Steve Roach / Dirk Serries

Low Volume Music

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Both Steve Roach and, in his Vidna Obmana guise, Dirk Serries have worked together in the past as well as on their own -- an understatement, given the two composers' extended discographies -- so seeing them come together once more after nearly a decade apart is one of those steps that's both familiar and promising. The sometimes gentle and always compelling nature of their work is remarkable, and with Low Volume Music they created yet another standout in 2012. The titular suggestion need not be the way to listen to the album -- there's something enveloping about a higher-volume listen to the songs -- but the emphasis on something contemplative and quietly there lends itself perfectly to the kind of ambient approach originally formalized by figures such as Brian Eno, something not to necessarily concentrate on in full while still enjoying its process. There's also less of a sense of deep depths as suggested by heavy echo or quick or aggressive percussive or rhythmic elements, though both have figured in both artists' various works -- there's instead a sense of calm control throughout, where the serenely moody tones in the background of "Whisper" aren't ominous so much as deeply calming, soft curls of further melody flowing through the mix in its own pattern in turn. "Bow" in particular is one of the calmest and one could almost say sweetest things either of them have ever recorded -- without sounding like a stereotype of new age music as caricature, there's something so nicely engaging and calming about the flow of "Bow" over nearly a quarter of an hour that one could almost bathe in the music.

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