Ambient Origins by Stephen Bacchus Mirage Records, Oasis Productions http://www.oasisproductions.com/ Ambient Origins is a collection of "early works" (from the '80s) by Canadian electronic musician Stephen Bacchus. His work has recently been heard on compilation albums like The Ambient Expanse, which repeats a piece heard on this album, and The Ambient Eclipse. He doesn't belong to the "school of Steve Roach," and you won't find pseudo-tribal percussion, tooting flutes, or rattles in these pieces. His textures are more simple, much like his fellow Canadians Mychael Danna and Tim Clement, but his harmonic choices are more dissonant and less popular-sounding than either Roach, Danna, or Clement. Only on the first piece of this album, "The Returning," do you get a more "sunny" quality. In the album notes he rightly admits that in this piece, and in some others on this album, he is strongly influenced by ambient originator Brian Eno. His pacing is very slow, which can either be considered sleep-inducing or contemplative, depending on your mood. He doesn't rely on spectacular special effects like endless reverb or "wall of sound" buildups. To appreciate this music, you must watch for small changes in the sameness, just as you would with any "minimalist" composer. Most of the music has a wintry, "interior" feeling, evoking long grey afternoons in a chilly Northern city (Toronto), though in two pieces ("Subterrania", cut 5, and "From the Ashes," cut 8) he does add some "industrial" clanking and grinding noises to his mix. Bacchus' sonorities are consistently austere and restrained. This is somber, serious music; if it is used for the mood-setting purpose that ambient is supposed to fulfill, you will find yourself wondering why your room is so cold and dark. HMGS rating: 6 out of 10 10/21/00
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