2. Dark Mist, Rain (2023 remaster)
3. Terrace of Memories (2023 remaster)
4. From Within the Cold (a fragment) (2023 remaster)
5. Of Silent Crossings (2023 remaster)
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1992’s Terrace of Memories is an organic ambient album of longing and gentle melancholic minimalism. Sam Rosenthal (Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s founder/synthesist, then based in Los Angeles) and Dirk Serries (then recording under the moniker vdnaObmana in Belgium) blended their atmospheres and somber contemplative electronics on this timeless album filled with lush, dark and beautiful impressions. Energized by a passage of text written by Sam concerning a lost love, the swelling deep waves of the five tracks suggest memories of more pleasant times lost forever in the cold, lifeless present. The pieces are appropriately mournful with a slow grace as they drift through a world of remembrances, an endless stream of succulent and stirring reflections.
England’s MUSIC FROM THE EMPTY QUARTER wrote in ‘92: More than ever before, Sam lets his emotions run away on a tide of ambient turbulence. Five drifting movements ride the intake of senses, breathing the air of life and surrounding beauty. As fullsome as the cycle of seasons, cascading visions of past and present contact loop and collide. A very deep personal intrusion into the mind & heart, represented by a dark, mysterious and sensual music. Cast adrift into the caring hands of this truly original and honest artist who not only lives within himself, but sheds his soul through others as well.
Rosenthal and Obmana created this album the old fashioned way — by sending tapes in the mail across the world. They captured the essence at ambient music’s core, creating a dreamlike, surreal universe, and wrapping listeners in the fascinating soundscapes. Obmana’s icy and isolating textures are beautifully contrasted by Rosenthal’s warmer synthetic presence. It’s a blissful, slowly spinning environment for those contemplative rainy or winter nights. This is ambient minimalism at its best.
Lose yourself in Terrace of Memories‘ green and grey charms.
• 2024 remaster by Dirk Serries, taken from original DAT mixes
• CD in 6-panel digipak with additional images
• Limited edition LP in two color mixes
• Digital has five bonus unreleased source tracks
• Their only collaboration: organic ambient and gentle melancholic minimalism
ALL MUSIC GUIDE review by Jim Brenholts: The liner notes tip listeners that the soundscape is going to be about a lost or unrequited love. The music is appropriately somber without becoming dark or maudlin. Obmana and Rosenthal are not only lamenting the loss, but they are celebrating the love itself. Deep listeners will feel the pain of losing love while enjoying the experience of having love. Is it better to love or to be loved? That question might never be answered. Rosenthal and Serries are not looking for closure here either. But they readily admit that having the experience — be it lost or unrequited — was priceless. This CD will appeal to fans of Robert Rich, Alio Die, Mike Griffin, and Dave Tollefson. It is essential for all fans of electronic minimalism.
ALLES SO SCHÖN STILL HIER by Nils Wortmann (a 2021 book of the 100 best ambient albums from 1975 to 2020): Behind the project name Terrace of Memories is the American Sam Rosenthal, founder of the label Projekt Records, and the Belgian Dirk Serries, who has made a name for himself in ambient circles especially under the pseudonym vidnaObmana. The result of this unique collaboration is five pieces of haunting ambient compositions, which on the self-titled album create a perfect symbiosis of the darkwave sounds of Rosenthal’s Black Tape For A Blue Girl and the cool beauty of vdnaObmana’s early works. With words like gloominess or haunting one can try to approach the compositions on Terrace of Memories but they do not really hit the mark. It is better to simply marvel at how the album unfolds such an enchanting and devastating power right from the beginning with so few elements on “These Ancient Halls.” A nice start to this timeless album, which Rosenthal says took quite a long time to create. I guess it was Serries who sent Rosenthal a few recordings on tape, and Rosenthal in turn the one who continued to work on the recordings on the 8-track. Since the further exchange of the tapes happened before the times of the internet and was done by mail, the album was finally completed in 1992 due to the longer waiting times. The wait was truly worth it. The pieces that follow captivate with warm, futuristic and evenly gentle gloomy tones. The album culminates in the 17-minute “Of Silent Crossings” in a final expansive sound painting, which you can’t get enough of. Is it conducive for meditation? Maybe. Nevertheless, it is conceivably unsuitable for yoga classes, because the music invites you to an emotional sound journey. It seems that there will be no further collaboration in the near future. Serries, who found his way to ambient music via industrial, has meanwhile arrived in free jazz and runs his own jazz label. Rosenthal is also involved in his various band projects and his label. What remains is this timeless album.
EXPOSÉ (2023): On its original release in 1992, the artist was Terrace of Memories and the album title was the same, although it was no secret who was behind this music: Projekt’s Sam Rosenthal and VidnaObmana, who today records under his real name, Dirk Serries. 31 years ago floating ambient music was just reaching its early zenith, with artists like Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Michael Stearns, and yes, VidnaObmana all producing an excellent new kind of music striving hard to differentiate itself from the so-called New Age music that had been around for at least a decade already. What New Age music is and isn’t would require a masters thesis to sort out the details, but (besides being a catch-all term used by retailers for music they didn’t understand) New Age music tends to be soft, melodic, delicate and pretty, whereas floating ambient sounds tended to be darker, shaded, textural, and often industrial. Both Dirk Serries and Sam Rosenthal were early pioneers of the latter sound and offered huge advancements over the years. Terrace of Memories consists of five long tracks that would fit nicely on two LP sides, and it will be released that way in January 2024. The seventeen minute epic “Of Silent Crossings” that closes the album is dark, menacing, wonderfully textural, and above all immersive, something that would work well in a loop that ran for hours. The four tracks before it offer explorative alternate perspectives on the floating textural sound, with the opener, ”These Ancient Halls,” being particularly effective. The title track follows flowing textural loops, while “From Within the Cold (a fragment)” has more of a shimmering industrial feel to it, with soft voices fading in and out during its final minutes. Terrace of Memories was groundbreaking on its original release 31 years ago and remains so today.
Sam reflects: “As far as I can recall, I began working on this collaboration with Vidna after the recording of A chaos of desire. Dirk sent me cassette tapes of music, and I worked on my 8-track, I believe. But then got distracted by other projects, and the tapes were pushed to the back-burner and the album wasn’t concluded until 1992. Quite honestly, I only have the vaguest memory of working on it in The Lush Garden studio in Los Angeles. I remember that even a few weeks after I finished a piece, it was hard for me to tell what parts I played and what parts were Vidna. Aside from the low cello sound on my eMax, and the very slight vocals on the one track, who played what is a blur. That’s cool. It’s a great ambient blend.
I asked Vidna for his recollections on the album… “Back in the days, pre-internet, we traded a lot of tapes by mail. Projects and collaborations took much longer to complete due to the longer waiting times, waiting for the postal system to do their work. When I started to correspond with Sam in the mid-80s, I was very into the albums by his Black Tape For A Blue Girl band. The eerie atmospheres and ambience which surrounding the songs were really mesmerizing and I could hear a blend of Sam’s soundstructures with my ambience. So I sent him sources on tape. But with every collaboration release back then, time moved by before actually something was completed, again due to the slower way of communicating. Meaning that at the moment something came to you or vice-versa, it happened quite often you were already in a different state of mind. When Sam sent the first song, I wasn’t in tune anymore despite Sam’s brilliant interaction and additional performances. Terrace of Memories is a real Sam Rosenthal & vidnaObmana collaboration and I truly wonder why we never did a follow-up. Enjoy.”