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Ambient: Brian Parham, Nathan Youngblood

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BRIAN PARNHAM: Mantle (CD on SteveRoach.com)

This release from 2007 offers 74 minutes of earnest ambience.

Parnham is joined by Steve Roach who contributes atmospherics, drones, and harmonic waves on 6 of the CDís 12 tracks. Roach is also responsible for the production and assemblage of the music.

For all their atmospheric nature, these ambient tunes embody a geological quality, each composition securing a subterranean aspect with remarkable tenacity.

Fragile textures seep into audible stature, oozing with the eternal resolve of igneous formations. Additional textures accrete into auxiliary layers that merge with already extent tonalities, achieving an ephemeral density of atmospheric characteristics.

Tenuous electronics ebb in from the periphery, lending scope and tantalizing depth to the flow. Soft tones, remote bells, even more distant impacts of a feeble nature, elusive bubbling--all these sounds contribute to ornament the tunes with collateral distinction, while leaving the musicís ethereal presence undisturbed.

The pensive nature of this music excellently captures the lethargic nature of geological strata, transforming that torpidity into sonic auras of luxurious wonder. Moods of infinite range are generated which stimulate psychic activity far beneath the level of conscious awareness.

A few of the tracks possess a harsher mien, but even these remain subdued, establishing intensity through the temperate application of grating tonalities far enough removed to rob them of any aggression.

While more harmonic than melodic, these compositions exhibit a delicate beauty that transcends their minimal demeanor. This splendid resonance percolates deep into the consciousness, drenching synapses with a tranquilizing quality. Yet, hidden within those vaporous harmonics is a subtle invigoration whose effect can only be perceived on a mental level.

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NATHAN YOUNGBLOOD: Asunder (CD on SteveRoach.com)

This release from 2007 offers 64 minutes of dark ambience.

Harsh tonalities unfurl into soothing cloudscapes that tremble with vibrant promise. Auxiliary atmospherics seep into the mix, expanding the infinite range established by the seething ambience. Tenuous vibrations lurk in the distance, lending depth to the foggy substance.

Denser pulsations enter the flow, generating a translucent foundation that actually increases the music's airy character. These almost gritty textures accentuate a deconstructive disposition, as if the tunes are dissembling reality and revealing undercurrents of abstract harmonic definition.

In "Shearwave" (the CD's longest track, at twenty minutes), an artificial breathing seasons the brooding flow with a sense of anticipation. The tension does not mount, though, but remains steadfast and inescapable.

An edginess is present in these soundscapes that injects a distinct crispness to the music's smoldering mien. Enormous vistas are condensed until they fit into psychic space, where the captured fields expand to fill the mind.

These compositions may seem ethereal and calm, but they evoke a certain disquiet with their dark tones. Unrhythmic and more harmonic than melodic, these pieces generate isolation with ominous ease, obscuring reality with their roiling sonic mists.

Production, sonic enhancements, and mastering of this music was done by ambient maestro Steve Roach.

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