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Ambient: Aarktica, Max Corbacho, Kyron, Bruno Sanfilippo

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AARKTICA: In Sea (CD on Silber Records)

This release from 2009 features 56 minutes of guitar ambience.

Aarktica is Jon DeRosa on guitar, bass, pump organ, and vocals.

A variety of guitar impressions are used to achieve a gentle ambience. Some of these sounds stand alone with minimal embellishment, while others are conjunctive, meshing together to form layered auralscapes.

Delicate guitar stylings are created in which the chords cascade over each other in a waterfall of softly glistening sound, the notes losing their individuality and forming a fluid presence.

Sustained guitar is relegated to form an infinite expanse of somber vapor. Or becomes processed until the strings lose their stringed identity and flow like a sluggish fluid. These evocations bend and sway to generate immobilized movement. Often, mellow chords unfurl to form secondary layers that lend gentle passion to the flow.

Sometimes the guitar achieves an intensity that is jarring but remains languid.

The soft resonance of a pump organ is manipulated so tenuously that its issue oozes forth in limitless sighs. This type of mellifluous pulsation serves as a frequent environment through which guitar stylings slither.

In two instances, a guitar is strummed in a conventional manner, releasing vibrant chords that pull at the heart in tandem with melancholic crooning.

In another track, a bass supplies the source for similar (but low) resonance.

These pieces all exhibit a rarefied harmonic substantiality as they describe sparsely melodic compositions. Pensive moments are captured and transformed into delicate snippets of sound which effectively pass along the original contemplative sentiment to the listener.

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MAX CORBACHO: Ars Lucis (CD on AD21 Music)

This release from 2009 offers 74 minutes of regal ambience.

Corbacho plays sequencing, synthesizers, and atmospheres.

Ethereal electronics achieve a stately presence that remains rich with sedative properties.

Vaporous textures unfurl to fill the chamber, then undulate to bring these attenuated layers into endearing contact with each other, merging to produce a delicate density that retains a demonstrative softness.

All of the auxiliary electronics share this mellow touch. Twinkling with crystalline beauty, the tones reverberate with an airy character as if the sounds themselves can convey an airborne buoyancy.

Although melodic hints lurk within the fluid mix, this music relies mainly on harmonic structure to achieve its idyllic dreaminess.

While these compositions embody a discriminating celestial flair, their expansive presence is imbued with a divine elegance that excellently captures the awe inspired by viewing cathedral architecture (which from the song titles we learn is the albumís general topic). The simplicity involved is quite deceptive, for what seems to be sparse is in actuality a lavish compendium of gentle pulsations. These lucid creations divulge majestic splendor with each tenuous passage.

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KYRON: Union (CD on Black Note Music)

This release from 2009 offers 64 minutes of noisy ambience.

Kyron is Juan Carlos Mendizabal.

Aspects of ambient, ilbient and tribal music are blended to create an eerie auralscape. of pacific character.

Portions of this music began as a live recording of a semi-traditional Jewish wedding ceremony held in Yosemite National Park. Samples were extracted from the wedding ritual and environmental sounds, then these fragments were remixed and extended to become the music on this disc.

The electronics are a blend of atmospheric and ilbient, combining tenuous electronic tonalities with glitchy noises. Moody pulsations waft on high breezes, establishing an airy milieu that is frequently disrupted by gritty punctuations that serve to season the flow with jarring intrusions.

More traditional (almost rock) elements are present throughout the music; drum rhythms and exotic string instruments and bells all contribute an oomph that elevates the tuneage out of a passive mode while attempting to remain loyal to the nucleus presentation of an ambient composition. The result is ethereal stretches interspliced with industrial distractions.

These compositions feature extremely minimal harmonic passages laced with conflicting tempos and harsh embellishments that serve to destroy any soothing effects, ultimately achieving a cacophony of edgy noise. Hints of melody struggle to surface amid this morass, but they are invariably overwhelmed by the dissonant nature of the music.

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BRUNO SANFILIPPO: Piano Textures 2 (CD on AD21 Music)

This CD from 2009 features 51 minutes of gentle ambient music.

As implied by the releaseís title, the principle instrument here is a grand piano (a model 1923 Steinway D, to be exact). The latter has been sampled, and the notes are accompanied by electronically generated atmospheres. The result, as one might expect, is ambience seasoned by classical influences.

Sanfilippo plays gentle Steinway chords that linger with a congenial sovereignty. The melodies pursue an extremely relaxed temperament with each expression isolated by reverent pauses (which are suitably filled with languidly drifting texturals).

The electronics are primarily tenuous, establishing vaporous environs not unlike the mists that cloak a beach in the dawn hours. These tonalities engulf the music in translucence, a luster delicately penetrated by the piano notes.

Some of the atmospherics exhibit a suppressed grittiness reminiscent of distant electrical currents crackling in an open field. For the most part, though, the ambience remains moderate and courteous.

The compositions are ethereal yet compelling. While most ambient music relies entirely on the ebb and flow of harmonic auralscapes, these songs employ a melodic structure generated by the piano keys. Those melodies are then enhanced into pleasant phantasms by the conjunctive application of soft tones. The fragile compositions evoke moods the exact nature of which are wholly derived from the mind of the listener.

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