. For more information go to or

The official video for Othon & Tomasini 'Last Night I Paid To Close My Eyes' from the album Impermanence. Directed by Peter Harton.