“Across the Mountains” is a compilation featuring multiple artists residing in Macedonia, and is a joint venture between US label Silber Records and Macedonian label Post Global Recordings. The album was released towards the end of the summer of 2014.
Compilations featuring the material of multiple artists will always be something of a challenge to write about, at least in a cohesive manner. No matter how interesting or not the material on such a production is, there is fairly often a fair degree of variation in the contributions by the different artists, even if the album as such is set to explore a specific theme, style or other topic that is a mutual feature between the artists.
In this case ambient music and the geographical location are the proposed common denominators, hence the subtitle of this compilation being “A Macedonian Ambient Music Compilation”. It is, as many compilations tends to be, something of a roller-coaster ride. All the music is accomplished, just to state that straight away, so even if the artists may be unknown these are quality artists in their own right, although I suspect more than a few of them will have a finite reach, and then mainly towards a niche audience.
Book-ending this compilation are short tracks by Sherafedin Kurt, and among the contributors here my impression is that his soft, delicate ambient material is the one that will have the broadest reach, the kind of music that will appeal to those fond of ambient excursions of a more delicate and tender nature, with piano details and soft, smooth keyboards combined with subtle electronic effects and otherwise careful instrumentation to craft music that should interest a broad range of listeners. Up to and including a new age oriented crowd, but also with enough details to interest those with an interest in music of this kind with more of a sophisticated scope.
Soft, compelling keyboard arrangements fluctuating between gentle and majestic arrangements, with plucked guitar and string instrument details coming and going, is the home turf of Amplidyne Effect, and their 15 minute long flowing ambient creation is another one that has the potential for a fairly broad reach in my opinion.
The oddly named project Fydhws is among the contributions with a more limited reach I suspect, a dark, brooding affair with drones and ominous atmospheres as key features. In terms of being ambient music, this is the stuff of ambient nightmares, the soundtrack to an Orwellian future, bleak and void of positive tendencies. Intriguing material, but one with a limited reach.
Airless Project‘s venture became too one-dimensional for my tastes, a hovering drone gradually declining in intensity with some softly chaotic rhythm-tinged effects gradually taking over the dominant spot. Most likely a case of me not enjoying the elements used and the scope of the composition this one, but for me the weakest moment of this album.
Dimitar Dodovski provides us with a pleasant ambient excursion with water sounds, electronic effects of various kinds and flavored with an appropriately mystical undercurrent for a soft and sweet run through some rather different landscapes, while Post Global Trio use cosmic sounding drones and nature sounds, combined with sampled sound of a fire burning and other cinematic tinged sounds for another pleasantly engaging take on the ambient landscapes, this one often invoking the feel of someone sitting by a campfire under an open starlit sky. Sound 00 utilize similar sounds, albeit without the cosmic tinges and with the addition of watery sounds to the proceedings, with percussion details and drones providing elements of variation.
In sum something of a roller-coaster ride, not all that unexpected when it comes to productions of this kind, and one that comes across as fairly evenly assembled in terms of presenting ambient landscapes of a more inviting nature and more challenging landscapes where harsher sounds and darker toned drones and noise effects are given more prominent and dominant positions. First and foremost a compilation that merits a check by those with a deep fascination for ambient music this one, and then those who prefer music of this nature to be rather more challenging than the kind of material you’ll find in new age oriented shops at that.
My rating: 65/100