CD REVIEW: David Merced - Ambientica
By Levi Canfield
Weakness: Too many to tell
Ambientica is a four piece, ALL keyboard, ambient group from Tampa Florida. The newest, self-titled release Abmientica, came out in the beginning of 2010. Being Ambientica’s first debut CD, this 50 minute long presentation hopefully is just a stepping stone into a new direction. Unfortunately, the sub-par web coverage of this band makes it hard to decide if this TRULY is music by four different people or the giant hoax by one David Merced.
Ambientica delivers on giving the listener just what to expect. “Relaxing music” is definitely what this album consists of, unfortunately the same can not by said for “good music”. Despite weak holes and flaws, the squalid production of this album, shows from where it came. That is a small DIY idea to create an ambient electronica from scratch. On a small scale, the band of 4 (or just David, still unsure) did just that. Out of all 11 tracks, only two are really memorable. Them being track three, “The after life” and track six, “The End”. Track three starts off with hummed vocals, before opening into an evocative landscape that recalls the soldiers of Lord of the Rings marching to war. The introduction of every element, the chanting, hummed female vocals, simple drum machine, and other effects make for a more open song. The key element in this song, that many other songs don’t seem to find is the complete lack of the corny piano. The piano that sounds directly lifted from Phantom of the Opera, is not apparent in this song. The guitar sounding sample is a nice addition, where everything else on the album is filled with piano melodies. Track ten exemplifies what Ambientica was trying to do on the entire album. Use a strong sense of pure electronica and samples, to create this vivid, but vastly open space. The background, spacey environment develops the song, while the piano fights for power over the song. After slowly integrating into each other, the piano and background collide with a 4 on the floor bass-line to climax the song before diving into the piano flutter again.
For an ambient album, you would hope that a slow start would be considered good. Some albums are good for trained headphone listening, many are good for just getting people moving, while a few find themselves suited better for the background. Like a proper soundtrack to fit while reading or relaxing in a bubble bath. Ambientica is none of the above. The biggest problem this album faces is rather than sounding like something created by a musician, it sounds more at place in a Castlevania soundtrack for a NES game. The production matches the same quality as something only audible enough to be heard on the DV-R it was burned onto. Annoying samples scatter over almost every song, the piano line feels stuck on repeat, and the compete lack of drums/rhythm make for an overall poor album. This album has a hard time keeping interest even for background noise. The atmosphere’s and open sonic wallpaper say more for ambient music then the music itself at times. Brian Eno’s, Music for Airplanes was able to use the lack of sound as it’s biggest instrument. . This is where Ambientica fell short the most. Everything seems to be riding on the piano line or odd vocals during every song. One of the biggest disappointments was how the 50 minute album was unable to keep everything flowing. Every song definitely has a clear marker on where one ends, and the next begins. At the same time, every song is so similar it still manages to all sound the same. In this case it just ends up failing on either being one piece of music, or different enough to notice the change in songs if not listening closely. The final tracks, 9 and 11, are where this CD really crashes harder than an airplane. Track 9 is full of the same mystic crap as every other track, along with ominous chanting of the word “Evil”. This is rarely something you would consider on an album of “relaxing music”. Then the final track is the melancholy finish to the snoozer this album was. Corny grand horns (imagine the ending scene of Star Wars) play over a repeating snareline for 4 and a half minutes before finally closing the album. I don’t know what the great victory was, but if it’s intention was to put me asleep, mission accomplished.
A fairly disappointing album from start to finish. The low quality for production in the CD case (half of the songs aren't even capitalized), the simple snare rhythms, and mystic piano all amount to the first release of Ambientica. A few interesting points scattered through out the 50 minute landscape don’t make this listenable enough to play during the soundtrack to my next bubble bath. Hopefully a band willing to compromise its musical direction, as currently it sounds like something a laptop virtuoso who smoked too much dope would make.
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