by Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
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.