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CD Feature/ Vidna Obmana: "The River of Appearance"

img  Tobias

When does an album turn into a "classic"? Popular culture would answer: If it becomes a point of reference for others, opening up a stylistic system of its own. From a more traditional point of view, the inherent quality of a piece of music to inspire or even force others to interpret it is the key – for this implies that its value transcends that of a mere subjective sensation. Thus, one could argue that “The River of Appearance” has now attained that much sought-after status in both worlds.

On the one hand, there is the original, which was conceived, composed and recorded in 1996, a time when the antagonism between commercial contemporary eletronic music (mostly refered to as “techno”) and its “serious” counterpart (somewhat uninspiredly dubbed IE – Intelligent Electronics) had split the scene. Gone were the days, when people could either dance, chill and listen to acts like “The Orb”, without having to feel as though they were doing the music some kind of injustice. It was in this year that Dirk Serries, an autodidact who had risen from the depths of the industrial underground to more and more spacious and threedimensional soundscapes as well as harmony and melody, rediscovered his interest in simple loop structures. Instead of the ever-more complex algorithmical and “architetectonic” works of some of his colleagues (whom the press applauded, but hardly anyone really listened to), “The River of Appearance” is an oasis of simplicity: Short, dreamy motives drift through long-drawn, fluffy chord schemes, which rotate around their own axes in a darkly sugar-coated heaven. Echoes of acoustic instruments rise like pebbles to the surface of a scantly lit pond – angelic pianos, humming bass notes, brushed percussion, opaquely buzzing choral voices - and fade away again. Thanks to its puristic nature, every tone is the birth of an entire cosmos, which ebbs off into a slipstream of crystaline reverb. It is a galaxy of feminine energy – there is no “must”, no boundaries, no time and no danger in allowing yourself to fall in completely. Soon, of course, this wonderous style would be copied and pasted to CDs all over the world, but this is where it began.

In the year of its initial release, Kirk Kristlibas of American acoustic duo Dreams in Exile was crusing the “Palisades Parkway” in search of music on the radio to match the ominous night around him. “Ephemeral vision” by Vidna Obmana caught his ear and immediately seduced him. It was the beginning of a deep relationship with “River” and a friendship with Serries, who, five years later, invited Kirk and his musical partner Corey Pressman to record their own ephemeral vision of the composition. Guitars, Mandolins, Trombones, Water Glass, French Horns and a children’s choir now take over from the electronics and develop a dynamic of their own. The atmosphere is still haunting and tickling on a subcutaneous level, but has a more earthly character – compare it to the feeling of lying in your sleeping bag at night in the grand canyon, watching the stars glisten and glow above you. While some pieces have gained in openness and at least appear to be slightly less hermenautic, the crushing gitar pickings of the moonlight maharachi fata morgana of “Night-Blooming” sends claustrophobic shivers down your spine.

This double disc does a great job at presenting both versions in their very own splendour. In its reworked form, the ancient art of interpretation and the modern one of the album are unified in perfect harmony: The Dreams in Exile rendition can stand on its own two feet and merely uses the original to ignite a new firework of associations and themes. It could even – though that may take some time to sort out – turn into a genuine classic on its own.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Vidna Obmana
Homepage: Projekt Records

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