Virgin's fourth Ambient volume is the first of all-new material from contemporary artists, and it provides the most highlights of any in the series. Tracks from a score of crucial new-ambient producers, including Aphex Twin, Seefeel, O'Rang, EAR, Main, Final, Lull, Labradford, Techno Animal, Scorn and Paul Schütze. Seeing as each track is available only on this collection, it became the hardest-to-find of the entire series soon after its release.
The audio companion to David Toop's excellent book advances the case he made, that Les Baxter, Aphex Twin, The Beach Boys, Herbie Hancock, King Tubby and My Bloody Valentine are all related by their effect on sound pioneering. A double-disc set, Ocean of Sound impresses not only with its incredible diversity of musical styles, but with how easily these artists work next to each other. The second disc includes consecutive contributions by Paul Schütze, the Velvet Undergound, Holger Czukay of Can, The Beach Boys, African Headcharge and Sun Ra. Besides illustrating Toop's point beautifully, the album is an excellent addition to the collection of any wide-ranging ambient fan.
Ocean is a set of acoustic ambient performances from Stephan Micus. He uses exotic instruments and techniques that give this disc electronic timbre. He combines hammered dulcimers, sho, a shakuhachi, a ney, zithers, and vocals in a swirling sound design that absolutely shimmers. The natural sonorities of these devices create vast atmospheres with organic timbres. The soundscapes penetrate and enhance brainwave activity. This great CD will appeal to fans of Robert Rich, Klaus Wiese, and Riley Lee.