by Phil Derby, Electroambient Space
Wow, wow and wow. That's about all I could say after my first listening of TRANCE SPIRITS. The sheer power of the tribal rhythms on this disc is totally captivating, so much so that it was easily the disc I played the most in 2002. "Taking Flight" begins with soaring bright metallic timbres, but it doesn't take long at all for the insistent percussion to come crashing in. This is take-no-prisoners, aggressive tribal ambient music. Nine minutes later, the drums leave as quickly as they came, and you can pick up your jaw off the floor and catch your breath just for a moment before the title track ensues, and then we're off and running again. The rhythms are fast and hard-hitting for a while, then shift into a slower, deeper mode. All the while, there is a constant ebb and flow of sound washing over the drums, the glue that holds it all together, keeping it from spinning out of control. The coolest assortment of sounds emanates from this track. This is virtually unbridled musical passion. Also appearing on the disc are Momodou Kah on percussion, with whom I'm not familiar, and then a familiar but surprising name, Robert Fripp. Yes, he plays guitar, but not like you often hear him. He is aptly credited with "guitar soundscapes," and that's exactly what they are, cool textures that hint at something only remotely guitar-like, but his contributions are most welcome. Steve plays guitar too, very much in the style of STREAMS & CURRENTS, for example on "OffSpring," which is dominated by his floating guitar colorings. "Seekers" has a bit more of a futuristic sound, filled with hypnotic loops that remind me more of Steve's work with Vir Unis on BLOOD MACHINE, or Vir's solo disc Mercury And Plastic. The disc is incredibly strong throughout, but if I were forced to pick a favorite it might be "Year Of The Horse," another bubbly rhythmic piece that has its roots more in the future than the past, though elements of both remain. "In The Same Deep Water" ends with strength, another percussion-laden piece that doesn't let up, but somehow leaves you wanting even more. I do not make this statement lightly: TRANCE SPIRITS is my favorite ambient CD, ever.