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Vidna Obmana (the Belgian ambient electronic composer, whose real name is Dirk Serries) has been prolific in the last half of the '90s and into this new decade. I am happy to report that I like his new music more and more. This collaboration with ambient guitarist Jeff Pearce is a good sample of the newer Obmana style.
Obmana has chosen his collaborators wisely, especially his longtime musical partnership with Steve Roach. I must admit that the reason I like Obmana's music a lot more now, is that there is a heavy Roach influence in it. Roach has given Obmana a better sense of chord choice and pacing than he had before they worked together. Similarly, here with Pearce, Obmana must work within the sweet harmonies of the guitar, rather than depend on the gloomy atonal or microtonal tone-clusters that used to dominate his sound.
True Stories advertises itself as a series of small- scale, descriptive pieces designed to evoke an unspoken narrative. Each piece does have a different mood, but in general this album epitomizes throughout its length, the "relaxation" kind of ambient music – not too scary, devoid of rhythm or annoying percussion, and made with "floating" tones that drift in and out of hearing. Though Pearce contributes to every track, the actual sound of his guitar only appears in some of the pieces.. These are not necessarily my favorites. I especially enjoyed the all-electronic #3, "Horizon of thought" – though again, it is very much in the style of Steve Roach, almost to the point of direct imitation. I also liked #9, "The open darkness." Both of these pieces use more dissonance, which gives the piece a "mysterious" mood. The other pieces have a sweeter, more harmonious sound.
One thing which I noticed about this album is that between most of the cuts there is about 25 seconds of silence; this is probably a deliberate choice of the composers, but it can be misleading as I began to wonder at some points whether my CD player was working correctly. I guess you must factor the silence in as part of the listening experience. In general, it's a good experience. If you are anxious - try True Stories - it might just be the drug-free tranquilizer you need.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.