Reviews 02-16-2002


Music Reviews 


Experiment 13

by Cacophony


Cacophony is Daniel Byerly, a.k.a. Bertrom Cabot, Jr. and Lane FormschlagExperiment 13 is a set of deep "surgery, performed at The Dungeon, August, 2001."

This is deep, dark and mysterious minimalism with layers of experimental sound and thick sequencing.  It is difficult to imagine thick sequences and mysterious minimalism in the same soundscape but here it is, right next to expansive symphonic atmospheres.  This melange of sounds is very active and very subtle.  There are extremes at both ends of the spectrum.

Daniel and Lane juxtapose the dark and the light.  An old memory of something called a 'flashdark" from "Upside Down Town," a childhood story' is a viable comparison.  (The flashdark spread darkness when turned on.)  This CD is like a very slow strobe light - dark, light, dark, light, dark, light ........... it is a continuous loop of very unique soundscapes.

This very captivating music is from Eleven One Records.  It is a great CD and a delightful find!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors
w/ Boris Grebenshikov

Visit Gabrielle Roth's website

Bardo is a mystical place or a mythical language.  It is also the newest release by Gabrielle Roth & the MirrorsBoris Grebenshikov returns as a guest vocalist.  (He appeared on 1998's Refuge.)  His style on this CD is "utterings of the soul," considered to be among the purest and rawest forms of communication.  The vocals are wordless and have deep meaning and ultimate soul.

Gabrielle's production and arranging skills are unparalleled in modern music.  She gathered 20 guests, all with impressive credentials, to create this masterful meditative soundscape.  Her husband, Robert Ansell, and his son, Scott Ansell, co-produced the album.

This is a special CD!  It features everything that listeners expect from Gabrielle and more.  The biorhythmic soundscape enters deep listeners' souls and entwines itself in the holistic selves.  The other elements compliment the rhythms.  The rhythms compliment the other elements.  Boris' vocals are gentle and dynamic.  They take listeners to the next level.  This is a very unique journey to the perpendicular universe.

There is a truism when dealing with spirituality and gifts from God - "The only way to keep it is to give it away."  Practitioners of this philosophy are among the most serene individuals in all walks of life.  After hearing Refuge, it was difficult to imagine deeper serenity and holistic healing.  After hearing Bardo, the depths of Gabrielle's serenity and healing prowess are infinite.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Stellar Collections

by Geodesium

Visit the Loch Ness Productions website


Stellar Collections is the ultimate space music album from the ultimate space musician - Mark Peterson, a.k.a. Geodesium.  This is a collection of seven suites from several of Mark's planetarium soundtracks from his 20-year career.

This is a monumental achievement in the annals of electronic music.  mark began performing in the pre-digital days so this set includes deep sequences, light sequences, cosmic atmospheres and gentle minimalism.  and, while there are some dark passages and sinister riffs, this is not a dark album.  It is, in general, a fairly happy set.

Mark performs primarily for spectators at planetariums.  He has made quite a name for himself in that arena.  Those spectators are not looking for chills and scares.  They are looking for knowledge and/or entertainment.  Such themes (outer space) lend themselves easily to the dark side of ambience.  It is a greater challenge to access discovery and exploration as a hopeful gesture.  Mark accepted that challenge and created some very bright walls of sound.

This CD sums it all up very nicely.  The extensive liner notes give listeners a nice map to follow.  The map enhances the listening experience.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Laocoon


Laocoon was a priest in ancient Greece mythology.  He warned Apollo that the hollow horse presented by the Trojans was a trap and should not be accepted.

Laocoon is also the pseudonym under which John Broaddus recorded Immersion.  The CD is on Parnassus Nump Records, originally in San Francisco now in Redondo Beach.  John named his company after a character in a Phillip K. Dick novel.

This is some of the finest atmospheric minimalism available.  John is on a par with the great minimalists and at a level above many of them.  But it is not about competition, it is about expression.  That might be a better term for this gentle ambience - expressionism.

The atmospheres are deep and beguiling.  The vast clouds of sound will mesmerize focused listeners.  It is a gentle and thoughtful trance.  There are no dark overtones.  The somber passages are reverent and appropriate.

This great CD borders on a religious experience.  It is certainly spiritual, soulful and awe-inspiring.  With all those positive qualities, it is also essential!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Fran Van Bogaert

Visit Frank Van Bogaert's website



Every now and again I get a CD containing music which is absolutely stunning; Geographic is one of them. The first time I played this album I knew from the opening track that it was going to be something special.

Frank Van Bogaert has worked with various folk and ethnic bands during his career. This influence is noticeable on several tracks, it adds something special to the music and has led to some great fusions of synths and traditional instruments from around the world.

The music on this album varies from very upbeat rhythmic and melodic to easygoing mellow pieces. Throughout one gets the impression that Vangelis was an influence for Frank, he sure knows how to create some majestic sounds just as Vangelis does.

Highlights for me are the very rhythmic title track incorporating ethnic style chant; Deserts which is the longest track and has a brilliant melody played on synth; Highlands, High Hopes that makes excellent use of pipes (bagpipes I would guess) and piano to deliver a stirring theme.

If you haven't discovered Frank Van Bogaert yet then Geographic is a good place to start. Listen to this album with the volume cranked up somewhat and you're in for a superb and exciting listening experience.

Reviewed by Dene Bebbington for Ambient Visions


Insane Logic

by Ozone Player



Insane Logic is an insanely eccentric soundscape from Ozone Player, nee Otso Pakarinen, out of Helsinki, Finland.

Otso is a fairly regular contributor to the Beyond EM news group and he is a very well traveled musician.  He has been performing since the early 1970's.  He has played everything from hard rock to prog rock to electronic space music.

This CD is a very interesting set of deep sequences, vast atmospheres, experimental ambience, computer sounds and organized dissonance.  Otso has put this together in unique arrangements and sound designs.  The sounds play against each other and they support each other.

So many CD's come out overproduced and overwrought.  And, while there are many different elements at work here, this disc is NOT overdone. 

Otso is doing quite well for himself with film and television soundtracks and graphic arts but he does have a new CD in progress.  Deep listeners and space music fans everywhere await the event eagerly!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Letting the World Go By: Sacred Spa Music Series

by Various Artists

Visit Real Music's website

As I've said before, the folks at Real Music do an especially good job of putting compilation albums together. "Letting the World Go By" is the first in a series of at least three collections designed to promote and enhance the healing of "our mental, emotional, and spiritual selves". The pace is lazy and soothing, and the sounds wash over the listener like a cozy blanket or the warmth of the springtime sun. Most of the selections come from Real Music's line-up of artists such as 2002, Kevin Kern, Karunesh, Bernward Koch, Danny Wright, the late Hilary Stagg, and Govi. It also includes two wonderful piano pieces by Bernard L'Hoir. If you haven't melted into your chair by the end of the second or third track  of this album, you are in serious trouble, my friend! I made the mistake of putting this CD into my wake-up alarm - I don't recommend it unless you are unusually strong in the morning. I'd listen to a song or two, thoroughly enjoying the music, and then it would be a half hour later! It's a wonderful collection, and I highly recommend it for music to unwind to or simply to pamper yourself a little. It is available from the online outlets as well as and many retail gift shops and record stores.

This Kathy Parsons review originally reviewed on the  Mainly Piano website. It is reprinted here on Ambient Visions with permission.


The Black Chasm

by Isomorph

Visit Isomorph's website

The Black Chasm is more enigmatic dark minimalism from one of the new practitioners of the craft - Isomorph, nee Bill Kendall.  In keeping the theme across the board, Bill even pressed this on black CDR's.  It is a beautiful and chilling affect.

But the real treat and beauty here is the music.  this is total darkness and a complete vacuum.  There is no saving grace.

Years ago, there were frenetic rides at amusement parks that were designed to scare the bejesus out of little kids.  Today the rides are more sophisticated and do not rely speed or sudden changes of pace for the fear factor.  The modern rides are like mystery novels where the plot has a chance to develop.  This CD would be the perfect soundtrack for such a ride or even for a movie.  The suspense builds and builds with no dénouement or crescendo.

Given new millennium gadgetry and technology, the ideal setting or scenery would be a deep spacescape or sci-fi adventure.  This is the perfect soundtrack for a futuristic sci-fi outer space whodunit.

Bill shows great promise with this, his second release.  Fans and deep listeners anticipate great things from this minimalist.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


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