Spirit Dome
by Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
2004


The fourth collaborative outing between multi-instrumentalists and soundscape artists Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana differs significantly from their previous efforts in that its inner expansiveness is more labyrinthine than cavernous. A single track -- separated into eight selections -- recorded in one continuous session without overdubs or sonic edits of any kind, SPIRIT DOME adds a dark urgency to the catalog of these duos. CAVERN OF SIRENS (1997) and THE SERPENT'S LAIR (2000) delved into the shape-shifting sounds of a sonic interior rooted in internal myth and iconography, and where INNERZONE charted these vast landscapes as systems, SPIRIT DOME charts the domain of a seemingly physical interior space and opens it up from the codified elements within. The pulsing, breathing, undulating dissonance in this piece is one that allows for the complete envelopment of both individuals within it, who speak not as one voice, but as a force within the hidden dimensions of time and space. For those who found the ominous physics at the heart of Mark Z. Danielewski's novel House of Leaves -- where the inside of a structure is vastly bigger than its outside -- liberating and more than a little spooky, SPIRIT DOME might have been its soundtrack. The immediacy at which the duo travels across the base of this sonic architecture, where the ceiling is present but not discernible and the only place to travel is down, is articulated by the nearly subsonic percussion, the spare snakelike guitar, and the haunted overtone flutes. Crawling, whispering, slithering electronic sounds and shapes come from all sides at once, gradually, seemingly randomly to caress and then inhabit the ambiguous dimensions, becoming a site for psychological and emotional travel.

This is mind and body music to be sure. It sounds like nothing else in the "dark ambient" subgenre, and is virtually unclassifiable by its carefully controlled dynamics and color palette -- whereby 64,000 shades of black and gray become their own sonic rainbow. This is beautiful, disquieting, and instructive music, shaped from the mirror of silence and its dark reflection in the collective heart of the spirits who inhabit it.


Spirit Dome

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Spirit Dome
Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana
2004 Projekt PRO152 (CD)
Reviewed by All Music Guide, Ambient Musings, Ambient Visions, CD Services (UK), Hypnagogue, MusicTAP, Sonic Curiosity, Synth Music Direct, Wind and Wire, www.Metal-Only.com

Steve Roach / Vidna Obmana's 2002 CD INNERZONE served as the doorway to the surreal environment explored on SPIRIT DOME. Recorded in one continuous 74-minute session, this is a dark sanctuary of pure texture and beautiful, if not at times foreboding, dissonance pulled along with pulsing beats, subtle loops and dense soundworlds. The single piece, "Spirit Dome," captures a chilling gothic ambience that offers the exploration of remote psychological states of awareness. This is achieved by way of extensive live processing of instruments including fujara (overtone flute), guitar, and the seemingly bottomless wellspring of electro-acoustic sounds found only in the duo's soundscapes.

SPIRIT DOME was created live on the spot in room 314, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 24th 2002, around 1 AM. Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana were in town preparing for their performance at the 2002 Gathering / Projekt Festival. With only a brief window of time in which to work together before returning to their homes on opposite sides of the Atlantic, their reaction to the claustrophobic urban environment reveals a new dimension to their sound.

When listening to the recording unfold, one has to keep remembering that this unscripted spontaneous creation was a live session recorded directly to the stereo master, just as you will hear. No post-production edits or overdubs were performed. Past discs from the duo include 1995's WELL OF SOULS, 1997's CAVERN OF SIRENS and 2002's INNERZONE; add their live concerts together in Europe and the U.S. and we are brought to the enveloping world of SPIRIT DOME.
 
1. Part 1 10:23 
2. Part 2 21:30 
3. Part 3MP311:58 
4. Part 4 4:01 
5. Part 5 3:59 
6. Part 6MP36:09 
7. Part 7 8:47 
8. Part 8 6:39 

Tracks flow together as a continuous performance, but are indexed for convenience.



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