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Ambient Collaborations: Byron Metcalf & Dashmesh Khalsa & Steve Roach, Parallel Worlds & Alio Die, Bruno Sanfilippo & Mathias Grassow, 33 Tetragammon & Human Metronome

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This release from 2010 offers 73 minutes of percussive ambience.

Metcalf plays frame drums, djembes, doumbek, udu, clay pot, bass drums, various ethnic percussion, and voice. Khalsa plays didgeridoo, tabla, and hapi drum. Roach plays analog and digital soundworlds, loops, processing, eurorack analog modular system, bullroarer, and Australian field recordings. They are joined on a few tracks by: Becca Barbanell (on didgeridoo) and Daniel Hirtz (on tabla).

Percussives of a muted nature establish a tribal presence that is often languid, sometimes a tad more forceful--but always hypnotic. The beats are studious, rarely frenzied, generating rhythms that coax the spirit with equal verve as they motivate the feet. Tempos build into mesmerizing passages rich with an infectious flair.

An ethereal air is instigated by didgeridoo, establishing haunting moods that shudder and oscillate with eerie resonance. This Australian aboriginal instrument evokes cloudless nights stretching above a desolate landscape, fitting perfectly with the primal rhythms.

Atmospheric electronics are applied to generate a ghostly medium for the other instruments. These textures waft with tenuous definition, elusive yet highly effective to the task of transporting the listener to a cerebral realm.

Periodically the electronics swell to a substantial presence that allows harmonic melodies to ooze forth, swamping the rhythms in a delightful way.

These compositions walk a fine line between primitive ceremonies and a flowing inducement for contemplation. The rhythmic music is tastefully seasoned with dreamlike sounds in the form of sighing didgeridoos and sinuous electronics, resulting in a bewitching conglomeration of ancient and modern sentiments.

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PARALLEL WORLDS & ALIO DIE: Circo Divino (CD on Hic Sunt Leones)

This release from 2010 offers 54 minutes of gritty ambience.

Parallel Worlds (aka Bakis Sirros) plays Doepfer A100, Serge, AS Integrator, Metalbox/CGS modulars, 4-Voice, VCS3, string machines, tape echoes, tone and CV generators, wave shapers, and modifiers. Alio Die (aka Stefano Musso) plays drones and loops, zither, carillon, effects, and treatments. They are joined on three tracks by India Czajkowska (on voice and effects).

Sophisticated electronics offer a host of dense textures and alluring pulsations which serve to establish a haunting realm of dreamlike consistency. Cycles are set up and then teased by auxiliary oscillations into mutant versions of themselves.

Further drones and treatments flourish amid this ambient pastiche. The result is tuneage that is packed with subtle surprises, but none of these agitations manage to be too jarring, serving only to intensify the eeriness.

Vocal effects occur throughout the tuneage, the lilting feminine crooning lending a human presence to the otherwise spectral milieu.

A touch of controlled cacophony is present as muffled impacts and growling noises swell within the mix, contributing a gritty character to the flowing ambience. Wind chimes chitter deep in the mix along with a variety of inventive effects.

The compositions are sedate and thoughtful, yet possess a seething undercurrent that will stimulate consciousness in demonstrative ways. While the majority of this music is harmonic in nature, there are instances in which melodic elements are elusively perceptible, periodically making themselves tantalizingly apparent beneath the surface. The pace is smooth yet steadfast, generating a luxuriant mood frequently flavored by enticing weirdness.

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BRUNO SANFILIPPO & MATHIAS GRASSOW: Cromo (Piano & Drones) (CD on AD21 Music)

This release from 2010 offers 62 minutes of ambient piano music.

Delicate piano melodies blend with controlled drones to produce tuneage of a highly relaxing nature.

Sanfilippo settles down and lets his fingers caress the ivories, coaxing forth languid chords that sinuously undulate into soothing melodies. The music is soft and personal, drawing the listener into a realm of crisp piano expressions which incite pleasant moods. The songs are restrained and consist mainly of gentle notes that glisten as they drift on the air.

Meanwhile Grassow applies crafted drones to the melodies, generating layers of atmospheric moodiness which hangs shimmering in the background. These texturals enhance the traditional piano melodies with their ethereal embellishment, flavoring the recital medium with the modern touch of tenuous electronics.

The last track is a long one, allowing the music to unfurl at a calm pace and gradually evolve into variations of gentle character.

These compositions achieve a lovely temperament, combining classical keyboards with electronic enhancement in a very tender manner. An introspective disposition is created that seeps into the listener's cortex and smoothes the cerebral folds into a mental landscape of high serenity.

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33 TETRAGAMMON & HUMAN METRONOME: Spectral Solitude (DDL on Resonating Earth)

This release from 2009 offers 59 minutes of atmospheric soundscapes.

33 Tetragammon (aka Wasili Papadopoulos) and Human Metronome (aka Eelke van Hoof) manipulate sounds sources taken from synthesizers, Tibetan bowls, guitars, and environmental recordings.

Electronics, sacred instruments and environmental recordings are employed to achieve gentle soundscapes that combine modern intentions with sentiments from cultures long forgotten.

Ambient textures establish expansive vistas of tenuous resonance that are then punctuated by meteorological incidents, resulting in environments that blend the familiar with the unearthly.

Additional ambience is contributed by Tibetan bowls, layering the harmonic music with eerie tones that strike a chord deep in the human soul.

The guitars are so extremely processed as to be unrecognizable as stringed instruments. They issue elongated tonalities that are vaporous and elusive.

These compositions are eminently intangible. Ambient soundscapes like this feature minimal melodies, being primarily harmonic devices to generate passive moods in the listener. The flow is intentionally unintrusive, designed to function as an environmental backdrop. Barely noticeable on a conscious level, their main influence is subliminal.

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33 TETRAGAMMON & HUMAN METRONOME: Universal Ripples (DDL on Resonating Earth)

This release from 2010 offers 73 minutes of atmospheric soundscapes.

Not unlike the previous release, this album exemplifies heightened ambience. Electronics are utilized in subdued fashion to establish very fragile harmonics that, once they are generated, hang in the air like a tenacious fog.

Tones are generated, then allowed to run free, filling space with their ephemeral definition. Variations occur with sneaky regularity, barely observed as the tuneage progresses in its homogeneous constitution.

Dreamy flutes breathe delicate embellishment into the flowing tones. While these threads are sometimes prominent, they often are submerged in the overall drone, becoming a subliminal effect.

A muted grinding presence seems to churn just beneath the music's surface, triggering ancestral emotional responses from a primordial age.

These compositions are steady state entities, crafted to act as mood enhancers that will reduce stress and open the mind to contemplative pursuits.

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