Exposé Online banner

Marvin Ayres — Neptune
(Burning Shed bshed 0504, 2001/2004, CD)

Marvin Ayres / Pete Gomes — Sensory
(Burning Shed bshed-0704, 2004, DVD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2005-09-01

Neptune Cover artSensory Cover art

Marvin Ayres has a different approach to ambient music, using electric violin, viola, and cello instead of keyboards (with the exception of a bit of organ on one track). I suppose it’s a bit of a stretch to call this ambient music – maybe minimalist is more like it, though he goes in a different direction than Philip Glass. The electric strings are used mostly for long tones, and repetition does not figure prominently, at least not in a rhythmic sense. At times, a single note is sustained for many seconds, with the tone color changing subtly; at other times, layers of notes build up ambiguous tonalities that imply melodies without really stating them. The overtones fit together in such as was as to create the illusion of other instruments, so that sometimes you seem to hear a flute or something else. On “Chanty” the viola plays a plaintive melody backed by echoey notes reminiscent of seagulls. The tempo picks up a bit at the end for “Swell” (all the tracks on Neptune have nautical-related titles), where strangely distorted violins drift in and out of hearing playing fragmented arpeggios. Ayres has an interesting and different take on the usage of electrified string instruments, far removed from what has been heard in progressive rock and jazz fusion; his experiments in texture and tonality provide an interesting variation on the “chill-out” type of current electronic music.

Sensory is an Ayres project in collaboration with video artist Pete Gomes. Three pieces of music designed to be looped endlessly are accompanied by mostly abstract visuals, some computer generated, some manipulated from video of nondescript scenes. It’s not really the sort of thing you sit down and watch, but, in the true tradition of ambient music, you put it on and hear it in the background and glance at the screen from time to time.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 32, 2004 releases, 2001 recordings

Related artist(s): Marvin Ayres

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Canartic - Bouncing Radar Beams off the Moon – For the quick-and-dirty part of the review I’ll say this: imagine Bill Laswell’s kind of dub production only with a dose of psychedelic space rock instead of world music. The Austin, Texas duo of...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues