Terra Ambient — The Gate
(Lotuspike LS-0001, 2004, CD)
by A Skeoch, Published 2005-09-01The name sums it up – spacious electro/ethnic/ambient soundscapes, complete with moody, Porcupine Tree-like architectural cover imagery. Terra Ambient is Pittsburgh based Jeff Kowal’s solo studio project, and The Gate his second album. It is published through Lotuspike, a collective label that also features releases by ambient musicians Ben Cox and Michael Allison. Jeff is trained as a graphic designer and visual artist, and this may inform his approach to tonal coloring and layering. He begins with cavernous electronic and (real) didgeridoo drones, ornamenting with Indian bansuri, Chinese pipa lute, overtone vocals and processed guitar, all put through a suitably humongous reverb algorithm. A diversity of (again thankfully real) mainly African hand percussion emerge and recede into the mix to provide a shifting, loose and atmospheric pulse. The music is fairly homogeneous throughout the album, moving fluidly from one soundscape to another, the journey remaining essentially in the same emotional place. The result is too dark for new age, but nevertheless remains safely within a tonal realm. Robert Rich is an obvious comparison, and Kowal credits Rich in his liner notes for friendship and counsel. This may point to my only small reservation with the album; it is understandable that artists may want to emulate their heroes, but personally I would like to hear more individuality, personality and imagination in this music, especially considering that is a second album. That said, this is hypnotic, spacious, and sensitively composed music that fulfils its intention of providing deep night spaces for drifting.
Related artist(s): Terra Ambient (Jeff Kowal)
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
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
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
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