Steve Roach & Vidna Obmana: Live Archive

roavid-la.jpg (24k) Steve Roach & Vidna Obmana: Live Archive
(Groove Unlimited - 1999)

Two of ambient's biggest (and most productive!) names are together again; Steve Roach & Vidna Obmana plumb the depths of their mutual neotribal soundworlds with Live Archive; 1997 concert material from various worldwide locations are merged with each other, and remixed with some additional studio recording. The high points of that year's tour have been combined and distilled into a potent, abstract stew of earthy power and rugged beauty.

Combining specially selected live edits from their largely improvisational performances in Italy, the Netherlands and the US, Verucchio Invocation introduces Roach's didgeridoo and electronic atmospheres to Obmana's percussion and processed voice; thunder and rain sounds emerge, blending right into the fading drifts which become the trickling flutesounds of Common Ground. Organically expanding mists creep across a barren terrain, until a steadily chugging rhythm and primitive accents cut their way through, counterpointing smoothness with edgy energy. Occasional wails penetrate the slowly whirling pool of sound. Everything begins to quieten as if swept over by cool, foreboding breezes, then the living entities of Two Reptiles (12:20) crawl into earshot. A ponderous beatsystem serpentines through a hazy sonic valley whose walls reach to the skies. Snarling didgeridoo drones bark and growl into the chasmic void.

Another segue enters upon a Dreampipe Dialogue (3:54) as more-subtle sonoran pipes sputter into shifting windblown grit. Peaceful waves lay down the first layer of Soundworld Collage, to be topped with gauzey loops of processed flutes, buried vocals, and then the faraway boom of explosive drumbeats. All is stirred into a dense-though-flowing stream of audio-magma. Warm rays flood Ascension with buoyantly rising soundcurrents, spiraling upward with a natural grace and majesty.

Bass notes and clattering ceramics bubble up from some unseen core to inject Tribal Perspective with a timeless rhythm, over which serene synthwashes melt and insectoid/birdlike sounds stir in the undeniable heat. In twelve-minute-long Divine Innermission recorded live elements are combined with studio work to fashion a final mystical experience which transcends time and space. A churning groove is implanted through the piece around which soundworlds from both artists are gathered like clouds along a stormfront. Obmana's fujara sparkles as Roach's fretless bass adds weight to this closing scene.

Ranked at a 9.0 for organically immersive atmospheres, Live Archive captures the live spark between two of ambient's finest. Besides processing these tracks, Steve Roach & Vidna Obmana have been quite busy lately... just check a few Year 2000 back issues to find no fewer than seven releases involving either of the pair. 9-0.gif
This review posted May 29, 2000

AmbiEntrance © 2000-1997 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).