The 22-track, various-artist String Ambient collection benefits from a more literal enaction of its title than some record labels may have elected for. There are, indeed, harps and ukuleles and acoustic guitars put into action on this set of varied atmospheric music. But there are also electric guitars, as heard on Djinnestan‘s “C Plus A,” in which pin-prick texture is about as much amid the quiet that could be certifiably attributed to anything string-based, (MP3), and Glenn Brown‘s “A Crystal Fascination I,” which works a melodious but retrained solo into its spacey system (MP3). Terge Paulsen employs an EBow to achieve the monolithic sustain of the richly industrial drone poem “Blues for Lhasa” (MP3).
Thanks to heavy use of electronic effects, the divide between acoustic and electric string instruments is a nuanced one on String Ambient. The detuned zither that serves as the sole identified tool on Jon 7‘s “An Eerie Paradise” is plucked with the tentativeness of a kalimba, each note reverberating into a cloudy background of extended tones (MP3). Likewise, the hall-of-mirrors echoes that characterize “Cathedral (excerpt)” by Caleb Dupree originated on piano (as the liner notes state: “yes, a string instrument!”), which will surprise just about any listener (MP3).