So far, 2000 has been an exceptional year for ambient
music. The new releases that have come across my listening
device have been filled with interesting sounds and evocative
sonic passages. This compilation from Stephen Philips'
"Dark Duck" label is an example of the high
class of 2000.
Remember, new readers and listeners, that "ambient" can't be judged
by the standards you use for either popular or classical
music. Someone used to "mainstream" music
will say, "Ambient DOESN'T GO ANYWHERE!" The
more mainstream genres depend on development, progression,
and structure to move their message. Ambient, though,
depends on pure sound, repetition, and emotional evocation
for its power, though the previous three musical virtues
can be present in some degree too.
This being said, the nine tracks on AMBIENT LANDSCAPES
2 represent the best in current ambient creativity.
There is the shimmering ironic nostalgia of Twine's
"Illumination"(cut 2), and the metallic sound-edges
of dreamSTATE's "Alpha Waves" (cut 4) which
is led by a seamless transition into Alan Imberg's contemplative,
cool "Overview of Water" (cut 5). My favorite
piece on the whole album is cut 3, the dramatic, spooky
industrial/gothic "Entered Apprentice" (title
is from Freemasonry!) by the enigmatically named "e.Voice
p.," who are really two Eastern European gentlemen
named Serge Marinec and Andrei Vasiljev. This could
be the soundtrack for a cinematic chase sequence through
some infernal industrial underworld.
Stephen Philips, the producer and Dark Duck originator,
has three pieces on the album, one under his "Deep
Chill Network" imprint, one under the name "Excelsior,"
and one in his own name. "Explorations," from
"Deep Chill," (cut 7) is cut from the same
ice as his previous "Heart of the Tundra,"
featuring extended bell-like tones, while Excelsior's
"Conscious Freq" (cut 1) sends forth droning
flatline fifths. Philips' own "On the Edge"
softly whispers ominous electronic rumors into your
ear. The album ends with James Johnson's ultra-restful
floating electronic chords in "Drift" (cut
9) which for some reason, unlike most ambient music,
sound better played at a higher volume.
As I have often said, this esoteric form of ambient
is not for everyone, but if you want music that permeates
your consciousness like the fragrance of disturbing
flowers, I highly recommend this compilation album.
8/00 -- Review by Hannah M.G.Shapero