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Messages - Bill Binkelman

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Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: True Detective
« on: March 06, 2014, 10:40:25 PM »
Kathryn and I have watched from week 1. is OUTSTANDING writing and Matthew Mc C is amazing, as is Woody H. Ranks up there with The Shield and Justified, IMO.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Help me find good cider
« on: January 01, 2014, 12:27:26 PM »
It's not a dark cider, but the closest brand I have had here in the US (after a visit in England to a cidery and having draft cider) is Crispin Brut (Extra Dry). It's very dry, IMO, esp. when compared to a lot of other ciders. And it's reasonably priced, too. But I haven't sampled a lot of the more expensive artisan ciders, either. The main thing I like about Crispin (the Brut variety) is it really is quite dry, which what many of the English ciders I sampled while there were.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Christmas wishes from Mike & Lena
« on: December 25, 2013, 05:52:46 PM »
Merry Christmas to you and Lena, Mike. Hope it was a good day, despite your being sick. I also hope you both get better soon and that you have a fantastic New Year!

For me, it's still a toss up between Cragganmore and Balvenie DoubleWood. I'm a Highland and Speyside man, and not that fond of peat. There are some great lower priced Scotches out there, such as the undated McClellands, which I've always enjoyed. Last time I bought it, it was about $18 bucks...for a single malt, that's pretty good. It's not dated, but I'd imagine it's a 7-9 year old Scotch. A lot smoother than you'd think, IMO.

Everything and Nothing / Re: The new age music 'scene' ?
« on: December 17, 2013, 12:34:13 AM »
Is there such a thing ? I was looking at this site today:

I'm not getting into the merits / demerits of the music as such, just that it seems a whole lot more commercially oriented than ambient. There's some artists who crossover from the ambient side of things, but they aren't as 'hardcore' (an oxymoron here ?) as some of the big name new age artists I've come across. I'm not being judgmental about that, I'm just curious. My only dalliance with the 'scene' was trying to push the 2004 '8 Shades of Sound'  album I produced, but I gave up on that as I wasn't too keen on sending hundreds of copies of the CD to the States (where all the radio stations were based) I'm curious if things are still the same ?

I'm sure some people here know much more about this side of things - Bill B, Jeff P et al 

Don't these artists have bad days and want to release some fiercely abrasive dark ambience ? :)

Do you really want my opinion on this? Remember that I now review for a "new age" magazine. Plus, as many know, I am a HUGE fan of the genre as well. Is this a Pandora's box you really want to open? I am asking that sincerely before I write a book in answer to your post. I'll never apologize for my love of new age music...and I will also always opine that the line between "some" ambient and some new age music is mighty thin.

Everything and Nothing / Re: A Favor from my Hypnos friends.
« on: October 16, 2013, 07:45:48 AM »
Saw the message about this at Relaxed Machinery and have voted 3 times (twice from home and once from work) so far and will continue voting as well. Good luck!

Everything and Nothing / Re: My coworker stopped talking to me
« on: September 07, 2013, 11:09:25 AM »
Unless she provides useful services to you as a co-worker, just leave her alone. Seriously...just ignore her. Not in an unfriendly way. Just leave her be. Don't stew about it...she'll either get out of her mood or she won't or she'll confront you with whatever is bothering her. This happens to me and I spend way too much energy trying to figure this shit out and in the end, it hurts my productivity at work. If she is too valuable to your work, then suck it up and just tell her how you feel, direct and to the point, i.e. "why have you changed how you treat me lately?" If she refuses to acknowledge there has been a change, drop it and do your best to work around her bullshit.

The only way to approach a comprehensive "history" of the genre is to (a) look at it from a global perspective and (b) remove the limitations of what constitutes the genre. I can't begin to count the number of Internet arguments over "ambient doesn't have beats" "oh yes it does." I find it more than a little funny that those who claim ambient can't have beats seem to have no problem with placing SAW II in a top ambient of all time list. Anyway, my point is that any book I would undertake would include not just Eno-derived works and the various rhythmic ambient offshoots, but also the cross-pollination with both spacemusic (Serrie, Tyndall, Braheny, et al.) and "new age" (i.e. artists like Story and O'Hearn whom most "ambientists" don't recognize as ambient). The book would probably best be structured as (1) first a brief pre-history of the genre, which would mention Satie, et al., (2) a brief chronology of the history of ambient recordings starting in, I would guess, the 60s, (3) a section of the book detailing the different global approaches to the genre, (4) a look at crossover genres (see above) and (5) essential artists and recordings (basically "if you want to start an ambient collection, here are the albums you need to get). Finally, the last section would probably be devoted to the surge of popularity of netlabels, download only releases, and the "future" of the genre. This section would almost certainly be comprised heavily by interviews with notables in the scene, such as Mike G and other label heads, as well as noted critics, Lockett, etc.  Of course, one cold also get into a history of the electronic side of the music, i.e. how the first synthesizers came about, their development, sequencers, the digital revolution, laptop and glitch, etc. But, shit, that could a volume all by itself, so it would have to be, at best, a cursory overlook, IMO.

You start to see why this would be a massive undertaking if the author had any intention of posturing the book as either a history or comprehensive. It may make a lot more sense to do a collection of essays, kinda like the two Lester Bangs books, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, and Main Lines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste. If THAT was the case, the essays could be a multiple author collection, featuring a number of my contemporaries and myself. I would be ideally suited to address the cross-over genres, as I'm sure others would be better with contemporary ambient, the history of netlabels, etc. The only problem with this approach (and it is the ONLY problem I can think of) would be that the reader would be confronted with VASTLY different writing styles. Just compare my style with Alan L and Darren B and you see what I mean. OTOH, my style meshes nicely with John Shanahan (Hypnagogue) whom I think would be a great person to bring into this IF it ever reached the actual planning stages, as well as Phil Derby (the perfect person to chronicle Berlin EM). Another obvious person to include would be Richard G and others who contribute reviews here and elsewhere. The logistics might be problematic, i.e. deadlines, etc. But that would be the domain of the book's editor.

Hoo boy...I am putting way too much work into this!

That's how I would see it, at least.

Scott and Chris,

I am flattered by your faith in me, but I only said I COULD do it and that it would take a lot of time, research, and money as well to pay for all the many recordings I would need to hear in order to fill in my gaps, as well as purchase any reference materials I would need. I have not followed ambient hardly at all since 2008, so I would have a lot of catching up to do. Believe me, I have toyed with the idea of a book, even a very informal one (most likely a collection of essays), but I would have to be ready to devote a lot of time to it and at this point in my life with all that's going on, that's not going to happen any times soon, unless something changes. But if it does ever start to even remotely materialize, I will be sure to write something here about it.

My main point was that I would approach it knowing my limitations of knowledge and be sure to address those limitations either by working to increase my knowledge OR acknowledging that the book had severe limitations. Also, not trying to sound TOO arrogant (LOL) but I know I can write as well as the next guy, too. So, it would, at the least, prove to be an entertaining thing to read (I hope).

Geez, now y'all got me thinking about this...thanks a lot!  :-[

While not defending the glaring omissions and missing research, our kind of music is
hard to find in the UK.  There was no national radio broadcast or station playing
ambient, space, or electronic music.  I only learnt of Messrs Roach, Rich, Stearns...
when I came to work in the US in 1999 and a friend pointed me to Hearts of Space.
Internet radio has helped, but mostly if you already know the music exists.  There's no
equivalent of Hearts of Space.  I wish it could be syndicated to the BBC Radio or
Classic FM.  Yes John Peel did introduce we Brits  (me included) to Tangerine Dream,
but that was forty years ago.

Are there any good writers out there in ambientland who could write a more
comprehensive history of ambient or electronic music?

Well, if pressed and allowed to spend a year or so doing intensive research, with a decent advance from a publisher to cover some needed expenses (not a king's ransom), yeah, I could write a much better history of the genre, IMNSHO (not so humble indeed, probably). Look, I can grant you that the guy maybe doesn't have knowledge of "non-UK" or "non-European" ambient, but that doesn't excuse him presenting himself as a genre expert when he clearly is not. I am not an "expert" but I damn sure would do some extensive research before making it appear that I WAS one. And when one makes a presentation with the words "history of..." in its title, I'd either make sure I KNEW the history of whatever I claimed to know OR I would change the title to "MY history of..." or "An abridged history of..." or "A European history of..." Not knowing about Hearts of Space (really???? unless one lives in the bush or way upriver on the Amazon or in the outback), how hard would it be to find out about Hearts of Space?

OTOH...playing devil's advocate to my own diatribe above...I just Google'd "ambient music labels" and came up with the wikipedia entry, which (while including both Hypnos and Lotuspike) omits Hearts of Space and Spotted Peccary (although it does include Valley Entertainment which DOES own the HOS catalog, but how many non-insiders KNOW that?). So, while I still do not excuse his many and serious omissions, I do start to understand what some of you are saying. Still, it does represent a certain ethnocentric (from a musical standpoint) viewpoint to not do a serious exploration of the GLOBAL existence of the genre, e.g. finding out about all the great stuff through the years that has been put out by Artemiy Artemiev's label, Electroshock, which wikipedia also ignoes (I assume he likewise missed them, but TBH, I haven't even watched the video yet).

So, while I appreciate what drkappa says when he states "...our kind of music is hard to find in the UK" I simply don't think that is a valid excuse for his ignorance. Just my two cents.

While I see your point, Chris, I think if one is going to present oneself as even somewhat of an authority on a subject, one is obligated to do a modicum of research. Or one must qualify the extent of one's expertise. E.g. some folks might say "I am an expert on early 60s rock." But that person may know next to nothing about 80s new wave or 90s grunge, etc. So that person should not say he is an expert on ROCK music per se. To elevate yourself as someone who can address something as broad as the history of a music genre, even a genre as "new" as ambient (as compared to classical), one must have a strong academic background in that genre and that REQUIRES doing research beyond listening to and reading about music the person LIKES. The omission of absolutely undeniable pivotal ambient artists such Roach, Rich, et al. completely undercuts the viability of a person as a HISTORIAN and reduces the person to nothing more than a critic (like yours truly). A better title for his talk would be "A Selective History..." or "My Personal History WITH Ambient music..."

It's why I will never write a book, despite being told to do so by many folks. After 15 years of reviewing, I realize I am aware of just a fraction of the releases (and artists) in both the ambient and new age genres. I just got a CD from an artist with 14 PRIOR releases and I had never heard of him before this!

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Cloud Atlas
« on: November 27, 2012, 01:54:51 PM »
If it comes to the neighborhood second run house near my home, I'll see it then. Otherwise, I'll rent it. It sounds like a "pretty" movie with a preachy/pretentious "plot."

The following review can also be seen with hyperlinks embedded and images at Wind and Wire (http://windandwire.blogspot com)

This Mortal Night

Katabaz Records
Download release only
Release date: 10/21/12

I fully admit to being an old-school person when it comes to recorded music, i.e. I cut my teeth on buying LPs at underground record stores in the late '60s and early '70s. Because of this, I am not up to date on the plethora of ambient netlabels out there, many of which I believe are releasing some excellent music. I only wish my limited time could be spent scouring the limits of the World Wide Web looking for gems such as the one I am reviewing now, the debut from This Mortal Night on the netlabel Katabaz records. The label queried me about this release and I thank my lucky stars I clicked on the link in the email.

This Mortal Night is an anonymous one-person "band" (according to the label) who, when I asked for further info, replied with "…we prefer not to give personal info (name, country), essentially because our music is based on imagination, fantasy and evocative atmosphere... and, of course, we are just a bunch of normal people so we don't really want to show what's going on "behind the magician curtain" if you know what I mean." Which I think is fair enough.

Instrumentation on the album consists of piano, synths, and some field recordings. The "tags" on the album page on bandcamp run the gamut: "ambient," "electronic," "dark ambient," "black metal" and even "dungeon synth" and "hell." If I had read those tags without streaming the music, I would've expected to hate this recording. While this certainly fits under the ambient banner and perhaps to some degree under the dark ambient one as well, the eight tracks are less "dark" than some might interpret the word, and instead might be classified more as atmospheric, moody, somber, with some elements of tragic melancholy (a la Tim Story, Mychael Danna or Jeff Greinke – his more recent works). The piano plays a lead role in much of the music, with an emphasis on minor notes and chords, but synths certainly contribute at times.

The first track, "Moan of the Winter Wind," starts off with, what else, wind, punctuated by mournful piano notes and a reverberating tone that has an eerie element to it (it sounds like a twangy guitar with a lot of reverb). This is probably the "darkest" song on the album, but it's more creepy and scary in a walking-through-a-graveyard-at-night way than a bottomless-pit-of-despair way which a lot of what I would label dark ambient tends to sound like to me. "My Cold and Beautiful Nights" strips away to just minimal piano, drenched in sustain/reverb, so that the notes overlap link ripples in water. A smattering of textural synth effects add some sepia tone to the sorrowful, melancholy of the piano, and on this track comparisons to Danna's recordings such as skys or North of Niagara would be accurate. "Echoes of Long Ago" bumps up the contributions from synthesizers while still having the piano a featured player. Classic retro synth chords underlie the piano while metallic-sounding noises float above the proceedings. "Field and Stream" is positively light by comparison to "Moan of the Winter Wind," as the reverbed piano melody has a warmish tint to it. Crickets open "Midnight Lake" and the mood is tranquil, as if one were sitting down by a dock off of the titular lake, watching the moon reflected on the blackness of the water, serenaded by the sounds of the night. A brushing of ethereal synths adds the perfect amount of ambient atmosphere. At just 1:43 in duration, the track is way too short (but then, the sure sign of good music is that it leaves the audience wanting more, yes?). "A Dark Sinister" opens with female chorals that are more angelic than sinister, although not in a syrupy way. Mournful synth horns and high pitched tones merge with the chorals which come and go from background to foreground and back again. The way the various synths are layered on this track is impressive (I'm listening on headphones and the mix is perfectly amorphous as it should be, i.e. the sounds all coalesce to surround you rather than being placed at unique positions in the soundfield). The last two tracks are "The Great White Hollow," which is another solemn piano tone poem with an emotionally neutral evocation, less impactful than the other tracks on the album and, as a result, it suffers somewhat by comparison, and "Those Were The Nights" on which the sound of wind and sparkling bell tones reminds me of Jeff Greinke's recent beautiful minimalism.

This Mortal Night
(the album) flits between darkish creepiness, atmospheric pensiveness, and soothing calmness, but these mood swings are bathed in the unifying aspect of the piano's presence on most tracks as well as a general pervasive feeling of gentle melancholy occasionally tinted with unease on one end and somber reflection on the other. I know all too well that characterizing an ambient song as "beautiful" or, even worse, "pretty" is the kiss of death, but some of the tracks here are just that, e.g. "Midnight Lake." Finally, the cover image, a black and white ink drawing of a lonely, hooded figure, walking in the dead of night against a driving rain storm in a rural landscape, perfectly captures the mood of this solidly recommended album.

Look, folks, Katabaz is only charging as little as 2 bucks for this recording (or you can pay more if you like). If you enjoy Tim Story, Jeff Greinke, Mychael Danna, or similar artists, you won't be sorry you plunked down your money on This Mortal Night. I think it's a real find, personally, and I certainly hope to hear a lot more from the artist and the new netlabel in the future.

Soundclips and purchase links:

Bill Binkelman
Wind and Wire

In the Season of Fading Light

Self-released (2012)

Jeff Pearce, the master of evocative ambient guitar and purveyor of sublime Chapman stick instrumentals has apparently decided that "the world is not enough," and has now added piano to his tool box, as it were. And, of course, he uses this new tool as artistically as he has his previous ones, evidenced throughout his piano debut In the Season of Fading Light [be sure to read the * footnote at the review's end for important information about the CD's origins and Pearce's charitable aspect of this release].

Graced with a startlingly gorgeous cover by Teodora Chinde (as beautiful, if not more so, than 2008's Rainshadow Sky), flawless mastering by Corin Nelsen, and graphic design by Hypnos label founder Mike Griffin, In the Season of Fading Light displays three distinct "personas" to Pearce's composing and piano playing. One of these is no doubt due to the influence of noted pianist Philip Aaberg (whose online piano lessons Pearce is taking). This style is reflected in pieces such as "Autumn and Regret II," "The Road and the Wind" and "Into Spring." These songs are less melancholic and possess a more defined melody, although could still be classified as tone poems. The second type of music on the album (which I would describe as vintage Pearce) may be best exemplified on the opening title track, featuring plaintive piano accented by Pearce's always emotive ambient guitar which sighs softly underneath the sparse, intimate moody shadows of the piano. "After the Frost" could also fall into this category, especially if one imagines Jeff playing the same forlorn melody on either Chapman stick or guitar. The heartrending sad beauty of "Words from the Rain" (with an expertly applied backdrop of falling rain) is indicative of the third type of music on the album, one that bears a strong resemblance to the minimalist chamber style of Tim Story (note the deeply echoed piano on this track, a device that Story uses on many of his solo works).

All of the thirteen tracks on In the Season… are winners, as the mood crisscrosses various moods and sensations: the subtle liveliness of "Autumn and Regret II," the somber yet slowly rolling fluidity of "Where the Rivers Begin," a faint whisper of hope (with a hint of church hymn music contained in the melody) in "Harvest Prayer," a dash of jazz amidst the sepia tones of "Newfallen," and the deep (almost funereal) drama of "Where All Rivers End," on which the cries of ambient guitar form a subdued wailing of sorrow amidst the stark darkness of the piano, accented by other ambient textures underneath.

It may be that long time readers of my reviews will view this gushing praise of In the Season of Fading Light as Binkelman going all sycophantic on yet another Pearce release. If such is the case, so be it. When I hear talent this obvious, I call it like I hear it – and I hear Jeff Pearce's genius once again in evidence.

*Twelve of the thirteen tracks on In the Season of Fading Light were originally released as the Provision Series, digital-download-only singles which were released monthly beginning in July 2011. Jeff Pearce donated a part of each sale to a different charity each month, taking particular care to select charities which were (according to the artist's website "… run through the databases of a few organizations that monitor a charity's activities." Now with the release of In the Season of Fading Light, Jeff Pearce is donating one dollar from the sale of each album to the charity Feeding America. More info, including Jeff's reasons for doing great work available is at Jeff Pearce's website. While I have no doubt he will bristle at my writing this, Jeff Pearce's example should serve as a beacon to all of us, especially given how many people in America (and elsewhere) are in dire straits right now. I applaud him for this generous gesture and his commitment to caring about the plight of others in such a direct manner.

The album is available from Amazon, CDBaby, and iTunes.

Independent Music Reviews / Wind and Wire is back
« on: November 10, 2012, 06:47:49 PM »
I just wanted to announce here that I have finally re-launched Wind and a blogspot hosted blog, here:

I intend to feature the entire gamut of reviews I used to feature at the previous webzine format, including getting back in the swing of ambient and EM. I only have 3 reviews so far, as I only re-launched a few weeks ago and I am still gearing up, but at least it is there  :D
Again, the site will have music reviews from genres that I doubt any of you will find interesting, but that was the original vision of the magazine and I want to stay true to that.

I have a very large backlog of ambient CDs to review. Also, Spotted Peccary, Lotuspike and Projekt have been very gracious in sending me new discs all this time (I have sometimes reviewed them for my magazine gig, Retailing Insight). So, I have current copies of the new ones by Michael Allison (Darshan Ambient), Zero Ohms and Craig Padilla, Erik Wollo, and others, plus a LOT  of stuff from as far back as 2008 that I never got around to reviewing as I took a break from the genre to concentrate on reviewing other genres for both my paying gig at R.I. (then known as New Age Retailer) and the website Zone Music Reporter, where I will also still be submitting reviews.

When I review CDs that I think may be of interest to forum readers, I will post the reviews here in this section (look for my review posting still later tonight of Jeff Pearce's In the Season of Fading Light).

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« 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...;)



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 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).

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« 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.


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.

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.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« 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 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.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« 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 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!  ::)

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« 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. 


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 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.

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