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Mask: Sonja Kristina and Marvin Ayres

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Sonja Kristina was the innovative vocalist with Curved Air and Acid Folk. Marvin Ayres is a composer and cellist who has gained critical renown as an ambient producer. Together, they form Mask, a collaboration of thrilling proportions.

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MASK: Heavy Pedal (CD on Mandalic Records )

This CD from 2005 features 61 minutes of mystical ambient music laced with compelling vocals.

On one hand, this music is deeply classical, with dense layers of cello and violin which produce a distinctly cerebral mien. These string passages evoke mystic realms that leak from the concert hall location, decorating the streets with spectral features.

On another hand, Kristina's heavenly vocals generate an eerie presence that elevates folkish roots to a cosmic terrain. Her voice is crystalline and airy, expansive while targeting specific synapses of the brain. And when her crooning takes a lyrical turn, that voice swells to majestic proportion, rich and passionate.

Meanwhile, other instruments (acoustic and electric guitar and keyboards and versatile sampling and percussives) contribute heavily to flesh out these prior ethereal elements into music of mesmerizing quality. The guitars establish a pastoral flair with light strumming that subtle treatments convert into a celestial disposition. The keyboards expel clouds of vaporous chords that immerse the compositions in an energetic fog. A variety of samples fill available niches with subtle effects, escalating the music's already divine demeanor. Percussion is infrequent and soft, providing soothing tempos that drift like a skin on a sober pool of liquid.

Listeners are drawn into the protagonists' blossoming relationship with smooth expertise. By the end of the tale, the audience will feel as if Jack and Virginia are old friends and everyone will hope to witness the emotional accomplishment of their spiritual unity.

The compositions are ambient in nature, with periodic oomph that lift the tunes to a delicate altitude while maintaining the overall dreamy nature of the songs. Serious structure combines with romantic moods to achieve an engaging dose of weightless tranquillity that possesses a demonstrative presence of humanity.

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