« on: March 02, 2016, 10:10:20 AM »
Common Ground "Common Ground" CD
I have been really excited about this collaborative project since the very beginning, as far I remember it was early summer 2015, when it was officially announced. Gary Johnson and Bill Olien, the two crafted protagonists behind Californian ambient tribal combo Resonant Drift have joined their forces with another celebrated ambient/Berlin School aficionado Hollan Holmes from Texas. While over 3 years have passed since the latest magnum opus "Full Circle" by Resonant Drift (released during December 2012), Hollan Holmes has graced the last year's scene at the end of March with his triumphant "Incandescent" CD. "Common Ground" CD is out since December 7th, 2015 as a self-release and packaged in strikingly gorgeous 6-panel digipak. Visual bliss is immediately delivered, now that's a truly promising introduction of Common Ground!!! So let's dive deeply into the aural tapestries...
Crepuscular tranquility is silently permeated by stunningly immersing wetland field recordings, distant drone hums slowly awake as well, but the show is quickly stolen by warmly expansive drifts, gorgeously evocative and gracefully enrapturing. Sequenced patterns clandestinely arise and mesmerizingly amalgamate with grandiosely floating wistfulness, while weeping electric strings quietly imbue vast movements. I am hooked, this 10-minute sonic bliss is entitled "Many Voices", so the exquisite inauguration of this collaborative project continues, bravo, gentlemen!!! "Finding Our Way", clocking to nearly 6 minutes, embodies deeper drone nuances, where unfathomably polychromatic magmatic glides with elevating enigmatic whistle-like meridians are surreptitiously invaded by glimmering sequences. Nebulously delightful soundcarving!!! "Spirited Encounter" bridges flatlined mindscaping echoes, yearningly winding layers filled with cinematic poignancy and ear-tickling ethereal acoustic strings. Writing credit for this composition goes except Gary Johnson also to German droneforger Tomas Weiss. Perplexingly desolate intro on "Ancient Whispers", with 4:50 the shortest piece on album, is merged with mysterious voices announcing animated tribal grooves, shamanisticly high-spirited with synthetic cyber-trance traceries thrown in. Intangibly dissonant subtleties are persistently riding atop. "The Apollo Frequency" delves into thrillingly immense realms, where amorphously embracing warmness is insistently metamorphosing into floating and ebbing high-pitched nostalgic magnitudes. The scenario is jaw-droppingly chameleonic over the course of 6-minute length, yet tightly harmonious achieving graciously majestic and balmily infinite equilibrium. A drone tour de force!!! "Edge Of Tranquility", shifts, as entitled, into more pastoral landscapes bridging heartwarmingly introspective washes with titilatingly reverberant, yet gossamery infused meanders by, I believe, the Moog guitar. Wow, what a beauty!!! "Tempest Rising", with 8 and a half minutes the second longest track, keeps on exploring magnificently grandiose horizons, which are continuously invaded by intensified apertures, blending percolating sequences with raucously spiraling climaxes. Then soothingly diminuendoing into the soul-surrounding singular opaqueness. Another masterpiece!!! "Long Voyage Home" safely maintains the route of evocatively awe-inspiring panoramic drones, celestially wide-screen and reinforced by the glimpses of remote twitchy cymbal fragments. The journey sustains through the closing 7-minute "The Ties That Bind", again with all-embracing expanses, serenely cascading through spectacular altitudes and counterpointed with an array of contemplatively tinkling quietudes, while rattling organic sparkles are glancing on the pervading blanket of stillness. A very strong conclusion indeed!!!
Gary Johnson, Bill Olien & Hollan Holmes have brought to the table the very best of their creative forces, that's why I will always appreciate such a joint effort recording. "Common Ground" album is undoubtedly a truly glorious, 61 minutes long example, where are effectively merged masteries and signatures of all three kindred souls. Kudos to all of you, guys!!! While this highly polished aural spectacle can be celebrated also thanks to the mastering wisdom of Robert Rich, I would like to focus a bit also on already mentioned awesome visuals. Although the cover image exhibits at the first sight a rather industrial-like feel, but still enough ambiguous, an enormous body of work was invested into its creation. According to the published infos, Hollan Holmes, the main visual architect behind Common Ground's images, which are based around Planetary Gear Set, has spent over 170 hours while shaping it. And the credit list features also talented Nathan Smithson, who is responsible for modeling the additional geometry. There is even a full story about the whole process published on Common Ground's website, so don't hesitate to find out more, it's a very interesting reading. Well, if you are familiar with Hollan Holmes' discography, then you know how much of his visual wizardry is showcased on every of his 5 solo albums, of course except the aural brilliance. And it's quite obvious that Resonant Drift's albums get my highest recommendation as well!!! I don't have any updates on the most recent works by Resonant Drift, but Hollan Holmes is now working on his newest album, which he has already described as his biggest musical project. So experience works by Common Ground, Resonant Drift & Hollan Holmes now and make sure to keep an ear to ground, because there is always a lot more to come from these respected ambient composers!!!
Richard Gürtler (Feb 28, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)