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Reviews 5-31-2002



Jeffrey Michael

Visit Jeffrey Michael's website 

"Kaleidoscope" is a very enjoyable collection of piano solos with washes of synth strings. An aspiring film composer (with several soundtracks under his belt already), Jeffrey Michael describes his compositions as "cinematic piano". Only 25, this is a young man with a ton of potential! He is a self-taught musician, and is an unusual one in that his lack of formal training doesn't show at all. The entire album is very enjoyable and soothing, and  the music is laid-back without being ear-candy. I especially like "Indigo Falls", which is a little moodier than the other tracks. I love the flowing quality and emotional content of this piece! I also really like the bluesy feel of the title track - an easy-going piece with a catchy rhythm. "Crimson Sky" has a  wonderful melancholy flow - the kind of piece I really enjoy playing because you can get so caught up in the emotions. "Solitude" is deep and introspective. "Tribute" was composed for the fallen victims of 9/11, and is sad without being maudlin - a moving memorial. Jeffrey Michael is definitely an artist on the rise, and I think you'll really enjoy this album. "Kaleidoscope" is available from and

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


Tales of a Prior World

by Prior World

Visit Prior World's website. 

These people really wear their influences on their sleeve on this short (35 minute) CD - even to the point of listing them in the liner notes! Let's see...  we have John McLaughlin - evident in the tasty jazz-flavored guitar work by Doug Frohman; we have Brian Eno - evident in the blissful, exotic ambience that underlies the whole CD, courtesy of Chuck Duff's synth work; and we have Peter Gabriel - evident in the world influences that rise to the forefront from time to time, especially in the oud work of Majed Abu Ajamieh on the exotic Cairo. The notes also thanks Mark Isham for inspiration and their website cites Miles Davis. You can hear these influences as well in the uncanny faux flugelhorn synth emulations of Frohman on the track Prior World. Percussion work, from latin-tinged congas to more conventual drum kit work (machines?) is supplied by a series of apparent guests, including Lisa Ziemann, Nihad Dukhan, John Bruhler and Jon Hass, augmented by Frohman and Duff. Other aural highlights of this CD include the ambient storm effects on Prior World, the slippery fretless bass on Magister Ludi, and another uncanny synth emulation by Frohman - the faux-sax work on Cairo.

Is it wrong to be so obvious with your influences? All artists are influenced by others. That's a given, and it's OK. Prior World begs the question with their decision to publicly announce their musical influences in their CD notes! Maybe it's a marketing thing... after all, most artists openly acknowledge their influences in press releases, interviews, marketing pitches, etc. But when you put them in print for the world to see, you invite direct comparisons, and on that count, Prior World simply doesn't measure up. Oh, it's good stuff alright - tasty jazzy exotic ambience - but it's not McLaughlin, Eno or Gabriel.

Reviewed by Allen Welty-Green for Ambient Visions



by The Circular Ruins

Visit Vir Unis's website



Circular Ruins is the name that synthesist Anthony Paul Kerby borrowed from a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. This CD is a collection of darkly ambient, almost industrial techno/electronica collages that evoke visions of sci-fi landscapes and hi-tech utopias run amok.

While each track clips along at a slow but steady rhythmic clip, Kerby typically eschews the thump-thump drum machine beats that are so prevalent in this genre, in favor of throbbing rhythms built from synth blips, white noise bursts and resonant sweeps ands swooshes. Upon this decidedly alien soundscape, he layers all manner of electronic gurgles and bursts, along with warm chordal pads, subliminal rumbles and sound effects that sound almost natural, yet oddly distant.

As for melody? Well, who needs it anyway when you've got such a dynamically shifting techno-soundscape. It's actually quite refreshing to hear a synthesist that isn't trying to emulate *real* instruments and textures, but rather reveling in the sound of pure oscillators, filters, etc. speaking in their own electronic voice!

Standout tracks include the title track, with its subtle throbbing rhythms, slippery electronic swirls and gentle minor key chords, and Cathedral, with the rhythmic resonant pulses, rich chordal pads and shimmering, growling layers of ambience.

Reviewed by Allen Welty-Green for Ambient Visions


Broken Voyage

by Kelly David

Visit Kelly David's website

This is a most interesting album from a new name in the world of ambient and electro- tribal music.

Mixed by Steve Roach at his Tucson studio “Broken Voyage” is the debut album from Denver based musician Kelly David.

The music is like an aural journey that takes the listener through the inspiration of a dark South Pacific voyage.

“Off the Map” starts the proceedings with suitably eerie synthetic sounds combined with unusual sound samples that admirably set the stage for the music to follow.

The music calms down some what and some nice atmospherics take the center stage before a very deep bassy rhythm takes over, the feeling instantly becoming more intense and threatening. This could be put into the category tribal ambient, but it is not really like anything else I have heard before. I have looked on Kelly’s website and amongst the vast amount of equipment he has I spied a huge modular synthesizer called an Arrick, which I suspect was creating a lot of the warm but powerful sequences I was hearing. “Coastwatcher” follows along and is a more relaxing affair; featuring deep gliding synthonics the track comes as a welcome respite from the power of the opening track.

“Shadow Side” is interesting as this piece features Steve Roach adding an electro groove that comes into play about seven minutes into the composition. This groove thunders a long with a terrific bass sequence that really tested my woofers on my speakers!

The fourth track “Buka Passage” as maybe expected from what has gone before is an almost subliminal affair that features great atmospherics combined with a mixture of great sounding acoustic samples like strange rattles, haunting metallic sounds that seem to come and go like some strange wind. Two tracks to go and we are introduced to “Cargo Cult” this is a restrained mid-tempo piece that features a light rhythm, before a big drum sound is added whilst the swirling synthesizer sounds get more and more prominence as the track works its way through this evolving composition, and the electronics becoming more and more eccentric as big slices of analogue sound light up the end of the track.

The last piece on offer is “ Coastwatcher Reprise” this track brings the theme back from the earlier “Coastwatcher” music and finishes the album in satisfying way.

All in all this debut album makes a fine contribution to the ambient/ electro world, a little different to a lot of the music being produced at the moment but this makes it just that little more special.

More info at to purchase visit

Reviewed by Gary Andrews for Ambient Visions.


Soundfall to the Infinite

by Brannan Lane 
and Zero Ohms

Visit Brannan Lane's website

Visit Zero Ohms website


Brannan Lane is having a year and a half in 2002.  And it's still AprilSoundfall to the Infinite is his fourth CD so far (one solo, three collaborations).  And it's only April!

Brannan's collaborator, Zero Ohms, nee Richard Roberts, is having quite a year also.  Soundfall to the Infinite is his second CD of 2002.  And it's only April!

This CD is the total package.  The cover artwork, by Robert Carty, is gorgeous.  (Robert also did the cover artwork for Tracks Across the Universe.)  The liner notes are sparse.  (There is no need for them.)  The music is awesome!  The deep minimalism is inspirational and warm.  The disc is set up like a symphony.  There are three sets, each with two movements.  Richard's breathy flutes supply a soft and gentle drone.  Brannan's gentle processes create massive atmospheres.  The serene soundscape is captivating.

This very emotional and highly spiritual soundscape is some of the sweetest music from two of the kindest and gentlest souls in the e-music community.  It defines the splendor of solitude.  Deep listeners will appreciate the opportunity to explore the self.

(I want to step out of character briefly to thank both of these fine gentlemen for their support and prayers during my recent trials and tribulations.  I am always touched by the love in our little e-music community.  It is with great pride and humility that I review this CD.  Thank you, Richard!  Thank you, Brannan!)

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions


The Darker Space

by Terra Ambient

Visit Terra Ambient's website

Terra Ambient is Jeff Kowal (rhymes with vowel).  The Darker Space is his debut CD.  It is a set of deep tribal minimalism.

Jeff is from Pittsburgh, PA, not exactly the hotbed of electronic music.  His introduction to the e-music community was quite a coincidence.  Steve Roach communicated with some folks trying to put together a concert in the city.  He gave Jeff's number as a possible resource.  Suffice it to say that Jeff soon encountered a very zealous friend of the e-music community.  The friend's excitement and enthusiasm were contagious and Jeff's new journey began.  He has two collaborations in the works and several more potential gigs.

But, this is about the awesome soundscapes and atmospheres on The Darker Space!  Jeff borrows from many diverse influences and puts his own unique spin to the proceedings.  The atmospheres are wide and the textures are arid.  This is hot organic desert ambience with minimalist timbres.  The disc smokes!

It would be unfair to compare this gifted and humble young man to others at this stage of his career.  Suffice it to say that as he develops and matures, there will be further accolades!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions






The full title for this CD is "Mythodea: Music for the NASA Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey", and the sound and scope of the music are as big as its name. Operatic, symphonic, and very, very visual, this was a huge undertaking. Along with Vangelis at the keyboards, sopranos Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman, a 120-voice operatic choir, The London Metropolitan Orchestra, and a battery of twenty percussionists fill this CD to the brim! The artists reunited in June 2001 to perform this work, along with plenty of visuals, at The Olympian Temple of Zeus in Athens, and the video of the concert is now available as well. Made up of an introduction and ten movements, the music is powerful and evocative, but I found myself craving the visuals. It seems like it would be stunning to see the pictures of Mars and see where all the drama came from. By itself, I found the music to be a bit overpowering and inflated merely for the sake of being "big". The visuals would probably allow it all make more sense. Most of the music is beautiful in an operatic sort of way - kind of like an updated Richard Strauss, whose theme was used so effectively in the film "2001:  A Space Odyssey".  Sections give the feeling of floating in space, and others sound like ancient military marches. Vangelis says that part of his goal with this project was to merge the future and the ancient past. The title comes from "myth" and "ode" to describe this vital connection. This is an interesting CD, but I didn't find it compelling.

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


Echose of Canyon de Chelly

by Gary Stroutsos
w/ Paul Thompson

Visit Gary Stroutsos' website  




Gary Strousos is a master of all things flute-ish. American jazz, Afro-Cuban, Chinese and Native American influences inform his own singular approach to an instrument that has existed since pre-history and plays a role in virtually every culture's musical tradition.

This CD finds Stroutsos and Navajo flute maker/historian Paul Thompson journeying into Navaho country, to the ancient ruins in and around Canyon de chelly  to record original and traditional Native American flute music in a natural setting. No processing or artificial ambience is used in this recording. All your hear is the pure sound of the flute resonating within the natural environment. Every now and then, a raven passes by... with it's distinctive call being captured by the microphones. Other birds make their presence known as well. Occasionally some soft shaker or rattle-like timbres are presnt in the background... but whether these are an intentional part of the music, or another aural artifact - like the bird calls - of the natural setting, who can say?

There are 17 different tracks here. Some composed, some traditional, and some improvised... but to be honest, the whole CD sounds like one continuous work. This is not a bad thing though, especially if you're looking for a soothing, meditative musical experience. The thin, plaintive timbre of the flute evokes a peaceful, spiritual state, as I'm sure was Stroutsos' intent.

Reviewed by Allen Welty-Green for Ambient Visions


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