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Ambient: Erdem Helvacioglu, Robert Scott Thompson, Maarten van der Vleuten

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ERDEM HELVACIOGLU: Wounded Breath (CD on Aucourant Records)

This release from 2008 features 62 minutes of abstract noise.

Turkish sound sculptor Helvacioglu offers a selection of aural glimpses into unearthly environments with electronic sounds presented in atonal compositions.

While often employing severe electronic resonance, the results are generally passive with traces of escalation to denote emphasis. Each track is tailored to evoke specific notions.

Track 1: "Below the Cold Ocean." Squealing noises blend with the grating of mechanical rotors, somehow approximating a descent into dark waters. Blips of cybernetic fury occur, peppering the piece like cracks stretching across a hull fracturing under deep sea pressure.

Track 2: "Dance of Fire." Here, the harsh sounds are mixed with haunting textures, achieving a sense of ascension. Gritty scrapes travel through ruffled soil, launching into an austere sky that gradually brightens with ringing tones. Metallic clatters duel with the sounds of cloth rubbing together, the latter evolving through processing into a surging combustion.

Track 3: "Lead Crystal Marbles." A plethora of glass marbles are dropped, their impacts resounding through a valley of acrimonious runnels. Moody tonalities provide a counterpart to the erratic rhythms, while treatment's transform certain impacts into vibrant shuddering specters. A distention of spookiness is accomplished as auxiliary electronics embellish the impacting marbles.

Track 4: "Blank Mirror." Disassociation is produced by mixing abrasive mechanical sounds with spurts of harmonic tension. These contrasts collide again and again, each time rebounding with fresh tenor and generating a sense of emotional perspective.

Track 5: "Wounded Breath." Crisply compressed clanging travels through a zone of pulsations crafted to evoke desolation. This dark void envelopes everything, surrounding the traveler with harsh sounds that smother the present and plunge one into almost forgotten memories. A tension is accomplished, then eradicated as the piece emerges into a static-laden passage of liberation.

While possessing little in the way of even harmonic definition, these compositions are rich with passion. They communicate an organic detachment from reality, transporting the listener to a realm where abstract sounds embody emotional responses to the world left behind. As the music removes the audience from its native environment, its very strangeness strikes visceral chords with familiar aspirations and human conditions.

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This release from 2007 features 71 minutes of electro-acoustic music.

Electronic tonalities conspire with orchestral elements to produce moody atmospheric that embody classical and ambient sensibilities.

Haunting textures waft on sedate breezes. Electronic effects include: harnessed feedback, burbling diodes, and manipulated mechanical noises. These aspects surface periodically throughout the songs, only to submerge in a churning orchestral miasma. Actually, the electronics are mostly understated, remaining a subliminal factor in the tunes.

The music's major presence is orchestral. These contributions are generally harmonic, reminiscent of the period when an orchestra is tuning up, before they get to any definite melody. Sawing cellos mutter through cracks in the flow. Pensive woodwinds sigh in the distance or tweet with petulant emphasis. Ranks of violins moan softly, generating a protracted tension.

Percussion doesn't really play a major part in this tuneage, although chimes and bells are featured in an incidental manner, more as punctuations than as rhythms.

These compositions establish a moody ambience tinged with an intellectual air mainly attributable to the orchestral dominance throughout the pieces. This instrumentation tends to walk a fine line between ambient and abstract classic music, but the result is definitely a calming one with an undercurrent of cerebral agitation.

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ROBERT SCOTT THOMPSON: Frozen Light (CD on Aucourant Records)

This release from 2008 features 68 minutes of introspective ambient music.

Here, Thompson's instrumentation is more conventional to the ambient genre: delicately layered textures supporting rarefied keyboards.

Mellow tonalities of a minimal nature establish an airy disposition that fills an infinite vista. Keyboards provide the music's nucleus in the form of hesitantly expressed chords that stretch the tunes' definition beyond any harmonic stance but dally before straying too far into melodic territory. At times, the background drones accrue a stronger residence by swelling softly into a lush firmament.

Some notes achieve individuality by the prominence of their resonance amid the pacific tones. At times, hints of sounds originating from stringed instruments (like a harp) punctuate the flow.

While some percussion can be discerned, the beats are isolated and suppressed, rendering them barely noticeable. Solitary bell tones are frequently utilized, approximating momentary glimmers among the pastiche of frozen light.

These compositions exemplify an ambience designed to pacify the listener, maximizing the potential for introspection. Their peaceful harmonic demeanor is steadfast, without any mounting tension or drama. The CD's title is quite apt, for Thompson has adroitly harnessed fragile sounds to capture photonic displays petrified in a slow metamorphosis.

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MAARTEN VAN DER VLEUTEN: High Tolerance towards Low Energies (limited edition vinyl album on Tonefloat Records)

This release from 2008 features 38 minutes of abstract auralscapes.

Abstract soundscapes capture moods of our modern environment as viewed from a cosmic vantage.

A varied assortment of sounds are utilized in this recording, ranging from trembling bass frequencies to frenetic percussives to vocal samples of prayers, all spliced together to form a pastiche that leaves the listener edgily nervous yet strangely relaxed. The sounds are interwoven to generate a seething wall of sonics designed to evoke a compression of the world around us, presented amid eerie electronics that act as glue holding everything together.

Pulsations ooze through a miasma of assembled samples, masking the nature of individual pieces and creating a conglomerate that merges ambient and industrial sensibilities.

Snippets of muttered prayers and resonant singing serve to inject a human element into the music. Random rhythms surface throughout, lending a hint of tribal influence.

These compositions reside in a crevice between atonal and minimally harmonic. Sparse definition serves to enhance the individual elements, meshing them together into an auralscape of deviously deceptive distinction. While the aspects are tenuous, their union produces a vividly amorphous mood of sedation.

This album comes pressed onto 180gms of sturdy vinyl and in a gatefold sleeve.

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