writing about music and movies among other things in hopes of selling ad space in the future or getting a job writing about music and movies among other things

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ambient etc.

Hey I'm Andrew. Ben and Luke have already posted, the latter twice even! I need to get on the ball with this shit.

I love ambient music. Lots of people ask, why bother? Isn't it just boring music for new agey dickheads, like that crystal-sporting asshole with the dreads who takes 20 minutes to ring up your shit at Whole Foods, or dudes like Tim Robbins' character in High Fidelity? What's the POINT, Andrew?

Indeed, ambient music is often thought of in the same vein as new age and meditation music. When Brian Eno first conceived of ambient music during a hospital stay in the 70s the idea was to create music to complement and calm various high-stress spaces, resulting in Discreet Music in 1975, followed by his first true ambient album, the landmark Music for Airports (1978). But a progressive crop of artists took ambient to new levels through the 80s, 90s and 00s, drawing it away from the vapid and trite world of new age music and crafting a unique style ranging from delicate and ultra-minimal, to lush and symphonic, to heavy and thunderous. All of it shares a few common elements, notably a general lack of percussion and/or steady rhythmic drive (but not always), sweeping and constant tonalities, and a focus on cyclical chord progressions, but therein lies the beauty - the best ambient music is not a soundtrack to meditation, but a meditation unto itself, drawing you into a place where time hardly exists, and the richness of sound and timbre fully surrounds you and infiltrates your space and your senses, placing you in a state of mindful stasis and formless clarity. Hippy bullshit? Sure, whatever. But let yourself be drawn into The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid, or Tim Hecker's masterful and crushing Harmony in Ultraviolet, or the ethereal tones of Windy & Carl's Consciousness, and see if you don't simultaneously feel the haunting insignificance and explosive potential of your own existence. Pretty fucking hardcore if you ask me.

So if you can't tell by now, I love ambient music and I will use a large part of this blog space to discuss the newest and most interesting ambient releases, as well as those riding the line between ambient and pop. I will write about noise and experimental too, and again, the releases that border on accessibility and pop structure. These are the places where music grows, and sometimes, is even reborn. I like those places.

I would like to quickly add that unlike Luke, I absolutely adored the most recent Animal Collective, in fact, it was my favorite release of 2009. It's the album they've been training for since the beginning of the decade, a masterpiece that sounds simple and immediately affecting despite its incredible complexity. I find something new every time even after dozens of listens. It is flawless from start to finish and easily one of the top ten musical achievements of the decade. The more I listen the more I think it could be the very best.

Sorry, just had to get that out there.

1 comment:

  1. You realize I have to post a rebuttal to this Animal Collective thing now with more thought put into it. The fight is on for the hearts of man! Great post, I told everyone you know more about music than I do and you didn't disappoint.