Special Interest

GENERAL SOUND DISCUSSION => GENERAL SOUND DISCUSSION => Topic started by: FreakAnimalFinland on August 15, 2021, 09:53:46 AM



Title: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: FreakAnimalFinland on August 15, 2021, 09:53:46 AM
Back in the day, I sold most of my "ambient", including dark ambient and some post-industrial soundscapes away. Just felt as if I was never going to listen soft sounds, when being so focused on harsh noise and power electronics.

I always had sort of dislike towards thing I call "regular ambient". The calm, relaxing, often keyboard/synth sounds & vast echo. I also had dislike for the cheesy qualities of dark ambient. The cheap horror/scifi soundtrack esque keyboard tones, bassy and breathy sounds, monotony, and so on.

However, as much as I listen noise & pe, there has opened good slice of listening time for less abrasive sounds. Steve Roach has been one of the most listened artists for year. Not really -consciously- listening, but something to put on when going to sleep. Quality of his work is certainly AMBIENT in literal sense. Seemingly similar albums, of similar length and approach do have compositional and sonic differences. There are different sounds on each album, even if atmosphere tends to be "the same". When you start with hour+ long piece, you know it doesn't really matter if falling sleep after 5, 15 or 50 minutes later. You got the "point" of particular album.

I know there has been topic of ambient before, but I guess for functionality of forum, it would be ok to start open new topic, rather than searching what all has been formerly discussed by people who may or may not be on the forum anymore.

Qualities of ambient. What would one be looking for? Stuff like Robert Rich or Steve Roach, I don't know whether I would like them as much, if I would treat them as "music"? Put CD on, and listen to it, doing nothing else? Used for ambience, works well. This doesn't mean that it would be inferior. It doesn't also mean that any guy with keyboard and reverb could do it. Successfully compose ambient piece worth to listen to. Have taste and vision of style. Very quickly regular ambient turns out like those endless 6 hour "relaxing" videos on youtube. Just muzak with no artistic merit, just new age bullshit.

With dark ambient, I recall in Noisextra, there was Megaptera CD episode, and Greh was mentioning that for him, this kind of stuff is not about whether song is good, more about how immersive dark atmosphere it creates. It doesn't have to be that much. Nothing catchy. Perhaps not even memorable. Just pushing play, and being dragged into darkness. Of course this is a fact, but especially with my own works, I very often approach also noise, from perspective is the "song" good and interesting. How long it can sustain specific atmosphere, before getting old. For some time, there was growing distaste for music that seemed as if "sonic qualities" and duration was the only idea. Be it music like doom, sludge, BM, or endless HNW crackles or death industrial with nothing happening in it. As opposition, I favored things where at least something happens and there is audible progression. Lately been discussions with some friends that perhaps it would be time to re-evaluate the dark ambient. As result, challenging myself digging up CD's I still have, listening things like KEROVNIAN and such, in main purpose to see if I have formerly listened CD's in wrong state of mind, with wrong expectations.

Qualities of ambient you are looking for?
Who delivers?
What kind of stuff one would be looking for, but haven't been able to find?


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Soloman Tump on August 15, 2021, 12:39:04 PM
A few that spring to mind, from different corners of the "ambient" world, and I have chosen these to show a distinct difference to Drone music.  Ambient for me often involves melodic sections and scene setting, as opposed to just a drone.  Subtle field recordings can add an interesting layer to break up any statis.

Chris Douglas aka Amhain under his "Seaes" alias, particularly this colossal album which is a very rewarding listen.  Some darker elements too, it first came out as a 4CD set but I quite like listening to both of the Seaes albums on random playlist.  
https://amhain.bandcamp.com/album/seaes-ii
https://amhain.bandcamp.com/album/seaes-ii-b  -just listening back and there is a lot more "glitch" elements to this album than I remember.  Not ambient!

Biosphere from Norway, who often uses his Arctic location for glacial field recordings to weave into his sound.  Both of these albums are good examples of this method.
https://biosphere.bandcamp.com/album/dropsonde-reissue-with-bonus-album
https://biosphere.bandcamp.com/album/the-senja-recordings

Lustmord is probably one of the most famous dark ambient producers, and whilst I am not overly familiar with all of his back catalogue, this album stands out as my most played.  Such a powerful blend of vocal and ambience.  
https://lustmord.bandcamp.com/album/the-word-as-power

The Caretaker with his sprawling analysis of dementia - not typical "ambient" music, he samples old '78 speed records with the crackle and surface noise, moulding them into strange and harrowing experiences.  Everywhere at the end of time begins with fairly straight forward samples and familiarity, before descending over a period of around 8 hours into a bewildering chasm.  Each stage of the album depicts the crumbling of the mind as it succumbs to the disease.  The artist himself has been diagnosed with early onset dementia which gives the album additional emotional drive.
https://thecaretaker.bandcamp.com/album/everywhere-an-empty-bliss
https://thecaretaker.bandcamp.com/album/everywhere-at-the-end-of-time

Other "famous" ambient albums which deserve their critical praise would be Global Communication 76:14 and Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 2.  Both of those put me in a great place when I listen.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Woundfucker on August 15, 2021, 12:57:13 PM
I prefer ambient music that isn't weighed down by the stench of luxury or overly reliant on a typical sound source—like an oscillator or guitar strings. I think the latter elements are fine as an accent or a piece of the puzzle, but if they're only being processed through reverb, delay, and distortion or whatever, it ends up sounding pretty innocuous or, worse yet, like a gear demo for synths or pedals.

My favorite ambient work has layers and layers of processing—both local and global—and is steered by atypical sounds. It needs to be layered with different kinds of fidelity and heavily textured. If someone is droning synthesizers or guitars for ambient stuff, then it's crucial to find fresh ways to collage it with other sounds and make it sonically multi-dimensional.

A few pretty awesome "ambient" releases that have become major favorites for me include—

Stroma (James from Ahlzagailzehguh) - Recollection Of Reconciliations or the Stroma/Lussuria split. Incredible work, don't even know what to say about it. Just check it out.

Pan To Scratch - With Happiness - Subtly layered field recording pieces at their grittiest, most natural, and most voyeuristic (sonically).

Umbra - Unclean Spirit (Gruntsplatter & Murderous Vision collaboration, calling it ambient is perhaps a stretch, but it's definitely part of the patchwork, and it avoids a lot of the more predictable/boring tropes of the genre)

Marble Sky - The Sad Return - Pretty masterful stuff from one of my favorite Jeff Witscher projects. It's definitely synth driven and has melodic content, but it never feels luxurious or boring.

Christoph Heemann & Merzbow - Sleeper Awakes On The Edge Of The Abyss. Absolutely brilliant pairing and I wish they'd made more albums together. Really special stuff.







Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Into_The_Void on August 15, 2021, 02:53:09 PM
I prefer the dark ambient with some raw aspect, which is exactly what I also do in my own music with Sa Bruxa: ambience with dirty, distorted micro (or not that micro) concrete sounds, or field recordings, mixed with ambient layers, also touching the borders of low-fi drone or death industrial. I think Lustmord has been a master in doing that, at least in his first 5-6 releases, but there are plenty of other artists who does it: first Desiderii Marginis, first Trepaneringsritualen stuff, the less noisy Shredded Nerve´s stuff, Sonologyst (at least the "Ancient Death Cults And Beliefs"), Mare di Dirac and Psicopompo (both with the excellent Lorenzo Abattoir), Emra Grid, etc..a special mention deserve Phurpa - which I classify as ambient music, although they´re basically sacral chanting with some traditional Bönpo instruments. They released plenty of things, but I think as long as you have 3-4 releases, you don´t really need more unless being obsessed by collecting their stuff or a fan of this kind of sacral music.

I also like a lot the minimalism combined with the above said "rawness" in the ambient, generating a disturbing and spooky atmosphere through the combination of low-fi productions and instruments. Examples could be the "black metal ambient" of bands like Les Legiones Noire or Dapnom, Black seas of infinity, etc..etc..also great is the epic ambient produced by some black metal musicians like the Mortiis Era I, Paysage D´Hiver ambient parts, Wongraven or the Burzum ambient records, with more epic feeling and an overall "distant" mood which still has a creepy aura and minimal, low-fi sounds in it. 


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Into_The_Void on August 15, 2021, 02:56:49 PM
Other "famous" ambient albums which deserve their critical praise would be Global Communication 76:14 and Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 2.  Both of those put me in a great place when I listen.

Indeed, both masterpieces. I was close to sell my Global Communication copy in a moment of lack of interest, but I didn´t manage to separate me from that record, which is the only one I own of them, but somehow all the time I put it up on the turntable I ended up being enthralled by the embracing atmosphere they create.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Balor/SS1535 on August 15, 2021, 07:35:54 PM
I have read here (and elsewhere) discussions about "musicalizing" noise, or where musical elements are added to noise to make it more like traditional music.  I remember people looking at fade in/outs added to noise, as well as rhythm and other elements of "normal" music as being examples of this.  I feel like the same idea applies to ambient music (or at least to how I tend to think about ambient music).

When I am in the mood to listen to ambient music, I am looking for a recording of an ambiance, not music that is ambient.  For example, I really like the long droning/field recording sounds of Trist (the German project, not the Czech one).  But I do not usually care for the cinematic ambient stuff that Cryo Chamber releases.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Andrew McIntosh on August 16, 2021, 01:51:59 AM
Qualities of ambient you are looking for?

It varies. It depends on mood. Sometimes I'm alright with Harold Budd style musical minimalism, other times I prefer flat out eleh/Radigue style drone, other times Lustmord style dark ambient, other times Kosmiche, sometimes some ten hour long YT soundscape. Invariably it's something that attempts to turns off the more conscious, active elements of the mind.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Zeno Marx on August 16, 2021, 05:36:52 PM
Qualities of ambient you are looking for?

It varies. It depends on mood. Sometimes I'm alright with Harold Budd style musical minimalism, other times I prefer flat out eleh/Radigue style drone, other times Lustmord style dark ambient, other times Kosmiche, sometimes some ten hour long YT soundscape. Invariably it's something that attempts to turns off the more conscious, active elements of the mind.
Right.  It's a genre, not a monolith.  I come at it like any other music and get satisfaction from various styles.  While I've less often been in the mood for Hearts of Space, like Steve Roach, I definitely go to that sound sometimes, more so in the past couple years.  Some artists use gear or tones that turn me away more than their style of play.  Alio Die is a good example of that, though I know there's something there, and I'll eventually find that space.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: A-Z on August 17, 2021, 03:58:21 AM
first, i want ambient to feel genuine... not the spacey dreamy stuff, not a cheesy horror soundtrack, something that makes me feel like the artist actually managed to communicate a part of his sincere & serious feeling about the world, and that feeling resonates with the way i feel myself, i guess

second, i like artists who sound like themselves rather than copying anyone else, a strong sense of deliberation and authorial intent in sound design, arrangement and whatnot; which normally entails not drenching everything in digital reverb & other fx, not relying on easily accessible sound sources such as sample libraries & synthesizer presets, and generally not doing things the lazy way

imo, the first (the what) and the second (the how) are almost necessarily linked, as sounding genuine requires genuine ways of soundmaking, if that makes any sense

... and at this point i realize that those are my wants for all types of music, so i probably said nothing about ambient per se... well, maybe aside from bitching about too much reverb

so here's a rant specifically about modern ambient:
take a sample, timestretch it to oblivion, throw a bunch of valhalla dsp & eventide plugins on top, rinse and repeat, here's "your" dark ambient album... which likely took less time to produce than its own length in minutes
too many accessible digital tools that make people's lives easier, which is not necessarily bad, but often results in music made by tools rather than by artists... that's my problem with a lot of current ambient music... so what i want to hear is something that is NOT THAT

anyway, the particular artists i like are early Current 93, Lustmord & Ain Soph, Zero Kama, LAShTAL, Capricorni Pneumatici, Metgumbnerbone, definitely not against some newer stuff as well, mostly CMI releases from the 90s.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Soloman Tump on August 17, 2021, 10:36:09 AM
Calling Metgumbnerbone ambient is a slight stretch of the imagination, unless there is a whole section of their back catalogue I've missed, pleased to be educated on such things


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: A-Z on August 17, 2021, 07:46:34 PM
Calling Metgumbnerbone ambient is a slight stretch of the imagination, unless there is a whole section of their back catalogue I've missed, pleased to be educated on such things

you're probably right
and i don't think you missed anything
because what i had in mind was mainly Ligeliahorn

ps
remembered another one i really enjoy: Popol Vuh - In den Gärten Pharaos
not sure how much stretching of one's imagination is needed to count that as ambient though


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Bloated Slutbag on August 18, 2021, 06:20:22 AM
Qualities of ambient. What a question. You had me actually thinking before the random dribbles, good job. I’m tempted to end there, but maybe to say that while I’d agree that it’s no monolith my first inclination is toward the more monolithic. If not then perhaps other labels can as readily adhere. Experimental. Industrial. Whatever. Big whatever fan here. Start tinkering with the formula and you risk being non formulaic and dare I say it creative. Facetious, half. Listening right now to the Astro tape on Absurd Exposition (https://absurdexposition.bandcamp.com/album/delta-arcanum) and is this blistering psychedelic purity, a shimmery sweet afterburn to go with your Gnosis (https://www.discogs.com/CCCC-Gnosis/release/714304) …or a rather nice dose of liquescent ambience? (Better, ambiance.) Far from monolithic and perhaps few would bat an eye at the affixture of an ambient tag (the two discogs contributors may demur).

I say this saying that the said monolithic inclinations are often bothered by overloaded twiddlings of the volume knob. Call me wanker and guilty as charged but eight point five times out of ten my preferred ambient is delivered at the highest levels available. Lustmord’s Heresy made Roemer’s list of essentials and I’d agree. Not to suggest there would be such a thing as correct delivery protocol; fifteen percent is still I think statistically significant.

A shorter and better response would probably read, how the hell should I know. Except to cycle back again to iterate that only the more monolithic stuff tends to jog the faulty circuits that incline the brain to declare, with a palpable standard of awareness, yeah, I’m gonna listen to some fucken ambient.

Random anecdote for the special interests scene. Here’s me, not too far back, taking a big ol dump at an Italian restaurant, mind not particularly engaged, reflecting that the proprietor has some wicked awesome taste in ambient music. It only dawned on me, possibly mid wipe, that I was actually listening to the air conditioner. At the highest levels available.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: TS on August 18, 2021, 10:18:28 AM
For a long time I used to have the mindset that life is just too short to listen to ambient, and I find that for me that is still usually the case. However there are exceptions.. I think it is possible to have interesting sounds and progression, while still having that ambient "vibe". One example that I rather like is Zoät-Aon. Totally dense, lots of sound. Quite glacial in its progression but still interesting enough to me that it doesn't end up as strictly background.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: W.K. on August 18, 2021, 03:34:32 PM
Quote
the Caretaker with his sprawling analysis of dementia - not typical "ambient" music, he samples old '78 speed records with the crackle and surface noise, moulding them into strange and harrowing experiences.  Everywhere at the end of time begins with fairly straight forward samples and familiarity, before descending over a period of around 8 hours into a bewildering chasm.  Each stage of the album depicts the crumbling of the mind as it succumbs to the disease.  The artist himself has been diagnosed with early onset dementia which gives the album additional emotional drive.

Good to see the Caretaker being mentioned, very atypical and feels like a soundtrack to a dystopian movie or novel. Still needs to listen to his latest works though.





Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: aububs on August 19, 2021, 12:03:26 AM
The Caretaker...The artist himself has been diagnosed with early onset dementia
is that true? james kirby is 47, would be surprised if it was

nice to see kirby go from the prankster v/vm days (once named by ron lessard as the worst noise act he had ever seen live) to his current role as critical darling. the sounds are good


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: absurdexposition on August 19, 2021, 12:59:40 AM
Lustmord is probably one of the most famous dark ambient producers, and whilst I am not overly familiar with all of his back catalogue, this album stands out as my most played.  Such a powerful blend of vocal and ambience.  
https://lustmord.bandcamp.com/album/the-word-as-power

I picked up "The Place Where the Black Stars Hang" early last year and it's become one of my go-to's in this zone https://lustmord.bandcamp.com/album/the-place-where-the-black-stars-hang - There's enough structure to be enjoyable as a relatively active listen, but also low key enough to sit comfortably in the background if needed.

Other stuff that gets regular play are Eno's Discreet Music, Klowd, Damion Romero's Negative... Romero could also fit into the "minimalism done right" thread.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Andrew McIntosh on August 19, 2021, 07:03:02 AM
I picked up "The Place Where the Black Stars Hang" early last year and it's become one of my go-to's in this zone https://lustmord.bandcamp.com/album/the-place-where-the-black-stars-hang - There's enough structure to be enjoyable as a relatively active listen, but also low key enough to sit comfortably in the background if needed.

For years, this album has been my personal standard for Dark Ambient. It defines what I regard as the essential elements of what successful Dark Ambient should sound like. Ambient in that it relies on staid, slow, drone-like and repetitive qualities, dark in that the sounds and overall atmosphere genuinely invoke (for me) a sense of darkness. Cosmic Horror in sound.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Soloman Tump on August 19, 2021, 11:19:37 AM
The Caretaker...The artist himself has been diagnosed with early onset dementia
is that true? james kirby is 47, would be surprised if it was

nice to see kirby go from the prankster v/vm days (once named by ron lessard as the worst noise act he had ever seen live) to his current role as critical darling. the sounds are good

Ok, it's one of those annoying internet whispers.Taken from pitchfork / Quietus:

 However, Kirby himself has not been diagnosed with dementia, he clarified in an email to Pitchfork. “The Caretaker” has dementia, not him. “I have given the project dementia,” he wrote. “It's a fitting epitaph for a finite series of works which has always dealt with memory. There shouldn't be any confusion and it's not intentional if there is any.” In a new interview with The Quietus, he explained more about the project.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Into_The_Void on August 19, 2021, 12:17:26 PM
Between the most "avantgarde-ish" kind of ambient music can be surely mentioned Valerio Tricoli. Both records he released on PAN records, although are not strictly ambient, are a good example of concrete, phyisical, ghastly and spooky sounds mixed together to create "ambience". There´s a great mastery of sound design behind his stuff.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: V.T.R on August 20, 2021, 12:03:14 PM
For me quality ambient is something I can put on for background music for hours and/or I can take a deep listen sessions with headphones. Some artists and records that has survived the test of time for me are:

Brian Eno

Obvious choice yep, but after listening ambient so many years and checking out lot of different artists and styles, Eno still rules big time. Albums have quality production, sound and compositions are perfect. Another thursday afternoon, Lux, Ambient 2 and 4 are maybe the most listened ambient albums ever for me and I still return to them when I want to listen something but don't know what to put on. Reflection is also good stuff. Also a big fan of what he has done with Robert Fripp and Cluster etc, but those are the different story. I like pretty much almost everything he has done in ambient field.

Steve Roach

I have most number of Steve Roach albums from ambient genre in my collection. Enough variation and something for every mood in his discography. Spacey "darker" stuff for night time listening when going to sleep and nice soothing background muzak for daydreaming. I still prefer the droning sound type of stuff (Mystic chords & sacred places, Immersions, deeper silence etc.) and minimal compositions; Structure from silence and quiet music etc. His "berlin school" style albums I don't care about at all...

Biosphere

Huge fan! Geir Jenssen is the master of loops in ambient. Maybe the nordic melancholy in his best albums resonates deeply in me, but I always return to Biosphere and I believe that this is the most listened artist for me during last 15 years. Shenzou, Substrata, Cirque and Dropsonde are masterpieces. I can put each of those albums for repeat to my cd player and never get bored. Works also in headphone listening sessions. Atmospheric stuff with good ear for details and minimalism done right. Autour de la lune is great drone album and N-plants ambient techno also does the trick to me.  


Matthias Grassow

Same thing as Steve Roach for me; I listen to Grassow a lot and there are album for almost every occasion. Quality ambient and not only synth stuff. Also some concrete sounds like singing bowls, sitars, choir chants in some albums. Not used in a cheesy new-age way.

Gas / Wolfgang Voigt

Ah! The master of scarf ambient/techno! I like everything Gas has made. Hazy atmoshperes that keeps your attention in headphone sessions or you can just the albums for background. Rückverzauberung 10 / Nationalpark under his own name is reeeeeally good ambient. I remember the first listen I tried it via spotify and was just meh, but I had already purchased it on cd. Forgot the cd for a while and when I returned to it and listened it with stereo equipment I realised how good it is. Modern minimal classical style, greatly composed and sound is super good!


Dark ambient and drone are different genres for me so I don't feel like listing the usual names so I return to those in another topics.

From noise side of "ambient" I like Mike Shiflet and Damien Romero.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Bloated Slutbag on August 20, 2021, 04:38:58 PM
I picked up "The Place Where the Black Stars Hang" early last year and it's become one of my go-to's in this zone https://lustmord.bandcamp.com/album/the-place-where-the-black-stars-hang - There's enough structure to be enjoyable as a relatively active listen, but also low key enough to sit comfortably in the background if needed.

For years, this album has been my personal standard for Dark Ambient. It defines what I regard as the essential elements of what successful Dark Ambient should sound like. Ambient in that it relies on staid, slow, drone-like and repetitive qualities, dark in that the sounds and overall atmosphere genuinely invoke (for me) a sense of darkness. Cosmic Horror in sound.

For the longest time, TPWTBSH was my go-to for contrariness. Honestly, I didn't think it held up to the prior submissions. And I think was the one that had the esteemed B. on the defensive for more than a bit (at least in interviews). But it is posts like yours that slowly had me come back, and around, at junctures, to reevaluate. I will say, I absolutely adore the pervection of atmosphere that envelops the closing notes of Dog Star Descends (closing ditty on the said release).

And it is here where I repeat myself ad stupidum to plug Jean-Claude Eloy's Shanti (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QAsCaX_0lE) (1973), still imo the blueprint for the birth of the myriad pervections of atmosphere. At the highest possible levels, please.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: impulse manslaughter on August 20, 2021, 11:57:05 PM
I like the dark ambient and drone stuff that is more related to the noise scene but also enjoy different kinds of ambient music. Bought a few reissues of classic Japanese ambient records a few weeks ago and liked them a lot; Hiroshi Yoshimura - Music For 9 Postcards + Green, Satoshi Ashikawa - Still Way (really minimal), Inoyamaland - Danzindan-Pojidon. Also been listening to a lot of Enno Velthuys (reissue of Glimpse of Light on my own label + more to come). Also, i buy any Rafael Anton Irisarri records I see, great atmosphere and production. Kranky records; Stars of the Lid, Loscil & Tim Hecker. Deaf Center (ambient/piano). William Bassinki (ambient analog tape loops).


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: V.T.R on August 21, 2021, 09:27:52 AM
Satoshi Ashikawa - Still Way (really minimal)...

... Also, i buy any Rafael Anton Irisarri records I see, great atmosphere and production....

Still way is soooooo good<3 Check out Yutaka Hirose: Nova album if you haven't yet? It is more traditional ambient than Ashikawa with field recordings, bells, some synth, water... All in all solid stuff and not too cheesy.

I only have A Fragile Geography from Irisarri, but that one I have been listening a LOT during the years.

Stars of The Lid is also one of my favourites.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Into_The_Void on August 22, 2021, 12:16:17 PM

Still way is soooooo good<3 Check out Yutaka Hirose: Nova album if you haven't yet? It is more traditional ambient than Ashikawa with field recordings, bells, some synth, water... All in all solid stuff and not too cheesy.


Checked both, both very good but "Still way" it´s not my cup of tea, I got a little bit bored and it´s overall too "sweet" although is without doubt very good work.  "Nova" is good, I like this kind of field recording, natural streams-driven ambient, so to say, but I find it also a bit boring after a while and too "lushy", if you know what I mean.

Springing to a completely another musical area, but still remaining in the field of the clean sounding (dark) ambient, I suggest to everybody to listen to the last Beherit album, "Bardo Exist". Dense atmospheres, obscure feelings and interesting composition. A great end for one of the greatest bands/projects ever appeared in the extreme music.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: pentd on August 23, 2021, 10:26:25 AM
The Caretaker...The artist himself has been diagnosed with early onset dementia
is that true? james kirby is 47, would be surprised if it was

nice to see kirby go from the prankster v/vm days (once named by ron lessard as the worst noise act he had ever seen live) to his current role as critical darling. the sounds are good

apparently it's true, and thats why the caretaker album series goes from "still recognizable" to "blurred and losing it" ...it's an amazing listen, i picked up the whole packet from bandcamp


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: impulse manslaughter on August 23, 2021, 12:49:09 PM
Yutaka Hirose: Nova

This was already on my radar, thanks for reminding.

And yes, I also saw V/VM live once playing a pretty bad noise show with a pig mask on. It kept me from checking out The Caretaker despite all the good reviews..

Was going through my cd collection yesterday and noticed I have a lot of 12K cds collecting dust on the shelves. Today I played some old favorites like Pjusk, Taylor Deupree (label owner), Stephan Mathieu & Solo Andata. Usually these 12K releases are a nice mix of electronics and organic sounds. Recommended.



Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: cantle on August 23, 2021, 02:48:20 PM
The Caretaker...The artist himself has been diagnosed with early onset dementia
is that true? james kirby is 47, would be surprised if it was

nice to see kirby go from the prankster v/vm days (once named by ron lessard as the worst noise act he had ever seen live) to his current role as critical darling. the sounds are good

apparently it's true, and thats why the caretaker album series goes from "still recognizable" to "blurred and losing it" ...it's an amazing listen, i picked up the whole packet from bandcamp

It is the personna of 'The Caretaker' that has the disease- that was how and why the musical project was wound up: https://www.electronicbeats.net/the-caretaker-unsound-leyland-james-kirby/ Kirby himself is fine.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: pentd on August 23, 2021, 07:00:49 PM
ah ok


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Bloated Slutbag on August 24, 2021, 07:30:44 PM
but also low key enough to sit comfortably in the background if needed

This is kind of a (but not the) crux, and a point at which I would be inclined to diverge. Would be, that is, if I could figure out where to place the line between distracted and concentrated listening.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: absurdexposition on August 25, 2021, 02:21:34 AM
but also low key enough to sit comfortably in the background if needed

This is kind of a (but not the) crux, and a point at which I would be inclined to diverge. Would be, that is, if I could figure out where to place the line between distracted and concentrated listening.

Never more valid than in a discussion about ambient.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Andrew McIntosh on August 25, 2021, 11:50:49 AM
Arguably ambient music demands a certain kind of listening that, whether concentrated or not, can be defined simply as relaxed. Falling to sleep listening to music is an old habit for many people, and while there's going to be a change between consciousness and unconsciousness the whole accepted state is one of physical comfort and mental relaxation.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Lysergikon137 on August 29, 2021, 12:58:01 AM
ps
remembered another one i really enjoy: Popol Vuh - In den Gärten Pharaos
not sure how much stretching of one's imagination is needed to count that as ambient though

This is one of my favorite albums, my go-to for "ambient", and the most expensive CD I own...

I generally consider music "ambient" when its elements occupy space with a light presence and intentionality as opposed to the heavy presence and forward momentum of "drone"(which I strongly prefer). I generally don't really care for ambient or dark ambient for the same reasons mentioned in the OP, general cheesiness or just actually boring. A lot of times ambient is too busy -telling- you it's ambient or dark ambient with its timbre/themes for it to actually serve its purpose, in my opinion. Lustmord was my introduction to dark ambient and by extension a lot of other industrial music, but I strongly prefer his earlier less digital / more industrial material. The only dark ambient album I revisit is Atrium Carceri's Cellblock, and I don't even know if that really counts as dark ambient because it's such a badass noir album with a lot of fucking gun sounds.

My concept of and preference for ambient is almost exclusively based on kosmische musik. Popol Vuh's Affenstunde and In Den Garten Pharaos and Tangerine Dream's Phaedra and Rubycon could be the only "ambient" albums I listen to for the rest of my life and I'd be ok. My favorite contemporary album I consider ambient would be Huerco S. "For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)". Warm, organic, wandering, etc. The unifying factors here, that make me feel at home in my mind. Alessandro Cortini's Risveglio album is in the same vein, another perfect one. I tried to enjoy a lot of the ambient tape music stuff like Ivory Trade and all those other artists who love rose bouquets and swimming pools and beautiful Scandinavian women but overall it did not do it for me. Way too much "simulation" in the presentation... ambient needs to exist naturally in its environment. Some of these artists, I get the impression they're utilizing various timbres/tones in order to convince me that they're making ambient music... obviously this is my personal read on the music, but IMO if the music is distracting me from the natural ambience of the present moment, it's not great ambient. I could not care less about Eno or other academics.

A lot of Skullflower's recent material could qualify as ambient when it isn't drone or psych jams, it's definitely gotten some heavy new age elements in it lately but it ticks all the boxes for me. Won't skip an opportunity to talk Skullflower, haven't been able to get enough of it lately, old stuff and new.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Bloated Slutbag on August 31, 2021, 04:02:41 PM
Arguably ambient music demands a certain kind of listening that, whether concentrated or not, can be defined simply as relaxed.

You'll get no argument from me, but when you put it that way, in the context of the topic, it sets up an interesting dialectic. I mean, maybe I'm in the wrong groups, maybe I should be subscribed to New Age Interests or whatever... Crystal Power Now Playing... but it is rare indeed to encounter a critical review- that is, from a critic who listens critically, actively, attentively- that would critique the sounds on their ability to relax.

Which leads me to wonder if the whole of music criticism is up to the challenge of unironically* critiquing "ambient" qualities.

* edit intentionally or otherwise


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: FreakAnimalFinland on September 01, 2021, 08:13:21 AM
on former ambient topic, I posted the Brian Eno's original ambient manifest. It could be done here:

Quote
AMBIENT MUSIC
The concept of music designed specifically as a background feature in the environment was pioneered by Muzak Inc. in the fifties, and has since come to be known generically by the term Muzak. The connotations that this term carries are those particularly associated with the kind of material that Muzak Inc. produces - familiar tunes arranged and orchestrated in a lightweight and derivative manner. Understandably, this has led most discerning listeners (and most composers) to dismiss entirely the concept of environmental music as an idea worthy of attention.

Over the past three years, I have become interested in the use of music as ambience, and have come to believe that it is possible to produce material that can be used thus without being in any way compromised. To create a distinction between my own experiments in this area and the products of the various purveyors of canned music, I have begun using the term Ambient Music.

An ambience is defined as an atmosphere, or a surrounding influence: a tint. My intention is to produce original pieces ostensibly (but not exclusively) for particular times and situations with a view to building up a small but versatile catalogue of environmental music suited to a wide variety of moods and atmospheres.

Whereas the extant canned music companies proceed from the basis of regularizing environments by blanketing their acoustic and atmospheric idiosyncracies, Ambient Music is intended to enhance these. Whereas conventional background music is produced by stripping away all sense of doubt and uncertainty (and thus all genuine interest) from the music, Ambient Music retains these qualities. And whereas their intention is to `brighten' the environment by adding stimulus to it (thus supposedly alleviating the tedium of routine tasks and levelling out the natural ups and downs of the body rhythms) Ambient Music is intended to induce calm and a space to think.

Ambient Music must be able to accomodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.

BRIAN ENO
September 1978

Arguably ambient music demands a certain kind of listening that, whether concentrated or not, can be defined simply as relaxed.

You'll get no argument from me, but when you put it that way, in the context of the topic, it sets up an interesting dialectic. I mean, maybe I'm in the wrong groups, maybe I should be subscribed to New Age Interests or whatever... Crystal Power Now Playing... but it is rare indeed to encounter a critical review- that is, from a critic who listens critically, actively, attentively- that would critique the sounds on their ability to relax.

Which leads me to wonder if the whole of music criticism is up to the challenge of unironically* critiquing "ambient" qualities.

* edit intentionally or otherwise

Eno above concludes conventional background music is produced by stripping away all sense of doubt and uncertainty (and thus all genuine interest) from the music, Ambient Music retains these qualities. And whereas their intention is to `brighten' the environment by adding stimulus to it (thus supposedly alleviating the tedium of routine tasks and levelling out the natural ups and downs of the body rhythms) Ambient Music is intended to induce calm and a space to think.

For example, dark ambient, at the best, one can of course call it relaxing - but not necessarily. I think its quality to add stimulus, add space to think, might not be matter of relaxation, but possible intriguing level of mysticism, menacing horror, vast pitch black unescapeable space, and so on. This could be easily critically evaluated. Does artists remind of MUZAK, that has merely quality of relaxing keyboard tones void of any artistic merit, or perhaps something completely different.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: W.K. on September 01, 2021, 05:24:26 PM
It's quite funny that a lot of ambient artist in the 90's would see their album as new age, i.e. by Robert Rich but also more underground artists, and that is is now rarely used, and if so, mostly in a dismissive manner.

Anyway, I like quite some ambient but most of the time I go for something more active. I don't think there is an 'ultimate' ambient album or that the genre has to 'sound so and so', that's an absurd statement. What I do like is what I am listening now, Radikale Akzeptanz from Belia Winewisser, which offers a lot of different sounds and structures. Not all ambient per se, there are some tracks one could say are more IDM-ish or techno-lite, a varied piece of work but overall encompassing it really is an ambient album. Varied, but still very much within the theme.

But I also really like more glacier/'pure' ambient albums as something from I.Corax (who remembers them?) or drone pieces like the Organum works.

And what about Altar of Flies or artists that uses a lot of ambient set an atmosphere in between tracks or as transitional pieces?

(Previously I posted something dismissive about those that dislike ambient but do like it when made by black metal artist, and however I still think it's an strange way at looking at things, I really worded it too strongly)


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: W.K. on September 01, 2021, 05:27:49 PM
Does anyone here really care what Eno concludes? I want too LISTEN to music, be captivated by it, not reading an analysis and be bored to death.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: FreakAnimalFinland on September 01, 2021, 05:46:20 PM
Does anyone here really care what Eno concludes? I want too LISTEN to music, be captivated by it, not reading an analysis and be bored to death.

I would guess, that forum where people discuss sound in depth, has people who are interested in artists or other fanatics views and opinion. Those who only want to listen music, has this thing called cd player. You just push play and enjoy.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: JLIAT on September 01, 2021, 06:10:38 PM
Does anyone here really care what Eno concludes? I want too LISTEN to music, be captivated by it, not reading an analysis and be bored to death.


So I wouldn't recommend "In the Blink of an Ear: Toward a Non-cochlear Sonic Art" - by Seth Kim-Cohen.


;-)


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: Bloated Slutbag on September 02, 2021, 05:05:01 AM
It would be difficult for me to say anything more without going in circles, assuming that hasn’t happened already. Fortunately (or not), that never stopped me before.

I was hesitant to start drawing lines, but I think prefixing ambient with “dark” is probably a good start. And leads me again to question whether the qualities we are discussing would be better affixed to experimental industrial whatever. And not necessarily to criticize or question really, what I’m inclined to read here is a potentially bottomless spiraling process of feeding different qualities into each other and learning more than what otherwise might be thought possible.

We learned from Endo (or maybe Whitehouse a la New Britain) what silence can do for harsh noise, and the endoist influences only seem more palpable every day (he writes, taking stock of some of his faves in recent months).

Talking ambient qualities, I keep thinking back to Kojo Tano’s ND interview, in which the stated goal is to induce people to “sleep most of the time”. If MSBR’s Ultimate Ambience isn’t quite doing it for you may I heartily suggest Incapacitants Quietus. Would admittedly have a tougher time with Boom-Boom Roppongi but hey can’t hurt to try.


Title: Re: The qualities of "ambient"
Post by: W.K. on September 05, 2021, 11:44:45 PM
Does anyone here really care what Eno concludes? I want too LISTEN to music, be captivated by it, not reading an analysis and be bored to death.

I would guess, that forum where people discuss sound in depth, has people who are interested in artists or other fanatics views and opinion. Those who only want to listen music, has this thing called cd player. You just push play and enjoy.

I simply meant abandon all rules.