Ambient Land 2






Right at the end of 2010, Roland Voss aka Lemongrass decided to revive his idea of a dedicated Ambient EP that was first established in 2007 with Ambient Land. The result of 2010, unsurprisingly, is called Ambient Land 2, and this time all 6 tracks are especially written for this EP, as no subsequent Lemongrass album featured any of these. The tracks are extensively textured and Voss doesn‘t mess with the expectations of his fans but delivers more of the same entrancing ambientscapes, although with a mood-shift as you will see below.


Wide Sky is a majestic track but starts things quite minimal with glowing vibe bells and angelic synth washes that may well embed a real female voice. Gentle bass lines accentuate the bright elements and the sustain of the bells rings lingers into the following spaces. After 2 minutes and 30 seconds, gorgeous two-note strings set in a pompous manner. The feeling, however, isn‘t festive but appropriately enough as blue as the front cover. After approximately 5 minutes, the song morphs again. The synth washes remain, but glacial synth strings complement the blueness. Flittering, outerworldly tinker bells offer a small spark of warmth even though they are high-pitched. If one song deserves the tiresome use of the term ethereal, this would be the one. Biosphere is next and already hints at an earthbound theme. Although starting in a similarly gemmy fashion, the song focuses on iridescent synth bursts, glittering melodies, samples of water streams and classic drum kit cymbals. This song evokes a peaceful kind of tranquility, but it gets even better in the second part after a short break, where beautifully modulated strings oscillate in unison with repeated flows of water and very gentle percussion, again produced with the help of a real drumkit. This second part is utterly gorgeous and shows that Ambient music is always about the setup of the strings, their texture and modulation. The Other Side Of Here is the coruscating track on the album – you won‘t find a brighter and clearer track on this EP. Every string and layer is crystalline, welcoming and imbuing, and a female voice is singing prominently next to the beauty of the synths. A real violin is playing later on, and its inclusion is a huge surprise, for the only other string instrument ever used in Ambient music is usually an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. On paper, the violin adds a threnodial mood, but not here where it perfectly blends with the brightness.


Wonderland is yet another shimmering track with a comforting loop of clear whistles, cherubic bells, and gorgeous synth washes which are added after a minute and fill the room or your head with bliss. Playful radio frequencies and music box-like melody dots are entering the mix and shortly thereafter, placid percussion and beats set in. The next surprise is the inclusion of a trumpet whose sound properties don‘t seem to fit in the given context and are way too short for an imprint. First Contact is a short interlude of 2 minutes with seraphic synth washes and dominantly quavering strings that are incisively high-pitched and crave for the listener‘s attention. Slightly similar to the Robert Fripp‘s string modulations on the self-titled Ambient masterpiece FFWD. The final track is called Blue Earth and induces one of those moods that are hard to describe. It is definitely not a bright track, but shuffles mercurially between serene calmness, melancholic synth bursts and woeful female chants. I‘m not too fond of this track and consider it the weakest one of the EP. Its production is flawless and entrancing, there‘s no doubt about that, but the mood is too gloomy and plaintive, especially with regard to the first half of the EP. Don‘t let my opinion distract you from this piece, as I‘m very sure that this piece has its many fans.


It‘s time for another hypothetical setting: if you only were to buy one Ambient Land EP by Lemongrass, which one would I recommend – the blue one, or the red one? Well, we know Keanu Reeves‘s decision, and that wasn‘t the worst one he could make. But seriously: if you like warm, cozy Ambient music, pick up the red Ambient Land, which is at times overly loop-based – I‘m talking about Coral Reef, my favorite off the red EP – but always highly melodious and sublime. The blue Ambient Land 2 EP is equally harmonious and soothing, but Voss tries many a time to present a cinematic viewpoint with the inclusion of bright synth bursts, real violins and trumpets and beautiful chants, whereas Ambient Land only featured a piano as the single real instrument. The songs are also more melancholic, distinctly colder and less straightforward, as they are loaded with surprises and additional sections that change the setting. Artistically, the blue EP is thus more interesting and rewarding to the listener, while the red EP is slightly more streamlined and definitely warmer. I like the red EP better, and that reveals quite much about my taste in Ambient music: I exchange successful experiments and tunes full of surprises, shifts and pristine strings for a slightly more predictable and loop-based approach and warming synths. Now it‘s up to you, as both EP‘s are recommended for sure.




Ambient Review 042: Lemongrass – Ambient Land 2 (2010). Originally published on Feb. 29, 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.