'Convergent Evolution'


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Convergent Evolution Compilation
Greenhouse Music Label

1. Vidna Obmana - Euphoric Bliss [11:56] [Hi-Fi], [Lo-Fi]
2. Samsa - Long Since Gone [9:02]
3. Vir Unis - Beneath the Hive [8:38] [Hi-Fi], [Lo-Fi]
4. Exuviae - Blankets of Quiet [9:08]
5. Mono No Aware - Regions Behind the Eyes [8:43]
6. Steve Roach - Resolution Point [12:17]
7. Jayme Washburn - Becoming Light [5:29]
8. Me - Holus Bolus [6:06]

When three ambient-minded musicians (Nathan Larson, Brooks Rongstad and James R. Coplin) got together to form their own label, GreenHouse Music was born with its vision already in focus. Convergent Evolution is living breathing proof. Various Artists, including the founders themselves as well as ambient masters Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana, make this initital release a strongly optimistic preview of very good things to come.

Tinkling like windchimes from heaven, Vidna Obmana's Euphoric Bliss stirs within a superdense cloudboil. Always shapeless, the textures melt between phases of churning tonality and ringing discord. Nathan Larson as Samsa contributes the dark and resounding soundtunnel of Long Since Gone, echoing with tiny electro-organic stirrings, sweeping radiance and brassy overtones. The naturalistic essences of water and animal lifeforms seem to imbue Vir Unis' excellent Beneath the Hive with a spacious, living identity. The gently percolating sonic prescences are backed by light rhythms. (Speaking of Vir Unis, do not miss The Drift Inside...)
Brooks Rongstad is Exuviae; if his Blankets of Quiet were tangible material, they'd be a dark gray blend of flannel and silk; warm, smooth drapes of sound swathe the airwaves with a mysterious comfort. A more aggressive darkness awaits in the Regions Behind the Eyes as rendered by Mono No Aware (a.k.a. James R. Coplin, producer); actively rippling with unknown energies and bubbling with electronic powers, this track genuinely takes a different route to those spacey ambient places. Steve Roach (12:12) heads toward the Resolution Point on spacious, shifting waves of sand. Lumbering beats plod amid quietly wailing synthlines and occasional windy gusts.

Becoming Light (5:35) signals time for sheer, unadulterated floatation; Jayme Washburn lays down softly intertwining sheets of sound which waft and wane in preternaturally serene cycles. Slightly grittier, though still strangely soothing, are the muffled hiss-and-drone pulsations of Me by Holus Bolus, capping off a great collection with a passage of vaporous noise.

Made possible by Various Artists, family and friends, these truly ambient sounds are previously unreleased and available only through this Convergent Evolution. A most impressive debut release from GreenHouse Music garners a seemingly effortless 9.1. With a new label so obviously attuned to well-crafted ambience, I look forward to future projects.

Above review from Ambientrance.

Ambient music has been around about 25 years now, and has become a recognized genre, which even has its own subgroups such as “dark ambient”, “drones,” and “techno-ambient.” The basic requirements for the “core” ambient style haven’t changed much in those years: long, minimal note lines drifting through an ocean of reverb, accented with bits of percussion here and there. And yet even within these restrictions, musical creativity can shine forth, and ambient has developed over the years. Some of this is due to the influence from other genres such as “classical” minimalism, or trance-rock; other changes come from technical innovations like the use of computer-generated “fractals” to determine rhythm and tone-color. This compilation from the up-and-coming ambient/space label Greenhouse is a good measure of what ambient composers are up to at the end of the century. There are pieces from well-known artists like Vidna Obmana and Steve Roach, and there are some others from people I’ve never heard of who use strange pseudonyms like “Mono No Aware” (I think that’s Japanese), “Samsa,” and simply “Me.” Obmana opens the set with his optimistically titled “Euphoric Bliss.” This is one of the best short Obmana pieces I’ve heard to date, with its bell-like accents tinkling through audible clouds of microtonal notes – perhaps a sound-picture of Obmana’s perpetually foggy native land, Belgium. A piece by the mysterious “Samsa” (the name of the poor guy in the Kafka story who turns into a giant roach – an allusion to Steve?) follows, rather darkly and aimlessly clanking away with metallic tones. After that, there is an uptempo piece by “Vir Unis,” who is perhaps the most exciting newcomer to the ambient field in the last five years. This piece, “Beneath the Hive,” shows off his “fractal rhythms” which have so revolutionized the newer work of Steve Roach (in their collaboration BODY ELECTRICfor instance). In my opinion this is the best cut on the album. After this, there is a very slow, spooky track by “Exuviae” (Latin for “spoils taken from an enemy” or “sloughed-off skin”…?) that builds up to one of those shuddering electronic “walls of sound” that you either love or hate.

Above review from EER.

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