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Maximum Minimal-ness

Various Artists
Driftworks 4xCD
(Big Cat)

I'm not sure that this set of discs is the easiest one in the world to find, but in the department of ambient / experimental work, it is one of the best (and coolest designed packaging) released in the last year. The 4CD set entitled Driftworks features four different artists from four different continents and the sounds of the individual discs vary quite a bit while managing to stay fairly close in theme.

As the title might suggest, this is fairly minimal music, and the four CD's feature some of the more well-known names in that area. The discs contain music by Thomas Koner, Paul Schulze, Nijiumu, and Pauline Oliveros and Randy Raine-Reusch. The actual compositions range in sound from the haunting, un-ending tones of Koners Nuuk to the strange, almost random percussion of Nijiumu's live piece. If you're into ambient soundscapes by the likes of Bill Laswell or Tetsu Inoue, this is one release that needs to be in your (multiple disc) player. Some of the work tends to grate on the nerves due to its seemingly random and super-repetitive nature, but there's still a lot of nice things to be heard over 4 hours worth of soundscapes. It's a lot of music to digest, but the actual construction of the music lends itself well to drifting in and out of the foreground, while still begging for the listener to hear its subtle changes.

Rating: 6.5