Exposé Online banner

Terra Ambient — The Gate
(Lotuspike LS-0001, 2004, CD)

by A Skeoch, Published 2005-09-01

The Gate Cover artThe 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.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 32, 2004 releases

Related artist(s): Terra Ambient (Jeff Kowal)

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Edgar Froese - Ages – I know what you may be thinking: Froese's parent group hit the skids ten years ago. But have no fear as Ages is a 1978 classic-TD-era release. So where's all the rejoicing? I feel pretty silly myself....  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues