Reviews 03-20-2004


Music Reviews 


Spirit Dome

by Steve Roach and vidnaObmana

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Visit vidnaObmana's website




The latest release from Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana sees these veterans of the ambient music scene release an album of startling spontaneous creation.

In a rare live meeting, the two sound craftsmen were together in Philadelphia to perform a concert for the Gathering/Projekt Music Festival in 2002.  During their preparations for the show, the two musicians got together before the event to lay some musical ideas down “off the bat” so to speak.

In typical fashion, the musicians started to create their soundworlds in the small hours using instruments like the Hungarian Fujara used by Vidna and the e, anxtensive sound processing of the electric guitar by Steve.  Various electro-acoustic instrumentation was also used to create an atmosphere of deep introspective and dark ambience.  Also, the music in turn reaches out to a hidden foreboding beauty that one can hear in the undercurrent of the music.

The spontaneous aspects of the album are laid down in an almost breathtaking way, as there are no overdubs and no postproduction edits. This is exactly how it was like on the night as if you were hearing it performed live, as if the listener were there on the spot.

Spirit Dome encompasses through its music a channeling and at the same time a challenging listen that is sure to add another interesting chapter for Roach and Obmana as they help define the genre that is ambient music.

Reviewed by Gary Andrews for Ambient Visions



Fruit of the Spirit

by Linda Mantooth 

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Fruit of the Spirit” is a very enjoyable and soothing debut from pianist Linda Mantooth. The ten original compositions are all solo piano, and the pieces are subtitled with the qualities that contribute to the “fruit of the spirit”  according to a Bible verse in Galatians. Mantooth started playing the piano at the age of 5, took lessons for about six years, and then went off on her own - composing her own music and playing by ear (without the restrictions of the printed page). The pieces are all melodic and played with a beautiful touch.

The opening track is “Dance of the Ocean Waves (Joy),” which is the most energetic and upbeat piece in the collection. “Love Notes (Love)” is my favorite track - both elegant and down-to-earth, this piece has a bittersweet melody and a gentle flow that is captivating. “Serenity (Peace)” is also exceptionally nice with a mood that is perfectly suited to the title. Another favorite is “Silent Prayer (Self-Control),” an intimate piece that seems to be asking questions as well as receiving reassurance. A very promising first CD from a talented composer and expressive pianist. “Fruit of the Spirit” is available from and

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


Soaring With the Angels

by Frederic Delarue  

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Soaring With the Angels” is keyboardist Frederic Delarue’s second American solo release after last year’s “Voyage of the Soul.” As with the first album, the pieces are mostly very light and ethereal. Several of the tracks have a sameness about them that make this a consistent listening experience, and a very relaxing one. As an active listener, it got a little thin at times, but as a mood-lifting musical experience, Delarue succeeds in his intentions. A near-death experience as a child left Delarue with the ability to summon and communicate with his angels and beings of light, and he says “I simply let them guide my hands to compose melodies that may enlighten your beautiful soul and illuminate your heart.” Delarue also does a lot of spiritual healing with his music and composes pieces to go with people’s names. Interesting stuff. All but one of the tracks are recorded with Kurzweil, Roland, and Korg keyboards – “Celestial Lullaby” (unplugged version) was recorded on a piano.

Favorite tracks include “A Moment of Bliss,” a mostly ambient piece with lots of open spaces and a floating melody; the title track is also very open and minimalistic, but has a strong sense of serenity and peace; “Celestial Lullaby” is a little more up-tempo and has a very sweet and beautiful melody - wistful and a little melancholy; and “Stillness of the Aurora,” which is again very ethereal and serene with wordless vocals and sounds that evoke colors and dreamy visions, at least for me. At his best, few can top Delarue with this type of music, although a few of the pieces are a bit formulaic and pop-ish. For relaxing, meditation, massage, and other healing  activities, this is a really nice collection. It is available from,,, and various retail outlets.

This Kathy Parsons review originally reviewed for  Solo Piano Publications website. It is reprinted here on Ambient Visions with permission.

Visit Kathy Parsons' bio page for more information.



Kish Kash

by Basement Jaxx

VisitThe Basement Jaxx website

Ok, call it cognitive dissonance- the idea of a forty-something Boomer/Gen-X cuspie buying and enjoying some of the whacked-out stuff that passes for music today. I mean, aren't I supposed to be listening to NPR or something?

Heck, it was NPR who turned me on to some of these things. Suddenly, instead of being a demographic has-been, as most of the rest of the world thinks anyone over the age of 35 should be, I'm a 'prime target audience' on NPR, and they aim their programming right at mature, savvy, interested, intellingent, and still adventurous people like me. Nyaah!

So, with that digression, let's get to the meat of this review. This is the latest item in my acquisition and enjoyment of trance, chill, electronica, and oddball blender mixes:  Basement Jaxx.

These two Brits have taken bits and pieces of everything from Bhangri beat and hip hop to Gospel and Blues, and run them through some sort of sonic blender and turned out something that can be best described as indescribable. Then, they score coups by getting Souxie Soux and other people who ought to know better to sit in, and you have an indescribable mixture with Interesting Surprises. Sometimes they sound like they've mindmelded with Wendy and Lisa, or found some Artist I Still Call Prince In Spite of All His Name Changes outtakes, and redid them while on acid. It's that good. There's a couple of cuts on this latest album ("Right Here's the Spot", "Plug It In") that I think dear ol Prince whats-his-name would probably envy for their delicious over the top naughtiness. "Lucky Star", the first single off this album is a heady combination of rap and Middle Eastern rhythms that will get you out of your seat. "Supersonic" is an interesting hybrid of Southern Gospel and dance, with some "Hollerin" by Rev. Craig Pringle. 

The botton line is that this is an ultimately danceable party platter that should be in every eccentric eclectic's collection- for shock value, if anything. Their earlier album, Rendez Voux is also one to have.  

My only complaint, if I should be so bold, is that the engineers have cranked up the on-board levels to sad distortion. Yes, on my lovely high-end gear, I can tell, and I even ripped a segment to see if they'd done the ugly things WIRED magazine says are being done to today's CDs: cranking them up to where they sound awful. They did. Shame, shame on you guys. Can't you trust your listeners to use the volume knob ourselves? I guess this is the way of today's disposable music- make it as loud as possible, because it is going to be in the scrap heap tomorrow. Craftsmanship is out the window, it seems. Which is why I don't buy so much music as I used to- I haven't totally hosed my hearing in dance halls or with headphones, and I can bloody well hear the difference.  

Reviewed by Lorie Johnson for Ambient Visions



Area Movement

by Ron Boots

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Ron Boots is one of the leading practitioners of the new style of European e-music. Indeed, he is one of its pioneers. The style involves a combination of Berlin school sequences and deep atmospheric ambience. Area Movement is a set of six pieces devoted to important landscapes across the globe. Ron conceptualized these compositions over the last 15 years. He uses more acoustics than usual and different experimental sounds. He also sings on one track. As a synthesist, Ron is one of the world’s greatest electronicians. As a vocalist, Ron is one of the world’s greatest electronicians. This album is full of great e-music

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


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