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Ambient: Apollonius & 33 Tetragammon, Pearson Constantino, Max Corbacho, Forrest Fang's Sans Serif

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APOLLONIUS & 33 TETRAGAMMON: Core (CD on Resonating Earth)

This release from 2010 offers 73 minutes of minimal ambience.

Apolonius (aka Human Metronome) is Eelke van Hoof. 33 Tetragammon is Wasili Papadopoulos. Sound sources were taken from soft synths, singing bowls, bamboo flutes, and field recordings.

This blend of electronics and primitive instruments embodies a very earthy sound, harnessed to express auralscapes of tenuous ambience.

Minimal tonalities waft and unfurl, spreading into expansive fogs that are embellished by sparse environmental samples and hints of winsome flute. While generally harmonic in structure, these texturals sometimes allow traces of melody to sneak out, albeit in a fashion so elongated that they defy immediate identification.

Grinding tones smolder with under-expressed density, seeping to occupy every niche of the environs and saturate everything with their subliminal churning power.

Flutes introduce an organic flair to the otherwise abstract flow, allowing fragile melodies to filter through the vaporous milieu and stir imagery of ancient cultures. Meanwhile, the singing bowls insinuate haunting countenance into the ambient soundscapes with their otherworldly resonance.

These sedate electronics create a fertile territory for the listener's psyche to elaborate upon the minimal definition, conjuring phantasms, illusions, aspirations, or introspection--whatever lies dormant in the audience's collective mind.

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This release from 2011 offers 42 minutes of fragile ambience.

Joining Constantino (who plays guitar, drums, berimbau, coil drum, fender bass, an 808, a lot of reverb abuse, and piano) are: Helen Gassenheimer (on voice and fiddle) and Michael Doctor (on electric trumpet).

While there is infrequent percussion, most of this music falls into the ambient category in its minimal and airy nature.

Delicate guitar stylings drift on layers of sparse electronics. Textural guitar sustains unfurl and hang in the air, shimmering and enticing in their elegant intangibility. Constantino does inventive things with these nearly insubstantial tonalities, deriving a glistening mood with subliminal oscillations.

Atmospheric tones establish a dreamy milieu which is then seasoned by the tenuous applications of the other instruments, most of which are so whispery as to cleverly blend into the music's overall flowing temperament.

The presence of drums is brief and tends to enhance the serenity by marking a quirky counterpoint to the dominant ambience.

These compositions are dedicated to enforcing a sedate seclusion from reality, coaxing the listener into a peaceful realm where fragile sounds instill a sense of relaxation. Everything is understated, achieving a mood of elusive definition.

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MAX CORBACHO: Deep Time (DDL on AD21 Music)

This release from 2011 offers 74 minutes of sparkling ambience.

Three tracks comprise this release, and they are long, really long, allowing the songs to gradually evolve and excellently establish a mood of cosmic infinity.

Atmospheric tones dominate the first piece, creating a panorama of limitless scope that suits the tenuous music's sparse definition. Scattered throughout this void are fragile electronics that twinkle like remote stars, tantalizing the flow with their cosmic expressions. Deeper tones slowly enter the mix, establishing a foundation that is elusive and not really a foundation at all, but simply another stage in the constant accretion of sounds that muster to coalesce into these ambient soundscapes. The twinkling diodes persist in resurging, each time bringing with them another taste of infinity. The flow remains harmonic, never achieving any discernible melody, but the structure is rich with vaporous potency. Spoken voice wanders into the mix, whispered at the edge of forever and heralding the advent of a universe to come.

The second track possesses a darker temperament to its minimal definition. The notes strive to inject more density into the gaseous stream, an impending mass that is seasoned by the persistence of those twinkling electronics. As the track progresses, the sparkling embellishments grow more expressive, producing a zone of transition that illuminates the inner mind with their portentous glitter. After a period of recession, the flow reestablishes itself with renewed vigor, smoldering with chilly resonance.

The last track continues in the same vein: peppering remote texturals with twinkling electronics which serve to banish the dark and provide understated effulgence whose distant origins only increase their appeal. The twinkling rise and ebbs, teasing the listener's psyche with this wandering definition.

Taken as a whole, this album is a wonderful journey deep into realms where substance has no meaning. The compositions urge the listener to cast off their mortal trappings and immerse themselves in an environment devoid of distractions, while the twinkling continues to provide a lifeline that also serves to tickle the psyche into introspection and serenity.

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FORREST FANG'S SANS SERIF: Unbound (CD on Projekt)

This release from 2011 offers 57 minutes of extreme ambience.

According to veteran ambient musician Fang: "The Sans Serif project grew out of my interest in creating large-scale sonic environments from very small sounds." His success in this is immediately obvious, from the initial tenuous tonality, through to the endearing final harmonic.

Ethereal tones waft in and endure, lingering with shimmering results. The atmospherics are very high altitude, chilly and sparse, yet evocative and crisp. The mood is haunting, but in a wistful manner, inspiring longing and a fascination for the void.

The electronics are soft and delicate, pulsations whose lifespan is elongated into seemingly endless duration. Each electronic breath is tantalized by auxiliary tones that serve as subliminal embellishment, fleshing out the minimalist structure to a lush emotionally charged state without violating the music's inherent tranquil character.

Each subsequent track explores a different corner of this vast region of empty space, revealing surprising depth by examining clusters of immaterial formalization.

Constructed of layers of textural delicacy, this music exists just at the brink of the listener's attention, but does not go unnoticed by the cerebellum. Fang's use of minimal definition results in tuneage that barely exists, but those hardly noticeable drones achieve a lasting influence. This music is peaceful, yet intellectually stimulating.

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