by John Shanahan, Hypnagogue
October 2010

If the titular plant of the new collaboration between ambient icon Steve Roach and spirit-singer Mark Seelig were real, it would give off a lotus-like, drowse-inducing scent and have long, velvet-coated tendrils which would wrap around anyone lucky enough to succumb to its essence and pull them into the Lower World.

While we sadly lack the actual plant to send us on that journey, this CD will certainly suffice.

A dark meditation in five seamless parts, NIGHTBLOOM is perhaps as ritualistic a disc as Roach and Seelig have ever collaborated on, a hypnotic, symbiotic prayer of equal parts organic and electronic. Seelig's beautifully eerie overtone signing, the blend of rich low notes and a flute-like whistle produced in the singer's throat at the same time, become indistinguishable from Roach's ever-changing soundpools and "terra grooves" in moments of perfect interplay. The disc moves with serpentine grace, a constant flow of shadow moving ever deeper into the cave of the mind. A long, intertwined and uninterrupted flow between Roach and Seelig clears the space to begin the disc, opening the way for the bold shamanic drumming that hammers in from the sides as skittering analog beats define a path for your spirit to follow downward. The density and intensity here combine in an almost tactile humidity of sound, an atmosphere composed of intent. It goes deeper through the drum-driven second and third parts as the duo proceed to unfold your mind over and over. This makes the "cool down" of parts four and five, something of a reprieve, that much more effective as you're released to drift, borne on Seelig's vocals. The disc winds down to a space of silence, and you may find yourself unwilling to disturb it for several moments.

Roach's sound design on NIGHTBLOOM has the kind of dimensional depth that makes you feel you can move through it, reach into it and part the sounds to create your passage. The layering throughout NIGHTBLOOM is stunning. There is no passive listening here; every sound, however slight, every nuance, is designed and set in place to bring you to a different state, a place well inside, to tap the primal. And it works, perfectly.

Because NIGHTBLOOM has taken me to amazing places and shown me incredible things every time I've listened, it's most definitely a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.


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CD  $16.98 
ON SALE, $10.00 
Steve Roach, Mark Seelig
2010 Projekt PRO248 (CD)
Reviewed by Richard Gürtler, Richard Gürtler, Hypnagogue

Prolific ambient innovator Steve Roach teams with Ph.D. shamanic practitioner / musician Mark Seelig to create a long-form piece of space-opening sound magic. Like the many fragrant and beautiful night-blooming plants which are host to mind-altering qualities, this 70-minute experience slowly blooms outwards with Mark's vocal harmonic and Tuva-style overtoning intertwining within Steve's zones and "terra" grooves. A slow motion magical blend is created in this nocturnal mist-filled realm. The power of the human voice is drawn forth in a primordial understanding and finds a perfect fusion with subterranean heartbeats, drones and zones swelling from the harmonic soil, gently urging the Nightblooming to increase its potency and allure.

Steve and Mark are intrepid travlers in the realms of expanded musical states; they have collaborated with shamanic percussionist Byron Metcalf on MANTRAM, NADA TERMA, DISCIPLE and WACHUMA'S WAVE. This release settles into the sustained oceanic qualities of these powerful releases. Slow down, breathe deep, hear and feel the Nightbloom blooming inside.

Reviews of Steve and Mark's past collaborations:

"Lush and mysterious yet built with heady eastern-tinged synth expanses and drones. The sound slips out of your speakers like heady incense smoke that soothes and loosens one's body and mind." -- Musique Machine

"It opens with slow undulating synth waves and a shot of overtone harmonics that could be coming from Seelig, Roach, or both. The mood here is one of losing the familiar and venturing into the unknown. The result is a slow, arrhythmic cascade of rising choir-sounding material, emanating from Seelig and Roach that piques the listener's curiosity and pulls him or her in deeper. The drones are gradually stripped of recognizable pitch and harmonic content and become more otherworldly sounding. This furthers the sense of transition to a different state, and the entire piece is very effective." -- Wind and Wire

"Someone who is not familiar with overtone singing may not be aware that the particular drone they are hearing is partly or entirely a creation of one singer. Overtone singing has existed in many cultures but the primary awareness of it in the west stems from field recordings of then-isolated Tibetan Buddhist monks chanting and the subsequent use of these techniques by David Hykes. By emphasizing the overtones inherent in a sung tone, the singer creates the impression that he or she is singing several notes simultaneously. The singer can also produce 'filtersweep' like effects by varying the shape of his or her mouth and vocal cavity. If multitracking is used, entire orchestral or otherworldly timbres can be built from one person's voice. But this is merely technique and what makes Seelig stand out is what he does with the technique." -- Wind and Wire

1. NightbloomMP373:44 

In five parts; MP3 clip is a medley of all five parts. Released in an eco-friendly 6-panel CD wallet.

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