Various Artists: ambient.01@hyperreal

va-a01.jpg (19k) Various Artists: ambient.01@hyperreal
(aquaFM - 2000)

Many of the Various Artists on this democratically-assembled collection are making the evolution from ambient listener to ambient musician, which imbues ambient.01@hyperreal with the combined effect of collective enthusiasm and burgeoning new talents. Two discs of 24 tracks makes for plenty of widely-varied listening.

Many participants though are previously-established artists who frequent Hyperreal's Ambient Mailing List where the project gradually came together. Since those acts (including Ambient Temple of Imagination, Michael Bentley (a.k.a. eM) , Forrest Fang, Deep Chill Network (a.k.a. Excelsior, a.k.a. Stephen Philips), dreamSTATE) have already had time in the limelight, I'll be focusing on the still-too-many-to-be-individually-noted newcomers... be assured though that the contributions of the "old pros" are as wonderful as would be expected.

The 11 tracks of Disc One (equalling 75.5 minutes) tend toward smooth and/or beaty realms... Swirling in lush gaseousness, EPD's "Under the Red Line" is soon peppered with captivating beats and chimey accents, beginning the collection on a high note. Dreamy ripples and empowering percussion flow through "Ladybug" by Avalon. "Marisol (Warm Dub Mix)" gently percolates in an amorphous mixture of stringsounds and bubbly bassnotes, courtesy of Universal Selector.

Project co-organizer George Biernadski appears as Tonelab; topped by sinuous rivulets, his "Sun Silent" drifts on warping and wafting soundwaves underlain with radio-voices and entrancing bass pulsations. XstaR's hypnotizing "Alzir" (10:57) buzzily fluctuates in a seemingly endless series of flangey oscillations, backed by d'n'b rhythms which slowly emerge from the murk. Beatless "Fluid" (2:47) oozes into a darkly ringing expanse as rendered by Hebephrenic.

Disc Two's selections feature far fewer beats and generally more experimentalism; the clav-like tones of opener "DreamSpy" (by DreamSpy) goes for baroque in a slowly dancing space-minuet. Like an orchestra in a vaccuum, Kendall Jackman's lovely "Weightless" hovers through shapelessly synthetic symphonics. Buzzing and thrumming in a veil of darkness, DXM's "The Self dreams of Mandi" resonates with the drones of living circuitry, a pulsing monotonal rhythm and a short spoken appearance.

Mikael Hillborg's cloud of actively whirling tones, "Curse" spews forth pseudo-symphonic/space sounds in dark and light colors. The electro-celestial journey of "Beckwith's Feeling" by GYS uncovers bloopy traces of sweetness amid a vast digital gloom. Under the direction of Subspace, the starlit expanses of "Procyon"'s sweeping organ chords warp and wane.

Co-organizer {'JackTheTab'} extends a grumbling plain as his "Untitled_Track levitates over quiet chaos. From those soft rumbles, similarly subdued bubbles arise from "DreamSequence"; laced with mechanical dial-action, the piece shifts into an electro-tribal mode, then a semi-spooky panorama of metallic clatter and finally into a floatier realm of densely droning chords. Perhaps I should mention Stoic is a newcomer who hopes to break out of an "if you can't do it, write about it" mold... yep, it's me and my MetaSynth noise... (Are the extra-quiet levels of this track carefully-calculated for a lulling effect, or just an amateurish case of sound mismanagement? I'll never tell...)

My apologies to the remaining new artists who for time and space reasons were omitted, including Metasonica, Spirit Oscillator (a.k.a. Forrest Fang), Dub Jay and Amongst Myselves. The art is by The Foundry's own Michael Bentley.

Prior to the Internet Age, these Various Artists (amateurs and pros alike) would have been hard-pressed to gather from around the globe to share such obscure musical ideas... therefore ambient.01@hyperreal receives a special 9.3 rating for its cyber-ambient-communal importance as well as for the fresh blood it provides. Look for it at the aquaFM website, as well as on this years AmbiEntrance 2000 Top Ten. 9-3.gif
This review posted December 30, 2000

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