Of course, in case you didn't know, "Troika" is one of Arkenstone's three or four musical personas. How the man manages to have even one full musical career let alone three or four, I will never know...
So this album has a faerie theme. I think that overall, Arkenstone has done a bang-up job of conveying said theme in a way that's dignified but playful, and cheerful without being too "bubbly." As usual, I wish he'd have used a bit less percussion. The drums he uses too often get in the way of the pristine beauty of his synthesizers, guitars and other high-treble instruments, just by taking-up too much space in the mix which, if left blank, would have allowed the listener to really tune-in to the more important sounds. But this album is full of sparkly, graceful and delicate sounds, as one would expect of such a legendary creature. Still, listening to it doesn't make me feel like I'm going to need a shower to wash off all the glitter flying out of my speakers, and I appreciate that.
Some of my favorite tracks:
The Magic Birdcage - Some of the flute and synth here reminds me a bit too much of some of Arkenstone's work as Ah*Nee*Mah, but it's still a nice demonstration of the faerie aesthetic. Gentle choral sounds (mostly voices of ambiguous gender on "ahhh" or "ohhh") lend some extra majesty to this first track. I like that vocals (real or synthesized) are used here without lyrics, allowing this to remain an instrumental album.
The Healing Spirits - This track has a bit more of an Asian influence to it. It's nice, and as usual Arkenstone manages to convey the aesthetic of a culture of which he himself isn't a part, with dignity and without it turning into a racist stereotype-fest. There's a particular pattern of notes that I think could have been relied-upon less to make this track more interesting, but then if you're like me, you may actually be looking for something predictable enough not to be distracting when it comes to new-age music.
The Magic Fountain - This song's strength is in the (I think) stringed instrument whose name I do not know, which plays the main melody. It's cheerful and optimistic with a sort of consistent, vibrant natural grace.
The Garden Under the Sea - This track features a very mild percussive instrument that makes a sound like one might expect to hear in a tap-dancing presentation. It reminds me a bit of Ireland and Celtic culture, despite the title and apparent theme. There's an almost-twangy sort of instrument near the soundscape's foreground that does feel much more oceanic, though. And the sparkling sounds featured in the percussion-less moments are very fitting of faeries. I just wish he'd have stuck with that and left out the "THUMP thumpa-thump-thump THUMPA-thump-thump!!" Really dude, it's like you've got some obviously irrelevant point you're trying to prove...
The Ice Faeries - This song's music is definitely befitting of its name. There's a "silvery" sort of sound near the beginning, before the usual lamentably unnecessary drums start in, which is almost a whistle but clearly not, that feels very icy. I'm writing this in the summer of 2015, and I almost feel cooler listening to it.
Overall I think this deserves three stars. It would've been a real keeper if Arkenstone weren't such a hapless drum-junkie. I'm still holding-out for another album that flows like "Ambient World," but if you don't mind (or enjoy) the extremely present drumming, this might be a good album for you.