Rod Hamilton & Tiffany Seal - Versatile Ambience (2016)

Somewhere while browsing on Bandcamp I managed to find a very peculiar tape. It was an ambient record purely based on repetition with marimba and xylophone sounds. The result is a very soothing, yet psychedelic mixture of sorts. The artist in this matter is Rod Hamilton and the name of the album is Atitlán [1].

After ordering the cassette and assuming that next to "Teal" there weren't any other records of Rod Hamilton, I manage to find a second tape inside my package. This tape is the tape this article is going to review; "Versatile Ambience" by Rod Hamilton & Tiffany Seal.

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Rod Hamilton and Tiffany Seal are two musicians from Baltimore, Maryland. And 'Versatile Ambience", which is released by Ehse Records, is their first physical release they did together. There were some other songs they did together but they're only available from their Soundcloud page [2] The music on this record can be described as improvisational, ambient, electronic. It also contains hints of field recordings and some spoken word.

The top track of this record has to be the opening track 'Calico'. It has these intense fuzzy reverb over the xylophones and these hauntingly beautiful vocals after the 3 minute mark of the track. The melody is really great and progresses well along time. Another track I keep coming back to is 'Petals' which uses this very simple loop but features some of the craziest modulated xylophone sounds, which are used as some sort of percussion instead of as a lead instrument.

The thing I like less about the record is the cover art. It's a thing which doesn't really seem to match the music. It's a hand with a colorful rock in it. It feels a bit cheap; like they took a single picture and said: 'tada, there is the cover'. About the album as a whole there's a single track which I don't really particularly like and that's the last track on the A-side called 'Golden Light'. It features these spoken word Yoga instructions, which feel a little cheesy. There's some modulation over the vocals but it doesn't really add something.

Overall 'Versatile Ambiance' by Rod Hamilton & Tiffany Seal is a nice album to listen to. It features some very nice and relaxing tracks and some of the most creative use of xylophones and marimba's. The downside is that the cover art and some of the tracks feel a little sloppy and not well thought through. Because of that, you can really lose your sense of immersiveness, which for ambient music is a bit of a deal breaker. Like somebody who snaps his finger besides your ear and says: 'wake up' [5.5/10].

Published on: Dec 21, 2016 by Gerard - list of changes