There is no denying that the music Robert Otto makes can be considered ambient. In fact the cosmic textures and tones he pulls from the universe feel like the definition of the word itself. The music surrounds you in at least what we imagine the awe of the cosmos sounds would like. One of his latest releases entitled Ambience would suffice as the soundtrack to the series COSMOS (either version with Carl Sagan or Neal Degrasee Tyson) or as music you could put on to solely reflect or relax to.
Ambience is a long album containing a lot of music but it doesn’t feel like it was meant to be digested in one sitting nor something that you have to listen to actively. That’s one thing that is pleasant about this album is that you can chose how you listen to it. You can put it on before bed and let it soothe you before you go to sleep or you can put on a pair of headphones and explore the subtleties and nuances of the music.
The album starts with “Sunset” which combines sparse piano with atmospheric pads that rise and decay. It creates a tranquil but mysterious sense of space that feels inviting. “Interludes” feels more grandiose but rides a similar wave. One of the most effective pieces was the extremely minimal “Echoes.” It almost sounds eastern at points and I enjoyed the shifts in volume. “Countdown to Departure” actually contains some percussion, which creates a slightly ominous feel and juxtaposition.
The percussion in “Countdown to Departure” is nothing compared to “Planetary Motion.” The track is only three minutes and twenty seconds long but Otto fits a lot in compared to his other tracks. You might call the eleven-plus-minute “Orbital Rendezvous” the centerpiece because of the length but there isn’t much of a variation in energy
Ambience delivers a solid batch of soundscapes, which deliver on what they advertise. Otto isn’t doing anything that hasn’t be done before but certainly has created something worth checking out. If you enjoy Brian Eno’s ambient album, Stars of The Lid, Windy & Carl, etc. you most almost certainly find a place in your collection for Ambience.
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