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Ambient Landscapes 2
Various artists
Dark Duck Records, 2000
http://www.darkduck.net

	So far, 2000 has been an exceptional year for ambient
music. The new releases that have come across my listening device
have been filled with interesting sounds and evocative sonic
passages. This compilation from Stephen Philips' "Dark Duck"
label is an example of the high class of 2000.
	Remember, new readers and listeners, that "ambient" can't
be judged by the standards you use for either popular or classical
music. Someone used to "mainstream" music will say, "Ambient
DOESN'T GO ANYWHERE!" The more mainstream genres
depend on development, progression, and structure to move their
message. Ambient, though, depends on pure sound, repetition, and
emotional evocation for its power, though the previous three
musical virtues can be present in some degree too.
	This being said, the nine tracks on Ambient Landscapes
2 represent the best in current ambient creativity. There is the
shimmering ironic nostalgia of Twine's "Illumination"(cut 2),  and
the metallic sound-edges of dreamSTATE's "Alpha Waves" (cut
4) which is led by a seamless transition into Alan Imberg's
contemplative, cool "Overview of Water" (cut 5). My favorite
piece on the whole album is cut 3,  the dramatic, spooky
industrial/gothic "Entered Apprentice" (title is from Freemasonry!)
by  the enigmatically named "e.Voice p.," who are really two
Eastern European gentlemen named  Serge Marinec and Andrei
Vasiljev. This could be the soundtrack for a cinematic chase
sequence through some infernal industrial underworld.
	Stephen Philips, the producer and Dark Duck originator,
has three pieces on the album, one under his "Deep Chill Network"
imprint, one under the name "Excelsior," and one in his own name.
"Explorations," from "Deep Chill," (cut 7) is cut from the same ice
as his previous "Heart of the Tundra," featuring extended bell-like
tones, while  Excelsior's "Conscious Freq" (cut 1) sends forth
droning flatline fifths. Philips' own "On the Edge" softly whispers
ominous electronic rumors into your ear. The album ends with
James Johnson's ultra-restful floating electronic chords in "Drift"
(cut 9) which for some reason, unlike most ambient music, sounds
better played at a higher volume.
	As I have often said, this esoteric form of ambient is not for
everyone, but if you want music that permeates your consciousness
like the fragrance of disturbing flowers, I highly recommend this
compilation album.

HMGS rating: 8 out of 10
EER-MUSIC.com

August 20, 2000




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