Life Garden - _Ahitanaman_
(Agni Music, 1996)
by: Andrew Lewandowski (7 out of 10)
One major factor differentiates Life Garden from the majority of their ambient contemporaries: a reliance on organic instrumentation. Thus, _Ahitanaman_ contains no random metallic pounding, no disorienting high frequencies, and no lengthy periods of space devoid of anything except sparse bass droning. Disregarding the virtues of electronics generally lends itself to one major dilemma: how does one occupy the void? While some form of "action" constantly occurs throughout the album, Life Garden prefer to keep their music simple. Tribal percussion creates a mesmerizing foundation, one which rarely gets built upon. A myriad of instruments occasionally resonate throughout the alternate dimension manifested within the stereo of each listener. They produce a hallucinatory effect, chaotically exploding into the forefront one second, before dissipating a second later. Once combined with the chants of Su Ling, this transcends into a truly disturbing listening experience. Her voice is that of a schizophrenic; it contains whimsy counterbalanced by indescribable sorrow, an operatic cry juxtaposed by primal shrieks. A correlating set of contradictions surround this album: an underlying aura of aggression almost seeps throughout, yet it remains sparse, maybe too much so; this sparseness lends one to pigeonhole it as "meditative," yet the music is far too manic to transport a listener into any one desired mood.

(article published 4/2/1997)

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