Author Topic: What's HOT and what's NOT  (Read 5190 times)

mgriffin

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What's HOT and what's NOT
« on: January 04, 2008, 12:38:31 PM »
You know those little mini-articles in Wired magazine, and I think Esquire and Details does them too somethings... hell, probably every magazine does them... where they talk about a few things that are HOT, or NOT?

I was just thinking about a few trends I've observed recently, starting right here in our little neighborhood of ambient music. 

HOT: ambient music with melody and structure
NOT: ambient drone music


Comments... I'm seeing a greater interest in ambient music made by people who come from a more traditional music background, or at least who include more traditional elements in their ambient work.

And one more:

HOT: ambient music with acoustic instruments, guitar, and voice
NOT: ambient music with synthesizers and samplers


Comments... Same thing, just a movement I'm seeing toward more people working with these more "organic" sound sources, and despite my own synths/samplers background, this is a trend I welcome.


Does anybody else have anything to add?  Any movements, shifts or trends that can be observed?  I suppose this should be opened up behind just music-related or ambient-music-related changes.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

lena

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2008, 12:57:45 PM »
Well, I've actually received quite a few letters from people who said that they were kind of expecting that my cello would actually sound like a cello when they ordered the album, (oops, can you say, "unpleasant surprise")?  ;D  Oh well, that's what you get for not listening to the sound clips! Anyway, I think you're right about the new trend of people looking for more "organic" sounds, I just received an email from a man who asked if I knew of any CDs that were more piano & strings, sort of like "classical ambient". (I know that's definitely more along the lines of what I want to do for my next album)...
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Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2008, 01:10:47 PM »
Well I guess the whole melody...acoustic instruments thing is good news for the new Ma Ja Le album when it comes out this year.

Paul  ;D
"I liken good ambient to good poetry ... enjoyable, often powerful, and usually unpopular" APK

Bill Binkelman

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2008, 02:24:28 PM »
So, I take it my more-than-occassional (but not ominpresent) disdain for drone-style music is FINALLY coming into vogue??? I knew it...I knew I was ahead of my time!  ;D

APK

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2008, 02:31:47 PM »
What I often look and hope for is more "musicality" in ambient music. And the trend (if there is one) towards melody and structure is a good sign. And interestingly, the use of acoustic instruments is often another sign of musicality, of people who can actually play musical instruments and have a musical sensibility and not just a technological ability. I do appreciate the technological side, but a needed musicality is what I find missing in a lot of electro-ambient music ... music that sounds too much alike, and too reliant on just stringing predictable samples together or applying big effects rather than playing anything with some musical and expressive expertise.

Think of Eno.




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Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2008, 04:03:20 PM »
Nicely put APK! I echo your thoughts.

Paul
"I liken good ambient to good poetry ... enjoyable, often powerful, and usually unpopular" APK

Joe R

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2008, 04:21:15 PM »
While I'm still into the synth stuff, I'm liking guitar-based ambient more and more, simply for a new variety of sound & texture. I know I'll be increasingly exploring the likes of Paul Bradley, Andrew Chalk, Fear Falls Burning, etc...

And I notice that Anthony's been sneaking more and more guitar into HIS CDs lately. Only a matter of time before he drops his synths altogether and starts strumming his way to fame & fortune. ;)


Dave Michuda

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2008, 07:49:02 PM »
I agree that the move towards acoustic or traditional instrumentation in ambient music is a good thing.  Let's face it, even for ambient connoisseurs, this musical niche can become stale.  I think the using acoustic instruments can help keep things fresh. 

Of course, as with any music, just because you use acoustic instruments doesn't automatically make it good.  It takes a talented artist to walk the line when using more melody & traditional instruments and keeping the music from becoming too sickly sweet.  You don't want the music to wander off into the realm of something that gets played on the "Soundscapes" channel on digital cable.

Here are just a few recordings I pulled from some recent playlists that make use of acoustic instruments.  Although, I'm sure that there are plenty of forumites who would think that many of these would fall into the sickly sweet category I was just talking about.

christian fennesz & ryuichi sakamoto - cendre
Library Tapes - Sketches
rameses iii - honey rose
rafael anton irisarri - daydreaming
alio die & zeit - raag drone theory
slow six_nor'easter
slow six - private times in public places
marsen jules - golden

Although I am not a huge drone fan, I do like it when drones make use of traditional instruments or somehow gets an organic sound.  Chalk sometimes achieves this, the alio die & zeit release does as well and much of the Emeralds recording, "Allegory Of Allergies", has a great organic feel to it.

Ben Fleury-Steiner

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2008, 08:13:01 AM »
Considering what I'm hearing (i.e., 12K's recent output, Spekk, Carpark, Kranky, Craig Bethell's recent and quite wonderful "atmospheric pop" record, A Day Full of you, A Night Tired of Me, just released by Infraction etc.) I think generally that's pretty accurate, Mike, especially in the last couple of years...

I think the most exciting thing is ambient/atmospheric musicians collaborating with musicians in other genres...I'm having a blast with my current project Broken Connection - it's me on electric guitar and various noise makers and the Philly based post-rock/psychedelic/ambient trio Northern Valentine (guitar, piano, violin, drums, and bass)...Its opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me (I've learned a lot, especially in terms of listening) and has made me much more excited about getting out of the studio and onto the stage/long jamming with other carbon based life forms ;) 

Here's some first results from the Broken Connection project - these "tracks" were culled from six jams that combined for 30 hours of music recorded live in Northern Valentine's studio on Pro Tools:

http://www.myspace.com/brokenconnectionband
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 08:33:07 AM by Ben Fleury-Steiner »

Altus

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2008, 05:32:05 AM »
While I do enjoy a drone now and then, there is only so much you can get out of it.  I'm more into the melodic drones as opposed to dissonance.  Anyone who's heard my music knows I certainly have a love for stringed instruments... unfortunately for me I can't play a damn thing in real life.  ;)  So synths and samplers will always be my weapon of choice.
Of course, as with any music, just because you use acoustic instruments doesn't automatically make it good.  It takes a talented artist to walk the line when using more melody & traditional instruments and keeping the music from becoming too sickly sweet.  You don't want the music to wander off into the realm of something that gets played on the "Soundscapes" channel on digital cable.
This is usually a concern of mine in regards to my music...  and I know I've crossed the line a few times.  Oh well.  :P
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jkn

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2008, 07:36:09 AM »
Nice discussion...

I find Saul Stokes amazingly musical and melodic - definitely a great song writer and sound tech, etc...  he's said on numerous occassions he doesn't have great playing chops.   But in his case - his writing completely overwhelms any lack of virtousity with an instrument.  (And frankly, I think he's being modest...  or he's got the "feel" to carry him through. ).   He's a case where his released music was always melodic, and always totally synthetic - but it has a warm glow of life to it.   One of those people that sculpts his sounds the way someone playing a piano or guitar can.

Just to call out APK a bit ... his music has also always been melodic (at least all the stuff I've heard) - and I think people will really like his stuff now that "melody is hot" again... ( grin )

I love acoustic instruments (maybe I should say non-synths?), and I love synths.    (there wasn't really much more of a point to that statement - so I'll let it hang...  :)  )

I still love big soundworlds and drones.    (ok - not much point to that one either... :) )


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Ben Fleury-Steiner

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Re: What's HOT and what's NOT
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2008, 12:26:58 PM »
Nice discussion...

I find Saul Stokes amazingly musical and melodic - definitely a great song writer and sound tech, etc... 

The things about Saul that I love is his split musical personality - his cds contain these incredibly well composed and highly refined tracks while his live perfomances are total improvisational intensity...I honestly would get bored if Saul played tracks as they appeared on his cds; his improvisations are just too damned good.