The Ambient Expanse

There are many anthologies in the field of ambient electronic music, but this is truly the most successful of any of them, a true watermark for the genre. I must qualify this as it isn't exactly an anthology. This project was conceptualized by Steve Roach, not to mention Roach participates in some way on every track.

Every piece on here is a celestial classic, starting off with probably one of the finest entries in the genre in recent memory, Patrick O'Hearn's utterly powerful and majestic "The 35th Parallel," a 12-minute piece with complex chords that fade and recede ever so gently. The bass tones here top it off; this piece soars with melody and wide-open spaces. It's worth the price of the CD alone.

Vir Unis excels in "The Undivided Flow," the second-longest track on the CD at 13 1/2 minutes. Here we have a more watery atmosphere, something subterranean and obscure. The effect is stranger, yet loses none of the uplifting nature of O'Hearn's contribution.

Executive producer Stephen Bacchus created "Point of Safety." At nearly 12 minutes, it consists of a fabric of synth chords and strange sound samples that changes the dynamics of the CD's flow in a surprising way. The unpredictable, shifting chord progression brings to mind possibility; things eventually grow dark and echoing. It works well as the album's centerpiece.

The Bacchus and Vidna Obmana tracks are bridged by Roach seamlessly. Vidna's inventive entry, clocking in at 12:44, fades up with a similar strangeness to Bacchus' track, although the chords grow into a combination of strange abstract sounds and ethereal chords similar to O'Hearn's piece. The track ends with some very strange atmospheres and flows quietly into Steve Roach's 18-minute "The Eternal Expanse." Roach's track is one of his most dynamic ever, fading from near silence to thunderous and back again over its duration. The volume peaks at times high above the average for the CD. For an atmospheric piece, this is one of Roach's most melodic, subtly retaining the astral quality of the entire project.

As the disc flows, its waves and flows become truly ambient, seemingly becoming part of the outer-listening environment. Utterly, undeniably, exquisitely brilliant, this CD gets my very highest recommendation. It's one of the best electronic albums of this decade. It will adhere to your CD player.

The Ambient Expanse

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CD out of stock
The Ambient Expanse
Various Artists
1998 Oasis / Mirage MIR 306 (CD)
Produced by Steve Roach
Reviewed by Alternative Press, AmbiEntrance, Exposť, Illinois Entertainer, Power Spot 89.7FM (Sydney, Australia), Sonic Curiosity, Tower Pulse!

THE AMBIENT EXPANSE is a five movement, collaborative work created by two generations of ambient artists. Steve envisioned the Expanse concept -- "a pure, atmospheric music expressive of deep exploration and high optimism". He then invited a group of artists who felt an affinity with the project and its aim to create a unified flow of expansive and uplifting pieces. The music is divided into five movements, one for each artist. The spirit of the project was brought to life by Roach's signature production style and masterful mixing techniques in his Tucson-based studio, The Timeroom. The result is a powerful statement of sustained beauty that is sure to inspire those who have been missing the pure atmospheric, non-rhythmic expressions.
1. Patrick O'Hearn: The 35th Parallel11:55 
2. Vir Unis: The Undivided Flow13:31 
3. Stephen Bacchus: Point of Safety11:54 
4. Vidna Obmana: The Space In-Between12:44 
5. Steve Roach: The Eternal ExpanseMP317:52 

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