Steve Roach and Dirk Serries: Low Volume Music

Having previously recorded six full-length releases for Projekt between 1995 and 2005, Steve Roach and Dirk Serries (formerly vidnaObmana) reconvene after a long hiatus for Low Volume Music, an aptly titled hour-long set of finely calibrated minimalism. Don't be fooled by the album title: its five pieces aren't pitched at a level of near-inaudability but instead declare their ethereal character with ample presence. Introspective and harmonious by design, the tracks unfurl in slow-motion, their loops rising and falling like the breathing patterns of a sleeping infant.

Though no instrumentation details are provided, one presumes that the tracks, which range between eight and fifteen minutes, blend the soft hum of Roach's electronic textures with the calming washes of Serries' guitar playing, and the resultant effect is both meditative and soothing. It's the sum-total of sound that's more important here than the individual components, however, and most importantly the calming effect the flowing sound mass generates. Admittedly, played at a low volume, the pieces would merge with the environment, given their seeming stasis, but played at a higher volume, they produce no small amount of stimulation. There are moments, especially during the fifteen-minute closer “Haze,” when the music could be mistaken for a meditative Fear Falls Burning piece—not that that surprises, given Serries' involvement in the Low Volume Music project.

Representative of the album's tone is “Whisper,” whose limpid swirls and softly shimmering textures exhale ever so gently for thirteen minutes. The penultimate “Bow” breathes as placidly, with Serries' micro-guitar shadings heard fluttering within an opaque, oft-crystalline cloud mass after which “Haze” drifts ever so slowly, filling the room as aromatically as incense. Admittedly, there's nothing revolutionary about Low Volume Music—no governments will topple nor regimes collapse following its release. But there is something thoroughly satisfying about two experienced practitioners pooling their considerable talents to bring a classic set of deep ambient moodscaping into being.

September 2012