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Contemplative Ambience: Bruno Sanfilippo, Steve Roach

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BRUNO SANFILIPPO: Auralspace (CD on AD21 Music)

This release from 2009 offers 72 minutes of soft ambience.

So many ambient releases strive to achieve a stratospheric air, but this one actually focuses on a tranquillity that exists all around us at ground-level.

Pacific drones coalesce but remain tenuous and vapory, never reaching a real density. These atmospherics mimic the air we breathe. Faint rattlings and wispy whistles hint at an ethereal realm that coexists with our material world.

Expansive tones create languid ripples in the fabric of reality. Subtle percussion, muted by distance, emerge from the electronic fog, soon followed by sighing electronics that lend an illusionary substance to the milieu. Some of the sounds used to punctuate the fog are, in fact, quite corporeal (in a drastically understated manner). Vibrating pulsations twinkle in the pleasant murkiness, guiding the listener through the haze, leading the way to deeper regions of introspection.

Bird noises lurk within the gentle whistles, blending aspects of the real world with the coexistent realm of psychic space. A union of outer and inner territories is achieved with delicate fusion.

Sanfilippo's compositions flavor a harmonic presence with melodic traces, elusive but tangible enough to stimulate the listener's cerebellum. Auxiliary electronics wafting in the sedate flow coax the mind from a state of rest into subtle cognitive activity.

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STEVE ROACH: Dynamic Stillness (double CD on Projekt)

This 2009 CD offers 146 minutes of extreme tranquillity.

Languid textures unfurl into sonic structures of expansive proportion, filling the sky with their moody definition. As these drones undergo gradual pulsations, additional tones enter the panorama to season the flow with subtle fluctuations.

These tenuous electronic formations are subject to continuous progression, steadily evolving in ways that are often too gossamer to readily discern. Long passages ensue in which things do not seem to change. You space out at one point, only to surface later and find yourself cocooned in ambience of a completely different certification.

As these complacent electronics drift and commingle, territories of vast potential are generated. The ethereal harmonic layers are constant in their elusive quality, maintaining a sense of intense fragility.

A gritty character lurks deep within some of these soundscapes, an edginess immersed in the severe tranquillity that serves to goad consciousness from its vacuity and instill a peaceful alertness.

While excruciatingly minimal in constitution, these compositions possess definite body and verve. Their sparse nature tends to seep and saturate, expanding inside the head into lavish auralscapes of psychic vitality.

This music foreshadows momentous revelations ahead, but the epiphanies are not found in the tuneage. They lie within the listener's own capacity; the soundscapes serve as the trigger to unlock depths beyond introspection.

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