bigover.gif A mid-summer mish-mash of releases from across the spectrum. Think of it as an ambient/electronic yard sale with lots of esoteric items through which to browse... or, at any rate, enjoy.

Golana: Walk Between Worlds   (Oginali Productions - 1999) (7.5)
It would be easy for anti-new-age critics to besmirch the pretty, slightly Native American-influenced flute/synth melodies of Walk Between Worlds (why, even I was tempted at first to smirkily refer to the flute pasages as "Zamfir-goes-Cherokee")... but the fact of the matter is that Scott Cunningham and friends have fashioned a beautifully serene state of musicality. Dreaming With You includes harp and light background vocals which add an extra plaintiveness to its heart-tugging strains. Lazily-strummed acoustic guitar and soft chants reinforce that The 7th Direction is heading out west.

I notice the tracks (except for two featuring light beats) tend to be free of tribal drumming elements, and overall are too refined to really evoke my own preconceptions of the dirt and grittiness that would accompany a rugged, outdoor existence, but these pieces are more about spirit than grit. Golana's sounds are camped square in Ethnic/New Age territory, but obviously serious in execution and very nicely produced. Of course, genrefication issues aside, one can always listen with ears in ambient mode. Perhaps the best route would be to simply click on over to the Oginali website where you can listen and decide if Walk Between Worlds is for you.

horchata: integral   (zero 1 media - 1998) (8.8)
Grittily pumped-up electronic encapsulations form this dark, electroactive ten-pack of lovely industrio-decadence. The faintly grinding organ haze of ash is enmeshed in slow clattery beats and a bio-mechanical purr, all combining into an oozing groove (or would it be a grooving ooze?). Eerie tar is swathed in spookshow drifts and clatters backed by rhythmic bursts and e-drumming.

Mechsplosive eruptions and coarsely screeching feedback scrapes the growling synth groove in the darkly noisy, yet spirited molt. Expect a sprinkling of melancholia as rain is misted in moody soundwaves which evolve into the softly resonant hum of electrons, all to a rather lovely sense of desolation. The radiant drift of soil is accented by bell-like tones and clanky metallic sounds which prettily evolve into a nice little semi-atonal melody. Definitely recommended; contact zero 1 media to bring this most listenable chaos into your home. I look forward to hearing what Michael Palace creates next.

human mesh dance: thesecretnumbertwelve   (12k - 1997) (9.2)
Muted, hazy (and occasionally lightly beaty) atmospheres create a truly mood-altering state of electronic ambience. Ranging from the computerized, techno-tribal wanderings of thesecretnumbertwelve to the prolonged droning electron cloud of floating point (16:40) to the muffled xylophon-iness of in pools (3:22), the sounds tend to float at a blessedly slow pace. I can just melt to this stuff...

Really deserves the full-length treatment, but just recently sold out (and *may* be the last HMD release...), so you'll have to catch it where you can. And of course, see this month's interview with Taylor Deupree...

Francisco Lopez: Addy en el pais de las frutas y los chunches   (ND - 1997) (8.3)
Incorporating Costa Rican field recordings of 1995's tropical rainy season, Francisco Lopez is definitely unafraid of using silence as sound. The title track (at 14:24, the shortest of the three pieces) translates to Addy in the land of fruits and thingummyjigs, juxtaposes long periods of quiet ambience with torrential downpours; rain, thunder, and insect sounds rather suddenly cut away, leaving a swirling cosmic void, which eventually cuts to almost silence. Turn up the volume if you want to hear the genuinely sub-audible dronemix which continues throughout the 25-minute entirety of Pilocónsor, tres mitocondrias y la lucha por el líquido emporante (meaning Pilocónsor, three mitochondria and the fight for the emporant liquid). Buzzing flys and a muted pulse fill the first two minutes of Nuevas venturas del gusan medidor Gimniginniggmnig en las montañas de Escazú (known to gringos as New adventures of Gimniginniggimnig, the measuring worm, in the Escazú mountains). The 18-minute piece slowly evolves from a hushedly seething mass to a slightly louder seething mass being swept by steady winds, then minutes later drenched in a watery flood of soundwash.

Malfunction: Into the Vortex   (Self-Released - 1999) (8.1)
A certain amount of old-school techno aesthetics (a'la Eat Static, or early Orbital) infiltrate the delerious, beaty world of Jim Trotter, whose Malfunction project stirs up a whirling tornado of electronically pounding tunage. Read more about it at the Malfunction website.

Be it the fluid fibrillations of Optical Illusion (part 1 and part 2), the lighter-then-darker, hypnotic bleeps and beats of Freewill or the aggro-trance-rhythmics of Electro Ski Bath (short), these pieces are definitely brimming with D.I.Y. spunk, and stylistic tricks which could have come straight out of Europe ten years ago. I'd be remiss if I didn't note the self-explanatorily titled My Head Felt Like It Was Going To Explode, whose two parts equal 13.5 minutes of joyously exploratory noise.

Panasonic: Kulma   (Mute/Blast First - 1997) (8.4)
What is normally considered "techno" often doesn't have a fraction of the "Tech" found in this extremely electronic offering from Finlanders, Panasonic (as they called themselves at the time of release; later they were forced to remodel their name to Pan Sonic, assumedly to avoid major lawsuits...). Microscopic minimalism, hissingly energized drones and grungy electrical noise are directed into surprisingly musical structures. In Rutina, electro-hum and static glitches become a "naturally" rhythmic pattern, and a catchy one at that. For nearly 10 minutes, Moottori buzzes, thrums and generally rocks... a literal "power" trip. Kulma will be too rough for some ears, but a diamond for others.

kurt ralske: kyrie eleison   (miau-miau international - 1999) (8.1)
kurt ralske may be familiar to some as the man behind 4AD's Ultra Vivid Scene , though his new sound admittedly "inhabits a very different musical realm, and fans of UVS should not expect to find anything to do with the past here -- only the future." The three long (13:49 - 25:17) pieces of kyrie eleison, originally recorded in 1997, tend to simply radiate, pulsate and emanate. The swirling, gauzey emissions of kyr: eleis flutter and fluctuate in long electronic streams, occasionally taking on a choral hue. Almost imperceptible shifts occur during yri: leiso's extended electronic emissions which virtually hover through your earspace. Long-runner rie: eison seems to mix an addtional layer of depth into its lengthy strands, with ghost-like activity possibly occuring between... or perhaps this is simply some mind-trick put into motion by sonic hypnotism?

For those into minimalistically subtle e-drones, 53 minutes of kyrie eleison may entrance you into that practically flatlined mode of transcendance. (On the other hand, if you're the less-patient listener, waiting for "something" to "happen", you may become rather bored...) You can learn more, and listen, at the miau-miau international website, and tune in next month when we review yet another Ralkse identity, Cathars.

Various Artists: Ambient Systems   (Instinct - 1995) (8.5)
Truly assorted ambience from just a few years back. In addition to the softly wandering pulsations of adham shaikh's 11:11 windgate (16:14), I particularly enjoy the spaciously airy drone of his other contribution, spectrum

Disc Two opens on the quasi-symphonic swells and light-to-heavy drum patterns of eleven bars by deep space network, which progresses into the gentler effervescent burbles of chaos pleasures by mysteries of science. omicron's the surface of a young planet grows from meandering electrostatic cloudforms into something more or less musical.

Other notable appearances include Terre Thaemlitz, contributing two tracks, and Taylor Deupree adding one as Human Mesh Dance and two as seti with savvas ysatis (a.k.a. Omicron) including the spacey floatation of photism.

Various Artists: The Recycle or Die Compilation   (Eye-Q - 1997) (8.3)
The eerie synth warbles of Citation Collection by Ralf Hildenbeutel are soon bolstered by steady e-beats and dreamy guitar strums which blend into a smoothly whole. Mir's From Afar incorporates guitar strumming amongst its busy little D'n'B rhythms; Mir (this time remixed by Elektronauten Featuring Noelle) appears again with Under the Milkyway, wherein extremely faint female crooning is heard beneath a syncopated beat-barrage. Cool, dispassionate Eurodisco sounds emanate from La Lune De Miel, the Kraut as Kraut Can remix of #9 Dream's original.

Closing on the most truly ambient track, Taylor Deupree remixes Mimi's French Dog by Tollmann/Hildenbeutel into a pleasantly soft creature. The label is now defunct, but the disc is ceertainly worth picking up should you come across it.

Posted July 25, 1999 | 1999 Overviews Index

AmbiEntrance © 1999-97 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).