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Author Topic: Ambient Music--Mood before Melody  (Read 2186 times)
JK
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« on: March 17, 2019, 05:41:26 AM »

This is a very broad area of music that cuts across all genres. (The topic title says it all.) All contributions welcome, of course.

Tangerine Dream's 1974 album Phaedra is a pretty good place to start:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URssLwPXkVk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaedra_(album)
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2019, 02:23:36 PM »

Minimal Music falls into this area as well. An early favourite of mine is Part II (for marimbas) of Steve Reich's Drumming. I love the sound of the marimba and it's particularly sumptuous in this piece, where three marimbas are joined by two or three female voices:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB-woRXwY-Q

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drumming_(Reich)
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2019, 09:24:37 AM »

Great topic, JK!

I have been really liking Brian Eno's ambient music the last few years...one of his recent albums (I think it was called "Big Ship" or something) has been played quite a few times by me since release. I quickly sampled Phaedra and really liked it, I need to give it a closer listen today if I can.

Looking forward to contributing and keeping up with this topic.
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The Beach Boys legacy is still being mortared to this day...it has a solid and unbreakable foundation of incredible songs that tower above most bands, yet some bricks are more brittle and ugly than others (even some bricks put down more recently)...thus is the nature of any entity that continues to exist. You are not defined solely by your good achievements in life, you're also defined by those unpleasant moments too. This law of life, thankfully, helps keep us all in check.
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2019, 11:44:28 AM »

Great topic, JK!

I have been really liking Brian Eno's ambient music the last few years...one of his recent albums (I think it was called "Big Ship" or something) has been played quite a few times by me since release. I quickly sampled Phaedra and really liked it, I need to give it a closer listen today if I can.

Looking forward to contributing and keeping up with this topic.

Thanks, rab. Smiley It was Mark Prendergast's book The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Moby that seriously fired my interest in ambient music. I immediately bought a dozen CDs he recommended ranging from Sketches of Spain to stuff by Aphex Twin and The Chemical Brothers. Phaedra is one of my favourites. I know and love the things Eno recorded with Robert Fripp.

It's an almost bottomless pit of discoveries--which is why I have high hopes for this topic! Grin 
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rab2591
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2019, 12:00:42 PM »

Sketches of Spain is Miles Davis right? I love that album.

Speaking of Moby, he did a great tune that I remember from years back called "ISS" which is a real ambient trip.

Are you subscribed to a music streaming service?
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Bill Tobelman's SMiLE site

The Beach Boys legacy is still being mortared to this day...it has a solid and unbreakable foundation of incredible songs that tower above most bands, yet some bricks are more brittle and ugly than others (even some bricks put down more recently)...thus is the nature of any entity that continues to exist. You are not defined solely by your good achievements in life, you're also defined by those unpleasant moments too. This law of life, thankfully, helps keep us all in check.
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2019, 12:43:20 PM »

Imagine if BW had finished M&TF on holland. That is eno level music..
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And production aside, I’d so much rather hear a 14 year old David Marks shred some guitar on Chug-a-lug than hear a 51 year old Mike Love sing about bangin some chick in a swimming pool.-rab2591
JK
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2019, 01:17:42 PM »

Sketches of Spain is Miles Davis right? I love that album.

Speaking of Moby, he did a great tune that I remember from years back called "ISS" which is a real ambient trip.

Are you subscribed to a music streaming service?

Yes, it's Miles. That's one album Beefheart and Zappa used to listen to as teenagers late at night after doing the bread run. Beefheart quoted a few bars from Miles's take on the Rodrigo guitar concerto in "Sugar N' Spikes" on TMR and you can hear the little flourishes from "Will O' The Wisp" all over Zappa's work.

Okay, thanks. I'll look out that Moby tune. Wink

No, I don't even subscribe to YouTube, which is where I hear just about everything on- and offline these days. 
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2019, 01:25:31 PM »

Imagine if BW had finished M&TF on holland. That is eno level music..

You mean MV&F? Yes indeed. In fact Prendergast devotes nearly two pages to the Boys, dwelling on SMiLE and even including Smiley Smile in his list of recommended listens.
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2019, 02:42:08 AM »

Talking of Eno, this atmospheric and extremely moving modern "classical" work by Gavin Bryars was originally released on Eno's Obscure label. This first (1975) version of The Sinking of the Titanic is the one I've posted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oVMRADOq5s

"...from aft came the tunes of the band..... The ship was gradually turning on her nose - just like a duck that goes down for a dive. I had only one thing on my mind - to get away from the suction. The band was still playing. I guess all of the band went down. They were playing 'Autumn' then. I swam with all my might. I suppose I was 150 feet away when the Titanic, on her nose, with her afterquarter sticking straight up in the air, began to settle slowly.... The way the band kept playing was a noble thing. I heard it first while we were still working wireless, when there was a ragtime tune for us, and the last I saw of the band, when I was floating out in the sea with my lifebelt on, it was still on deck playing 'Autumn'. How they ever did it I cannot imagine."

Harold Bride, the junior wireless operator, in an interview for the New York Times of April 19th 1912

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sinking_of_the_Titanic
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2019, 05:04:44 AM »

Another I bought on the strength of Prendergast's recommendation was Air's 1999 album Premiers Symptômes. Actually I would have done better to have bought the original 1997 EP, as the sequence (and build-up) of these five wonderfully evocative tracks is all you need:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RZD8Z2clDo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premiers_Symptômes
« Last Edit: March 22, 2019, 05:05:27 AM by JK » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2019, 06:04:07 AM »

SONIC SEASONIGS by Walter Carlos used to do the trick for me.
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JK
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2019, 06:43:03 AM »

SONIC SEASONINGS by Walter Carlos used to do the trick for me.

Hi Steve. I love what she (remember it's Wendy now) did with Purcell's Music for the Funeral for Queen Mary at the start of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (with its ominous quote of the "Dies Irae" at 1:10):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtgcB_ZBTwE
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"Ik bun moar een eenvoudige boerenlul en doar schoam ik mien niet veur" (Normaal, 1978)
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2019, 12:28:55 PM »

Talking of Eno, this atmospheric and extremely moving modern "classical" work by Gavin Bryars was originally released on Eno's Obscure label. This first (1975) version of The Sinking of the Titanic is the one I've posted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oVMRADOq5s

"...from aft came the tunes of the band..... The ship was gradually turning on her nose - just like a duck that goes down for a dive. I had only one thing on my mind - to get away from the suction. The band was still playing. I guess all of the band went down. They were playing 'Autumn' then. I swam with all my might. I suppose I was 150 feet away when the Titanic, on her nose, with her afterquarter sticking straight up in the air, began to settle slowly.... The way the band kept playing was a noble thing. I heard it first while we were still working wireless, when there was a ragtime tune for us, and the last I saw of the band, when I was floating out in the sea with my lifebelt on, it was still on deck playing 'Autumn'. How they ever did it I cannot imagine."

Harold Bride, the junior wireless operator, in an interview for the New York Times of April 19th 1912

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sinking_of_the_Titanic

Thanks for this! Been listening to it on and off since you posted it.
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Bill Tobelman's SMiLE site

The Beach Boys legacy is still being mortared to this day...it has a solid and unbreakable foundation of incredible songs that tower above most bands, yet some bricks are more brittle and ugly than others (even some bricks put down more recently)...thus is the nature of any entity that continues to exist. You are not defined solely by your good achievements in life, you're also defined by those unpleasant moments too. This law of life, thankfully, helps keep us all in check.
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2019, 01:15:39 PM »

Thanks for this! Been listening to it on and off since you posted it.

I often wonder whether I'm wasting my time and energy posting things like this and here's proof that I'm not. Thank you, sir. :=)
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2019, 03:58:45 PM »

Thanks for this! Been listening to it on and off since you posted it.

I often wonder whether I'm wasting my time and energy posting things like this and here's proof that I'm not. Thank you, sir. :=)

Definitely not! I know you and Rocker post a lot of stuff regarding music that is not The Beach Boys, it doesn't go unnoticed even if people don't directly reply to it. Thanks for all your contribution!
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Bill Tobelman's SMiLE site

The Beach Boys legacy is still being mortared to this day...it has a solid and unbreakable foundation of incredible songs that tower above most bands, yet some bricks are more brittle and ugly than others (even some bricks put down more recently)...thus is the nature of any entity that continues to exist. You are not defined solely by your good achievements in life, you're also defined by those unpleasant moments too. This law of life, thankfully, helps keep us all in check.
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2019, 02:57:46 AM »

Thanks for this! Been listening to it on and off since you posted it.

I often wonder whether I'm wasting my time and energy posting things like this and here's proof that I'm not. Thank you, sir. :=)

Definitely not! I know you and Rocker post a lot of stuff regarding music that is not The Beach Boys, it doesn't go unnoticed even if people don't directly reply to it. Thanks for all your contribution!

You're most welcome, rab. And thank you for your kind words.

This is probably the most radical album I bought in that spate of ambient purchases. Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II can best be described as doodling in the margins (but see link).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6xn0SRFYh4 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selected_Ambient_Works_Volume_II
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« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2019, 04:14:10 AM »

Since reading Prendergast's book I've found myself paying closer attention to the music used in gardening programmes and the like. It's almost musical wallpaper but not quite--I'd swear I keep hearing stuff by the French duo Air (see above).

The earliest example I heard of Minimal Music was Terry Riley's "A Rainbow In Curved Air" on John Peel's legendary Sunday afternoon radio show--this was in 1969, after the BBC had abandoned its ten-minute restriction on the length of pop/rock tracks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PNbEfLIEDs

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Rainbow_in_Curved_Air
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« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2019, 03:59:12 AM »

The band Popol Vuh was the brainchild of Florian Fricke. Their second album, In den Gärten Pharaos ("In the Garden of the Pharaohs", 1971), has only two tracks, pitting a more meditative, delicate side one against the relentless barrage of organ and cymbals on side two:   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2N6oOVMEKA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MwtcoixW6A

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popol_Vuh_(band)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 04:01:31 AM by JK » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2019, 02:57:35 AM »

rab mentioned Eno a while back. This is what happened when Eno and Bowie got together. "Moss Garden" is a magic track on a magic album. That's David on koto:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alSfXV_hnT4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moss_Garden
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2019, 05:12:05 AM »

I remember borrowing this LP from a record-lending library years ago. In fact most of it (including part 2) is on a tape somewhere. Nice to see part 1 on YouTube (this Virgin coupling of parts 1 and 2 was never transferred to CD). The original side one switched to part 2 very briefly at the end and then stopped (rather than fading out) and began again on side 2. Music in Twelve Parts (well represented on CD) plays without a break. (One of my spies just rushed in to tell me that these two parts were the first recordings made in 1974 and released as Music in Twelve Parts Parts 1 & 2 on the Caroline label (Virgin) in 1976.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gOlX7r1TfE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_in_Twelve_Parts
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« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2019, 03:40:15 AM »

Brian Jones has much to answer for. This extraordinary BJ-produced album definitely belongs in this topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwEoDGeNyrE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Jones_Presents_the_Pipes_of_Pan_at_Joujouka
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« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2019, 02:34:48 PM »

One great source of ambient music is TV gardening programmes. Mark Prendergast's book opened up my ears to the wonderful not-quite musical wallpaper of such shows. I swear I can hear music by people like Air from time to time:

This is Gardeners' World from March 31, 2019: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szHwKeA2utA
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« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2019, 01:20:50 PM »

It's only a small step away from Ambient to Muzak, folks. Mr Tubey shoved this in my face earlier this evening so I gave it a try. It's beautiful, if a little spooky. As commenter Shawn Spear says, "Even the reverb has reverb"!  Grin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FxA2pELtIw

I can't resist posting this other incredible comment from Francis Perlmutter:

"This music is the perfect accompaniment to a solo cough syrup party - oh, for the good old days, when the over-the-counter stuff had codeine and you didn't have to worry about getting put on some federal registry list if you bought two bottles at a time.  I could go all limp, boneless and happy in a shopping cart, listening to this music - it's like someone is slowly revolving me and the ceiling tiles have never been so fascinating.  I'm young again, listening to this music - my waist is small, my buns are firm and high, my teeth are pink, and I have hair."  LOL     

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muzak
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2019, 03:47:42 AM »

I first heard Steve Reich's Different Trains for string quartet and tape on a platform in our main railway station when it was reopened after a massive makeover. Our more recent hearing was in the local concert hall, thankfully without intrusive images on a screen by an unrelated upcoming video artist. (They've done that before now, goodness knows why--you'd think there was enough to see happening onstage.) See the article linked below for the text: 

I. America--Before the war: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1E4Bjt_zVJc
II. Europe--During the war: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq5jmTx_gO0
III. After the war: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUWalsKk_RA

http://d-sites.net/english/reichtrains.html
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« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2019, 03:10:51 AM »

YouTube's algorithm does it again. To quote commenter otterhouse verbatim, "The piece was composed and produced in 1958, first issue on 'the fascinating world of electronic music' was in 1959, and this 45 RPM was issued in 1962. At the same time these early pieces were collected in 'fantasy in orbit' and that record became a cult-hit. David Bowie ranked that album in his top 10 all time favorites." Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW-n6GWFAvI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Dissevelt
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"Ik bun moar een eenvoudige boerenlul en doar schoam ik mien niet veur" (Normaal, 1978)
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