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
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.
Related artist(s): Marvin Ayres
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more
Catharsis - Le Bolero du Veau des Dames & Et S'Aimer – Catharsis were one of the most esoteric of the French 70s rock groups, combining influences of rock, folk, classical, psych and medieval into an unusual and distinctly individual mold. Led by... (1995) » Read more