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The Rhythmic Ambience of Vir Unis

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During the late Nineties, Vir Unis (aka John Strate-Hootman) has attracted notoriety for his extremely ambient music. Now Unis has launched on a sonic path that is merging rhythms with atmospherics to produce a highly attractive style of ambience that bears little resemblence to other modes of this genre. His unique approach is destined to inspire much emulation among his peers.

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VIR UNIS: Mercury and Plastic (CDR on AtmoWorks)

This release from 2002 offers 76 minutes of rhythmic ambience.

Start with calming atmospheric tones that filter through vaporous clouds like beams of morning sunlight caressing the fluid surface of a deep ocean. Beats slowly emerge, lending the photonic trickle a personality quite different from the average ambience, empowering the flow with gentle rhythms that stir the soothing drones to evoke more than a vacant calm. Produced electronically, these beats exhibit little similarity to traditional or ethnic percussives...or even conventional E-perc. While snappy and often rapidly paced, the tempo is never hard or intrusive. This peaceful and often-complex pattering acts as a mild stimulant, lifting the soundscape to heights infused with an amiable energy.

Hidden in this streaming tranquillity are instances of subdued vibrancy that resound with restrained power. Not a furious, ceiling-scraping power, but a seething authority that smolders with the brilliance of distant stars. Occurring in conjunction are also noises that can only be compared to insect hordes: electronic termites gnawing at the edges of the sonic construction, chittering their message of eternal consumption. The blend of these insectoid nuances with the serene ambience and liquid rhythms produces a sound that is wholly unlike anything born-of-earth.

This music does an excellent job of capturing the sensibilities of shimmering mercury and dripping plastic and communicating such inorganic states to the flesh.

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VIR UNIS: Symbology (CDR on AtmoWorks)

This release from 2002 features 53 minutes of rhythmic ambience.

Intertwining gurgling atmospherics with subtle rhythms has become a signature style for Vir Unis. Doing it with such intriguing results is a talent, and one that Unis has superbly mastered.

This music immerses the listener in an environment of quasi-liquid consistency, one that is stratified with softly purring tempos of a luscious artificial nature. While pleasant tonalities embark on heavenly journeys through the sky, patters of increasingly engaging computer percussives accompany this drifting serenity, injecting an entertaining pep to the cerebral ambience. This fusion of groove with drone produces a refreshing sound, one that is entirely unique and thoroughly rewarding as the tranquillity becomes invigorated by the beats, transforming into a mutation of traditional ambient music.

Unis has a way of flavoring his electronic music with a scientific fascination that bridges abstract technology with deeply human sentiments, exploring man's curiosity from an external vantage that provides softly passionate enthusiasm and clinical insight. A bridge between emotion and intellect, a link that seaps deep into the psyche to tickle the audience's own inquisitive nature.

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JAMES JOHNSON & VIR UNIS: The Live Transmissions, Volume 1 (CDR on Atmoworks)

This release features 74 minutes of live electronic music.

Combine Johnson's atmospheric minimalism with Unis' groove-infused ambience. Send the pair on tour, performing sets for The Ambient Ping in Toronto and various radio broadcasts in Toronto, Wisconsin, and Chicago during 202. Now cull pieces from those concerts, and compile a live record.

Ambient tonalities hang in the air like gaseous serpents, undulating with languid motions and maintaining an ethereal foundation. Further electronic embellishment is generated in the form of secondary drones and sighing computer winds. Seesaw pulsations emerge in the gentle mix, counterpointed by softly whirring squeals and gurgling diodes.

Now add Unis' strangeling rhythms. Analog tempos and twisting beats and the hissing impacts of electrons. The velocity varies--from swift percussions (like rapid cybernetic rainfall) to soothing patters (like shifting sands striking a windscreen). Tempos and structures evolve throughout the tracks, producing lively patterns that become engaging in their soft definition. The beats possess ghostly substance that exhibit more than a subliminal presence.

Considering the versatility of computerized electronics, it is wholly refreshing to hear performers restrict their sound palette to unnatural sounds instead of recreating traditional instruments.

This music displays remarkable melodic qualities, establishing tuneage that is haunting and contemplative, but with a tasty oomph that energizes in a subtle manner.

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