There's a sample of 'A Deeper Silence' up now. Sounds quite nice, though obviously with a two minute sample it's impossible to tell...
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I also think 'sublime' doesn't mean quite the same thing to people anymore, so the sense of opposition between beauty and 'the sublime' wouldn't necessarily be apparent (unless somebody was already familiar with the content of Burke's essay.)
I haven't read this essay by Burke, but Robert have you ever read Nietzche's "On Those who are Sublime"? It's a chapter from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and I've always found it a wonderful read. A link here with a translation not too familiar to me: http://nietzsche.thefreelibrary.com/Thus-Spake-Zarathustra/37-1
[...] Check this dude's (from ambientmusicguide.com, which dubs itself 'a guide to essential ambient and downtempo albums) review out:
During the 1980's Steve Roach albums were modest in number but consistent in quality. The 1990's and beyond are a different story. Literally dozens of solo and collaborative works have appeared since Sound Of The Earth and their appeal varies enormously. The most difficult of these tend to be works centred around the themes of palaeontology, shamanism and the primordial mind. The dominance of these themes marks a shift in focus from the outer worlds of his middle period music (eg. the impressionism of Western Spaces) to exploring the evolution of our own inner worlds. Unfortunately albums like Origins (1993), Artifacts (1994), The Magnificent Void (1996) and Early Man (2001) retreat into dark worlds of dissonance and strangeness where melody and harmony are virtually outlawed. The sound is one or a combination of rhythmic tribal elements, atonal soundscaping and grim atmospheres. It's fine in moderate doses, certainly, and some hardcore Roach fans swear by such works. But like most dark ambient they are an acquired taste and if you're a newcomer to his music, forget it.[...]
I’d say that this 'ambientguide' is a very poor guide, failing to properly represent the nature of the music while smearing the representing of the tastes of the ‘guide’ all over it. For a start, it departs from the premiss that the 80s Roach albums are some kind of benchmark of ‘quality’ against which what follows is somehow degenerate. This is a value judgment presented as simple fact. The ‘ambientguide’ sets up a kind of opposition between the early period Roach (= ‘quality’), against which later period Roach is assessed (= ‘difficult’). The question of ‘difficult for whom’ is begged. Personally, I find more Roach works from the pre-90s period ‘difficult’ – this is entirely subjective admittedly, but the guide somehow smuggles his value judgments in under the guise of analysis or description.
And it is simply wrong to state that the later works mentioned are characterised by ‘dissonance’, and that ‘melody and harmony are virtually outlawed’. This is based on a simplistic assessment that’s clearly made by a non-musician. I can state - from my knowledge as a (non-practising) musician - that there is plenty of consonance, melody and harmony in these works, albeit much of it not of the dully conventional kind that must have been deployed by our cloth-eared ‘ambientguide’ as part of his inadequate assessment scheme. The last parts of this ‘review’ consist of lazy journalistic tropes and facile dismissals. I can think of any number of newcomers who would respond to e.g. Mystic Chords... or Early Man far more positively than, say, Now Traveler or Stormwarning, for the sake of example.
This piece is just garbage, basically, dressed up in well-turned prose, through which it gets through, masquerading as authoritative. I don’t know how any authority can become attached to such toss. If this guy were my ambientguide, I’d soon lose interest in the journey.
Yeah, I see what you mean after checking out the YouTube vids. Their later stuff is not easy to listen to. Kind of sounds like avant-garde noodling as opposed to their old music which is songs.
Wow, what an interesting thread. I don't know who these Autechre guys are, or what their music is like, but seldom have I read such consistently vitriolic criticism of a band's style of music (or non-music?) You guys really do sound like scorned lovers!
However, someone out there must enjoy their music, right?