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Ambient: Anomalous Disturbances, Darkened Soul, James Johnson, Mr Soon

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ANOMALOUS DISTURBANCES: The Spirit Molecule (CDR on BugInMyEarMusic)

This 2002 release features 65 minutes of ambient music.

Anomalous Disturbances is Terry O'Brien.

Luxurious tonalities unfurl, filling the sky with delicate electronics that softly vibrate and pulsate with soothing intentions. Electronics share the stage with sampled vocal snippets. The music is sedate and passive, crafted to be an unobtrusive background that enhances inward contemplation. Textures swim into interlocking position, overlapping to form a graceful soundscape of ultimate relaxation. Softly shrill tones blend into sonorous passages, achieving a homogeny of balance that creates a pool of even sonic temperament.

Some tracks exhibit a darker, almost ominous sentiment, with guttural textures and swirling electronic enhancements. Often, these pieces utilize a scraping effect that attributes the sonic palette with metallic qualities.

While melodic, the music generally regulates itself to minimal variance.

With the exception of a twelve-minute piece, the rest of tracks on this release clock in between 7 and 4 minutes, forcing the music to make its ambient impact swiftly and without undue repetition.

With song titles like "New World Odor" and "Ghosthead Soup", O'Brien shows a sense of humor lurking behind these ambient compositions.

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DARKENED SOUL: Dreamscapes (CDR on

This 2002 CDR features 56 minutes of dark ambient soundscapes.

Darkened Soul is Michael Soucy.

Lurking in these minimal soundscapes are dark undercurrents, churning the psyche with ominous tonalities and the impending advent of desolate voids. Textures of vast expansion creep into being, filling space with clouds of passive-but-portentous atmospherics. Deep vibrations are elongated and stretched into enigmatic drones that wobble in a pulsating sea of oily substance. Haunting subtleties hide in these aural passages, resonant with elusive memories and determined to remain just out of reach.

The ambience is tempered with a distinct tension, hinting at states of being that exist beyond life and daily routines. Gloom and despair are hardly keynotes to this traumatic soundtrack, but then neither does optimism play a factor in this nocturnal tuneage. The overall mood is one of awestruck anticipation, waiting for a revelation amid the nebulous zone of scant sensation.

This music is comparable to Controlled Bleeding in its unsettling ambience.

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JAMES JOHNSON: Minimum (double CDR on Atmoworks)

Sonic sedation is the raison d'etre for this double CDR from 2002.

Disk 1 delivers 59 minutes of fragile soundscapes in the form of a single track devoted to tranquil evocation. Languid tones drift with billowing movements, expanding to saturate the sky with their silky caress. Liquid washes of passive electronic tonalities lap at the edges of the listener's mind, dampening the cerebellum with sonic textures designed to soothe. Calmly channeled synthesizers express atmospheric moods with delicately sighing diodes. Placid piano offers a grounding effect, delineating melodic substance to the ethereal soundscape with slow-moving classical chords. These keys inject a voice of familiar humanity to the overall synthetic flow. Gradually, sampled ocean waves rise amid the serene mix, bringing with them the balmy touch of the sea, stirring primal aquatic memories in the audience's subconscious. The contrast between the artificial ether and the organic piano generates a union of these sonic realms, rallying traditional sensibilities with futurist temperaments to produce a striking state of vitalized minimalism. While hardly energetic, these piano strains achieve a substantial melodic guidance for the directionless atmospheric quality of the rest of the music.

Disk 2 offers 74 minutes of further sonic sedation, this time segregated into four longish tracks that flow seamlessly into each other. Again, fragile tonalities merge with languid piano passages to produce similar effect as on Disk 1. Stress and tension are washed away by the even-tempered soundscapes, replaced by an engrossing relaxation as the music fuses with the mental process of the audience. Sound and thought become united in a romantic embrace, the concepts flowing into each other and exchanging characteristics until there is little difference between the music and the mind. The piano strains grow more peaceful, attaining a state of cathartic rapport. Harmonies are born that are partially synaptic; ideas are created that consist of softly melodic essence. This time, the peaceful oceanic surf is replaced by the hiss of falling rain, evoking a haze of condensation which boosts the gentle music's humidity quotient.

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MR SOON: Places in Arizona (CD on Psychosomatic Records)

This 2002 release features 78 minutes of energized atmospherics.

The man behind Mr Soon is Joe Jakob, an Arizonian who has worked in collaboration with Native American Grammy Award winning artists Verdell Primeaux and Johnny Mike.

Here we have a blend of dreamy ambience with uptempo sensibilities. Instances of lively percussion pepper these atmospheric passages, motivating the melodies to comfortable agitation. Such rhythms are offered through both artificial and traditional means. Sometimes the beats are quite sterile and synthesized, cut in a distinct Autechre mode; other times the tempo is meted out via actual drums, often of ethnic, tribal design. Mixing the two results in some highly engaging rhythms: extremes married to produce a spiritual union of heritage and modernism.

While the electronics are reserved and solemn, voicing their tuneage through drifting tonalities and streams of fluid sound. The air is made to waver under this gentle sonic application, generating a sonorous mist that acts as a gate for the audience, conveying the listener to places in Arizona with excellent achievement (which is the point of this recording: to recreate desert aspects and locales with sonic structure).

Soft basslines rumble beneath this electronic foundation, attributing an earthiness to the ethereal strains. There are hints of zithers and other exotic instruments, each lending an astral quality to the mix. Overall, the balance of ground and air is expertly crafted, imbuing the music with a wholeness that encompasses a totality of environmental serenity.

Except for two longer tracks (8 and 18 minutes), these tracks are generally brief (averaging between 3 and 5 minutes), focused to succinctly elucidate their harmonies without undue elongation or repetition.

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