Last November, I wrote a track-by-track review of vidnaObmana’s The River of Appearance — one of my favorite ambient albums of all time — to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Shortly after posting the piece, I discovered that the Zoharum label would be releasing a 25th anniversary edition of the album.
I’d never heard of the Polish label until then, but a quick perusal of their Bandcamp page revealed a considerable discography featuring releases by the likes of Maeror Tri, Rapoon, Tehôm, and of course, vidnaObmana. And when I saw that their 25th anniversary edition would come in some extra special packaging with previously unreleased music — well, let’s just say that some purchases basically buy themselves.
My copy arrived earlier this week and it was worth every penny, as the pictures below attest.
Put simply, Zoharum really went above and beyond to commemorate The River of Appearance’s anniversary. Their special edition comes in a nicely constructed wooden box, into which are packed the following:
- A CD containing a 25th anniversary edit of The River of Appearance
- A cassette containing various outtakes and demos from the River of Appearance sessions
- Four photos by Martina Verhoeven
- Three vidnaObmana pins
- A small tote bag with artwork from the album cover
The packaging’s most delightful feature, however, is the flower box, a tiny “garden” of dried flowers carefully constructed by Karolina Zielińska that feels like a miniature world all its own — something that’s apropos given the depth and detail contained within vidnaObmana’s music.
The vast majority of my music comes in the form of Bandcamp downloads these days. While digital music is certainly far more convenient in terms of acquiring and listening, there’s something undeniably special about good — or in this case, exquisite — physical packaging.
For starters, an obvious amount of time, effort, and care went into this 25th anniversary edition, which proves to me that Zoharum truly cares about the quality of their releases. This isn’t just about commerce, but rather, about creating a genuine and holistic aesthetic experience — about creating a true artistic artifact. (I don’t know if this 25th anniversary edition of an ambient album will actually become a Morehead family heirloom, but I’m inclined to treat it as such.)
But there’s also the simple, visceral thrill of opening — Christmas morning-like — a literal box of treasures and little delights that I can see, touch and, with the box’s wood and tiny flower garden, even smell. For all their ease and convenience, downloading, unzipping, and importing MP3s just can’t compare to that sort of tangible, sensory experience.