by John Shanahan, Hypnagogue
Dec. 15, 2003
If you put two half-mad alchemists in one room with all their gear and leave them alone for an hour, something's bound to happen. If those alchemists happen to be sonic masters Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana, the result is SPIRIT DOME
, a live, improvised 73-minute excursion into dark organic spaces and breathtaking musical complexity.
Recorded straight to master at 1 AM as the pair were preparing for a concert appearance, SPIRIT DOME
wends its way downward through the listener's consciousness into the primordial, serpentine landscape Roach and Obmana have explored in past collaborations such as WELL OF SOULS
. Together they sculpt a dimly-lit pathway to the lower world -- a journey rich in layered sounds and aural imagery. There is depth here, and distance; there is grace and disturbance; there is peace and profound unease; all existing perfectly in the same space.
It's important to keep in mind that this is a live recording, with no dubbing or enhancing done in post-production. This is Roach and Obmana setting off on their own, pure, riffing off each other, pulling skeins of sound together on the fly and weaving them into a lushly dark tapestry. It is a testament to the near-ideal chemistry the two musicians have developed over the course of their partnership. The piece develops naturally under their skilled hands, growing and recombining easily as it moves onward, elements dropping in and quickly finding their place in the grand scheme. Drums work their way into the flow, bringing a sense of tribe, and playful electronic twitches dot the rolling landscape like a challenge.
What would have made this perfect is if someone had thought to roll video.
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.
Tracks flow together as a continuous performance, but are indexed for convenience.