Artist: Various Artists
Album: Texture :: A Compilation Of Minimal Ambient Guitar

Label: Slobor Media

Texture :: A Compilation Of Minimal Ambient Guitar (76'24") presents 13 artists eschewing the common musical rhetoric of the guitar. While the craft of these works utilizes the concept of sustain over articulation, the overall aesthetic of each realization varies with the outlook and personality of each individual musician. The original tracks collected here all begin with a guitar as their basic sound source, so it is through the manipulation of this instrument's familiar tone that each piece becomes distinct: e-bow exciting the metal strings, volume pedal to truncate the leading edge of a plucked note, lenghty echo for the doubling, layering and the thickening up of thin tones, shorter delays for shifting and brightening, as well as distortion, filtering and sustain effects to add and subtract color... and on top of this hardware from the well-equipped ambient guitarist's toolbag, a multitude of studio techniques were employed to further alter and disguise the works.

The collection opens with "Grace and Bounty" (5'30") by Jason Sloan, which rises slowly out of silence into dense layers of sustaining drones, then back down again - a basic brooding storm cloud of sound. "Pulsatile" (8'03") by Exuviae is less anxious as it rolls and churns in a submerged muted realm. The pastoral chord progressions and heavenly timbres of Jeff Pearce's "Harbinger" (6'05") reveals the gravity of eternity. On "Beltran" (3'43") by Mike Bennett, we are pulled into an atonal space to be weathered by dark winds and bleak sonorities. The title, "Lost So Much" (4'10") sums up the emotional content of Alan Imberg's somber study for E-bow, delay and loss. "Lansing" (3'51") by Matt Borghi takes us on location with field recordings of a train yard then creatively mixed with ambient guitar wanderings. With "Mare's Tale" (7'02") Numina covers a deep sustained continuo with a narrative of creeping radiant melodies. Washes of breathing guitar chords circulate through cavernous reverberation on "Red Sun" (6'25") by Tony Gerber + Rob Jenkins. Michale Kirson-Goldapper slowly moves his piece, "Distance" (4'57") forward through the ever-so gradual addition and subtraction of sonic elements over time. The effect is that of staying in one place as your surroundings slowly change. The sound design on "Quickenberries" (4'59") by Anomalous Disturbances is linear, concluding in a different space than were it began - its metalic background warmed by the slow emergence of thin sustained tones. The recurring melodic theme on Remco Helbers' "Urban Nightshape II" (7'05") apears as an apparition above the detuned motion of an organesque drone and provides reassurance against an uncertain reality. True Color of Blood uses heavenly harmonic shifts and a current of subtle changes on "Twilight State Dream" (5'17") to describe the unique quality of that indistinct area between consciousness and sleep. This collection concludes with "Miniml" (9'20") by Markus Reuter, his clean swells looping, swirling and merging gracefully over and over again into infinity.

Texture :: A Compilation Of Minimal Ambient Guitar is limited to 100 copies and is a wonderful project - meant to challange and enlighten both audience and artist.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   25 May 2003

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