By Jim Brenholts



Robert Carty
My Earth Touches Me
Deep Sky Music
Robert Carty is one of the world's most prolific composers and musicians. He has released 49 CD's since 1990, all on his own label and all recorded in his home studios. Several of them pay homage to the earth. All of them are excellent. My Earth Touches Me stands just above excellence. Robert is a sensitive soul and he injects that sensitivity into his compositions. This disc starts with a deep didgeridoo drone that builds to some intense tribal percussion. As the tension mounts listeners become aware that a story is unfolding and Robert is narrating - musically. He introduces atmospheric washes and melodic airs as he continues towards a climax.

Robert adds nature sounds and symphonic synths to complete the sound design. He has crafted a wonderful tale that speaks to the Dreamtime, an Aboriginal myth about the creation of the earth and all things spiritual and holy; it is a beautiful and exciting symphony.

It is much more than that. This is a meditation and relaxation masterwork. The rhythmic tension allows listeners to focus on movement as a tool. The atmospheres and washes allow for a settling as the focus moves inward. The symphonic synths are the denouement and take the relaxation to the nth level and beyond.

This is a superb CD from a master story teller. Robert's soul shines brightly.

Steve Roach, Kevin Braheny and Thom Brennan
Western Spaces
Fortuna Records,,407369,00
There has been controversy and disagreement in music since the first human banged two rocks together or sang "Hey! This is Music!"

Western Spaces was first released in 1987 by Steve Roach, Kevin Braheny and Richard Burmer. In 1989 or 1990 - for reasons known only to him - Richard decided to remove his name and material from the project.

Thom Brennan had co-written one of the pieces with Steve so he filled in quite smoothly and capably. (The re-issue - in 1990 - is officially credited to Steve and Kevin. In my personal correspondence with Steve and Thom, they refer to it as a collaboration among the three artists so I have done so here.)

(There has also been a slight debate as to who "invented" or "created" desert ambience. It is generally accepted it was Steve but there are those who believe that it was Martin Franklin of TUU. Both of those gentlemen are friends of mine so I choose not to enter the debate. If I had to choose someone, however, I would choose Ferde Grofe's "On the Trail" from his Grand Canyon Suite as the first desert ambient piece.)

Anyway, that is some interesting trivia and history. This CD is interesting and awesome! It is, indeed, desert ambience at its finest. By definition and perception, this style of music is expansive and desolate. It allows the soul to wander and the spirit to roam.

Deep listeners will hear the heat as it percolates from the speakers and surrounds the listening area. The depths of the atmospheres are grand. The scope of the soundscapes is vast. Time will stand still as the music sets the course.

Nobody does desert ambience better than Steve Roach - of that there is little debate. This is a great CD and a visionary excursion. It might not be Steve's best desert CD but it is his most important.

Robert Rich
Hearts of Space
If there were a reason to choose the best ambient musician and/or performer, Robert Rich would be first or second. Fortunately, there is no reason to and no award to bestow. Suffice it to say that Robert is one of the best.

Rainforest is his first widespread release and his interpretation of - duh - tropical rainforests and his desire to communicate his desire for a world of lush beauty.

Using his unique intonations and just scales, Robert creates a singular tribute to the wild. These sonic interludes are vibrant and poignant, steeped in the traditions of tribal ambient and dark ambient.

Robert brings those divergent musical worlds together to convey his concerns for disappearing beauty and his yearning for a renewed spirit for the preservation of Earth's natural resources. (Indeed, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this album support the Rainforest Action Network.)

Regardless of the nobility of the cause, it must always come back to the music. Robert's unique musical vision and his sense of sound design are legendary. His atmospheres and soundscapes transcend ethereality and become reality, albeit on a different plane.

Lush tones of the tropical vibes contrast and complement the dark drones and foreboding atmospheres. It is meditation nirvana! There are so many paths to explore and all the time in the world to do so. The contrasts create focus. The complements create purpose. The music is the guide.

While this CD is almost 20 years old it still holds its place as an important environmental statement. It is one of the many outstanding releases from an outstanding individual.

Vidna Obmana
The River of Appearance
Projekt Recordings
Dirk Serries began his recording career under the pseudonym Vidna Obmana - a play on word that translates loosely as "optical illusion." Under that alias he has released some of the best minimalism ever. The River of Appearance is an ambient classic. It represents Dirk's affection for the calm, serene and untouched places on Earth - those places where an individual can commune with nature and be with oneself.

Like all of Dirk's minimalism, this is best experienced with headphones and solitude. That allows the subtle progression of configurations and rhythms. While the music flows freely and serenely there is a distinct structure. It is meticulous and almost mathematical.

Again, it comes back to the music and its purpose. Back in the 1960's or 1970's, there was a commercial on TV where an actress was experiencing a stressful day. She stopped and screamed "(Blank), take me away!" The next sequence showed her in a bathtub with soft light and chorale music as relaxed as she could be. That's what this CD is - an escape from whatever binds and stresses. It is relief and respite, the ultimate rest stop on the highway of life.

Sometime in the mid 1990's, Dirk changed the spelling of his recording alias to vidna Obmana. He did not change his style or direction. In 2005 he retired that persona and adopted a more experimental style as Fear Falls Burning. (He still releases excellent music.) This CD is an absolute classic.

Sounds of Serenity:
Musical Meditation and Nature's Chorus
KRS Edstrom Soft Stone
Sounds of Serenity: Musical meditation and Nature's Chorus is a set of four deeply-relaxing pieces collected from the musical accompaniment to KRS Edstrom's Inner Mastery series. (This series is a set of six guided-meditation CD's. The focus is on mindfulness meditation.)

This is delicious music that requires focused listening to appreciate its full benefits. Skillful performances give the atmospheres body and depth and orchestral and symphonic timbers. There are some acoustic elements but most of the music "feels" electronic. The atmospheres have strong overtones that facilitate deep meditation and meandering within one's soul.

Such journeys are always meaningful and fulfilling - none more than this one. As the listener gets deeper into this music, they discover new meanings and more paths to follow. The calmness is so underwhelming that it overwhelms.

That's it! This set promotes profound exploration of the depths of - well - serenity. The overtones surround the synapses and lull the listener gently into a state of extreme subconsciousness. Meditation takes on new meaning and it is easy to get lost - easier to get found and a smooth ride in every direction.

This is a great CD! The effects are almost narcotic and border on psychedelic. While it is a meditation marvel, it is not for beginners.

Jim Brenholts resides in N. Versailles, PA and can be reached at


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