Echo Passage (1999)

While running as a single 68.5-minute piece, Echo Passage is divided into three sections, Echoes of Light, A slip of darkness and The Passage; but there are no signposts to clearly delineate the pathways through these fantastic territories. Vidna Obmana and Alio Die have explored this realm and we're hereby invited to share its sonic bounty though each listener will have to discover their own aural trail. Flutey bursts, whispy shimmers, and the organic glistenings of trickling sands mark the entryway. It doesn't take long amongst these unusual textures to realize the previous world is now gone, and who needed it anyway... it's much more lovely here. A long, long stretch of rich multi-layered drones with no interruptions or percussive effects is eventually visited upon by sparse instances of faraway birdlike hoots and chatter as the soundwaves become more subdued and darker. More organics emerge as a fizzy/bubbly current flows through these parts, and a powerful surging entity begins to periodically pulse in long, low tones. Everything returns to an airier, calmer state... for the time being at least. At the halfway point, those sonic molecules begin to shadow and thicken, becoming more ominous, like a mechanical wind, though still suffused with choirlike threads of unearthly beauty. The turbulence grows; faint, unidentifiable ripples are heard through the chasmic howl. Cyclonic murk surrounds with distant vocal mutations and thin chimes occasionally lighting the way, leading into a realm of almost-silence. A thin drone blows in to be joined by mutedly brassy blares. Sporadic bird chirps add an Earthly touch to the otherwise unnatural atmospheres. A radiant haze begins to coalesce, swirling with gossamer strands, delicate yet powerful, gaining accompaniment from a two-tone counterpoint which temporarily fades away. Magical swells convolve around each other in strangely symphonic patterns, dancing like celestial auroras, wondrous to behold. All dissipates in the end, vanishing like the enchanting dreamworld it was... Echo Passage contains all the audio awe-inspiration you would expect from a musical meeting between Vidna Obmana and Alio Die. The extended length and expertly rendered atmospheres are perfectly suited for long, deep immersions into abstract time and place. Go there!  

Please go to the Store to buy this item. Ahhhh. That's my initial reaction to this great collaboration between Vidna Obmana and Alio Die. Bright, warm, metallic synths slowly wash over rain sticks in an ethereal blend of soothing sounds. Breathing slows, the heart rate and blood pressure drop. The calmino effect is extraordinary. Besides the medicinal value, it happens to be very, very good music. There is a great synergy at work here. It is impossible to tell who contributed a particular musical idea, as they blend to perfection as a unified whole. The liner notes are intentionally vague about the instrumentation, crediting the musicians with drones, samples, loops, treatments, textures, recycling, and various acoustics. The result is an organic, breathing musical work. The wonderful trick here is how effortlessly the music flows, such that the musical space is completely different every few minutes, but you can't figure out how you got there. The metallic synths and rain sticks are completely gone now, but I can't pinpoint exactly when they left, unless I want to fidget with my CD player and sit down to figure it out. But then, that's not the point. This is some of the best relaxation music I've heard, ever. It isn't lightweight, and it isn't boring. The drones are richly complex, and they evolve at exactly the right pace. A point of comparison might be early works from Michael Stearns, such as ‘Ancient Leaves’ or ‘Jewel’, although ‘Jewel’ doesn't develop at the same pace that ‘Echo Passage’ does. Though the music plays continuously and is technically indexed as one track, three movements with individual titles are noted. Even though times aren't marked, these passages are fairly identifiable. ‘Echoes of Light’ Transitions into ‘A Slip Of Darkness’ around the 23-minute mark. The rain sticks return, and the music is quieter, softer, with birds in the background. No, this isn't some new age turn; the bird noise is subtle and occasional. At about 35 minutes is where I'm guessing ‘The Passage’ begins, because the music grows and builds to a giant wall of sound, a fairly dramatic moment in a mostly peaceful sonic journey. The dark beauty and solitude return for the remainder, in a variety of different sound collages. One of the strongest ambient releases I've heard, ‘Echo Passage’ is not to be missed.

  (PD)

Perhaps one of the broadest, most expansive styles of music would be ambient.  With ambient music, you can create a large array of emotionally charged music that can travel all roads.  Much of dance-oriented music is purely ambient as it utilizes a steady rhythm of beats to underscore the layer of music that it carries.  Carrying over to other ambient styles, you can create worlds of oceanic bliss found in organic soothers or, as in the cases of Alio Die and Vidna Obmana, worlds of chaos, unrest, destruction, and a strong foreboding sense of the unknown. Both of these personas usually work alone, creating very unique worlds of depth found entrenched in their darkly shadowed soundscapes.  Both produce enduring images more frightening than film can produce largely because they operate within the working engines of one’s fiercely independent mind.The listener can develop a movie within that will disturb and unnerve him/her far more effectively than any filmmaker can rattle whole audiences.
Projekt Records have reissued the 1999 joint effort by two of the more diabolical soundmasters known in ambience circles.  “Echo Passage”, before released on MMM (Musica Maxima Magnetica), is a collaborative work between the previously mentioned purveyors of mysteries.
“Echo Passage” consists of three conceptually related pieces that you notice a change only by the changes in texture.  The three pieces blend well together and unfold elegantly.  The second piece releases the chirp of a bird into a mechanically intense environment, a string of beauty in a weathered cloth.  It all softens into a low drone before reawakening into the third track as a work of motion and effect. The new digipak features a new graphic cover, done by Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Projekt's Sam Rosenthal. It is available via mail-order, revitalizing a highly sought after out-of-print title. Music listeners who are hesitant or cautious about this kind of music can be assured if they have, in the past, enjoyed the ambient likes of Pink Floyd and their progressive ability to shore up their high impact lyrics with a higher impact sound effect or series of sound effects.  Bands like Pink Floyd (and others) led to experimental ambient leaders like Tangerine Dream, Michael Hoenig, and to other extents, Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells, Ommadawn, Hergest Ridge) and even Kraftwerk (Autobahn, The Model.)  While the dark and richly layered music that fills the reissued “Echo Passage” is somewhat repetitive and droning, you’re sure to visit an extraordinary place that I haven’t seen…and it might be thrillingly fantastic.

Let go…

Rewieved by Matt Rowe – www.musictap.net