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Ambient: Darshan Ambient, Ben Fleury-Steiner, Remanence, Rumfoskning

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DARSHAN AMBIENT: Re: Karma (CD on Lotuspike)

This release from 2005 features 73 minutes of energized ambience.

Darshan Ambient is Michael Allison.

An amount of the material on this CD comes from previous albums, with the exception of five previously unreleased older tracks and two new pieces, one of which is a collaboration with Jeff Kowal.

The music is a congenial blend of pastoral ambience and easygoing rhythmics, resulting in a mildly energized dose of comfortable electronics. Airy textures waft with relaxed demeanor, periodically goaded by sedate percussives. Keyboards produce friendly riffs that interweave with these pattering atmospherics, delivering tasty sedation tinged with a touch of vitality. This mixture of lull and pep can be most enthralling, as the minimalism is teased just enough by the soft beats to achieve a sonic presence that is suitably unintrusive yet delicately captivating.

Allison has a talent for establishing ethereal moods that evoke nature instead of astral panoramas. His compositions possess an earthy quality that sets his music apart from so many other ambient musicians who focus their sound stylings on introspective explorations of the inner mind. This music generates a subtle (but vibrant) connection between soul and environment.

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BEN FLEURY-STEINER: Drifts CD on Gears of Sand Records)

This CD from 2005 offers 60 minutes of lightly coarse ambience.

Combining shrill sounds with vaporous resonance, this music ventures just beyond the normal background aspect exemplified by most ambient compositions. While the tonalities never reach any degree of harshness, they are generally more piercing that conventional ambience. Mixed with fragile atmospheric swells, these grittier sounds are sedated, made more sympathetic. This union produces a curious temperance that is refreshing.

Mechanical grindings swim in a pool of shimmering clouds. Sparkling chords coexist with twilight drones. Bass gurgles penetrate swaying notes that vibrate with a peculiar luminosity. Playful diodes sigh in tandem with lavish textural spreads.

While normal ambient compositions take their time slowly evolving into a substantial presence, these tunes get right to the point, then embellish on their themes with engaging variations. With the exception of one twelve minute piece, the tracks average about five minutes in duration, suiting their compressed directness. This longer track pursues an unhurried path in the same mode, blending celestial passages with demonstrative punctuations in a manner that transcends time and space, resulting in an entertaining excursion into nebulous realms of slightly edgy disposition.

This release was mastered by ambient pioneer, Robert Rich.

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REMANENCE: A Strange Constellation of Events (CD on Mpath Records)

This CD from 2005 offers 63 minutes of pensive ambience.

Remanence is: John Phipps and Brian McWilliams, with Michelle McWilliams on recorder, and Carolyn Koebel on bowed gong, cymbals and ocean harp.

This music fuses technology with nature, blending deeply artificial textures with environmental samples. Radio signals drift alongside thunderheads of delicate tonalities, while insects and birds contribute their voices on the periphery of perception. The result is a gripping evocation of mankind and divinity, operating in conjunction to achieve a distinctly modern totality.

Flows of tenuous sound seep into being, oozing from silence into a delicate proximity that envelopes the listener with a sedate fog of pleasant resonance. Augmented by shakers, muffled beats creep into the mix, adopting a remote quality that would be tribal if not for their definite cerebral mien. Pulsations of an electronic character rise, breathing and shuddering to create a luscious expanse of seemingly limitless scope.

Effectively separated from reality in this manner, the audience is treated to mesmerizing atmospherics that delve deep into the psyche, tickling long-ignored synapses of relaxation. Stress melts away, swallowed by the power of these minimal passages.

Although keyboards play a vital role in this music, their presence is well-hidden by the manner in which they express themselves. Lavish chords are elongated and hang like phosphorescent mists overhead, providing a hypnotic environment for subtle flashes of understated electronics which cavort lazily like torpid fireflies.

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RUMFORSKNING: Fremtiden (CD on Data Obscura)

This CD from 2005 offers 66 minutes of icy ambience.

Rumfoskning is: Danny Kreutzfeldt and Mads Weitling.

A frigid quality permeates this music, perhaps stemming from its Denmark origins. Delicate atmospheric textures are laced with an icy disposition, frequently enhanced by subtle snappings that might have once been falling rain before they were electronically treated. An elusive surging can be discerned, as the ambience imperceptibly moves to and fro. Often, the chill manifests with more audible expressions, as if the tuneage is shivering from its own arctic mien.

This hypothermic quality displays itself in many ways, from shimmering textural clouds to frozen effects that accrete along the edges of these flowing ethereal moods. Grinding loops become crusted with polar attributes as they cycle into mesmerizing drones of crystalline deportment. Solitary impacts echo as if reaching across the frosted tundra.

In strict conjunction with the arctic nature of the music, the compositions accentuate this quality with sparse structure and staid delivery. The tonalities remain constant, varying ever so slightly as the tunes progress, as if the notes have fallen prey to the music's own chill. This unwavering resiliency generates a resonance that is durable and dependable.

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