1. Vidna Obmana
- Euphoric Bliss [11:56] [Hi-Fi],
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.
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.
Above review from Ambientrance.
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.
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