& vidnaObmana: Well of Souls
Fear Falls Burning
he spoke in dead tongues (2-CD)
Arc of Passion
& vidnaObmana: Spirit Dome - Live Archive (2-CD Edition) ~ SALE $5
Steve Roach / Vidna Obmana's 2002 CD InnerZone served as the doorway to the surreal environment explored on Spirit Dome. Recorded in one continuous 74 minute session, this is a dark sanctuary of pure texture and beautiful, if not at times foreboding, dissonance pulled along with pulsing beats, subtle loops and dense soundworlds. The single piece, “Spirit Dome,” captures a chilling gothic ambience that offers the exploration of remote psychological states of awareness. This is achieved by way of extensive live processing of instruments including fujara (overtone flute), guitar, and the seemingly bottomless wellspring of electro-acoustic sounds found only in the soundscapes of the duo.
Spirit Dome was created live on the spot in room 314, Philadelphia, PA on May 24th 2002, around 1 AM. Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana were in town preparing for their performance at the 2002 Gathering / Projekt Festival. With only a brief window of time in which to work together before returning to their homes on opposite sides of the Atlantic, their reaction to the claustrophobic urban environment reveals a new dimension to their sound...
When listening to the recording unfold, one has to keep remembering that this unscripted spontaneous creation was a live session recorded directly to the stereo master, just as you are hearing it. No post production edits or overdubs were performed. Past discs from the duo include 1995’s Well Of Souls, 1997’s Cavern Of Sirens and 2002’s InnerZone; add their live concerts together in Europe and the US and we are brought to the enveloping world of Spirit Dome.
If you put two half-mad alchemists in one room with all their gear and leave them alone for an hour, something's bound to happen. If those alchemists happen to be sonic masters Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana, the result is Spirit Dome, a live, improvised 73-minute excursion into dark organic spaces and breathtaking musical complexity.
Recorded straight to master at 1 am as the pair were preparing for a concert appearance, Spirit Dome wends its way downward through the listener's consciousness into the primordial, serpentine landscape Roach and Obmana have explored in past collaborations such as Well of Souls and InnerZone. Together they sculpt a dimly lit pathway to the lower world -- a journey rich in layered sounds and aural imagery. There is depth here, and distance; there is grace and disturbance; there is peace and profound unease; all existing perfectly in the same space.
It's important to keep in mind that this is a live recording, with no dubbing or enhancing done in post production. This is Roach and Obmana setting off on their own, pure, riffing off each other, pulling skeins of sound together on the fly and weaving them into a lushly dark tapestry. It is a testament to the near-ideal chemistry the two musicians have developed over the course of their partnership. The piece develops naturally under their skilled hands, growing and recombining easily as it moves onward, elements dropping in and quickly finding their place in the grand scheme. Drums work their way into the flow, bringing a sense of tribe, and playful electronic twitches dot the rolling landscape like a challenge.
Spirit Dome reunites the artisanship of Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana who have released superb collaborations in the past such as Well Of Souls, 1997’s Cavern Of Sirens and InnerZone. “Created live on the spot in room 314” printed inside the liner notes has got me wondering … were there occupants in neighboring rooms 313 and 315 while this was all taking place at around 1 a.m.? With no editing or manipulation done to the original recording, Spirit Dome captures the raw essence of Roach and Obmana’s demiurgic capabilities and transcends my already high expectations of what these two can produce. Divided into eight parts, Spirit Dome is actually one long, uninterrupted piece spanning 73:31 that builds and evolves subtly throughout with no obvious transitions between tracks.
Opening with the sound of water churning beneath rocks inside what feels like a grotto or vast chamber, cricket chirps add to the presence of nightfall, conveyed further by dissonant tonal shifts. Chain-like clatter gradually intensifies as understated tribal drumming emerges, eventually fading into the backdrop for a later re-emergence. Eerie, metallic chords and stark wind hollows hover above an obscured restlessness. The album is filled with plenty of aural-organic spontaneity and a mood that shifts from preternatural to earthy and archeological. Towards the end of the piece the tribal drumming returns, this time gaining more prominence, along with wooden timbres. The drumming is ceased for the final phase of the piece, which slips into a vestigial calm and then evaporates.
While this recording is mildly serene it does tread on the spooky side. Therefore it is a bit too unsettling for me to actually drift asleep to. I do play it night, but choose to remain wide-eyed and active when doing so. However the mood never becomes menacing nor evokes any negative emotion, for Roach and Obmana each possess the keen ability to create darkness without alienating the listener. I feel comfortably creeped-out when listening to this disc as it sparks a similar kind of intrigue and frightening fun one might experience while watching an old mystery movie at night with the lights out. I highly recommend it to those willing to venture into a more shadowy world, and especially to fans of past Roach and Obmana collaborations. Spirit Dome is haunted by relics and occupied with ingenuity! - Candi Brammer
Recorded in one session, this is as haunting an album as either musician has ever laid on us to date. Whether the flowing, slowly encroaching electronic darkside or the lurching heartbeat-drum driven depths and almost unnerving electronic fogbanks, the music charts a seriously dark course for the first twenty minutes or so, the cavernous cosmic sound flowing, resonating and vibrating, and it's only around this point that a synth layer is introduced which provides a much-needed sense of light among the surrounding gloom, giving the music an even greater sense of purpose as the muffled drums beat in the background and synths flows and effects swirl around the mix. This then leads directly into this huge-sounding ocean of synths and electronics, again cavernous, multi-layered and cosmic, but with mighty soundscaping, an almost early seventies Tangerine Dream 'Zeit' feel to much of it and utterly riveting atmospheric music. As this huge musical iceberg rumbles on, it is joined by all manner of synth and electronic layers, much of them quite bleak but all of them full-sounding, sometimes smooth and full of finesse, but mostly seriously dark and fearful of the unknown. It's all pretty unnerving stuff, darkwave ambience and then some, the sort of music that sorts out the cosmic men from the cosmic boys - listen and be afraid!! - Andy G.
Their first collaboration since InnerZone, this finds Roach and Obmana in familiar territory, exploring the murky depths of primordial ambient ooze. In other words, this is good stuff. Totally improvised and presented exactly as it was recorded, this May 2002 after-midnight creation from Room 314 in Philadelphia shows just how well the creative juices start flowing when these two get together. For convenience, this single long piece of music is divided into 8 parts. The first runs 10 minutes, and is full of reverberating echoes, crickets, rustling sounds, and various other delicate atmospheres. A deep booming rhythm, just off in the distance, signals the beginning of part two. The rustling sounds get louder, the drumming more insistent . . . if this was a hotel room, I wonder how the other patrons slept! Steve's ambient guitar adds another dimension as the music develops. The echoes move from background to foreground, wailing insistently, and the overall effect is dramatic and haunting as this 21-minute section comes to a close, moving back into the ethereal realms for parts three through five, starting a bit lighter and gradually shifting down into the depths again by the time it reaches part five. Steve and Vidna have a knack for making very primal music that seems to reach into the soul, and it feels like that again here. Part six has elements that remind me of the ambient beginnings to Steveâs live two-disc set All Is Now. Only vestiges of rhythm are scattered throughout most of this, but drums finally return in part seven. The mixing of the atmospheric textures and the drums is excellent throughout. Though there is often the sense that the drums are pounding, they are never too forceful, carefully folded into the overall sound whenever they appear. Part 8 borders on the sound of evil, a darker version of Klaus Schulze's "Moogetique" from Body Love Vol. 2. It's a chilling but excellent way to finish things off. © 2004 Phil Derby / Synth Music Direct
| 9 of 10 stars | As solo artists, neither of this pair needs much of an introduction and as a duo they has been exploring the sonic frontier (from time to time) for almost a decade. During that span they have released three collaborations with this recording being their fourth. Part of what makes this one unique is that it is a live studio recording in the sense that, this pair of soundscape wizards sat down, and through their ambient alchemy, spontaneously created the music you hear on this disc. It emphatically states that Roach mastered the disc "without any additional recording or editing".
What brought Obmana from Belgium and Roach from the American Southwest was the 2002 Gathering/Projekt Festival. Not wanting to waste any time, they spent their offstage hours making this music. Not surprisingly, this is down tempo "gothic ambience". For me, what makes good ambient music is that you can listen to it many times and see how the tune slowly and subtly evolves. In the studio, this can be done by overdubbing one set of sounds with another. However, when you are improvising from the start, the talent in layering tones and sounds is apparent. Although this is divided into eight movements, the disc is actually a single seamless song. In addition to the array of electronic devices, guitar and fujara (overtone flute) contribute to the flow. A bit of an ethnic feel is brought into the second movement when a deep heartbeat-like / tribal drumming pattern pulses in to give the soundscape a framework. Their last collaboration, 'InnerZone' (released the same year this was recorded), though certainly not whimsical, seems to me to be lighter than this outing. The press material says that this is an "exploration of remote psychological states of awareness", but these states don't lean to far into the cheerful bubbly regions. Regardless, dark ambient lovers will certainly enjoy this recording. - Loren Bacon