The most obvious point of reference for Loren Nerell's latest ambient experiment is the 1980s work of Jon Hassell, whose heavily treated trumpet, and drastically altered, found-sound collages from exotic locales defined the Fourth World genre in much the same way that Brian Eno redefined the term "ambient" in the 1970s. The problem with Nerell's single 69-minute track, though, is that while it is rich in ambience and texture, it is almost completely bereft of anything that could reasonably be called "music." You'll hear lots of distant voices singing or conversing or wailing, and you'll hear chittering insects, ceremonial bells, and other undefinable atmospheric noise, but you will hear no melodies, no obviously intentional chords, no rhythm, no apparent structure. Of course, the tacit assumption behind this album is that you, the listener, are too sophisticated to require such pedestrian stuff, or perhaps that you are going to use these sounds as a tool for meditation (the connection to Eastern mystical traditions is made explicit by the Hindu and Buddhist art on the cover and insert). If you don't listen carefully, the sonic collage moves as slowly and inexorably as a cloud, and is about as substantial; if you do listen carefully, there's all kinds of interesting stuff going on. So the question is, how hard to you want to have to listen?
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