Ambient Music comes in many shades, and it is a green cast which permeates Still Life volume two (51'56") by Nelson Foltz + Tom Lynn. Their work creates an atmospheric journey through the emerald hued regions of Fourth World Music. An unguided tour, this shamanistic adventure provides nuanced yet detailed aural surroundings within which the listener may roam. The piece begins extremely softly with a sub-sonic drone beneath slowly breathing tones. Its development is nearly imperceptible as the airy notes continually layer up and gently recede. With spaced scales played on a kalimba, the rhythmic section is introduced and this long-form piece begins to take shape. The soundfield fills out with various hand drums and other native percussion devices playing together in pulsing lines. This intricate stratum of sounds began its origins in something other than a synthesizer or other electronic music device. However, once out in the air these waves are processed digitally. When Foltz's trombone blows are introduced it sounds as if the spirit of some lost tribe is trying to communicate with us. Processed and pitch shifted - and played in a style similar to that of trumpeters Jon Hassell or Nils Petter Molvaer - the horn tones are transformed into an eerie and breathy hybrid. Occasionally sliding between notes gives these solos a distinctive quality, as does the warm and fuller tone of this instrument.
Still Life progresses to a more active point where all the elements come together in a slow cyber-dance ritual (the calm beats and intermittent bassline of which continue to reverberate in our minds long after the piece winds down). Foltz and Lynn are artists working in the medium of sound, and in the dimension of time. The magic realism they have devised on Still Life bends time in the mystic ways of the ancients - a concept those of the First World need to recognize and incorporate.
Chuck van Zyl - STAR'S END