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Ambient: Matt Borghi, Darkened Soul, M. Griffin, Northern Machine

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MATT BORGHI: Huronic Minor (CD on Hypnos Recordings)

This CD from 2008 features 72 minutes of minimal ambience.

Feathery electronics generate sublime expanses of calm, vast soundscapes that occlude the sky and bestow numbing tranquillity upon the listener.

Luxurious textures unfurl and fill the air with sweet resonance. Tenuous harmonics gently pulsate, releasing an infinite exhalation of delicate tonalities. The graceful flow is so steady that inhalations are almost imperceptible, masked by their own constancy. Hints of bell-tones seep through the effervescent clouds of rarefied sound, lending a celestial majesty to the sparse harmonics.

Swells of sustained tones permeate the environment, nullifying all tension and replacing stress with equanimity. Now that the audience’s mind has been wiped clean of agitation, Borghi’s harmonic structures enter to fill the psychic space, instilling their pacific stability on all neurons. Gentle pulsations establish ghostly suggestions of potentiality; it is the listener’s task to match this artificial quiet with meditative composure.

If you listen with all your might, you can detect whispers of keyboard chords, subtle and tender, as they ripple across the intangible surface of your cerebellum. Languid tones immerse everything with their balmy sonority, purifying and emotionally cleansing.

These compositions are extremely minimal, consisting primarily of dual tonal fields that drift, blend and coalesce with hardly any discernible transition. A mood of exalted peacefulness is generated which effortlessly oozes into the audience’s consciousness, pacifying and sedating.

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DARKENED SOUL: Bathys (CD on Hypnos Recordings)

This release from 2008 offers 51 minutes of dark ambience.

Darkened Soul is Mike Soucy.

Waves of ominous electronic textures surge forth, blotting out the sky and saturating the air until everything seethes with a moody temperament. A haunting demeanor pervades, plunging the mind into a dark abyss where the self no longer has any external referential perceptions.

Auxiliary tones infiltrate these murky soundscapes, enhancing their sense of sensory deprivation and heightening a mental purge on the part of the listener. Stripped of all light, the audience is forced to conjure their own impressions of reality. Some will populate the dark with deadly manifestations, but others will use the dark as a canvas for vibrant renewal, redefining life against a backdrop of dire desperation.

These tunes roil and pulsate with a power that is raw and primal. Periodic crashes of metal scraping against metal punctuate the harmonic flows, implying a distant conflict being enacted deep within the impenetrable murk.

While these compositions display a distinct darkness, their intent is not to instill gloom or despair; they seek to establish a sober vantage from which one can view the world with objectivity. Brooding harmonic expanses spawn introspection on a grand scale.

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M. GRIFFIN: Fabrications (CD on Hypnos Recordings)

This CD from 2008 offers 60 minutes of reprocessed environmental ambience.

All sounds on this album were derived from location recordings, like the Pacific Ocean, a steel sheet cutter, a waterfall, footsteps in a tunnel, a large electrical transformer, a jetliner cabin, running water, and a night-time walk on the beach. To achieve the music, signal processing was utilized. So...the tunes are harmonic constructions without peppy melodies of discernible rhythms.

The pieces are moody soundscapes, possessing environmental hints amid fogs of serene sounds. Textural layers undulate to achieve an atmospheric demeanor punctuated by additional tones and effects. Those additional elements maintain a soporific character, gentle and ephemeral, waves that cascade with languid substantiality.

These natural tonalities retain little of their original presence, having been transformed into a series of resonant aspects that exude an otherworldly disposition. The sounds drift like vaporous configurations, blending with each other to engender fragile oscillations. These oscillations waft with breathy delivery, generating an expansive aerial tide of softly roiling emanations.

A softly grinding (periodically rotary) sound provides an edgy undercurrent to some of the tracks, establishing an eerie presence.

These harmonic compositions are ethereal and often elusive. Their flow is evenly crafted with appropriate highs and lows generating an emotional mien. Example: the “Gravity” track, while airy and tenuous, exhibits a distinct sonic pressure that approximates weight. The delicate sensibilities embodied in this music are temperate and soothing, delivering an ambience rich with sedative properties that at the same time produce a subtle psychic invigoration.

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This release from 2007 features 100 minutes of edgy ambience.

Northern Machine is: Pat Gillis and Bill Warford.

Disc 1 features a selection of ambient pieces that follow the night from moonrise to moonset. The mood is generally temperate with a slight seasoning of creepy omens that gradually adopt a more optimistic edge as dawn nears.

Languid textures establish a dreamy foundation for mildly growling electronics and sedately tingling slide guitar notes. Fragile structures of elongated chords waft without much deviation, evoking nocturnal atmospheric punctuated by haunting tonalities. Mechanical sounds are subdued to the point that they rumble with an earthy resonance, as if gigantic gears grind deep under the soil. The twilight air responds with its own complimentary vaporous drone.

A few pieces shrug off the atonal motif and blossom with repressed electronic rhythms chugging along with a calm determination. The introduction of forlorn guitar effects lends an elusive tension to one song.

While another track (a 23 minute epic) introduces an astral presence to the twinkling ambience, employing softly gurgling diodes to conjure a swampy evening unspoiled by the use of environmental samples. The mood progresses from churning minimalism to a percolating dose of dire expectancy.

Things get a little more grim on disc 2, as the ambience takes an even darker turn. A level of stress exists here, made all the more unnerving by its seething restraint.

This music remains mostly harmonic, flourishing in widespread expressions of unbound sedation. Eerie textures provide gloomy pastiches littered with nervous metallic scrapings and subdued mechanical wails and even one instance of muted bongos.

The compositions on disc 1 are a soothing blend of machinery and heart, designed to express gentle lassitude with a touch of anticipation lurking in the rarefied mix. While disc 2’s offerings inject a sense of anxiety into that anticipation.

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