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Ambient: Neil Campbell, Nautic Depths, Steve Rose

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NEIL CAMPBELL: Ghost Stories (CD on Neil Campbell Music)

This release from 2008 features 39 minutes of haunting ambience.

Joining guitarist Campbell is Michael Beiert (on electronics) and Anne Taft (on voice).

Acoustic guitar combines with electronic soundscapes to conjure a spectral vista. Female vocals of a non-lyrical nature establish an organic presence in this misty realm.

The guitar contributes gentle strumming that accretes into romantic melodies of delicate character. While the chords are often nimble-fingered, a level of sedation is maintained by the complex string undulations.

The electronics are often faint, functioning as an ethereal backdrop. At times they peer through the mix, revealing an atmospheric soundscape of haunting demeanor. Subtle gurglings, shuddering oscillations and flowing breezes can be detected.

The vocal effects are quite classical in character, embodying a melancholic embellishment to the serene tuneage.

These compositions are an affable mixture of peaceful elements. The guitar ascertains a tender disposition of glistening depth. The electronics provide an ephemeral foundation that is imbued with a sense of humanity by the lilting voice. This combination generates a stirring mood of ghostly presence shorn of any ominous or scary aspects. An endearing nostalgia for lost loved ones is communicated with no trace of grief or sadness.

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NAUTIC DEPTHS: North Passage (CD on Musical Philosophy)

This CD from 2008 offers 59 minutes of moody ambience.

Nautic Depths is: Mathias Grassow and Thomas Weiss.

Delicate atmospherics are the fundamental basis for this music. Surging textures and airy tones waft to create auralscapes of almost frigid temperament.

Tenuous electronics establish a stark presence that reeks of expansive vistas of emptiness. Resonant tonalities formulate harmonic flows that remain undisturbed by the periodic rise and fall of auxiliary sounds, most of which are equally insubstantial and crafted as hints more than demonstrative elements. A palpable density is achieved by these rarefied sonic aspects.

The sighing of spectral flutes are carried on artificial winds. Imaginary beats sound just beyond hearing, audible only by suspicion. Environmental recordings make similar obscure appearances, muted to the point of influence rather than definition.

These compositions are wholly ethereal, eliciting emotion responses by stimulating the cortex far beneath conscious awareness. Their vaporous substantiality is harmonic, ephemeral, often barely discernible. Recordings like this serve to function as options to silence, providing the listener with subconscious stimulus.

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STEVE ROSE: Twin Earth (CD on Steve Rose Music)

This release from 2008 features 62 minutes of harmonic ambience.

On five of the seven tracks, Rose plays synthesizers; on the remaining two songs, he plays guitars.

The first guitar piece is entirely atmospheric, featuring languid soundscapes of cloudlike fragility that sashay to and fro while subdued guitar notes pitter in the background, establishing the hint of a rhythmic presence. The second guitar piece acts as the album's finale, and here the guitar expressions are more conventional as moderate electrified strumming generates a heavenly rapture.

The electronics are styled in similar textural fashion. Airy tonalities provide vaporous foundations for additional tones and gently sweeping pulsations. Harmonic flows muster to form billows of ephemeral consistency. Calming and shimmering in nature, the sounds are delicately crafted.

This music exemplifies a balanced fusion of drifting harmonics and melodic layers. The overall gist is one of strictly ambient tranquillity.

One piece features passive percussion relegated to a remote vantage where the faint beats serve as subliminal embellishment for the swaying tonalities. Another track establishes liquid tempos with a bubbling effect amid pleasantly shrill chords of crystalline demeanor.

The compositions are serene and thoughtful, designed to instill a dreamy state of mind. This music expertly banishes tension, transporting the listener to environs of contagious relaxation.

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