by Phil Derby, Synth Music Direct
From well-known ambient artists like Vidna Obmana and Steve Roach, to names unknown to me, such as Samsa and Exuviae, this ambient collection offers up eight tasty ambient morsels to sample. All tracks are unavailable elsewhere, so that alone may tempt Obmana and Roach fans to snatch this one up quickly. This is no collection of second-rate leftovers, either. It is top-notch blissful waves of floating sounds. The first track is appropriately titled "Euphoric Bliss," featuring Obmana's crisp metallic shimmering high end sounds combined with low drones. The sounds swirl about in an almost circular fashion, perfect to just relax and listen to, or perhaps to meditate. A little darker is Samsa's "Long Since Gone." This is a great combination of dark noise and deep drones. If you prefer some rhythm, Vir Unis delivers on "Beneath the Hive," which strikes a middle ground between his drum-infused work with Steve Roach on BODY ELECTRIC and his very ambient solo release THE DRIFT INSIDE. Exuviae's "Blankets of Quiet," as you might guess, shifts back into beatless ambient realms, another soft soother.
It's really hard to describe most of the music here with words, other than to say it is very ambient, but not static. The ebbs and flows are carefully orchestrated for maximum effect. It is a fairly cohesive set, though there are occasional diversions, such as the more experimental "Regions Behind the Eyes" by Mono No Aware. The sounds are more intense, with heavy doses of warbling electronic effects blended with pseudo-tribal beats. Drones are present, but way back in the mix rather than center stage. I really like this track, which strikes me as very original. The sounds are thickly textured, but not harsh. This is followed by Steve Roach's contribution, "Resolution Point," which effectively blends his tribal and more expansive tendencies into a single musical idea. I especially like the last few minutes of the track, after the tribal sounds drop off, leaving open ambient spaces in their wake. Jayme Washburn's brief "Becoming Light" mixes viola and synthesizers into the prettiest piece on the CD, beautiful ambient music. "Holus Bolus" identifies the artist only as Me. I'm guessing this means James R. Coplin, who produced the compilation. This six-minute track is virtually unchanging, but has enough going on in the mix to make a nice closer.