REVIEW: HALCYON 9/2/20
Halcyon from New York rocker Azwel is a fantasy album with a melodic journey from start to finish. This Brit pop inspired record tells an odyssey of sound and lyrical wordplay with electronic tones and classic instrumentals. Standout tracks include the unique shanty "Scourge of the Seven Seas" and the ethereal ballad "Unanswered Questions." This eclectic project is enhanced by seasoned musicians with a message that can't be compared to any contemporary rock acts. With soothing sounds and storytelling methods from experienced artists, Azwel proves their talent with Halcyon for a complete experience into innovative music and entertainment.
- Evangeline W., Freelance Music Reviewer
HALCYON Review: 9/6/20
AZWEL is the brainchild of New York based Jason Perrillo with the occasional help of a
live ensemble. His latest release, Halcyon, offers a strong collection of diverse and
thoughtful pieces driven by firm emotional grounding and eclectic instrumental skill. With
Halcyon, we are spoilt with a wide range of pieces that drift effortlessly through the album,
touching on a certain special sensitivity that blesses the ears through an energy inspired
by the likes of shoegaze, folk and dream pop with a wholly unique flavour. The songs on
Halcyon are dreamy, warm yet not without its emotional weight and connotation. With a
wide ensemble of sound, richly produced and sequenced tracks, driven by Perrillo’s
intelligent and thoughtful lyrics, the album glides effortlessly through each song, inviting
the listener to follow along on a delicately told journey of feeling.
It’s important to accentuate the brilliance of the arrangement of Halcyon. What AZWEL
manages to do over the thirteen tracks of the album is rare to find. Being simply more than
just a compilation of unrelated songs, Halcyon instead exhibits skilful sequencing,
becoming its own organic entity that tells an encapsulating story, evolving naturally through
each song. It’s rare to find an album that so masterfully synthesises its message, dripfeeding it through each track and leaving the listener with an utterly delightful experience.
Halcyon is a wonderful adventure of sound that moves effortlessly through a wide variety
of emotion and style yet thoroughly grounded in its own self-awareness and message.
Perrillo’s most recent contribution to his ever-expansive discography is an achievement
worthy of high recognition and praise, and is a listening experience that should not to be
- Benjamin Steed, Freelance Music Journalist
A uniquely glamorous haunted beauty graces the edges of Azwel’s lovely “Halcyon”. Light psychedelic influences run through the clever retro futuristic work for their arrangements reveal a tremendously sophisticated approach. Beyond the psychedelic, they incorporate elements of pop, jazz, film soundtracks, and more into a seemingly swirling whole. Melodies have a tremendous richness to them for the arrangements have an almost weightlessness to them. The way all of the pieces neatly interact with each other results in a fully unified whole of an album, one that is best taken in one single sitting to fully appreciate the narrative that emerges over the course of the work. With surrealist lyricism the entirety of the work has a great winding quality about it.
Stylistically they draw from so many different groups. Nods to Stereolab appear throughout the whole of the album, for they too opt for a unique postmodern 60s French pop vibe. Beyond this, their denser tracks have a Broadcast-like hypnotic quality to them, constantly unfolding to reveal a wide variety of different layers. Instrumentally rich too they further magnify the many different possibilities of the sound, for they shift gears frequently in bedazzling ways. Vocals reflect an urbane quality reminiscent of Jon Brion’s assured presence. Akin to his output, they too are firmly rooted in a thoughtful pop template never veering too far astray from their incredible knack for hooks.
Quite spacious in scope “Our Achilles” has a gentle playfulness to it. Lyrics have an imaginative usage of imagery, complete with delightfully poppy choruses. An introspective nostalgic kick gives “In A Bind” a unique 70s singer-songwriter quality to it for it unfurls with wonderful flourishes. Timely and serving as one of the highlights of the album is “Pandemic” which might as well be a long-lost Todd Rundgren work. Kept simple the effectiveness is from the insistent rhythm keeping everything in place. Rushing through in a bright brilliant blur is “Game Your Game On”. Ornate baroque arrangements grow and grow on the blissful “Scourge Of The Seven Seas”. Ramshackle rhythms give “Wrong Place At The Wrong Time” a half-remembered dreamlike quality. On “Half Empty Half Full” they strip things to the essentials as the strings have a tenderness to them.
Guitar work lend “In The Blazing Sun” a pastoral quality. Fantastically eerie “The Henchmen” reigns supreme with a nice, decadent sound that wraps around with an expressive, lively arrangement. A ceremonial style underpins the procession of “Unanswered Questions”. Electronics emerge on the peppy dance flirtation of “Live For The Dead”. Elements of cinema comes through on the sweeping “only Time Will Tell” yet another highlight of the album. Neatly bringing the whole of the album to a fantastic conclusion is the reflective “The Morning After”.
“Halcyon” reveals Azwel to be true sculptors of their own sonic universe evoking a richness that draws the listener into a vast realm.