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OTHER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAN MUSIC => Everything and Nothing => Topic started by: mgriffin on October 01, 2009, 01:25:24 PM

Title: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mgriffin on October 01, 2009, 01:25:24 PM
Pete Kelly started a topic here http://www.hypnos.com/smf/index.php?topic=2240.0 (http://www.hypnos.com/smf/index.php?topic=2240.0) called "The Ambient Scene" in which many of us have discussed what has become of this genre's "scene," such as it is and has been, from the 90s to the present.

After a few pages of discussion and commentary (much of it interesting, by the way, so check out that thread if you haven't already) I asked people would they wished they could see/hear in the genre.  This was a slight derail of the topic, and quick-witted Hypnos Forum moderator APK suggested I create a new topic, so here we go.

My original post:

Quote
So, how about we come at this question from a different angle?  I'd like to hear what people feel is missing from the ambient "scene," such as it is, and what they would wish for?

Do listeners want more work from new, unknown artists?  More work from established artists?  More compilations?

Do followers of the genre, whether "consumers" or "producers," wish for more printed magazines & newsletters?  More/different blogs?  More/different podcasts?  More artist interviews, more behind-the-scenes or "how the artist works" kind of stuff?

Any specific kinds of music that are perhaps a bit over-done, or any other styles you're dying to see explored?


Let's keep the forward-looking "where do we wish things would go from here?" discussions in this topic, then.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mgriffin on October 01, 2009, 01:27:18 PM
Also, since my post in that other topic, there have been two responses which I'll quote here.

Seren wrote:
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Some interesting ideas in there Mike, I'm always interested in getting to know more about musicians and their music.

I recognise that creating such things takes time and effort though, and you are already very busy, would we, as those interested, need to offer time and effort if anything is to come of the ideas??


and then Jeff Stephens wrote:

Quote
Yes, more collaborations are always a good thing, from the listener's point of view.  The last couple of hyped collabs. that come to mind on this forum were Grassow and Jim Cole, and Circular Ruins and Off the Sky.  Seems like anytime people are talking about an album for more than a week here, it can be classified as hype, I guess.  Have there been any other majorly hyped duos or trios recently?  Sorry if I missed them.  Another shot from the hip I'll take on the subject is that we've witnessed a certain dronification of ambient in the last couple years, at least on this forum I've noticed.  It's not that I don't like some drone- the sunnier, warmer and slightly fuzzy drone really is nice and hits a certain chord in the psyche, especially in the morning for me for some reason.....but I think what you see is people who like it add their two quiet cents in about how they enjoyed it, but by nature it just doesn't lend itself to a lot of storied descriptions and hype.  Even a lot of the famous musicians have gradually become more and more minimal with their work (and with their hair ) 

So as a big sector of the genre has "shrunk" in terms of style, stripping the sound down, like someone I believe it was Mike, said a lot of the rest is retro-ambient whether it's 70's sequencer or 80's space music.  As good as it is, it just isn't groundbreaking.  But most artists who stick around usually take chances with their music at some point.  If Steve Roach only did Structures from Silence-type synth music, or stuck with techno-tribal, he wouldn't be the phenom. he is today, right?  I know a lot of his music gets mixed reviews, but Dust to Dust was a risky move... Prayers to the Protector with a Tibetan Monk, Mystic Chords, Early Man and teaming up with Vir Unis... I'd say all of those creative turns he took were worth it, for the listeners and himself as an artist.   

Some of my favorite "groundbreakers" would be:  Thom Heasley- Where the Earth Meets the Sky- Ambient Tuba mixed with throat-singing.. I mean you'd have to hear that to believe it was good.  Forrest Fang- Gongland- An album full of rich ideas, instruments and sounds- I don't think I've ever heard anything like it.  Off The Sky- Cold Distances- not too many debuts put somebody on the map quite like this one.  Ishq- Orchid-  Superb sound design, like strolling through a futuristic alien garden. 

So I think original sounds, ideas, and instruments are what have always driven the change- I don't know if it's me but it seems like there is more pure electronic music now and a lot less electro-acoustic recordings compared to say, the 90's.  In a way I do miss earthier ambient that uses more winds and chords, or just a new combo that we haven't heard before.

Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mgriffin on October 01, 2009, 02:13:34 PM
A few of the things I wish for would include...

More ambitious and "visionary" record labels
It seems to me as if earlier record labels had their own vision and style, and everyone knew that 12k was a glitchy electronica label, Projekt was a goth label that would occasionally foray into ambient, Hypnos focused on more nocturnal drone & long-form ambient, and so on.  More recent labels not only come around less often but also seem more inclined to be so "eclectic" as to be unfocused, unless they are so focused as to be one-artist self-release outlets.  Room40 is the only recently established label I can think of that has sought to stake out a distinct territory both in terms of sound and graphic presentation.  Maybe I'm forgetting others.

More energetic, obsessive, prolific ambient music writers/bloggers
We have a few -- and I thank them for their efforts, and hate to think where we'd be without them -- but considering how many more reviewers and "informal listener-describers" we had in years past compared to now, I can't help but wish more were willing to find some medium in which to report their thoughts and impressions on what they're listening to.  I know the monetary rewards are basically nil, but on the flip side, hey, blogging is free, certainly cheaper than printing a newsletter or a magazine on paper, right?  You'd think that if ten years ago, a handful of people were willing to self-publish magazines and newsletters at a personal financial cost, more people would now be willing to blog about ambient, right?

Podcasters, more in number and in variety
I think there's a lot of room for this kind of "bedroom broadcaster" role -- not just "here's a cool mix of tracks you may not have heard," but retrospectives/overviews of certain artists or labels or sub-genres, or maybe interviews or interpretive/critical features.  As interesting as it is to read an essay or an opinion piece about music, how much more compelling would it be to listen to an audio essay featuring example music?  And wouldn't a lot of people love to listen to an audio interview by interesting personages in our little music niche, not only featuring Q&A but also, again, example music?

More outlets for music
People actually do still buy CDs... seriously!  There is actual money to be made obtaining and reselling hard-to-find music, especially imported stuff from places like Italy and The Netherlands and Russia.  It blows my mind that nobody is out there trying to start new mail order businesses to sell CDs.  It's the kind of thing a person could easily do in their spare time (I did, for over a decade, until Lena took over Hypnos mail order full time), for a few extra bucks to start out, and then maybe for a modest full-time living, depending on your expense level.  Seriously... people take a stab at questionable small businesses and half-baked "work from home" ideas all the time, but nobody wants to try to buy CDs for $7-8 and resell them for $12-13?  You may be asking, "but Mike, why do you want people to compete with Hypnos?" and my answer is, because no single retailer can reach everybody, and I'd rather there were a hundred mail order businesses like Hypnos, because as much as our direct sales business would shrink with all the competition, we'd probably sell a whole ton of CDs to those other 100 mail order businesses.  OK, the ambient genre is too small to support 100 such outlets, but it's weird to me that the only place people buy ambient music these days is either Amazon, or from some mail order business that's a side operation of a record label.

I have other ideas/wishes but I'll stop for now.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mgriffin on October 01, 2009, 02:43:41 PM
Another thing I would really love to see is a greater respect for the notion of the album as a unified statement, a planned and edited document that is shaped and refined until it's as perfect as possible.  That is, instead of artist just going into the studio and hitting the "record" button, and then every few months when they've accumulated 70-74 minutes worth of material they enjoy, giving the album a title chosen at random from a list of cool-sounding words and releasing it.

I've complained about this many times over the years but the unfortunate side effect of CDR and MP3 as cheap or free release formats for music is that artists have a casual "well, why not throw it out there where people can hear it?" attitude.  When it cost a substantial amount of money to release an LP or CD, artists would rarely release music casually or carelessly, or if they did, they would likely find they didn't sell enough copies to support a second such release.  

The democratization of the music release process by these cheap or free methods is nice in some ways, but has done as much harm as good to the overall quality level of music in our genre, and really, all genres.  This is not an ambient-specific problem.  There is much more music being released, but the amount of very good music has not increased at all, meaning that those rare projects created and released with care are somewhat snowed-under by a great blizzard of works in large part issued with not much restraint or consideration.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Scott M2 on October 01, 2009, 08:38:42 PM
Another thing I would really love to see is a greater respect for the notion of the album as a unified statement, a planned and edited document that is shaped and refined until it's as perfect as possible.  That is, instead of artist just going into the studio and hitting the "record" button, and then every few months when they've accumulated 70-74 minutes worth of material they enjoy, giving the album a title chosen at random from a list of cool-sounding words and releasing it.
 

Well said. I cherish well-executed albums with a unified sonic mood or a well-thought-out path or concept.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: jkn on October 02, 2009, 05:33:51 AM
100% agree with that last comment.   I miss the full "package" - of artwork, liner notes, the care that comes along with carefully putting together the right look and feel for an album.   I like to know what the artist was inspired by, maybe what they used to create the album.

I'm someone that even reads the 'thank you's' in the album notes... :-)

With the mp3 album... we're left with a postage stamp sized image much of the time.  :-(   If you're a major artist/major label - iTunes will play ball a bit and include album booklets and movies/videos with special higher priced versions of albums.  Not much leverage for a tiny label to get that placement though...





Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Wayne Higgins on October 02, 2009, 07:33:50 AM
Quote
Another thing I would really love to see is a greater respect for the notion of the album as a unified statement, a planned and edited document that is shaped and refined until it's as perfect as possible.  That is, instead of artist just going into the studio and hitting the "record" button, and then every few months when they've accumulated 70-74 minutes worth of material they enjoy, giving the album a title chosen at random from a list of cool-sounding words and releasing it.
I like that

Quote
The democratization of the music release process by these cheap or free methods is nice in some ways, but has done as much harm as good to the overall quality level of music in our genre, and really, all genres.  This is not an ambient-specific problem.  There is much more music being released, but the amount of very good music has not increased at all, meaning that those rare projects created and released with care are somewhat snowed-under by a great blizzard of works in large part issued with not much restraint or consideration.
Interesting

Quote
Well said. I cherish well-executed albums with a unified sonic mood or a well-thought-out path or concept.
I try

Quote
100% agree with that last comment.   I miss the full "package" - of artwork, liner notes, the care that comes along with carefully putting together the right look and feel for an album.   I like to know what the artist was inspired by, maybe what they used to create the album.
You know, I work in this chemistry lab and I ordered a small (approx 1 inch sq) sheet of Cadmium metal.  It came in this great box, and I am trying to find out how to get them.  I'm not that fond of jewel cases, especially the cheap thin ones.

Quote
I'm someone that even reads the 'thank you's' in the album notes... :-)
You know I did this punk album back in the day and a reviewer mentioned something about the mix.  I asked him why he made such a statement when the credits stated "recorded and mixed live...".  His remark was that he never read album cover credits.

Quote
With the mp3 album... we're left with a postage stamp sized image much of the time.  :-(   If you're a major artist/major label - iTunes will play ball a bit and include album booklets and movies/videos with special higher priced versions of albums.  Not much leverage for a tiny label to get that placement though...
I take it you mean downloaded mp3 as opposed to hard copy.


I have been reading threads similar to this on other boards.  What I have discovered is the desire for artists and labels to be "honest".  No one gets pissed when a cd-r is sold, as long as it says up front "This is a cd-r".  The only thing that has ever rubbed me the wrong way is to order a disc only to receive something less than what I was led to believe I was buying.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: drone on on October 04, 2009, 02:38:52 PM
First and foremost, I'd like to see some new artists who are original and not trying to sound like someone else.  I'd also like to see the "innovators" continue to innovate, not just rehash 10-year-old ideas. 

As it is easier for ambient artists to release their music these days, there is simply too much of it (and much of it substandard or too similar to previous releases).  I agree 100% with Mike's comment about hitting the record button and giving it a fancy title!  Seems to me back in the early/mid'90's an artist would release one or two discs per year, and they were something special.  Now we get five or six from the same artist with uninspired music and fancy titles that sound good but don't deliver.  You know, the "Destination to the Upper Realms of the Stratosphere", and you're like "WOW, that sounds COOL!". Then it arrives and it's a boring 70 minute synth drone. 

I would also like to see ambient/electronic labels not go too "hi-tech crazy" by releasing download-only albums, or limiting the number of copies of their CD runs because they figure people can download it from iTunes instead.  The worst offender of this is Fax.  Most of their releases are now limited to 500 (used to be 2,000 or 1,000), but you have to pay close to $30 for a DTS surround disc included in the package.  I don't want to download, but I also don't want to pay twice as much for something I'll never use. 
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: michael sandler on October 04, 2009, 04:34:09 PM
...I agree 100% with Mike's comment about hitting the record button and giving it a fancy title!  Seems to me back in the early/mid'90's an artist would release one or two discs per year, and they were something special.  Now we get five or six from the same artist with uninspired music and fancy titles that sound good but don't deliver.  You know, the "Destination to the Upper Realms of the Stratosphere", and you're like "WOW, that sounds COOL!". Then it arrives and it's a boring 70 minute synth drone. 

Yes, there are only so many astronomical phenomena to choose from. After exhausting them all, you must turn to other sources of inspiration for a title.

MikeS
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: ffcal on October 04, 2009, 08:36:08 PM
I agree that a little quality control wouldn't hurt in our tiny genre, and maybe a bit more selectivity, even as to netreleases.  For those who are just starting out, I would encourage that you get some feedback from people whose ears you trust before making your music publicly available.  We should all do what we can to avoid diluting the appeal and interest in our music by releasing stuff that is not quite ready for primetime.

Forrest
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: 9dragons on October 05, 2009, 01:28:22 AM
Seems to me like we've lost the luxury in the ambient genre. Everybody does it on the cheap. Please, ambient artists, find professionals to design your covers and do your typography. I do kind of miss the relatively old days of Fathom, when a release was professional and had actual graphic design and good art. I've really slowed my cd buying to a crawl, because it seems to me that most ambient releases, in terms of the whole package, are just not inspired. And I hate taking a chance on a cdr release because if you don't like it, the resale is nil, so you're screwed both ways. More value added releases! If it is worth releasing, really worth releasing, then do it right.

I have to say, in regards to Phantoms, I wish Projekt would have gone the extra mile and released it as a six panel digipak, as they do with many Steve Roach releases. Phantoms is one of my favorite works so far, in any genre, it deserved more in terms of its release profile.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: APK on October 05, 2009, 06:11:29 AM
Seems to me like we've lost the luxury in the ambient genre. Everybody does it on the cheap. Please, ambient artists, find professionals to design your covers and do your typography. I do kind of miss the relatively old days of Fathom, when a release was professional and had actual graphic design and good art. I've really slowed my cd buying to a crawl, because it seems to me that most ambient releases, in terms of the whole package, are just not inspired. And I hate taking a chance on a cdr release because if you don't like it, the resale is nil, so you're screwed both ways. More value added releases! If it is worth releasing, really worth releasing, then do it right.

I totally agree that it would be nice to have a polished pro package for sale. But the simple problem is that for the majority of releases, especially on smaller labels with lesser-known artists, it is simply not possible. The cost is prohibitive. Paying graphic designers, paying someone well-known to master the release, paying extra for multi-page inserts, and paying to get just 500 pressed is money that is not likely to be recouped. I find that people not selling these things greatly over-estimate how bad sales are of physical albums. Its not the case that labels are offering a cheaper product to get more profits, its simply a matter of offering a cheaper product so you don't lose money releasing it.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: petekelly on October 05, 2009, 11:22:46 AM
This is very true.

This is also why the majority of artists release CD-Rs instead of pressed CDs. Sure, it'd be great
to be able to sell a pressed CD, but there's not many ambient artists who can sell 500 CDs these
days.

It's not a case of 'Doing it on the cheap'. It's the gloomy state of CD sales making artists ensure
they can afford to release their material now, and in the future.

Pete
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: jkn on October 05, 2009, 11:46:34 AM
reality is... it's really not that "cheap" to release a cdr anymore...   ok yes, of course you can burn the cdr yourself and print and cut and insert... but then you've got to factor in the amount of time you're stuffing cdr's into cases and mailing instead of writing music when 99.99999% of artists have day jobs, families, and a certain required amount of sleep per day to also contend with.

I know from my year+ of being a co-owner at AtmoWorks... the physical copies barely sold any copies at all (some albums sold zero cdr's...) - while the downloads tended to sell 5x or 10x more depending on who it was...   
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: michael sandler on October 05, 2009, 12:10:40 PM
Seems to me like we've lost the luxury in the ambient genre. Everybody does it on the cheap. Please, ambient artists, find professionals to design your covers and do your typography. I do kind of miss the relatively old days of Fathom, when a release was professional and had actual graphic design and good art. I've really slowed my cd buying to a crawl, because it seems to me that most ambient releases, in terms of the whole package, are just not inspired. And I hate taking a chance on a cdr release because if you don't like it, the resale is nil, so you're screwed both ways. More value added releases! If it is worth releasing, really worth releasing, then do it right.

I totally agree that it would be nice to have a polished pro package for sale. But the simple problem is that for the majority of releases, especially on smaller labels with lesser-known artists, it is simply not possible. The cost is prohibitive. Paying graphic designers, paying someone well-known to master the release, paying extra for multi-page inserts, and paying to get just 500 pressed is money that is not likely to be recouped...

It's cheaper to raid the public domain image galleries on the NASA website.

MikeS
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: 9dragons on October 05, 2009, 04:36:15 PM
I hope my last post didn't come across as being harsh. As an artist who has to work a day job to support my personal projects, I can understand what it means to put money into a project and have to sit on it for a while. But is it possible that there is an element of self fulfilling prophecy going on here? If the physical product has had only basic effort put into it, and the cd itself is a cdr, could that possibly be deterring people from buying it as well? There definitely are a fair amount of underground, ambient and drone type labels out there that are releasing cds in artistic packaging, who seem to be getting by just fine. I don't know, maybe I shouldn't speculate, as my direct experience of labels is nil, so I apologize if this is sounding naive. And I realize it is unrealistic to hire a graphic designer and such, but it seems like making the product as fine as possible will indeed encourage more to buy it. But it's true, physical store sales do seem to be quite difficult these days. I am actually getting first hand experience of this. My brother, who is a full time musician, and has to struggle to make ends meet, just put up a sizeable chunk of cash to release his own album. I did all the graphics and package design for free. We went all out, six panel felt finish paper, letterpress, and poster, and pressed cds. He's had the most luck selling it when he plays live, but I have had to struggle to sell it in stores, whereas I thought the fine packaging would sell itself. If we were trying to run label, we would be in the shit pretty quick with this method. I am thinking of ways to release things more cheaply, and have thought of cdrs. But as I have access to a printing press, and can do my own labor, the packaging would be the focus of the release, and the cdr a kind of supplement. So that kind of reverses the model, where the packaging takes precedent and the music illustrates the art.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, as far as the ambient scene goes, I miss having really nice packaging, of getting that magical feel when you buy an album and pore over its packaging while putting the release on for the first time. Hypnos is a good example of this trend for me. I used to buy almost every Hypnos release that came along, and liked the graphics very much, as well as the music But now, with the Secret Sounds releases, I only get something if I already know the artist really well, and know I wil still be listening to it a year from now. I have great respect for Mike and I think he has made the decisions that are right for his label and himself, but as one fan, I have dropped out somehat, due to the packaging.

Is there anyone else out there like me? Is this a shallow kind of way to appreciate the scene? Maybe I am more broke these days, and just can't afford to buy like I used to, or maybe I my collection is reaching saturation point, and I just don't feel compelled to keep buying more, unless I can get the full experience. Or maybe I just envy those who got to enjoy the full glory of the vinyl days.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mgriffin on October 05, 2009, 04:46:04 PM
This is where you get to say what you would LIKE to see happen... whatever you wish for, whether it's practical or likely, or not.

It doesn't surprise me if listeners, especially those collector-types who enjoy the CD-as-object, prefer CDs over CDRs, at the same time it doesn't surprise me to see more and more record labels focusing on CDR releases.

Likewise it doesn't surprise me that some people would prefer to see professional graphic design, and professional audio mastering, while others may say "can't do it, too expensive."

Still, regardless of the practicalities, I'd love to see listeners, recording artists, and label types alike express what they'd like to see happen.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: 9dragons on October 05, 2009, 04:52:27 PM
I would like to see artists, printers, and musicians collaborating, splitting the costs of the releases, maybe releasing fewer things, but having those releases stand a lot longer, and be something more monumental. At the same time, I realize there is an element of daydreaming here.

Do we already have too much music? Does it make sense to try to strive for quality over quantity? Is it impractical? I am honestly curious to know, as Mike is, what people's feelings are in this realm...
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Mark Mushet on October 05, 2009, 05:42:58 PM
I would like to see artists, printers, and musicians collaborating, splitting the costs of the releases, maybe releasing fewer things, but having those releases stand a lot longer, and be something more monumental. At the same time, I realize there is an element of daydreaming here.

Do we already have too much music? Does it make sense to try to strive for quality over quantity? Is it impractical?

To the last three questions: yes. yes. and no.

There is waaaay too much of everything out there and the positive sides of the DIY revolution have been bitten in the ass by the resulting indifference caused by ubiquitous mediocrity aided and abetted by a lack of critical dialogue and strategies for A&R.

For those of us seriously into the hard copy, uncompressed and well packaged model but who also like a wide variety of new music, we're going to look very hard at purchases in each genre.

I have a composer friend who initially had me in mind for CD cover graphics. I said: "This represents x years of work and you want to honour that by having strong imagery, typography and design. Do. Not. Cheap. Out!" He did. I'm afraid to see the results.
It sends a message to a potential buyer, however subtle, that something, somewhere, just isn't good enough. Total excellence or go home is my view on this.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: jkn on October 06, 2009, 05:47:43 AM
I'd like to see ambient music reviewers continue to write on their own websites or blogs - but I'd love to see someone aggregate these into one location.   A place that's easy to view latest reviews and search for old ones.   Something with the searchability Wikipedia, but with the immediacy of a news blog.

I'd like to see ambient release information, label and artist news... also on a site like that.    I've always wanted something like that - and even thought about launching it.   I remember Mike tried setting up a wiki site at Hypnos that kind of stalled out and died quickly.   With most website utilizing blogs that have RSS feeds...  it might be easier these days to aggregate everything into a central feed.   Who knows - maybe I'll take a crack at it in a year after my new label is up and running.

I'd like artists to take their art seriously and go that extra mile to get the best possible sound quality, best possible art and graphics within their grasp... and to seek out someone willing to help if their skills don't cover certain things (not all great musicians are great graphic artists, and vice versa...).   

I don't know about telling artist to slow down or speed up - artists should create their music as they want.   The amazingly lower costs of entering the self-release, or niche label music business is amazingly cheap to do (well... in a "cheap" way...) - but with time and care and planning - a relatively inexpensive release can still sound and look utterly stunning.

And as always - one persons "utterly stunning" is another person's "utterly pointless".  ;-)

I guess one thing I would like to say to some artists... is slow down on the release...  don't just toss it out there as soon as you've finished recording.  Let it sit and bake a little in your head - step back so the excitement of recording it has faded a bit so you can listen to yourself with fresh ears.   Then tackle the final edits and mix - and mastering.    Of course - many artists do this - but I know a few who (at least seem to...) just crank out an album.   

I can't count the number of songs where I've recorded something in a fantastic session - was bubbling with happiness... went to bed, got up and went...  ummm - what was I thinking?    :-)
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Hypnagogue on October 06, 2009, 06:30:18 AM
 And wouldn't a lot of people love to listen to an audio interview by interesting personages in our little music niche, not only featuring Q&A but also, again, example music?

Blake Gibson (Broken Harbour) suggested much the same in an e-mail to me recently. How much draw there might be for the podcast in having interviews, etc. I've definitely thought about it, but for me the time and tech required to do it well seems a bit exhausting. I've been thinking a lot about how to make the Hypnagogue podcast different--or if I need to bother to do so. I think it's tough when, like me, you are just a "bedroom broadcaster," as opposed to having the resources of a John Diliberto or Bill Fox.

I'm still trying to figure out if the podcast should be more review-focused, or just showcase new stuff by playing it. (In my upcoming #12, I set aside 30 of the 90 minutes solely for new work--something I think I'm going to try to continue doing going forward.)
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Wayne Higgins on October 06, 2009, 06:58:54 AM
Quote
Do we already have too much music? Does it make sense to try to strive for quality over quantity? Is it impractical? I am honestly curious to know, as Mike is, what people's feelings are in this realm...
Not the first person to ask this question.  This is one of the questions asked at the conference I attended in Nashville in April.  One of the proposed reasons for the drop in music sales, sharing, downloads, and theft is that many people already have enough music.  Their Ipod or hard drive is already full.

I have stated before that the only problem with ambient music is that everyone that listens to it makes it, or at least a larger percentage than rock or country.  As far as the professional graphics printing part, I can understand the difference, but there are a plenty of lame professional products out there to substatiate the argument that that's not it.  The question is not why don't the buy, but why do they buy what the do.  What is being sold these days when it comes to ambient music, or any music for that matter.  The best quote of 2008 to me was "If High School Musical is in the top ten, the industry is in big trouble."  I usually don't look at it as how is "ambient music doing?" as much as "how is music doing?"  Humor me.  Let me continue.

I posted this on the now dead and buried Oenyaw website a few years ago.  (Although, there are time Mr. O seems to desire resurection)

Strategies in Marketing Music
Potato Chips.  Let's say that you are a department manager in a really big store.  Your area is snack food.  You know that there is a new potato chip that is better than potato chip ever made.  Chun-yen's Organic Potato Chips.  They deserve an entry in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Universe, they are so good.  The problem is that they are not advertised, so they don't sell that well.  You, the manager, have 500 feet of shelf space.  If you devote 5 feet of space to Chun-yen's Organic Chips, that is 5 space you remove from the already 495 feet devoted to all those other brands that have been selling for years.  The brands that sponsor race cars, the brands that super heroes eat.  It doesn't matter how you feel about these chips, you will not be looked on favorably by the long line of superiors that you work for unless you keep those chips moving.  No matter how they taste, no matter what the nutritional studies from India are proving, you will stock the best selling chips, if you want to keep your job.


I think more emphasis should be placed on the art itself, and not the printing.  Which is probably why most of ambient music sales are in the form of downloads as opposed to hard copy disc sales.  Face it, as long as large corporations are in control of mainstream music, we aren't going to find ambient music sections in the stores.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: michael sandler on October 06, 2009, 07:33:19 AM
Podcasters, more in number and in variety
I think there's a lot of room for this kind of "bedroom broadcaster" role -- not just "here's a cool mix of tracks you may not have heard," but retrospectives/overviews of certain artists or labels or sub-genres, or maybe interviews or interpretive/critical features.  As interesting as it is to read an essay or an opinion piece about music, how much more compelling would it be to listen to an audio essay featuring example music?  And wouldn't a lot of people love to listen to an audio interview by interesting personages in our little music niche, not only featuring Q&A but also, again, example music?

Mikoli Weaver aka Sonoprint did a few interviews where he did just that, laced the talk with the artist's music. He does a good job of it. He has four of them on a MySpace page:
www.myspace.com/offtherecordinterview

The "plays" numbers on the page aren't off the charts, but people are listening. It's about what you would expect for interviews with artists who are obscure to the vast majority of humankind (even Robt. Rich is not a household word).

MikeS
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Seren on October 06, 2009, 07:37:26 AM
Lots of interesting thoughts and ideas....

I do my own music and where possible art - though sometimes it needs adjusting as in fitting into a label artistic profile. I have always found the context of the music is as important to me as the sound and that can be well conveyed by great art.

I don't churn stuff out and try to make it as solid and interesting as possible on both grounds. I know I have been lucky in that everything i have done has so far been put out on a label so not had much room for releasing music myself (though one of the collabs i am working on will be self released as CDR).

I find it is a fine balance between working hard to get the sounds just right (in the midst of all the other demands a life puts on me) and releasing enough music to keep people interested. I notice in the now playing thread that some artists do manage to get listened to all year round but many of us tend to go in peaks and troughs - often associated with releases. I think it is hard to gauge how much our music is enjoyed by everyone who listens in that context.

also I find the internet does make things easier in some ways, but perhaps less personal in others. I don't invest the time in sites like myspace in order to build up a 'following' and have been surprised at how many people who say they like the music seem to recoil from personal contact via email (unless my gruff invective and lewd personal comments scares them off :o) - but have enjoyed the contact with those who seem to value it.

I would like something that helps develop the relationships between musicians and listeners more personally.

before i got back into making music i did some reviewing and was totally inspired by the (can't remember the name of the magazine) that did a whole, many page exploration of the Electric Ladyland LP, including interviews, stories and anecdotes - it was great and the sort of deeply in depth stuff that to me is generally missing in the web  reviews.

Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Wayne Higgins on October 06, 2009, 08:11:38 AM
My son (Dave, 27) just made an interesting comment.  He has recently gotten into vinyl.  He is making observations about the differences between digital and analog from a standpoint of someone who has gone from digital to analog, not analog to digital, as I did growing up with records and switching to cds (of which I have done an about face and in the past two years have bought less than 10 cds but over 1000 albums).  His comment was that digital music is made to be on the go.

Not particularly on the idea of this thread, but something to consider. 
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: cromag on October 06, 2009, 05:31:16 PM
Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?

Beats me!  I'm a listener, and I'm just along for the ride!  ;D

I prefer true CDs because I believe they stand the best chance of lasting as long as me.  A good quality CD-R, burned on a good drive at the slowest possible speed is an acceptable second choice, but I'll burn an extra copy of those and keep them in a dark box.  But if it comes down to buying a CD at $25 or downloading  the music for $10, I'll download.  If I can download lossless FLACs, so much the better.

I appreciate good packaging.  It might tip me in favor of buying a CD that I was already interested in, but all by itself it won't pull me in.  When a CD comes in a jewel case with art and notes, I keep it that way.  Most of the time I buy music online I burn a CD-R with the supplied artwork (or some of my own, if necessary) and keep it in a slim jewel case, with an archival copy in a paper envelope.  (I wish I had more room, but that's my problem.)

As far as the music and creative direction -- that's not my decision.  I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to love next.  For every artist who has taken a direction that left me cold, at least one new artist has shown up with a keeper.

I'll try to think of something else, but right now this area of my life is going pretty good!  ;)
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: jdh on October 06, 2009, 05:47:05 PM
I agree with Mark.
Too much out there.One of the reasons I slowed way down on collecting music (I am not an artist) is that
there is too much of the same,whatever the label or artist.That is why in another thread I said I admired David Sylvain for at least going on a different tangent.To the artist who has put out 6 or 10 Cds that are all similar,change it up.One of the many reasons I-Tunes is popular is because of the single track purchase.Most releases have a few good tracks,the rest is rubbish.I do not buy the singles as I am a whole CD type but if you are going to that,make sure it is interesting.
I do agree that downloads are the future-it is here,and the concept is brilliant.I am just a hold over from the CD era,before that,vinyl.
And yes,CD-Rs are cheaper and it may cost an artist much more money to put out a pressed CD only to sell 50.But chances are that artist will not get my attention.
Again,for me,audio quality is important.I will not buy anymore CD-Rs as much as I may enjoy the music or artist as the technical aspect will fail.So to those who put out CD-Rs ( and there is a place for them) increase the quality control.I have ordered some in the past that would not play or that had a massive sound glitch of noise in the middle of a 10 minute track,not pleasant on headphones I can tell you.
And what about longer samples of each song or a few complete songs.How can I get an idea of a 20 minute song or a 70 minute CD from 3 minutes of samples.I recently listed to Rapoon ( a fav.) on My Space and the 7 tracks there in full was interesting.Or go to the PIL site (who reformed) and they have a player with 20 full songs.Or go to Boomkat.com,a full song of every track for download to listen to.(though with a beep every 30 seconds.)
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Altus on October 06, 2009, 07:38:14 PM
While I generally aim for three releases a year (which could be considered too much by some), I try to keep things fresh by having each release sounding different than the last.  I cycle between floaty ambient (borderline new age), darker ambient, and sprinkle with orchestral stuff in a film soundtrack vein.  In doing so, I'm sure there's listeners who only enjoy some releases, but I figure I capture a larger audience in the process.

As an artist to who gives away everything, I think it's hard to find a following from listeners who generally download, listen once, and forget about it.  I'm sure 75% of my downloads fall into that category.  This is the down-side everyone's talking about... about losing the magic of getting your hands on a new release... there's no commitment to the music.  But I do have repeat contact from a number of visitors with their comments, and interest in upcoming releases, so I must be doing something right.

Seren's comment on having listeners recoil from personal contact seems bizarre to me.  I've seen the opposite.  Perhaps since I give my stuff away, I'm more approachable since I'm not seen as "a real artist".  I'm just some guy who makes music.  ;D
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: APK on October 06, 2009, 07:41:41 PM
I agree with much of what jdh said ... at least in principle.

But I don't have any particular reverence for the pressed CD over the CDr because everything I buy I rip to hard disk and play it from there. So I actually prefer the cheaper download option. But of course, I'd also like to see more time taken on releases (no matter what format) to get the very best out of them. This filtering was built in when a label had to pay $1,000+ for a pressing run. Back then you couldn't afford to put out anything that would flop, so you put serious time into it. But with relatively inexpensive CDr and net releases there is a ton of sub-par stuff being released and the market, as a result, is flooded. Reminds me of the original mp3.com where people put up absolutely anything and everything.

But on to what I'd like to see.

I'd also like to see a lot more samples. I don't expect whole tracks, but give at least a really good representative set of samples. I'm fond of saying that a sample is worth a thousand words. It is ... but it can be misleading with respect to the whole album if it's too short, not representative, and if there are too few to judge an album by. I get annoyed if a 30 minute track has just a one minute sample of what is obviously just the beginning of the track and it has yet to develop. Whoever is selling the album should take time to select some representative samples so the buyer is not surprised when he/she listens to the whole thing and finds that the only good bits on the album were the sample selections !

My main gripe these days is the sheer cost of downloads. I've seen their price continually rising with the major sellers I know of. I can see the day when an album is sold only as a download, and for the same price as the physical album used to be sold for. Its a rip off. The download version is considerably less costly than the physical album to create and to continually deliver. I'm quite amazed at what some places are charging for them. Its no surprise that illegal downloads begin to be live options in many buyers minds. Of course, with lots of middle-men getting in on the game the price has to be high so everyone gets a cut. Think of the CDbaby route: artist gets a cut, CDbaby gets a cut, and iTunes gets a cut. Its an odd game.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Seren on October 07, 2009, 12:47:20 AM

Seren's comment on having listeners recoil from personal contact seems bizarre to me.  I've seen the opposite.  Perhaps since I give my stuff away, I'm more approachable since I'm not seen as "a real artist".  I'm just some guy who makes music.  ;D

I've just been surprised that some people, not many true, but some, don't respond to emails. If an artist I like to listen to emailed me I'd be over the moon.......
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: michael sandler on October 07, 2009, 04:28:44 AM
My son (Dave, 27) just made an interesting comment.  He has recently gotten into vinyl.  He is making observations about the differences between digital and analog from a standpoint of someone who has gone from digital to analog, not analog to digital, as I did growing up with records and switching to cds (of which I have done an about face and in the past two years have bought less than 10 cds but over 1000 albums).  His comment was that digital music is made to be on the go.

Not particularly on the idea of this thread, but something to consider. 

This is very interesting. Did he make any other observations?

MikeS
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: michael sandler on October 07, 2009, 04:55:27 AM
While I generally aim for three releases a year...

For God's sake man, lay off the coffee!  ;)
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: michael sandler on October 07, 2009, 04:59:11 AM
My main gripe these days is the sheer cost of downloads. I've seen their price continually rising with the major sellers I know of. I can see the day when an album is sold only as a download, and for the same price as the physical album used to be sold for.

Hmmm...howmuchyawannabet that was the plan all along?

Mike Conspiracy Theory S.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: michael sandler on October 07, 2009, 05:11:25 AM

Seren's comment on having listeners recoil from personal contact seems bizarre to me.  I've seen the opposite.  Perhaps since I give my stuff away, I'm more approachable since I'm not seen as "a real artist".  I'm just some guy who makes music.  ;D

I've just been surprised that some people, not many true, but some, don't respond to emails. If an artist I like to listen to emailed me I'd be over the moon.......

Yeah, I once got an email from a well-known space music guy saying he liked a track I did, and to say it made my day would be an understatement.

MikeS
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Brian Bieniowski on October 07, 2009, 06:09:24 AM
A lot of very interesting comments in this thread.

As a music buyer, I'm not much into downloading my music free of packaging.  My fear is that we'll see mostly digital releases paired with extremely limited pressings of CD/CDR/LP for the die-hard collectors in future.  It makes sense that things might go in this direction, but I don't like it.  For one thing, it pressures the consumer who prefers hard copies to purchase ASAP or miss out.  And it also limits the ability to go back and buy older releases you might not have heard of in time.  Anybody tried to go back and find a limited edition of 45 copies from even six months ago?  Better to pan for gold in the Potomac.  I also think the price point of downloads has to change to attract me—I feel there's no reason it should be so close in line with professionally pressed CDs.  And the threat of the entire world of music being one big MP3.com?  I have a hard time seeing it will be good for artists who haven't already developed a following (or those few lucky to rise above because of hype).

I've warmed to CDRs again after several years of avoiding them.  I suppose time will tell, but I feel as though they're more reliably manufactured now.  Perhaps I'll eat those words in a few years, but I haven't noticed the almost immediate failings as I did releases from the very early 00s.

Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: petekelly on October 07, 2009, 08:20:33 AM

Packaging / artwork is one thing, but the music is the work. I would imagine in most cases, the
packaging /artwork is an afterthought. Looked at once the music has been finished, Sure, its
important (as are the album name and track titles) and part of the whole 'package', but its not the
primary artistic statement.

Anyone can release as much material as they want to these days.
In an increasingly 'instant' culture, I'd be curious to know how much time was spent on an album and
how much time an artist thinks might be needed to create the album. Forrest's comment on him taking
a year on a single track, shows a serious commitment to the work. I would say this level of
committing such a large amount of time is rare these days. I'm not saying spending 10 years on an
album is a good thing, but recording a 'jam' and releasing it as an album swings to the other side
of things.

My feeling is that over time, listeners will tire of all the huge amount of stuff out there. After
all, there's only so many hours in the day to listen to music. Equally some artists will tire of
releasing their work.

While it fair to say theres a lot of samey-ness/recycling in ambient, it doesn't apply to every
artist. Maybe one can tire of ambient ?. Certainly I'd like to hear a wider variety of interesting
sound(s) in the genre.

What do listeners want from the 'scene' ? I really don't know. For me, I think the bottom line is
Quality - quality work that can be listened to repeatedly and reveal new elements over time.
On the subject of fidelity, the content is king. A fantastic production is highly desirable, but not
at the expense of the content.

cheers
Pete
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mgriffin on October 07, 2009, 02:32:26 PM
My feeling is that over time, listeners will tire of all the huge amount of stuff out there. After
all, there's only so many hours in the day to listen to music. Equally some artists will tire of
releasing their work.

I don't think it takes long at all for an individual listener to become bored with an enormous glut of music.  The only problem is, once they realize they're tired of downloading 100 new albums per week with bittorrent, that there aren't enough hours in a day to listen to it all, they don't go back to the way things were before.  That is, they don't delete the 32,000 tracks from their iTunes library and go back to listening to only their favorite music by only their favorite artists.  Once a music-lover has lost the special joy of obtaining a coveted new album and investigating it quietly and carefully in one's own listening room, and come to look at music as something to be counted by the sheer quantity of files in an iTunes library, I doubt the music-lover recovers that joy.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: 9dragons on October 07, 2009, 04:11:10 PM
It is good to see that there are dedicated listeners out there who still dig the whole package. I agree with Pete that ultimately it is the music that is important; I wouldn't keep an album if only the packaging were nice, and the music sucked. It's funny though, Pete, you have one of the best graphic artists in music packaging, Kati, doing your covers!

There is another benefit to having nice packaging and a real cd. It is the resale value. Back when I had a fair amount of cash to spare for music collecting, I had a great time trying out many albums. But recently, with going back to school and being unemployed, I was forced into selling off a significant chunk of my collection. These were all albums that I liked, and was not happy to part with. But the money raised was much more than expected and this cash floated me through a tough spot. The funny thing is though, even getting rid of a bunch of albums, I still have a vast amount of music in my collection that I have not fully explored, and some I have barely even listened to but am saving for that perfect moment. I still have more than enough music to not have to listen to the same album twice for two months. How many out there buy albums and keep them in heavy rotation, and keep going back to them, really getting the value out of them, before carefully choosing to purchase the next work? I am kind of in this mode now. But I see buying a cd as an investement. You know you can get some money back on it on Ebay, if it becomes necessary. That's important to me. Just like buying books. Like Brian, I hope the cd doesn't become a collector's artefact, with downloads being the majority. I seriously will just stop buying music if that happens. For my way of thinking and approaching art, downloads will just never cut it. I feel like I'm buying air, and paying too much for it. We've gone over this whole dynamic before here on the forum...

I think the scene could be revitalized, if indeed it needs revitalization, by more ambient music gatherings and festivals, or just more live work going on in the major cities. Not sure how this could happen though. Touring must be hard, especially for introspective artists making this type of single artist music.  Maybe we should begin by agitating for an Ambient section in our local record stores...

Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mgriffin on October 07, 2009, 04:16:03 PM
Speaking of extremely limited releases... not to derail too much but has anybody seen any news from Martin aka Seconds in Formaldahyde aka Waterscape Records?  Their limited editions of 50 (which were always sold out by the time I tried to reorder after our first batch had sold) were the first thing I thought of when someone mentioned too-limited releases.

No news on http://www.waterscape.de (http://www.waterscape.de) most of the year...
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: cromag on October 07, 2009, 04:57:37 PM
My son (Dave, 27) just made an interesting comment.  He has recently gotten into vinyl.  He is making observations about the differences between digital and analog from a standpoint of someone who has gone from digital to analog, not analog to digital, as I did growing up with records and switching to cds (of which I have done an about face and in the past two years have bought less than 10 cds but over 1000 albums).  His comment was that digital music is made to be on the go.

Not particularly on the idea of this thread, but something to consider. 

This is very interesting. Did he make any other observations?

MikeS

I can understand the idea, but I suspect that he just missed the whole 1980s Walkman phase.  The first time I went out for a hike in a park with headphones on and Fleetwood Mac's Mystery to Me album playing I would have made the same distinction between LPs and cassettes.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: jdh on October 07, 2009, 06:49:01 PM
This a great thread.I agree that the packaging has little value if the music is sub par.I do remember the days though when I would buy the artist for the music first but the artwork was not far behind.These were the days of LPs,for me 1978-1985.I remember listening to Kraftwerk-Man Machine,Ultravox -Rage in Eden or New Order-Power,Corruption,Lies or Seti on Instinct and staring at the covers.Art work by Peter Saville or Taylor Deupree is still amazing.I also like the consistency of artwork-packaging on Hypnos or Kranky.And I have never bought music as an investment to re-sell.I was once told always collect art (music,paintings,books,etc..) because you love it first.if later,you can think of selling it,then fine.I would rather give away my music to someone who would appreciate it instead of getting $4.Of course,if I can get $50 for a Fax title,well maybe...
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: 9dragons on October 07, 2009, 08:10:44 PM
Hope I didn't give the wrong impression in the last post, jdh. I've never bought a cd thinking I was going to simply resell it for more money. I always buy with the intent of enjoying the music and art. But as we all know, quality and enjoyment is not guarunteed. That is why I prefer to buy the real thing, as opposed to cdrs or downloads. If one does not like the album, or gets in a pinch financially, cds can be resold. And that $4 a pop adds up when you're talking hundreds of cds. I think this approach, in the past, led me to take a lot of chances, to distribute my money happily to ambient artists and labels. Just knowing that little basket of cash is there when you need it...

Went to the local small record store that sells ambient, drone, experimental, and metal. It is cool, they are tucked away above an audiophile shop. It's a great time just browsing through all the music I usually only see distributed online. Hoping they will thrive somehow, or at least reasonably survive. They have a lot of instore live shows to bring in the people. A great idea. And through the guys there, discovered this blog that features the ambient/experimental live scene in Seattle: http://nseq.blogspot.com/. Things are looking interesting around here...
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: MarkM on October 08, 2009, 07:27:45 PM
As an 8th grade teacher, I think I get a good look at the future of music listening.

The medium has changed.  Music is being listened to via cellphones and MP3 players. Older generations buy CDs, but the target of marketing by the industry giants is still to youth. The price of manufacturing and distribution of CDs will be the cause of its death.

It is the nature of the cellphone/mp3 player that is making a drastic change not only on the medium but also the way in which music is played and perceived. First of all, teens are listening to individual tracks and not whole albums. They download individual tracks and put their player in random mode or create their own playlist from a variety of artists.  I have read that many name artists from the pop music scene are now (or considering) releasing singles. The concept album will become a rarity.

Teens don't listen to music; they watch it.  Since the advent of MTV the video has become more and more dominant. The music video started as a marketing tool, but with download capabilities and YouTube the music video will become even more essential.

Because many (or most) teens are able to download music for free, the perceived value of music makes it a disposable product.  They can delete, and if they ever want the music again, they can download or copy it from a friend for free. There will no longer be cabinets full of old music such as my collection of old LPs from my youth.

So what does this have to do with ambient music? The younger generation is music's future. If ambient music doesn't reach their ears or appeal to their flighty sense of music, then it will die off with the baby boomer generation. Ambient music needs to update.  It has rested too long on its reputation of being avant garde and experimental.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: APK on October 09, 2009, 06:18:52 AM
Well said, Mark. Totally agree.
Its all very well trying to please the older generation by turning out nice
physical packages, but the much younger generation is already viewing
the CD as obsolete (for good or for bad).
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: jkn on October 09, 2009, 06:20:40 AM
Darn nice post, Mark.

I'm not sure video's matter much anymore... maybe I'm wrong on that.   I have 6 nieces and nephews ranging from 11 to 24 and have watched them grow in some cases from "hey, Uncle John, have you ever heard this song?" played on their tiny cell phone speaker - to them discovering Rock Band, discovering the "classics", and raiding their parent's old collections for awhile.    I don't think any of my 6 have large physical music collections - a couple are "into" music.  

However, I also remember that in the 80's - when I was in high school and going to record shops in every town in the area and to special record shows to buy rarities...  I had more friends that never bought an album (record or cassette... ha) - at all.   There were collectors - and there were casual listeners that would buy and album if it was "really really big".  

I think it's the "collector" people that develop into the more "weird" music like soundtracks, and jazz, and ambient.   The collector people veer off the beaten path.    

Then again - I'm kind of wrong there... my wife isn't a music collector - and yet she likes most of what I throw at her...

So...  ignore all that.  :-)

Future of music - it's still files... it has been for a long time whether we like it or not.   Eventually the files will be higher quality and tiny and the players will be small and still higher quality...  

Future of ambient music...  pretty much the same except with a smaller audience of people and for the most part - willing to take more chances to track down good music and to experiment in different formats.

Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: triksterb on October 10, 2009, 04:24:34 PM
Interesting topic.  What I'd like to see is more effort put into creating ambient music.

I found this "album" from a netlabel: http://www.archive.org/details/wh020 , and it is literally a 2 second synth patch stretched out for 75 minutes, with nothing else added to it.  That just screams laziness to me.  Sure, you can make it seem like it's more than that with the description on the page, but in the end, it's a 2 second patch (not a nice sounding one either) looped for 75 minutes with absolutely nothing added to it.  I've seen similar albums like that at more netlabels, but this is one of the worst I've heard.  But who knows, apparently some people like it, so maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe I need a $10,000 setup to appreciate it properly.  Does anybody here like this particular piece?

It kind of makes me mad too, because I've spent at least a year now making an album combining ambient with glitch, trying to make it original and learning tons of tricks in Ableton Live, yet you could just take a sample and loop it for god knows how long , create some artificial meaning to it and release it.  It seems most people just use Paul's Extreme Soundstretch to make an instant soundscape in minutes.  I did this once, listened to it once and liked it, then realized that it was way too easy, and deleted it.

Wow, this was long and kind of rambling, so I guess my point is:  ambient needs more effort than just looping or stretching out a sample and calling it a day.  Since most ambient music is available as download only, people don't feel the need to put effort into it.  Since download only is more than likely the future of ambient, this way of thinking is dangerous.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mgriffin on October 10, 2009, 04:48:44 PM
Welcome to the Hypnos Forum, tricksterb.

The track you linked to strikes me not as "ambient music," but as sleep-aiding background noise like those little bedside noisemaker appliances that emit digitized ocean waves or the sound of rain.  As you say, it's "3 seconds worth of creativity" stretched out to CD-length.

Having said that, it doesn't bother me at all, and I definitely understand the utility of this kind of thing (I turn a fan on near the bed to help me sleep).  It isn't really music or composition at all, and I'm not even sure the person who recorded it means to present it as such.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: michael sandler on October 10, 2009, 05:05:21 PM
Interesting topic.  What I'd like to see is more effort put into creating ambient music.

I found this "album" from a netlabel: http://www.archive.org/details/wh020 , and it is literally a 2 second synth patch stretched out for 75 minutes, with nothing else added to it.  That just screams laziness to me.  Sure, you can make it seem like it's more than that with the description on the page, but in the end, it's a 2 second patch (not a nice sounding one either) looped for 75 minutes with absolutely nothing added to it.  I've seen similar albums like that at more netlabels, but this is one of the worst I've heard.  But who knows, apparently some people like it, so maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe I need a $10,000 setup to appreciate it properly.  Does anybody here like this particular piece?

I would like it for inducing sleep, except the pulsation needs to be a lot slower. As it is, it is about the rate of breathing you would experience in a nightmare. Whether this was lazy depends on how it was done. Maybe he pasted every single repetition in by hand. In that case, this would be a piece of meticulous craftsmanship.

MikeS
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: triksterb on October 10, 2009, 08:59:11 PM
Well I listen to music as I go to sleep, and I got really bothered for a while when I realized that Steve Roach's Immersion series was just a couple minute loop for 73 minutes, but then got over it as I realized how complex it is and it does change subtly throughout.  But this piece is nothing like that.  As for how he composed it, well, I'm sorry, but even if he spent quite a bit of time cutting and pasting everything, the end piece is what matters, and to me, it's not great.  Meticulous craftmanship, sure, but are the results really that great? (Honestly, you could do this in Ableton in like 4 steps: 1. Create patch 2. Create MIDI clip 3. Stretch clip to 73 minutes 4. Render to audio and you're done.)  It reminds me of the people that own like 20 synths or 100 freeware softsynths that only use presets and never bother to learn how to work their stuff. This piece may have been meant for sleeping, but so was the Immersion series, and it's more effective.

It's not just this piece really, it's an opinion I see on a lot of forums that ambient is so easy to make, and it can be, but if you don't put any work into it, then it's fine because you can just listen to it in the background and not bother to really listen to it. 

Thanks for the welcome mgriffin!  I'm sorry if my first posts on this forum seem a little antagonizing, but I thought this was a great topic and I wanted to share my point of view.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mystified on October 11, 2009, 03:23:23 AM
It's interesting. I know the artist who did this.

He is truly eccentric. Not always in a bad way.

He curates a series called "Rain". The idea of "Rain" recordings is that no new sound is introduced after the first 5 minutes, but the piece stretches on for 40-75 minutes. So he is really working against development, but on purpose.

Of course, not all people like this, but the thought is to induce laziness or sleepiness.

I have written several "Rain" pieces-- here is one:
http://www.archive.org/details/wh121

I am sure he did not mean to anger or frustrate people, and I always say that the good thing about music is, that there is a lot out there, and if there is stuff you don't like, for sure steer away.

Personally I don't mind the "Purr" piece, but I am more into ambient as a background for working and other things than as a front stage thing, usually.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Wayne Higgins on October 14, 2009, 09:25:58 AM
Don't take this in a bad way...

It actually reminded me of
Quote
Fountain is a 1917 work by Marcel Duchamp. It is one of the pieces which he called readymades (also known as found art), because he made use of an already existing object—in this case a urinal, which he titled Fountain and signed "R. Mutt". The art show to which Duchamp submitted the piece stated that all works would be accepted, but Fountain was not actually displayed, and the original has been lost. The work is regarded by some as a major landmark in 20th century art.[2] Replicas commissioned by Duchamp in the 1960s are now on display in museums.

It's not the effort that always makes the art, it is the art itself.  I'm listening to "Fiat Lux" right now.  It's quite good.  If everything this person did was a 75 min stretch of a 3 second loop, I might agree.  But to consider one work of many as laziness may be stretching it.  I would say ask the artist.  If he say's "Yeah, I was being lazy", then OK.  Personally, I'd rather listen to my own 75 minute pieces than someone else's, which, in itself, may be a lazy attitude.

I'm not critizing you, Mr. triksterb.  Actually, I can somewhat agree with your opinion.  I just think of everything in the frame of "Why" or "What is the intention".  Also, I'd like to if he sold any of these, who to, and where can I find these buyers.

I also consider it to be more creative to record a 75 minute hum than to record a 3 minute "Baby, Let's Fall In Love" song.  But that's just me, and I'm sure that someone will come along with a "____ did it first".  (Had to say that before anyone could beat me to it.)

So...
All of this leads me to a question that I previously haven't been able to put into words. (Thanks again, triksterb)

When it comes to the Ambient Scene, how do we actually view ambient music?  Is it art?  Is it concrete music, narrative music, background music, wallpaper music, all (or none) of the above?  Is it functional music? (theraputic, sleep inducing, calming, ect.)  Is it produced for entertainment purposes?  Why do we make it and why do we listen to it?  And once we answer that question, then how do we turn it into a viable scene that attracts others?  IMO, one of problems with ambient music is that only a small number of people listen to it, whereas a much larger number of people could enjoy it if it was presented to them in a (can't think of the right word) way.

Wow, triksterb.  You really got me thinking on that one.  THANKS!!! 8)
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: judd stephens on October 15, 2009, 10:51:23 AM
Can't believe no one's suggested more cowbell yet. 
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: drone on on October 30, 2009, 07:55:52 AM
I'd like to see less laptops and more "real" instruments creating ambient music.  12k seems the worst offender to me.  I go on their website and listen to the samples and most of it sounds like computer noodling. 
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: jkn on October 30, 2009, 09:00:28 AM
I'd like to see less laptops and more "real" instruments creating ambient music.  12k seems the worst offender to me.  I go on their website and listen to the samples and most of it sounds like computer noodling. 

Hey - a new topic tangent...  ;-)

Nothing wrong with your opinion on that one...   I've heard noodling with both laptop and people using synths or guitars or tambourines.   And I've heard utterly stunning beautiful brilliant music by people using the same.   

Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: mgriffin on October 30, 2009, 09:06:38 AM
I understand what drone on is saying, but I disagree with the idea that music made with laptops has a certain "sound."  I do agree that a certain category of recording artists in the glitch or microsound area have turned the idea of "laptop music," the image of this skinny bald guy in a black t-shirt sitting behind a Mac laptop or two with (gasp) no real instruments, into a sort of cliche.

But a laptop is just a portable computer and the problem here isn't the laptop.  It's possible to make very warm, organic, un-digital, or musical sounds with a laptop.

Now, the argument for more "real" instruments, I get that.  There's something to be said for real-time performances with human hands on a real, physical instrument -- and a de-emphasis on midi programming, quantization, and overreliance on digital tools.
Title: Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
Post by: Seren on October 30, 2009, 10:47:51 AM
Shit - as a skinny bald guy I'll have to wear something pretty awesome to avoid that cliche......nothing comfortable or easy to move in for me then ;D