by Bryan Reesman, amazon.com
Originally released in 1993, this intriguing collaboration between Southwest ambient pioneer Steve Roach and veteran German electronic musician Elmar Schulte takes listeners on a journey through their subconscious. The elements for introspective exploration are all provided, most notably the deep-breathing synths and somniferous percussion loops which have become a Roach staple throughout his prolific career. SOLITAIRE: RITUAL GROUND creates a hypnotic effect as the album opens with the mysterious yet gentle "Black Cloud" and gradually descends into deeper terrain. In some ways, the result is akin to an aural simulation of dream states. The most eerie moment occurs when a muted wail cuts through the simmering ether of "Rapt in Darkness," while the most distinct track is "Solid Ground," which recalls the surreal Fourth World compositions of Jon Hassell. Unlike many deep-listening albums, SOLITAIRE: RITUAL GROUND is a circular journey that ventures back out of its dark regions with an airy and uplifting final track that feels like a refreshing morning after an intense night.