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MUSIC, AMBIENCE AND SOUND ART => Other Ambient (and related) Music => Topic started by: drone on on February 14, 2012, 11:09:42 AM

Title: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on February 14, 2012, 11:09:42 AM
What do you think are the most overrated ambient albums?  By this I mean albums that are put on a pedestal to near mythical status, but when you actually hear it you wonder what the big deal was about.

Off the top of my head, I'd have to say Wolfgang Voight's Gas releases (individually or the "Nah und Fern" box set).  There are a few excellent tracks but on the whole most of it to me is murky and repetitive. 
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Robert Logan on February 14, 2012, 04:57:43 PM
Interesting thread.

I would say Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I really like the release - there are some tracks and some moments that are really quite sublime - but a few tracks seem a little irritating and prevent me from being able to be immersed in the release from beginning to end.

Another one could be Structures from Silence. Now, I do find this album absolutely beautiful, but I'm surprised how it's often viewed as one of Steve Roach's best. I enjoy so many Steve Roach releases more than this one (and more than Dreamtime Return, as it happens.) But maybe that's just me.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: hdibrell on February 14, 2012, 10:34:26 PM
Heresy!!! But, yeah.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on February 14, 2012, 11:59:35 PM
Heresy!!! But, yeah.

Yes, Lustmord... agreed.    ;)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: jkn on February 15, 2012, 07:17:11 AM
Thomas - I agree with you on Music For Airports.  When I finally heard it I was surprised how much I didn't care for it.   Some other Eno I find utterly brilliant - but I think I'm probably more influenced by later artists.  I didn't really sit and listen to Eno until the last decade...

Same with some of the berlin school biggies... friend let me borrow Klaus Schulz and JMJ and it just didn't resonate with me.  Then again - I haven't given them a try in a while.

Aphex Twin SAWII... you know - I bought it back in the 90's, I listened to it, thought it was cool but not "all that" - and then about 2 years later I listened again and loved it - and I still love it years later.   That happens to me sometimes.

Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on February 15, 2012, 11:19:45 AM
I agree about Music for Airports as well.  Compared to Apollo, Plateaux of Mirror, The Pearl, it's pretty mediocre.  Compared to these others it sounds today pretty dated and not "timeless" like the others. 

Dreamtime Return is good but I wouldn't place it above Roach's other tribal ambient masterpieces like Origins and Artifacts. 

There are some Pete Namlook albums that seem to have been overinflated as well:  The Fires of Ork and Dreamfish (both first in series) come to mind.   

I guess what's frustrating is these "landmark" albums often get all the attention while the artists' much better work is often never mentioned. 
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: DeepR on February 15, 2012, 01:56:18 PM
JMJ isn't Berlin School and totally different than Schulze.
Try Timewind. Moondawn, Mirage, X.

I agree about the others, except Heresy which I think is great.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: jkn on February 15, 2012, 02:10:52 PM
I've heard stuff I like from a ton of artists listed.

Shulze really didn't do it for me and perhaps it was the mood.  I borrowed Timewind and another one... X maybe?  Can't remember.

JMJ - not sure which school he went to - I've certainly heard stuff I like from him.  He just didn't blow me away like I thought he should.

Over-expactations...   that's basically what we're talking about here.   Music for Airports is a historically critical album... and it paved the way for so much to follow.   A pivotal album.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on February 15, 2012, 05:15:13 PM
I agree with John that Music For Airports was hugely influential for its time.  I listened to it quite a bit when it first came out, but not so much in recent years.  Compared to today's sample-scapes, that early looped-based music must seem pretty tame now.  You could almost make the argument that as electronic music became more mainstream during the 80s, and especially by the time that it was coopted by the "new age" marketers,  individual releases became less influential.  I liked the odd tunings in SAWII around the time it came out,in the mid-90s but it hasn't worn well for me over the years.  Recently I've noticed that some of it almost appears to have been lazily mixed in mono.

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Bill Binkelman on February 16, 2012, 07:52:43 PM
With 200 views of this topic and yet only 9 replies, I think it's safe to say that ambient fans are, well to be blunt, afraid to cast stones. Maybe there are hardly ANY overrated releases (unlikely, IMO), but over the years, what I have witnessed is that ambient fans, more than fans of other genres (again IMO) are reluctant to criticize almost anything or anyone within the genre. At least in the way this question is worded. Sure, there are isolated critics (*cough* Alan Lockett *cough*) who will blast what they consider a poor ambient recording, but to actually put a name or a title to the descriptor "overrated" may be asking ambient fans, who seem to (once again, IMO) view "their" artists in a sort of paternalistic fashion, might be akin to asking cops to rat out one of their own.

Just my observation and my two cents. Long time readers of my rants know I have called out more than a few overrated albums, but I have gone public with so many over the years it would be a retread to spin them out here yet again.

I am merely commenting on the (what I think is obvious) fact that with 200 views but only a scant few opinions offered, either ambient fans think NO ONE ALBUM is overrated or they think that stating so would be Quisling-esque in its betrayal.

Or maybe it's just my creeping age and resultant cynicism. ;)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: APK on February 16, 2012, 08:38:28 PM
I've checked this thread a few times and said nothing. But its not out of some freaky reverence for the genre or fear of offending or related reason. My experience is simply that the albums I've heard many people praise highly over the years (for quality and/or influence) I have more often than not found to warrant that praise. And I don't have to personally like an album to recognize its excellence or influence (a fact lost on people who think judgements of quality are all just a matter of personal taste).

Eno's Airports, Gas, and a number of things by Schulze or Namlook or Roach or Biosphere are exceptional and important works for various reasons. But you don't have to like them, no more than you have to enjoy reading Dante or Finnegan's Wake or listen to Verdi operas.

And isn't it great that some people love this music enough, and find so much in it, that they raise something onto a special pedestal.

I'd be more concerned about people who dismiss this music, and who don't hear the magic in it.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: jdh on February 16, 2012, 09:15:20 PM
I agree with what Bill said.There is very little criticism on this site about ambient or even other genres of music,especially of artists who read this forum.
There are certain albums that I like that others do not that may seem overrated and vice versa. If you enjoy it,it is not overrated. But everyone can agree on landmark albums such as Biosphere Substrata or Eno Airport or Bowie Low and so on.
I mention Kraftwerk in the rare times they do something and I have never got a response. I am surprised as I would think they would be considered essential and not overrated.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Seren on February 17, 2012, 01:08:27 AM
Having had a 17 year gap in my listening history I have no real concept of what people describe as landmark, seminal or essential albums (other than my own personal taste).

I also did a short spot of reviewing and decided that if I didn't like or understand something it was most likely a reflection of me rather than what I was listening to.

I thought actually starting the thread was a brave thing to do and although checking it out to see if I learn anything, have nothing of value to add.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: petekelly on February 17, 2012, 06:22:59 AM
I think it's tricky for an artist to state what they think are over-rated albums (or other artists, for that matter), as accusations of jealousy and general mean-spiritness generally may abound. It seems to me a general trend these days not to criticise anything ambient music wise, which I think is unhealthy. This leads to a situation where nothing is (publicly) considered to be awful, but a lot of mediocrity is deemed to be great.

In my view, certain works (and sub-genres) are over-rated, equally there are a number of significantly under-rated artists / albums out there as well. Some artists are deemed to be 'hipper' than others and other artists fall under the radar - sometimes for reasons which have nothing to do with their material.

Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on February 17, 2012, 06:24:48 AM
I'd be more concerned about people who dismiss this music, and who don't hear the magic in it.

This would be my concern as well.....actually there's not enough ratings generally.  Outside our small world most people if they know Brian Eno at all its probably in connection to Roxy Music and producing U2 
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: jkn on February 17, 2012, 06:51:01 AM
I tend to only write or listen to music i like... so the question is kind of valid to me as originally stated.  Something that so many people have recommended and then I heard it for the first time and went... "really?  it's that great?" - now most of those grew on me.   Ambient is a genre in general where a first passing glance listen will not reveal the brilliance underneath. 

Ah!  I forgot one...  after years of beging told Biosphere - Substrata was the tops - best of the best - brilliant - genius and other things - over and over and over - the first time I heard it I definitely had the "really??? seriously?" thought going on.  It has grown on me.

I've heard a lot of music that I listened a couple times and then either put in my "maybe revisit that in a year" shelf (if cd) - or simply deleted out of my ipod queue and left in itunes.   But that's not really the question - and frankly - it'd be kind of mean for me to toss those albums out there... because just because I don't like it doesn't mean someone else doesn't.    And the topic was more of the landmark brilliant albums that seem to come up in the "best of" lists time and again.

I'm not a pro reviewer - I'm a musician first - so my reviews and recommendations are colored in that manner. 

Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on February 17, 2012, 10:46:43 AM
Like John, my preference is weigh in on ambient musicians' whose music I like or who I feel should heard by more people (such as Matthew Florianz and Pete Kelly).  If I have critical points to make, I would rather express those thoughts directly to the musicians themselves.  I think that those of us who have stuck it out in our genre for a while should try to be as supportive as we can, as it is too easy on the net to drift into negativity and flame wars.  The net is inherently limited as a medium for communication.  I also prefer not to comment on music from artists who are friends of mine, as it might perceived as shilling if the comments are positive, and poor form if the comments happen to be a little negative.

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on February 17, 2012, 11:24:03 AM
Biosphere-Substrata, Microgravity, & Patashnik. 

Tetsu Inoue-Slow and Low.  I bought the reissue and after all the hype was pretty underwhelmed.  And I am a massive Tetsu fan. 

Aphex Twin-SAW II. 
FSOL-Lifeforms
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: El culto on February 17, 2012, 01:33:14 PM
Agree with:

FSOL - Lifeforms

Sounds for me very cheap without any content inside....seems they had just fun to play a bit around...LOL
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Bill Binkelman on February 17, 2012, 01:43:38 PM
Like John, my preference is weigh in on ambient musicians' whose music I like or who I feel should heard by more people (such as Matthew Florianz and Pete Kelly).  If I have critical points to make, I would rather express those thoughts directly to the musicians themselves.  I think that those of us who have stuck it out in our genre for a while should try to be as supportive as we can, as it is too easy on the net to drift into negativity and flame wars.  The net is inherently limited as a medium for communication.  I also prefer not to comment on music from artists who are friends of mine, as it might perceived as shilling if the comments are positive, and poor form if the comments happen to be a little negative.

Forrest

Not meaning to pick on you, Forrest, but this does get at the heart of what I was addressing, in a roundabout way. Ambient, as a community, is small and insular. We all "know" each other well enough that to slag off one person or one album could be perceived as being mean and end up being taken personally. So, in the end, the majority of albums that are dissed on forums are those by artists who would NEVER EVER visit here or any other smallish forum (e.g. ambient@hyperreal) so that's why Eno, FSOL, Aphex, etc. are usually the only ones mentioned.

Someone earlier said something along the lines of "well, this is such a small group anyway that to denigrate anyone weakens us all.." to which I would say "Really? Has it really come to that? Are we so starved for a feeling of positive worth  and value that we aren't willing to be self-critical without feeling like we are under personal attack?" Maybe ambient doesn't have a huge fan base when compared to other genres...but IMO, there is a LOT more slagging off by fans AND OTHER ARTISTS in other genres, including in the press. Is it just because their numbers are vast compared to us or is their thicker skin or do the fans of those genres just not give a shit what someone else says?

If we actually are all involved in a communal love fest, than someone chiming in with "Ya know, I just don't get the popularity of The Magnificent Void." should not be ostracized or held up as a traitor, etc. If we are a "family" (due to our small size and feeling of inclusivity - as opposed to exclusivity - because most people don't "get us,") shouldn't we be MORE open to that kind of comment?

I appreciate all the response to my post. Sincerely. As someone who, through the years, has been criticized a lot for not writing enough overtly negative or critical reviews, it does make me scratch my head, though. But maybe I am comparing apples to oranges.  ???

Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on February 17, 2012, 01:58:35 PM
No, I don't feel picked on or singled out, Bill.  I think you make some good points.  I'm more inclined to be more outspoken about a release if I didn't know the person, because it becomes easier for me to put on my listener hat and react to the music as a fan of the genre.  When I trade releases with fellow musicians, it feels diffferent, and I no longer feel that I have the detachment necessary to be as objective as I'd like to be.  It's not an attempt to elevate a friend by not mentioning him or her, but I think it's legitimate to ask whether it's appropriate for friends to publically review each other's work. That's why I prefer having an arm's length relationship with reviewers; otherwise, it could slide into the slippery slope of conflict of interest.  For me at least, it's not a touchy feeling thing at all.  I haven't hesitated to express disappointment about artists like Alio Die, whom I don't know, but don't feel it is my place to opine in a public forum about the music of friends like Robert Rich or Saul Stokes.  I do feel that any disappointment should expressed constructively.  It's not partciuarly useful to say that release sucks or that someone is past their prime if you don't explain why you feel that way.  And I would certainly would not discourage you or anyone else from committing the heresy of expressing critical views about Steve Roach's work, either (though I may likely differ with you on that one).

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: El culto on February 17, 2012, 02:05:04 PM
@Bill: i do think you mix up things here  ;)

"What do you think are the most overrated ambient albums?"

It´s by it´s nature not possible to overrate an album which is i.e. for some month or years on the market. So we DO talk here about "older" stuff.

If the question was ""What do you think are the most overrated ambient artist?" then there is a chance for more answers because "hyper hyper" for artists is in today fashion indeed....and if clever done, easy to realize by knowing and using promotion tools like social networks.

Cheers,
Tomas
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on February 17, 2012, 02:20:26 PM
Bill,

One other issue that I don't think your comment really addresses is the risk that one's critical comments will be misinterpreted by the artist himself/herself.  Maybe this becomes a remote risk if you don't know the person at all, but wouldn't it be less cheesy to express that concern directly to the musician rather than stating it in a public forum?  I have experienced the phenomenon in a work setting where a person misuses the "reply to all" feature of email, instead of only communicating directly with the person involved.   One of the things I wish people would ask before using that feature is whether they really wanted everyone to hear their response.

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on February 18, 2012, 07:07:43 AM
For a while I could not understand the esteem that people held the Magnificent Void in.  I understood it intellectually, But I just did not get it......recently that changed.  I do get it, I hear it and it is magnificent.  Granted it is a challenging piece of music and I use it to illustrate a point.....is overrated actually the lack of understanding. 

Interesting comments from Forrest & Bill.....if someone says my music sucks, I smile, shrug my shoulders and say oh well.  If someone says my music sucks because.....now you have my attention.  Constructive criticism is the opportunity for the artist to see / hear their work through another's perspective.  It is often hard to remove the "I" and truly hear what someone has to say because the ego gets in the way.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: APK on February 18, 2012, 05:13:06 PM
I certainly agree with Forrest and Julio on the issue of constructive criticism and not merely saying this or that "sucks" or saying nothing other than it's not worthy of the attention it has received. The potentially interesting and perceptive thing is why you think this about an artist or release. Seems to me, just running off a personal list of likes or dislikes is not so interesting to the world at large.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Seren on February 20, 2012, 12:55:27 AM
I agree, if the posts are a discussion of the music that helps me 'get' something or at least listen with a better understanding thats great.

Though I also hear Bill's comment re being strong enough to take negative comments without taking it personally. I did get a review once that said all they got from it was a headache..... ;D :o ;D......I admit - it was hard to sort out the personal emotions given such a negative responce - would hav been the same if they had said it to me personally.

But to use the thread in a way that might help me - can anyone explain Steve Roach's 'Fever Dreams' series for me - why they like them. I have lots of Steve's music but just can't find my way into these releases.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on February 20, 2012, 11:33:13 PM
But to use the thread in a way that might help me - can anyone explain Steve Roach's 'Fever Dreams' series for me - why they like them. I have lots of Steve's music but just can't find my way into these releases.

The short version why I like the Fever Dreams series:  Take the liquid grooves of Body Electric or Blood Machine, slow them down a bit and introduce the surreal, meandering dreaminess of Early Man, and what emerges is the 'feel' of Fever Dreams.

Having liked a lot of his techno-tribal releases of the 90's, F.Dreams is sort of a unique spin to that theme with a more languishing pace.  There's organic, insect-like or almost fractal sounds throughout, and then you have Steve's drifting guitar twangs that provide a sense of the feverishness.  This is like the techno-tribal, but for the deep, hot jungle.  There's something more psychoactive that he was going for too than just jungle atmosphere, I think, like the general fever of being under the influence of something:  a shamanic trip, a drug, tantric practices, etc. 

I also find it more relaxing than the growling didgeridoo of earlier stuff, and again it has some element of the 'Early Man emptiness' except with more groove, that makes for a nice passive trip that comes in and out of consciousness while you have it playing.  This song here, along with Fever Dreams 3:  Melted Mantra, especially:

Steve Roach - Tantra Mantra (Fever Dreams) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfZMn1lW1SI#)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Poaalpina on February 21, 2012, 12:47:25 AM
I have a strong feeling that much better name for Immersion  Five -  Circadian Rhythms Disc One is Fever Dreams IV.  8)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: spectral67 on February 21, 2012, 05:47:38 AM
The Magnificent Void. Don`t get why this gets talked about more than any other Roach album, it doesn`t seem any better/superior to me.
Brian Eno - Music For Airports. Listened to it but never felt the need to buy it. Structures From Silence is much better.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: DeepR on February 21, 2012, 02:49:36 PM
Both Fever Dreams II and Magnificent Void are masterpieces beyond question. :P
No point in trying to explain why I think so... if it doesn't speak to you, that's too bad. All you can do is give it another spin sometime. Especially the Void may require a lot of patience. Try listening in bed with headphones for a different perspective.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: DeepR on February 21, 2012, 02:59:57 PM
If we're talking overrated I'd have to agree with Aphex Twin, Biosphere, FSOL.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Ein Sophistry on March 03, 2012, 06:28:05 AM
If we're talking overrated I'd have to agree with Aphex Twin, Biosphere, FSOL.

Those were also the first names that came to my mind. I'm also finding that Harold Budd is starting to wear pretty thin with me. I love some of his releases (e.g., The White Arcades), but he hasn't wowed me in quite a while.

Also, I won't single out individual artists (there are so many now!), but on the whole this new quasi-subgenre of what I can only think to call "hipster ambient" really underwhelms the hell out of me. Adding glitches or layers of lo-fi crackle to lazy guitar drones doesn't magically make them nostalgic or otherwise emotionally resonant. There are some gems here, of course, but they're getting harder and harder to find as the ambient market (such as it is) gets increasingly saturated with this stuff.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: mgriffin on March 23, 2012, 08:20:11 AM
So much of this discussion about overrated releases comes down to "I don't understand why people talk about this album so much," and usually the release in question is something that came out on a (relatively, for the ambient field) major label.

You wonder why people talk about Magnificent Void more than other Roach albums? I don't. It came out on Hearts of Space, right around the peak of that label's reach and influence, at the mid-90s peak of the relative mainstreaming of the ambient/electronica scene. You couldn't browse the ambient/new age section of a Tower Records without stumbling across that album and FSOL and Aphex Twin SAWII.

I'd argue those albums are discussed more, not because aficionados of those artists consider them the best albums, but because they were the highly visible, highly available albums at a peak time for the genre.

It's the same reason so many of these albums were ranked highly on the ambient@hyperreal.org "all time best ambient" polls -- not only were they talked about a lot, but the CDs were owned by the largest number of people. Same goes for the FAX and Emit and Silent label releases. These were widely distributed in the early-mid 90s heyday of ambient, so everybody saw the discs in stores and everybody owned them.

In other words, I the frequent mention of these releases is more about the label they were released on, and the distribution those labels achieved during those years, than the albums really being highly rated in 2012 by serious listeners of ambient.

Having said that, I think SAW II is a masterpiece and Magnificent Void is my favorite Roach album!
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: jkn on March 26, 2012, 05:46:05 AM
Ha!  Very well said, Mike!

So true though - when I used to buy CD's in a physical brick and mortar store and not on line constantly...  you got what you could find.   Whether we're talking ambient or idm or whatever. 

Barnes and Noble was the only store in my town that actually had a New Age section - and yeah Roach Roach Roach - and only the bigger label ones.   Electronic section..  Aphex would be there, and FSOL, and Orbital.  I did find a Platickman - Sheet One with the actual perferated sheet.  :-)

If I drove to Chicago or St. Louis - yeah - a different story - but here in central Illinois... 

But then the internet became huge and I started buying interesting stuff from here at Hypnos and from a store called AB-CD.com (no idea if still around - they were good for the electronic stuff I liked...) - and now I'm virtually 100% file based for new stuff I buy.

Ok - sorry for the tangent.  But I agree...  the ones we over rate the most are the ones that have achieved a level of success well far and away from so many others - and it's because they got that success.   

Why do I find it so fun to poke fun at Yanni or John Tesh?   Because they've outsold everyone in this discussion combined, most likely.  (I've honestly never listened to either except in commercials... but it's the stereotype that's fun to poke fun at... )
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: TrueColourOfBlood on April 10, 2012, 11:33:56 AM
Interesting thread.

I would say Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I think I understand what it is trying to do, and there are some tracks and some moments that are quite sublime, but overall there's too many irritating and lazy aspects in much of the music (for me) to be able to get fully immersed in it.

Another one could be Structures from Silence. Now, I do find this album absolutely beautiful (and much more enjoyable and far less overrated than Aphex's SAWII), but I'm surprised how it's often viewed as one of Steve Roach's best. I enjoy so many Steve Roach releases more than this one (and more than Dreamtime Return, as it happens.) But maybe that's just me.

That's interesting because it was the first "ambient" album I ever bought.  I know it was really influential for me.  I thought it was mind blowing stuff but that could have been because I had never heard anything like it before.  I still listen to it on occasion.   
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: TrueColourOfBlood on April 10, 2012, 11:43:24 AM
Thomas - I agree with you on Music For Airports.  When I finally heard it I was surprised how much I didn't care for it.   Some other Eno I find utterly brilliant - but I think I'm probably more influenced by later artists.  I didn't really sit and listen to Eno until the last decade...

Same with some of the berlin school biggies... friend let me borrow Klaus Schulz and JMJ and it just didn't resonate with me.  Then again - I haven't given them a try in a while.

Aphex Twin SAWII... you know - I bought it back in the 90's, I listened to it, thought it was cool but not "all that" - and then about 2 years later I listened again and loved it - and I still love it years later.   That happens to me sometimes.

Wow.  I'm really shocked by this thread.  Eno 'Music For Airports' was probably the second "ambient" album I ever bought and I was really in awe of it.  Especially the first track.  I think because he had the balls to release something that people would listen to and say "I could do that.  He's just playing the same thing over and over again".  Which I really thought was so fucking cool.  I love monotony and repetition.  There's not really an immediate reward but if you stick with it you get sucked in and you get the nice pay off. 

I guess I'm two for two on this thread.  First two posts that are "overrated" are two of my fave ambient albums. 

One man's pile of shit is another man's gem. 
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: doombient on June 15, 2012, 11:16:17 AM
Heresy!!! But, yeah.

Yes, Lustmord... agreed.    ;)

Much of Brian´s stuff is quite overrated, especially "Black Stars". I found this utterly boring. His latest albums were so boring I didn´t listen to them until the end.

Thomas Köner also has some brilliant stuff out, but also quite boring albums as well ("Daikan" comes to mind).

Eno´s "Music for Airports" is nowhere near as interesting as  its title suggests.

Stephen
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on June 15, 2012, 03:24:49 PM
"Music for Airports" is an interesting title?  :o

Also, that's "heresy" what you said about "Black Stars"!!!  :P

Actually, I always thought ['ramp] was the most highly overrated group no one's ever heard of!  ;)

Nice to see you again here, Stephen.  :)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: doombient on June 16, 2012, 11:15:31 AM
"Music for Airports" is an interesting title?  :o

Also, that's "heresy" what you said about "Black Stars"!!!  :P

Actually, I always thought ['ramp] was the most highly overrated group no one's ever heard of!  ;)

Nice to see you again here, Stephen.  :)

Thanks for the warm welcome! Feels like coming home  ;D.

['ramp] overrated? It definitely sucks big time. And so do I, but who cares?

Stephen
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on June 18, 2012, 01:00:13 PM
Seriously now, here's one:

Ishq-"Orchid."  I really like Matt Hillier's Virtual label releases, and finally got to hear this one.  Wondering what all the fuss is about.  If you go on Discogs Orchid is practically worshipped, yet I found it just OK. 
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: 9dragons on August 24, 2012, 08:33:34 PM
That's funny Ain Sophistry, the second I read the title of this thread, I too thought "Hipster Ambient". The last time I was actually paying attention in a meaningful way, that was a worrying trend. I bought some albums from these artists, and frankly, after being a fan of the best of the best in real ambient, this stuff seems pretty weak. I think it is the more savvy presentation of the music, and its lacing with metal/darkness that made it more cool for the kids to like it.

I think more hardcore critique by reviewers would be welcome, it definitely elevates things when the reviewers are not afraid to really take on a release. But pardon my ignorance, how many people are actually reviewing real ambient music anymore? I've been out of it, so haven't been paying attention, so pardon my unawareness. But if I wanted to buy a release these days (and after a long hiatus, tonight in fact, I am shopping around like the old days) I don't think I would look to any review, judging the samples and memory of past releases as the final arbiter.

For a while I did feel like this genre was dead. I was an obsessive collector too, but after a while just felt let down by a seeming lack of passion and intensity in the music. And I'm not talking about intensity as in heaviness, but intensity in terms of what ambient music offers. It just really started to feel like the music was becoming rote, and too well behaved and predictable. Not enough emotional input.

The other night I stumbled upon a copy of On Land and Music for Airports that escaped my album purge of some time back. I put both of them on back to back and was utterly mesmerized, almost coming to tears. I am not a big fan of Eno by any stretch, having been burned by many of his crap albums, but these two just had that rawness and emotion. They are intensely pleasurable in the way true ambient can be, and not tainted by the need to be annoyingly avant guard.

Now I've got out Mystic Chords, all four discs, one of the only Roach albums I saved from the last album purge (I needed money, but that wasn't the only reason, also wanted to clean my musical pallette) and am reveling in how great these are. I agree with some posters about Mag Void, I don't necessarily think it was overrated, but I personally just never caught on to it.

Anyway, it's good to be back, this music is quite refreshing after a bit of a break.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Altus on August 25, 2012, 05:07:49 AM
They are intensely pleasurable in the way true ambient can be, and not tainted by the need to be annoyingly avant guard.

This a thousand times.

I get there's an audience for the really weird stuff, but sometimes it just sounds like they're trying so hard to be "cool" by making it as un-listenable as possible.  ::)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: petekelly on August 27, 2012, 02:22:26 AM
Mike,
In my view the intentionally 'uber-cool' becomes somewhat dated, rather quickly.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on August 27, 2012, 12:10:11 PM
For plenty of unlistenable "uber cool," check out 12k label.  They've released some good stuff, of course, but most of it to me seems more concerned with how it was recorded ("field recordings by a crackling fire with my synth hooked up to a generator so I could be inspired by my natural surroundings!" etc.) rather than how it sounds. 
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: 9dragons on August 27, 2012, 08:14:34 PM
Does Tim Hecker count as hipster ambient? Got into his music for a while early on, but got out of it. Last time I had a listen at his stuff recently, it looks fatally hipstered out to me. I feel like I could be entirely off base on this one, but am too lazy to dig deeper.

Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: chris23 on August 28, 2012, 04:45:09 PM
For plenty of unlistenable "uber cool," check out 12k label.  They've released some good stuff, of course, but most of it to me seems more concerned with how it was recorded ("field recordings by a crackling fire with my synth hooked up to a generator so I could be inspired by my natural surroundings!" etc.) rather than how it sounds.

This comment made me laugh and, unfortunately, spit coffee over my keyboard.

I like about half of what comes out of the 12k label, which is a decent hitrate imo. I think Taylor Deupree is an extraordinarily creative person. And I think one of the consequences is that is that a lot of what he selects, produces, and facilitates are misses. But I'll happily trade some misses for a few hits. Some of my favorites off the label include Deupree's own Northern, Shuttle 358's Chessa, the first two Pjusk releases, Fourcolor's Air Curtains, and Bretschneider & Steinbruchel's Status.



Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on September 08, 2012, 04:54:18 AM
Does Tim Hecker count as hipster ambient? Got into his music for a while early on, but got out of it. Last time I had a listen at his stuff recently, it looks fatally hipstered out to me. I feel like I could be entirely off base on this one, but am too lazy to dig deeper.

Cant say I know what hipster ambient is but I can say that Tim Hecker's Imaginary Country gets played a lot here.......grunge, distortion & glitch washed over beautiful melodic imagery!

For plenty of unlistenable "uber cool," check out 12k label.  They've released some good stuff, of course, but most of it to me seems more concerned with how it was recorded ("field recordings by a crackling fire with my synth hooked up to a generator so I could be inspired by my natural surroundings!" etc.) rather than how it sounds. 

I think 12k is a "Sound Art" label that occasional puts out music that may fit into a perspective of ambient, at least the ambient music that gets discussed here. Avant Garde, experimental type music is often concerned about the production environment and is as important as some here are about the synths/sound source used to produce their music. :)   Recording guitar in a WW2 ammunition depot could be considered really ambient....the field recording is part of the music.  This is the spirit of 12k for me. 


Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: DeepR on September 08, 2012, 02:09:31 PM
Boards of Canada
Possibly the most overrated group ever, making 'ambientish' music with some beats. They have absolutely nothing to say. Just my opinion.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: APK on September 08, 2012, 02:40:04 PM
Boards of Canada
Possibly the most overrated group ever, making 'ambientish' music with some beats. They have absolutely nothing to say. Just my opinion.

I agree.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on September 08, 2012, 03:12:12 PM
Boards of Canada
Possibly the most overrated group ever, making 'ambientish' music with some beats. They have absolutely nothing to say. Just my opinion.

Care to differ there with you......Boards of Canada " A Beautiful Place Out In the Country" EP has everything to say IMHO.  I also don't thinks its ambient.   
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: petekelly on September 09, 2012, 08:21:54 AM
I quite like what I've heard by them, but to me it's 'electronica' and the drums are the least interesting part of their sound.
It would have been interesting if they 'd been brave enough to forego the drum element altogether.

Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: doombient on September 09, 2012, 11:12:44 AM
When talking about *ambient* music, there are two entirely different *ambient* camps that would define *ambient* by completely different parameters:

a) There is the school of thought that defines *ambient* in the style of Brian Eno´s original works (and those who have followed him). This is the school of *ambient* I would subscribe to as well.

b) There is the type of sedated, Seconal-heavy slo-mo "Techno" that came from the "chill-out" areas of 1990s Techno movement, i. e. 70 instead of 140 bpm when using beats. This would be The Orb, FSOL, Aphex Twin, BOC and countless others that jumped the bandwagon of the Techno hipster movement. As you may have guessed already, this is the type of *ambient* I´m not really interested in because I´ve always found it blatantly boring and uninspired -- and it sounds dated and passé to me. Music that could only have existed in the time bubble of the 1990s.

I thought I´d throw that in.

Stephen (being-clever-mode off)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: petekelly on September 10, 2012, 02:17:25 AM
Well observed Stephen and its great to see some discussion here where people express their opinions, positively and negatively.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 01, 2012, 11:42:22 AM
When I met Robert Rich at the living room concert at Jesse Sola's house, one of the first things I said to him was how much I liked Rainforest as a teenager.  His response to this right away was something of "well hopefully I've gotten better since then".  Expecting the typical "oh thank you" response, I was a little taken aback that he would look back on it with almost embarrassment (like for a certain time when the good ol' Beastie Boys would look back at Licensed To Ill) Maybe Robert thought his work has gotten much more complex and skilled since, but there is something about the simplicity of that album that I really like. 

This might be the reason why some albums (Music for Airports, Dreamtime Return, maybe Patrick O'hearn's Ancient Dreams) get more recognition because they were relatively more unique and groundbreaking for the artist, and the later, perhaps better albums were continuations or new directions that started from the one that people so often cite.  Also with Aphex Twin's SAW vol. 2, it was groundbreaking in the sense that it helped propel ambient to many more listeners (as previously noted).  I still like it, think it's a great album, the fact that Richard James claims to have lucidly dreamed each track then woke up and recorded it adds to the accolades.

 There's something genuinely alien but intelligent about most of the tracks- somewhat on the cooler to cold side, not super inviting, but there's a weirdness that keeps your ears fixed... Those are some of the reasons why I think that album while leading the way for the explosion of ambient music that came out in the 90's, stood the test of time. 



Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Bill Binkelman on October 03, 2012, 08:16:44 AM
When I met Robert Rich at the living room concert at Jesse Sola's house, one of the first things I said to him was how much I liked Rainforest as a teenager.  His response to this right away was something of "well hopefully I've gotten better since then".  Expecting the typical "oh thank you" response, I was a little taken aback that he would look back on it with almost embarrassment (like for a certain time when the good ol' Beastie Boys would look back at Licensed To Ill) Maybe Robert thought his work has gotten much more complex and skilled since, but there is something about the simplicity of that album that I really like. 

(snip)

This is a sad thing to read. I LOVED Rainforest when it came out and, actually, I love it now even more. I still consider it easily one of Rich's top 5 albums. I can see Rich saying something like "Well, I hope I have evolved since then" because he has, but not evolved into something "better" per se, just something different...so maybe a better choice of word(s) is "he's morphed." But, to diss your earlier work. Well, maybe it's simply that he himself doesn't like it. I've never heard him run down Geometry, Gaudi, or (my personal UNfavorite disc of his) Seven Veils. I suppose it's possible he simply doesn't LIKE the kind of music on Rainforest, but to more or less dismiss it...well, as I wrote, that saddens me. It is, and will always be, one of my desert island discs. I hear something "new" on it every time I play it.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: LNerell on October 03, 2012, 09:56:18 AM
I think there might be a very slight bitter taste to that album for Robert. It was his first HOS album and I know the label forced some changes to the album, not sure if any were musical but I know the album title and artwork was changed from what he originally wanted. On the other hand as you say Bill it is a lot of peoples favorite disc of his, and I think to  this day his best selling disc.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on October 03, 2012, 11:05:20 AM
I'm not sure that Robert's reaction was a diss of his earlier work.  I think it might reflect the discomfort of hearing that a older work could remain a favorite over what came after.  One of the things that keeps me creating is hearing mistakes that I want to fix the next go around.  I recently had some of my older analog material digitalized and it's hard not think about corrections I would make now.

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: mgriffin on October 03, 2012, 01:24:04 PM
Loren and Forrest are right. Robert probably hears a lot of "oh, I just loved your first few albums" and wishes people would appreciate what he's tried to do more recently.

It's a bit like people showing up for a reading/signing by Stephen King and telling him "I wish you would write more stuff like The Shining and The Stand." The creative person probably gets tired of hearing some variation on, "you used to be really good -- you should do more cool stuff like you used to, a long time ago." Even when the person doesn't mean it that way, as in Judd's case, I think artists are sensitized to it.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 03, 2012, 04:03:25 PM
Point well taken by you guys, I can see why Robert would think that.  The intent was different as Mike has intuited; it was a highly influential album for me at the time and the minimal beauty of it is still unforgettable.   And possibly I followed his comment with something true to the effect of "oh yeah of course I'm still a big fan", as it would be hard to leave him hanging after realizing he was sensitized to it.  And yeah I didn't want to be that boob who was just pining for his old stuff, surely not the intent. 

Another analogy would be perhaps Ridley Scott and how he must realize that Alien and Blade Runner are cult favorites and define his career, even after future awards and consistently good movies.  I think some artists come full circle after a while though, and after first distancing themselves from their early self and after achieving enough continuing success or having the fulfilling "career", come back around and eventually embrace their early genius as something deserving of the praise.  Or at least they have fun with it, as the Beastie Boys did later on with their License to Ill album.  (with full awareness how it appears putting the word 'genius' and the album License to Ill so closely in the same paragraph)

Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 03, 2012, 04:39:20 PM
I think there might be a very slight bitter taste to that album for Robert. It was his first HOS album and I know the label forced some changes to the album, not sure if any were musical but I know the album title and artwork was changed from what he originally wanted. On the other hand as you say Bill it is a lot of peoples favorite disc of his, and I think to  this day his best selling disc.

Loren, if you remember, what was the original title going to be?  I knew there was something very non-Robert Richian about that album cover  ;D
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Bill Binkelman on October 03, 2012, 09:25:03 PM
I think that telling an artist how much you liked/loved his earlier work should be taken as the HIGHEST of compliments. Think about how powerful that comment is...an album that had a significant impact on an individual that the artist turned out early in his career. To minimize that by inferring "hmmm...this person might not like my later stuff..." is (1) belittling the individual who praises the earlier work and (2) assuming that the artist's later work IS, in fact, "better." How many people here think Brian Eno has ever approached the brilliance of Music for Airports, Apollo, or Neroli (if you like that album, that is)? Rich can think whatever he wants about Rainforest...that's his right, of course...but I think his remark, however innocuous he MEANT it to be, is a slap in the face , to a true fan of his work. I think a lot of artists over time don't achieve the brilliance of early work. Hell, Tangerine Dream's earliest work is easily their best, when compared to later works. Anyway, it's not about whether or not Rainforest is great or not, but more that, TBH, the ultimate appraisal of an artist's work should be made by the audience, not the artist. To reply to a compliment of Rainforest as Rich did makes me feel like somehow I am ignorant or "missing something" if I still like it. Do I think some of his work since then is good? Yes. But I still think Rainforest is one of his best - if not my FAVORITE disc of his. When the artist gives the impression that it was less than his best work, as I think can be inferred from his comment, I feel...well...icky.

OTOH, I could've predicted that his reaction had to do with the business practices of HOS (the label). Why am I not surprised about this revelation (since I have heard the same from some other former HOS artists)? Now, don't go tattling to Mr Hill about my saying this since this is what got me in trouble with him back in 2001!  ::)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on October 03, 2012, 10:37:04 PM
I think it's possible for both the listener and musician to have completely different perceptions of the same work many years later.  Neither one's opinion invalidates the other's, for they are approaching the music from opposite ends of the experience.

Over the course of a career, there can be many hits or misses, but I think that comes with the territory.  I respect an artist for that-it's much harder to do than simply playing it "safe."

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: doombient on October 04, 2012, 04:27:13 AM
I for one hate most of my early stuff and I advise everyone not to buy it. I don´t get tired of saying how much I hate some of it. Which is no bad thin IMO because I don´t believe these albums were of any significance, neither to myself, nor to anybody else.

After all, I´m the one who created it and who has every right to value his own work, positively or negatively, because I know exactly what I was striving for -- and where I failed.

What drives me particularly mad is the implication of "your earlier work was much better than what you´re doing now" because I guess I know best what my personal quality standards are and to what extent I´ve evolved since the recording of album XX or XY in 199X.

Record companies influencing the empetus of an album in a way that suits the label would be an entirely different story altogether.

Stephen
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on October 04, 2012, 06:11:58 AM
I have this idea that and artist is given......a gift which is the creative force that makes the person an artist in the first place.  This "gift is not defined to begin with but is so powerful it drives the artist constantly to give this source shape and form until often with much struggle, frustration & failure it is born.  What is created early on is the purest conception of this "gift"  after that it is developed, explored & refined.  However this source energy contained in the artist first or early offerings can often be the most honest.   Perhaps this it what people hear.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: mgriffin on October 04, 2012, 08:24:22 AM
So then... it's OK that Julio comes up to Robert and, intending to offer a compliment, asserts that Rainforest is a favorite... but it's not OK that Robert replies by asserting that he himself thinks he's done better work later on, and hopes that lower-profile work wont be ignored? I suppose the idea is that the artist must always be in "public relations" mode, must not ever offer genuine opinions or interact with listeners like a human being.

I think the listener has the right to their opinion of a given piece of work, as well as the right to prefer an artist's earlier work over their later work. They even have the right to tell the artist that, if they want.

It doesn't necessarily follow that the artist is WRONG to say, "Hmmmm... your favorite is not my own favorite."
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on October 04, 2012, 09:26:50 AM
It doesn't necessarily follow that the artist is WRONG to say, "Hmmmm... your favorite is not my own favorite."

Yes.  I think it's presumptuous in the extreme to second-guess an artist's opinion of his or her own work.  If you don't know how that person got from 'A to B' or from 'A to X,' how can you presume to have walked a mile in their shoes?  You may have your own opinion, but it is no more "right" or "wrong" than another's, or the artist's own opinion.  If the listener's opinion were the only opinion that mattered, would that mean that unreleased music would have no value?

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 04, 2012, 10:23:48 AM
To reply to a compliment of Rainforest as Rich did makes me feel like somehow I am ignorant or "missing something" if I still like it. Do I think some of his work since then is good? Yes. But I still think Rainforest is one of his best - if not my FAVORITE disc of his. When the artist gives the impression that it was less than his best work, as I think can be inferred from his comment, I feel...well...icky.

Excellent points, Bill.  And if I said "Rainforest really made an impression on me" it was meant to be taken as a compliment for sure.  I guess in hindsight maybe I was more surprised the way he reacted rather than the fact that he had his own opinion.  If there is to be more nuance added, I could have said how I was a teenager and had hardly heard anything like it at the time, adding to the "mystique" of the music I still like to this day.  That is why I think certain earlier albums get rated so highly sometimes.  Surely Robert Rich would understand and graciously accept a more fleshed out thought than at the moment.  Also I could've added that while some of his early work truly could be valued higher, so could some of his later work.  Rainforest >Electric Ladder, but Echo of Small Things > Geometry, just as examples.  I didn't want to personally rate his music in front of him as I think that could be totally insulting.  It's just Rainforest= signpost to wonderful music then and later on...and I'm at your freakin' concert so I must still highly value your work damn it!  >:( ;)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on October 04, 2012, 10:31:24 AM
I'm at your freakin' concert so I must still highly value your work damn it!  >:( ;)

Maybe Robert, like Obama last night, had an off night.  I liked what Brian Eno said about feeling uncomfortable about being approached by strangers who knew more about him and his work than he knew about them, and about not knowing how to respond.

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 04, 2012, 10:40:55 AM
Actually Forrest, I'm a pretty shy person myself.  Jesse was my first big celebrity so I don't know why I bombed so much the 2nd time with Mr. Rich .  I didn't really approach him conventionally like an obtrusive fan.   Jesse put me up to it...  ;D
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on October 04, 2012, 10:42:40 AM
I hate all of doombient's stuff, early or otherwise!  ;D
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 04, 2012, 10:44:40 AM
Doombient's wack, but that Stephen Parsick can rip shit up...
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on October 04, 2012, 11:56:20 AM
Jesse was my first big celebrity so I don't know why I bombed so much the 2nd time with Mr. Rich .

Hi Judd,

If it makes you feel any better, I remember being really excited about meeting one of Steve Reich's soloists, who happened to be staying in my school dormitory during a new music festival.  After telling her how much Reich had influenced me, I gave her a copy of my second album, which she promised to give to him.  I never heard back from him, which was really a bummer.  I once had the chance to approach John Cage (at the same new music festival), but lost the nerve because I couldn't think of anything to say to him that wouldn't sound lame.

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on October 04, 2012, 12:15:59 PM
I think if you're open and honest, a compliment should be received well.  First thing I said to Steve Roach was "you're awesome" and it wasn't awkward at all!
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Bill Binkelman on October 04, 2012, 12:54:15 PM
I never meant to infer that I was (quoting Forrest here) "...second-guess[ing] an artist's opinion of his or her own work." if that's what some folks here think I was stating. My point is that while an artist, obviously, has every right to evaluate his/her work from his/her own perspective (as does the fan of that artist), it's ungracious (IMHO) of an artist to reply in a way that deflects or minimizes the compliment. It's not about allowing the artist to be human, here quoting Mike who wrote "...[the artist] must not ever offer genuine opinions or interact with listeners like a human being." There's being a "human being" and being a dick. If someone came up to me and said "Bill, Wind and Wire was AWESOME." but didn't say anything about my subsequent work at Zone Music Reporter or Retailing Insight, I'd STILL say "Gee, thanks a lot. I appreciate it. Really glad you liked it. Say, have you caught some of my newer stuff? I'd be curious how you think it compares." Because that is EXACTLY what I would want to know. And if they said, "Yeah, your reviews are still okay but Wind and Wire was the bomb." I'd still be polite. It's not about my "reaction" because, sure, I'd be disappointed that this fan didn't care for what I was doing now, but so what? Truthfully, I might ask "What do you see is the main difference? I'd really like to know. Is it the music I review now or are my reviews not as well written as before?" If Robert thinks Rainforest is not that good, maybe he could ask "What was it/is it about that disc that moved you so much?" OTOH, maybe he just didn't care, which is fine too.

I met Robert at a show here in Minneapolis and he is a shy and reserved person, IMO. In the situation recalled here in this thread, I don't think he was wrong or being a dick, but I do think what he said was a little insensitive...no big deal - just a little insenstive. It's not that I think fans' opinions outweigh an artist's...but an artist should be, IMO, appreciative when a fan says anything nice. Just because an artist thinks his/her earlier stuff is of lesser quality, that's no reason to not accept the compliment with grace and humility. As my Wind and Wire example stated above showed, merely engage the fan in a conversation, if time allows, and find out what he/she thinks of your newer stuff. And if he/she (fan) doesn't like it, well, that's just the way it is. There is no right or wrong in this issue, except that politeness would dictate, IMO, that the artist receives the compliment graciously without the need to deflect the praise or infer, even subtly, that the praise is unwarranted when compared to other work.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on October 04, 2012, 01:10:04 PM
Hi Bill,

I'm glad you clarified your position.  The reason I thought you were second-guessing Robert's opinion of his own work is that you stated that "the ultimate appraisal of an artist's work should be made by the audience, not the artist."  I couldn't disagree more with this statement.  If this were the case, then chart position would be the equivalent of aesthetic merit---which really begs the question.

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: APK on October 04, 2012, 01:22:15 PM
I'm glad you clarified your position.  The reason I thought you were second-guessing Robert's opinion of his own work is that you stated that "the ultimate appraisal of an artist's work should be made by the audience, not the artist."  I couldn't disagree more with this statement.  If this were the case, then chart position would be the equivalent of aesthetic merit---which really begs the question.
Forrest

This is a fascinating topic. In academia the drift has been towards the audience, not the artist, and towards the autonomy of the artwork ... meaning the artwork once let loose (released in the case of music) is on its own, and has its own history within a community. The original artist is just another member of the audience for the work, and is not necessarily the most perceptive of its virtues or place in the genre.  And later the artist dies, but the work continues on its way ... speaking anew to new audiences.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on October 04, 2012, 01:31:14 PM
APK,

Maybe the reaction you would get to that question would depend on the metrtic you are using.  You might get a different answer if you are talking about sales than if you are talking about longevity.  That said, I've never bought into the idea that a piece is necessarily a "classic" (at least to me) just because it is still around several hundred years later.  The fan/listener in me may still be saying that the piece sucks ("take Mahler, please!'[cue rimshot])..

Forrest.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on October 04, 2012, 03:41:23 PM
So then... it's OK that Julio comes up to Robert and, intending to offer a compliment, asserts that Rainforest is a favorite... but it's not OK that Robert replies by asserting that he himself thinks he's done better work later on, and hopes that lower-profile work wont be ignored?

I would love to have such a conversation with the man......and hopefully a genuine one.  I think when we meet people that are an inspiration we tend to want to let them know what and how they have been so and then they can hopefully except the complement and next elaborate and express how they moved in new directions.....in the light of Rainforest.

This is a fascinating topic. In academia the drift has been towards the audience, not the artist, and towards the autonomy of the artwork ... meaning the artwork once let loose (released in the case of music) is on its own, and has its own history within a community. The original artist is just another member of the audience for the work, and is not necessarily the most perceptive of its virtues or place in the genre.  And later the artist dies, but the work continues on its way ... speaking anew to new audiences.

This says it all...well put APK
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on October 04, 2012, 03:44:19 PM
And clearly Rainforest is not overrated?  Ive not heard it.....need to change that.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: doombient on October 04, 2012, 04:25:19 PM
I hate all of doombient's stuff, early or otherwise!  ;D

See, this man is what I would call an educated listener  ;D.

Stephen
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on October 04, 2012, 05:36:04 PM
When I met Robin Guthrie backstage at a Cocteau Twins show in '93, I offered my "Moon and the Melodies" cd for him to sign.  He said, "You actually like this?!". I was a little disappointed with that reaction, but he was still nice about it.  He was almost embarrassed by it.  He wanted to talk about how nice Harold Budd was instead of the music.  Years later he talked about how his drug problem was a part of slagging off his own work.  I don't think an artist should hold back if there's something they did they aren't proud of, even if I happen to really like it.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 04, 2012, 07:30:37 PM
When I met Robin Guthrie backstage at a Cocteau Twins show in '93, I offered my "Moon and the Melodies" cd for him to sign.  He said, "You actually like this?!". I was a little disappointed with that reaction, but he was still nice about it.  He was almost embarrassed by it.  He wanted to talk about how nice Harold Budd was instead of the music.  Years later he talked about how his drug problem was a part of slagging off his own work.  I don't think an artist should hold back if there's something they did they aren't proud of, even if I happen to really like it.

That's pretty candid talk from the artist, and I guess you could appreciate the honesty while letting you down softly there.  You know, now that I think about it, that is an album I'll vote as somewhat overrated.  I like Harold Budd's contribution to it but the CTwins as talented as they are, have done a lot better. 
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 04, 2012, 07:42:11 PM
Jesse was my first big celebrity so I don't know why I bombed so much the 2nd time with Mr. Rich .

Hi Judd,

If it makes you feel any better, I remember being really excited about meeting one of Steve Reich's soloists, who happened to be staying in my school dormitory during a new music festival.  After telling her how much Reich had influenced me, I gave her a copy of my second album, which she promised to give to him.  I never heard back from him, which was really a bummer.  I once had the chance to approach John Cage (at the same new music festival), but lost the nerve because I couldn't think of anything to say to him that wouldn't sound lame.

Forrest

It's cool Forrest, but thanks for that.  I realize now what is well enough obvious, that I'll just treat them like another human, and the fact that they made some piece of work that highly influenced me or makes me nostalgic, to them could be just as irrelevant given a million scenarios (so many listeners, the artist has moved on, etc). 

Gongland however, got me through a very trying summer one year... that's all I'll say for now.  ;D
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 04, 2012, 07:51:36 PM
And clearly Rainforest is not overrated?  Ive not heard it.....need to change that.

Julio, I'm not sure about it being rated super-high by most.  My feeling is people highly rate several of his works:  I imagine he gets plenty of Stalker references, probably also Trances & Drones, and maybe Strata and Fissures.  (a lot of collaborations in there, but Robert's influence is plenty in all cases)  I just don't know if his later works receive as much kudos, maybe Echo of Small Things & Calling Down the Sky have come close to the status of the aforementioned. 

Rainforest is probably mentioned but I doubt it's consistently listed as a favorite or whatnot.  On the other hand it was kind of an important release for his career.  As was said it was his first Hearts of Space release and most likely his highest selling so there are definitely a lot of people who at least valued it highly at one time.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: jdh on October 04, 2012, 08:44:21 PM
My favorite RR is Somnium by far,then others in his sleep/ full ambient mode. Rainforest ( which I have is way down on the list) But I rate highly Echo and that was way later so I think he was gotten better and better and he has a vast catalogue.Even though I am not into his more tribal or sequencer music,I can understand it.I have met him,chatted and seen him live 3 times.My recollection is he knew what he wanted and how to say it.Not very shy.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Bill Binkelman on October 04, 2012, 09:50:36 PM
Hi Bill,

I'm glad you clarified your position.  The reason I thought you were second-guessing Robert's opinion of his own work is that you stated that "the ultimate appraisal of an artist's work should be made by the audience, not the artist."  I couldn't disagree more with this statement.  If this were the case, then chart position would be the equivalent of aesthetic merit---which really begs the question.

Forrest

To some degree, I stand by my statement about "ultimate appraisal." But I sure as hell am not equating appraisal with commercial success. My point is this: IF (and that may be a big IF), an artist is trying to communicate something via his/her work (whether it is an idea, an emotion, or whatever), then, ultimately, the transmission of that thing (idea, emotion) is the goal and only the recipient of said info can be the "judge" of whether or not the art was "successful." Now, I understand, appreciate, and respect if an artist only does his/her art to "let out the muse," i.e there is nothing to communicate. The art is for its own sake. It just "is." It may express something an artist thinks or feels, but if no one else "gets" it, that's fine and dandy.

This is an important distinction, IMO. Does art exist for the "appreciator" or for the artist? If one extends the analogy to food, then if the person who eats the food says it's "terrible" (even if prepared well), does that invalidate the food's worth? Conversely, if a person thinks Robert Rich's Rainforest is "good" but Stalker is crap, does that mean anything other than what it is? A preference?

But, from a different perspective, viewing the appreciation of one's work as the "goal," then even if the cook "makes a mistake" (e.g. cooks a a Kobe beef cut to medium well) but the patron loves it and finds the meal delicious, well, was the "goal" met?

It's a curious thing, i.e. art appreciation. I had a former girlfriend consider the work of wildlife painter Terry Redlin (see below for an example) as "kitsch" and chided me - overtly - for my love of it.

(http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l92/billbink/That-Special-Time.jpg)

But to me, the artwork strikes to the core of my emotional being and floods me with emotion . Is it good "art?" Frankly, I don't give a shit as it means something to me.

This was my sole purpose in my original post in this topic. The recipient of any art is the ultimate judge of the art's worth TO THAT INDIVIDUAL. There is never any absolute judgement of art. But an artist should, IMO, appreciate that what the artist may deem as inconsequential may hold deep meaning for the fan. That should never be taken lightly, IMO.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on October 04, 2012, 10:41:01 PM
But to me, the artwork strikes to the core of my emotional being and floods me with emotion . Is it good "art?" Frankly, I don't give a shit as it means something to me.

Yikes, Bill, I think it feel a Thomas Kincaid moment coming on...;)

I can't speak to what other musicians intend or don't intend, but when I create music, it happens on a subconscious level, and not through an deliberative process or even as an express communication to a particular listener or group of listeners.  It's just a pure form of expression, like a gesture, but with more focus.  When I decide to release a piece, it becomes its own vehicle or thing, separate and apart from me, if that makes any sense.  A lot of what I like to do comes out of the love of hearing what different combinations of timbres and textures sound like together.  Not that I worship at the altar of Brian Eno, but I liked his description of part of his creative process as "playing with paints."  It's that joy of experimenting and finding something unexpected and interesting that keeps me doing it.  If other listeners like what they hear, it of course makes me feel good and I am appreciative of it, but that is not why I do it.

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Poaalpina on October 04, 2012, 11:27:11 PM
Hello Forrest,

I 'm reading this thread and listen to your Gongland album. Bought it a week ago and all these days i swimming in music. Really like a hazy place you created.
If you will say right now you don't like it  anymore, because you think your last album is much better, i will not cry.  ;) I really like it, and it lives now separate and apart from you.  :)
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Seren on October 05, 2012, 12:43:07 AM
Great thread and discussion.

I too tend to say stupid things in the presence of (my own) celebrities/persons of inspiration - or say nothing at all. I remember being told by Simon King of Hawkwind that he had just been kicked out, but I was too stoned to reply......... :-[

Mike's decision to release my music from the Umbra Label on HSS has embroiled me in my own version of this discussion. I know what I was trying to achieve in the earliest of those albums and pieces and had to consider how I felt about them now. And whether to add anything, subtract or change them or leave them as signposts/celelbrations/tombstones of the past.

Some I've left alone - just trying to decide where to add track points was too hard, others I've gently reworked, a light adding of better quality reverb or overlapping the seperate tracks slightly. .....

If I was making some of that music now it would likely be very different so it was both a very high compliment to be offered the releases and a hard decision to accept as some listeners might not like what I had done and define 'my music' by those releases.

I think that the interplay between artist/musician etc and appreciative audience is always a delicate shifting sands of mutual expression (and perhaps at times both sides could be more sensitive in sharing their feelings/thoughts with each other - hey we are all human!!).

I don't think I like the idea of the artists intent being considered unimportant, at any point, even if dead many years - therein lies the chance for that original inspiration being 'spun' with meanings that might even contradict the original. The (also) human tendency to think we know best about something.....
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on October 05, 2012, 03:37:32 AM
A lot of what I like to do comes out of the love of hearing what different combinations of timbres and textures sound like together.  Not that I worship at the altar of Brian Eno, but I liked his description of part of his creative process as "playing with paints."  It's that joy of experimenting and finding something unexpected and interesting that keeps me doing it.

Yes....the "playing with paint" is spot on Forrest.  I had not heard that before but as I painted first before writing music I have always thought along these lines and it is those unexpected moments that occur on the sonic canvas that inspire me to keep stretching more canvas.

How did this all start, this creative journey......somewhere, someone asked a question, my creative expression is the coming to terms with that question. Interpreting the meaning,  It is not the answer.  Anyway once you think you have the answer most often its just another question.     
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Bill Binkelman on October 05, 2012, 08:36:11 AM
But to me, the artwork strikes to the core of my emotional being and floods me with emotion . Is it good "art?" Frankly, I don't give a shit as it means something to me.

Yikes, Bill, I think it feel a Thomas Kincaid moment coming on...;)

(snip)

Forrest

I expected that reaction from some folks...and I admit that on the surface Redlin and Kincaid may appear alike, but really they aren't at all (IMO). Yeah, wildlife art is not "art" to a lot of people. That's fine. Ambient music isn't "music" to a lot of people. Artistic taste is 100% subjective. I know the remake of The Italian Job (film) is not as "good" as the original but I like it better. What I was trying to say with the Redlin example is that his depiction of rural midwest scenes in autumn somehow strikes this chord in me from my childhood...it reminds me of trips up north with my (long since deceased) parents. It reminds me of playing outside in the fall (my favorite time of year) as a kid. There is no "reason" why it hits me this way or so hard. It just does. There's nothing rationale about it. Why do some things hit us the way they do? Despite my obvious cynicism (which I parade around every chance I get), in my heart I would actually call myself a romantic idealist slanted towards being somewhat obsessed with nostalgia (I tend to dwell on the past in a lot of ways). Anyway, my point is that my appreciation for a painting, an album, etc. is just that...MY appreciation for it.

As for the snipped comments you made about what drives you to make music...well, I have never been a musician so I can't even comment on that. I think that people do what they do for a lot of reasons. I don't think one impetus is automatically better or worse than another, including doing something just to make money (although, that has its limitations, e.g. labels releasing countless compilations by raiding back catalogs, which is what Windham Hill did a lot after it was sold by Ackerman to BMI). As a journalist, which is what I view myself as - not a creative writer - my impetus is solely to communicate something, which if I understand you correctly, is the opposite of what you intend...I think I get what you are saying that your music is more "pure essence," i.e. you are "playing with paints" as you wrote to see what comes out of it all. I respect that...but it is the opposite of where I come from when I write (your approach is probably closer to poetry, although that is itself a generalization on my part).
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: ffcal on October 05, 2012, 09:29:19 AM
Anyway, my point is that my appreciation for a painting, an album, etc. is just that...MY appreciation for it.

Yes, I agree.  The music that I enjoy the most appeals to me on a very subjective emotional level, and brings back memories associated with it, too.  For me, that would be progressive rock.  I think it's very similar feeling to being a longtime fan of, say, the Chicago Cubs.

I think I get what you are saying that your music is more "pure essence," i.e. you are "playing with paints" as you wrote to see what comes out of it all. I respect that...but it is the opposite of where I come from when I write (your approach is probably closer to poetry, although that is itself a generalization on my part).

I like to think my creative process as more like painting.  I admit that on some at least subliminal or marginal level, I am probably influenced by whether the music I am creating will have an audience, but I try not to be controlled by it.  It think it does explain why generally don't enjoy performing live.  Live "painting" just doesn't appeal to me.  The potential spectacle of it makes me too self-conscious to focus properly.

Forrest
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on October 05, 2012, 11:04:12 AM

Yes, I agree.  The music that I enjoy the most appeals to me on a very subjective emotional level, and brings back memories associated with it, too.  For me, that would be progressive rock.  I think it's very similar feeling to being a longtime fan of, say, the Chicago Cubs.

Years from now, after the wars, a tribe will rise from the ashes of humanity.  Finding a dusty cd called "Gongland" in the rubble, the newly inspired tribe along with their god "Fang" will lead us to a thousand years of peace and prosperity. 

Probably not what you intended with your work, but what the hell?  If it works for them...
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: LNerell on October 05, 2012, 03:51:11 PM
Loren, if you remember, what was the original title going to be?  I knew there was something very non-Robert Richian about that album cover  ;D

Track seven on the album, "The Raining Room" is what I remember it was suppose to be called. I don't remember the artwork but I seem to remember that Robert had the painting he wanted to use in his house at the time.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Numina on December 09, 2012, 09:39:08 AM
Actually Forrest, I'm a pretty shy person myself.  Jesse was my first big celebrity so I don't know why I bombed so much the 2nd time with Mr. Rich .  I didn't really approach him conventionally like an obtrusive fan.   Jesse put me up to it...  ;D

Don't forget that you stayed at this celebrity's house for a couple weeks too!  ;D
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: judd stephens on December 09, 2012, 10:02:00 AM
Actually Forrest, I'm a pretty shy person myself.  Jesse was my first big celebrity so I don't know why I bombed so much the 2nd time with Mr. Rich .  I didn't really approach him conventionally like an obtrusive fan.   Jesse put me up to it...  ;D

Don't forget that you stayed at this celebrity's house for a couple weeks too!  ;D

I even got to tour the place where all the magic happens, the Mysterium too. 

Call me humble I guess, just didn't want to brag  ;D
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Numina on December 09, 2012, 12:03:10 PM
Judd - it was a pleasure to have you and your wife stay here. I'm sorry you weren't able to stay here in Denver. Hope you and your wife are doing well! Say hi from us.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: fugasiyokonda on December 10, 2012, 03:04:23 PM
What do you think are the most overrated ambient albums?  By this I mean albums that are put on a pedestal to near mythical status, but when you actually hear it you wonder what the big deal was about.

a myth is just that.

There is no best , just likes and dislikes which mean nothing really in truth.
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: drone on on December 10, 2012, 04:09:48 PM
It's weird but not until recently, over the last few weeks, did I realize how great Roach's "Dreamtime Return" really is.  So I'd like to remove it officially from the status of "overrated" as I indicated earlier. 
Title: Re: Overrated Ambient
Post by: Horizon 1982 on June 03, 2014, 07:07:04 PM
I think anything by Robert Rich is overrated. I admit that he is technically very good and he knows his shits, but I don't know, I feel he is using the same formula over and over again, I don't feel a connection with his albums, maybe I just don't like steel guitars and PVC flutes.