Author Topic: The ambient 'scene'  (Read 10161 times)

petekelly

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The ambient 'scene'
« on: September 20, 2009, 07:01:46 AM »

I started looking on the Internet around 2003 for forums, review sites and radio stations that were
concerned with ambient music. I was surprised with how much I found back then.

It seems to me that the ambient 'scene' has changed, in that in a sense, it has become more
'underground'. There aren't the number of review sites around that there were, for one thing. The Internet radio
thing such as Somafm, Stillstream, lastfm et al, all 'broadcasting' 24/7 is an interesting
phenomenom. Myspace and lastfm (in particular) have shown to me that there is a much more diverese
audience for ambient music than I realised. The musical element of the networking sites have changed
things significantly, as has podcasting.

Regarding this here forum, it's interesting to see people come and go. People who were once very
prolific in their posting now don't post at all (that's just an observation, not a criticism).
I think this forum is still a significant resource for ambient music. For example, the
self-promotion element hasn't changed - most artists still do that (myself included). However, the
sheer volume of releases out there and all the free stuff made available seems to have diluted
things somewhat, When I first came here there was quite a 'buzz' regarding new releases. There seems
to be less debate about ambient music and more in the way of recommendations, promotion and
opinions.

Curious to hear other people's thoughts, particularly people who have been part of the 'scene' for
some time.

cheers
Pete

Gurdonark

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2009, 11:40:02 AM »
I think that the way in which ambient music is promoted and distributed has changed. The old model of a group of ambient fans who read a narrow band of common websites and followed a narrow band of ambient labels subsided. The new model of a wide range of ambient music promoted through a diverse set of channels by a huge variety of labels and individual artists arose.

The advantage of the new system turns out to be a huge influx of great material The disadvantage
is the common disadvantage of creative expression distributed through the  new internet media--curation. I think that Hynos.com serves an important "new media" purpose by illustrating a successful "new" form of curation. This is curation by social media community. Nobody in this forum looks to some ambient equivalent of the classical tastemaker Gramophone magazine to advise people on what to hear. Instead, the forum community here, artist and listener, engage in discussions about what they like and why.

I do not think that ambient music is "more underground' these days. I see acts with strong ambient influence like Stars of the Lid and Sigur Ros who get "rockstar" treatment from cadres of fans.
Certain "pure" ambient artists are as niche as ever--but no moreso than in 2003.

I believe that the communities from internet radio, such as stillstream.com, or free streaming services, such as last.fm, provide huge opportunities for listeners to hear ambient music and decide what to buy. The "sharing economy" based in Creative Commons and the netlabels have created a rich field for ambient sounds. I am one of what I believe to be many people who find myself downloading lots of free material, and  yet spending money on independent releases more than in the 2003 era.

I think, too, that the way in which ambient fans sometimes fell into tiny genre niches is changing.
The debates of 2003--"may we use beats?"; "is it too new age?", "what is dark ambient", now seem quaint, as ambient's many modes and the many electronica-based genres like chill and downtempo
appeal to a wide variety of people. I'd no more listen to one style of ambient now than I'd listen to one Kinks song, over and over.

So I think that there has been change, but in the area of a broadening of ambient music generally.
The old days of a handful of labels and artists bravely (and without huge profit) has dissolved into a new day with a plethora of labels and artists bravely (and without huge profit) distributing to a somewhat wider audience. The listener has been the big winner in this change.


petekelly

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2009, 02:47:49 AM »
Hi Robert,

Interesting comments. I'm not sure what you're getting at with the 'curation' point, though.
Perhaps you're right in that the listener is the winner with the way things are going now.

Ambient bands, now there's a thing :)

cheers
Pete

Bill Binkelman

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2009, 07:23:56 PM »
Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. Posing a question about the changing scene and lack of online participation other than self-promotion and what do you get? No responses. (snort) My god, I'd laugh if it wasn't so sadly ironic.

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petekelly

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2009, 06:11:51 AM »
Yeah Bill,

The lack of response suggests that things have changed.
Self promotion / 'what I'm listening to' / 'lifestyle' postings and the like seems to be the order
of the day, hereabouts.

What about the bigger picture - the changes to the whole online ambient 'scene', from artists and
listener perspectives ?

cheers
Pete

ffcal

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2009, 10:50:29 AM »
In the years I've been doing this, I've never felt that there was much of an above-ground ambient scene to speak of, except maybe in the mid-90s.  At most, it seems that there have been pockets of activity, and maybe scenes on more of a micro and local level (such as The Gatherings and locally here, the Foundry collective), and then, add to that, the various mailing lists and forums which have their own intermittent followings.  Although the internet may make it easier for like-minded ambient listeners to connect, I'm not sure that musicians connect in the same way, unless they are collaborating by mail or via the web.

Forrest

9dragons

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2009, 03:07:44 PM »
I remember being excited back in around 2003-2004 about the ambient music world I was discovering on the net. Seemed there were many review sites, and one could just type in the name of a new release and a review would come up. Tokafi is one site that can be counted on to give a good review of an ambient album, but it seems that most other activity in the way of reviews has disappeared or gone into hibernation. What causes this? People get bored, they move on, who knows. Maybe the ambient scene just doesn't offer enough meat to really chew on for a good review to occur. Though I think there is a lot to talk about as far as the ethos and evolution of ambient, and a lot of interesting points to bring up about individual albums, maybe we need to start from a different perspective. It does get tedious to read straightforward descriptions of ambient albums, they all begin to sound the same after a while. One problem could be that too many positive reviews, or sites that only posted positive reviews, have made people bored and mistrustful. Though there are some notable exceptions who pulled no punches.

I don't really feel there is enough energy in one place at one time to have an ambient scene, though who knows, there could be a revival of communality in the future. This is a music of introspection and deep thoughts, though, and even the word 'scene' attached to 'ambient' sounds funny. Maybe it is destined to be solitary pockets working out their different currents.

Are there just not enough heavy hitters putting stuff out consistently, or any big focal labels to channel energy? There are definitely greats out there putting out music, but the scene in general has become heavily scattered and diversified. This is a good thing, but the decentralization can be alienating for people trying to form a scene. It's the sheer volume of stuff out there, both good and bad, it is an ocean of varied material. There is no way to codify it any longer.

Also, to have a scene, we need more than just online presence, we need physical places like old world record stores and live venues in which to experience the real world.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2009, 03:12:58 PM by 9dragons »

MarkM

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2009, 07:41:45 AM »
I think there are many reasons for ambient music's current lack of buzz. The fewer number of labels and their promotion is one reason. I think another big reason is the lack of live performers and venues. Live performance exposes the genre to people who are unaware of its existence. Lack of broadcast radio's support is another key reason. As mentioned there are fewer reviewers out there.

I think I typify an ambient music buyer.  I like CDs, and with fewer and fewer walk-in CD outlets I don't buy as many as I used to. I am forced to buy on-line and wait for the CDs arrival. Thus, my impulse buying has been killed. Recently I have been forced to purchase downloads, but they seem to be a fragile and uncertain medium. 

Finally, and I will include my own compositions here, is there any innovative and ground breaking ambient music currently being made? Is there anybody out there pushing the envelope and bringing excitement and buzz to ambient music? Or is most of the ambient music of today just rehash of 1970s and 80s pioneers such as Roach, Rich, and Tangerine Dream?  Perhaps there is, and maybe it is being rejected by the ambient purists.  It seems to me, that with the proliferation of incredible and innovative new instruments available in software as well as hardware, there would be a plethora of new music.  Perhaps there is, but it is lost in the internet jungle waiting to be listened to.

Shane Morris

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2009, 01:51:59 PM »
Great topic!  :)
I agree with you Mark about the live concert "situation". I think the lack of venues is a stunting factor with ambient and experimental music. But it is important to play live, feel the music more intensely, and build a network and community for which people can share and experience something together. Jez and I were just having a conversation about playing in places that were unique and stimulating apart from the normal concert venues and bars, such as outdoor areas, caves, galleries, or house concerts.

The streaming phenomenon has been revolutionary in many ways as a credible venue for experimental and ambient music, especially for the larger or more fragile gear that cannot make it to the gigs. As well, Creative Commons has been a great vehicle to support independent artists and music that may have never been able to otherwise publish their music...of which I participate in both heheh.

Audiences big or small, shrinking or growing aside, It is wonderful to me to hear the ambient genre continue to grow, evolve, and diversify musically. So many other genres of music become quite formulaic in time. I believe eventually that audiences will increase for the genres of ambient over time...maybe even over an absurd amount of time, especially as the genre continues to create unique creative music. But I believe as the tools and technology continue to expand as they are ... so too will the music created from it.

In any case, the recession in the US...and I suspect in other countries as well, has had an overall lifestyle changing effect on many people. People have been in "survival" mode for a few years now here in the US.
Luxuries and entertainment such as music and the arts are often the first things to go during tough times like these (even though they may actually have more relevance and importance than ever). I've seen it happening in more popular genres than ambient...so in that regard...I have a positive outlook on things  :D!

  
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 01:54:04 PM by shanemorris »

jkn

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2009, 02:12:28 PM »
I don't know... things morph and change and evolve over time.

I really thought usenet was cool in the latter 90's - and I remember being excited to bump into people who starred on M*A*S*H in the mash forum - and I remember the cool people on the various music lists I read regularly.   IRC was also fun for a brief bit - but chat rooms wore out quickly for me.

I thought mp3.com was awesome - what a wild and crazy world that was when I joined and realized there were a *ton* of other musicians just like me that had been doing music forever, but never had the ability to really connect - hear each others music easily.  Have people put together lists of tunes into sort of radio stations...  I met so many people that I consider friends/acquaintances now through mp3.com in 2000 to 2002ish time frame.   APK, Rik (Mara's Torment), Jesse (Numina), Stephen (Dark Duck), the list is fairly endless...

I signed onto Hypnos forum I think the week Mike put it together... 2001???  Can't remember.  Amazing just how long this community has lasted!

The Ambient Mailing list... is pretty much utterly dead now - but it was extremely active in the 90's and early 2000's.   I've been on and off that list so many times it's silly.   

Anyway... mp3.com - was kind of a cool heyday... and then it totally died.   Online forums (like Hypnos) rose in popularity (so much nicer than Usenet!).   And I think they're still fairly popular - but now we have the big social networks edging out the smaller forums.  Facebook, Myspace, Twitter... etc...

More on this later - must get back to work.
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TestZero

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2009, 06:06:05 PM »
One thing ambient music has taught me is that everything is a wave form that cycles - no matter how it sounds or morphs - and ambient music has always tried to stretch and ride the waves. While it certainly seems there are few live venues there are in fact several new ones which just haven't hit their stride yet. Second Life has live, virtual, concerts (never been myself) and Still Stream has live concerts all the time. I know it's not the same as a hard metal chair in a church basement but it is live.

We are lucky here in the Pomona/Claremont California area to have Chuck at NoiseBug because we do get live concerts with non-virtual artists but when that well is dry the internet has a faucet going somewhere...

Cheers,
TZ
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judd stephens

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2009, 11:03:20 PM »
Given what people have said about the explosion of smaller sub-genres, declining of bigger labels, and less big outlets for hearing the music, maybe it's harder than ever for an Ambient Superstar (yet another oxymoron) to rise up.  There's such a plethora of smaller labels and independent artists that it has to be quite a breakthrough recording to get excited about one single release.  For example, Saul Stokes and Forrest Fang just recently released their respective music with a decent sized but moderate buzz; if this happened about 3 years ago there would have been a little more buzz and feedback going on about these artists' cd's, for sure- not now with a wider audience and literally more choices- I have yet to hear either Phantoms or MetaCollage but can't wait to hear both. 

Like Shane Morris said, the economy has affected a lot of our disposable income.  It's hard to see so much out there but only buy one or two per month, if that.   The other thing I can think is that some of the more recent sub-genres have become very refined and particular.  The last two major sub-genres that I can remember- Glitch and Drone, are more subdued by nature and seeing a Steve Roach-like popularity emerge from those would be pretty remarkable.  There will be no "Monsters of Glitch" tour coming to your town anytime soon  ;D

As a side note it seems like there are more international members of the forum posting regularly than ever before... and a lot of great labels are staying interesting from Russia, Italy, Great Britain and so many other places.

Some of the great ambient musicians who were popular a few years ago have slowed way down or stopped altogether.  Jeff Pearce, Jeff Greinke, Vidna Obmana, Michael Stearns.  The last great buzz-generating artist I'd say would have to be Oophoi, but alas, the Ooph-meister will find it hard, or even undesirable, to achieve that zone he was in for that run in the middle of this decade.  His music seems to be changing so whether or not his cult-like status will stay intact remains to be seen... which brings me to last but not least.  The mulleted master, just livin' the dreamtime from the Tucsonian TimeRoom. 

Like him or not, it's pretty neat to see an artist live off his music, on his own label, and still going strong over 20 years!  It's not that people are starved for music that you read all the hype about Steve Roach- I think it's because most of his peers have all but left the game, and he bridges the present and past, young and old.  If it weren't for people like Roach (and Rich, Budd, of course Eno, etc) there would never have been a scene, yet like everyone has said, the current situation makes it more difficult to find "successors".  As hard as it is to admit, don't we need a little hero worship for there to even be a 'scene' at all?  Without them, we have what we currently have- lots and lots of very good, even great music, but well distributed.

By the way one of the more interesting online scenes of late happens to be Atmoworks.  Thery're quietly becoming an intriguing mix of well established and new artists and internet radio- I look forward to see how they evolve in the coming years.

9dragons

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2009, 11:51:58 PM »
Judd, you just made me bust out laughing with that mulleted master comment...luckily I was not taking a swig of beer at the moment, or I would have doused my computer screen. You are right about the hero thing, a scene will inevitably have 'masters' who become focal points of energy and interest. Steve Roach has demonstrated this with his talent and honest consistency. And demonstrated it also by the fact that he is the main man who takes criticism when someone wants to snipe from the rooftops about the state of the current ambient scene. Roach has bridged the gap, and can more than hold his own with any of the young generation. And maybe I'll just flash the horned hand sign and say that he fucking destroys it even!

For me, the masters in America are Rich and Roach, with Alio Die, Dirk Serries (Vidna), and Oophoi forming the triumvirate of masters in Europe. I hate to say it, but Rich, though I absolutely love the majority of his works, isn't really the powerhouse of ambient these days. Not that he needs to be putting out as much as Roach, but I think he has a different outlook on ambient from Roach, and is concerned about doing something radically different each time. Whereas Roach gets onto currents and explores them deeply.

Vidna has retired to Fear Falls Burning, which I think was a brilliant move on his part, and has produced excellent work, but has left a gap in the canon of the masters, and made some ambient fans nostalgic. Alio Die is coming out with amazing work, the last couple he put out could arguably be his most masterful. Oophoi may be changing direction, or in a kind of hermetic hibernation, but I think some of the Umbra work could benefit from repackage and rerelease on other labels, in cd format, to strengthen the legacy.

The point you brought up about Stokes and Fang is very interesting. I agree. These are two leading lights of this scene, and their two most recent releases (Phantoms and Villa Galaxia) are monumental, masterful works. I do think that a couple years ago these would have felt like major events in the online world, but I just don't get that same sensation of buzz and excitement. These works are just amazing, and these artists are masters, how can we get the word out and create that same milieau of excitement around them that other music scenes generate? They certaintly deserve it...
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 11:59:37 PM by 9dragons »

Brian Bieniowski

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2009, 05:11:06 AM »
The idea of an ambient "scene" is hard for me to fathom—when I think "scene," I automatically think "fashion" and then I instantly think of rock music.    Ambient music supports more of what I'd consider a fandom of a small group of very interested and loyal listeners, and I actually think that's more healthy for the genre, rather than something that is primarily buzz or hype driven.  You have a dedicated group of music buyers who stick with their favorites and are open to new and emerging artists.  I don't always see that in "scene" driven music, where it's a lot more fickle and ephemeral.  I would guess the closest ambient got to "fashion" was back in the 90s with the whole ambient house scene, but it didn't last, and here we are nearly twenty years later after that bubble's collapse, still listening.

I joined this forum back in 2000 and I remember being totally blown away by the amount of ambient music I'd never heard of, and that there was a huge (and that was ten years ago!) well of sounds that I'd been ignorant of.  There was a scene then in the sense that there was a great amount of artists (a lesser amount of labels by far in '00) and many of them were producing quite stellar work.  I think that's still the case today, and I think it seemed like scene back then only because it was so fresh and new to me.  Nine years later, I feel as though I've heard it all. ;)

I might be in the minority on this, but I've never felt live performance to be a strong suit of ambient, which, in my life at least, plays better on my own terms.  That is to say I prefer to listen to this sort of music by myself, for myself.  I've enjoyed the ambient concerts I've been to (and I feel lucky to be able to attend the Gatherings and NYC's terrific Wordless Music series on a regular basis).  It's cool to see that there are a lot of fans of this somewhat obscure sound out there, but there's never a unifying "scene"—just a bunch of disparate audiences coming together to look at an artist they enjoy.

I think the internet has been a double edged sword for ambient (and all music in general, I'd imagine).  One the one hand, I've never seen so much quality music released, and all of it is fairly easy to obtain.  A quick Google search will yield basically any piece of music you want, and we've all developed social networking like this forum to find out about the new and obscure.  The amount of crazy subgenres and side-genres is truly staggering.  You could go down a rabbit hole and never find your way back out again, which I find very exciting.

On the other hand, it is such an embarrassment of riches, and so easy to release/hear music in a quality way (or in any way for that matter), it would seem to me that it takes away from some of the base enjoyment of playing the one CD you bought that month, repeatedly.  (I can't remember the last time I only bought one CD in a whole month.)  A listener can get so caught up in keeping up that a lot of excellent releases can fall by the wayside, and I'm sure a lot of us can tell stories about how we have all these new albums and no time to play them. 

Anyhow, I think the state of the "scene" is overwhelmingly positive, with more supportive and open listeners and labels (though there is definitely a ceiling of success that ambient will never surmount, purely because it is such a niche interest, in my opinion), but I would say that one needs a more effective filter to keep an eye on everything and not go broke or insane in the process.

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2009, 05:44:15 AM »
I agree with much/all of what Brain just said. I think ambient (real ambient) is largely a solitary and fairly personal listening medium. Its more a one to one experience (music to listener) than any form of group experience. Its usually composed by one person, and listened to by one person on the receiving end. Similarly, likes and dislikes in the genre tend to be very personal.

And no, I certainly don't think of it being more underground these days. The web has opened it up greatly. As Brian said, its offering us an embarrassment of riches. But this will not make it 'popular' in the sense of popular radio music.

It is a shame that excellent albums are often swamped by the next weeks new releases. This is a sign of the sheer volume and health of the genre, but its difficult to see how the best can rise to the top in this more prolific and consumer-driven environment.
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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2009, 04:40:55 PM »
Several times I've started writing a contribution to this topic, but I've deleted it each time.  Many of the things I've considered saying have been expressed here already by others.

Plenty of recording artists remain interested in making ambient music, and plenty of listeners remain interested in listening to it.  Many things have changed about how those artists record and release their work, and many things have changed about how listeners obtain sounds they can listen to.

When I observe "Things sure have changed during my time," I'm not sure whether I track myself back to when I started working on Hypnos in 1996, or when my own listening shifted over to almost 100% ambient/electronic in the earlier 90s.  I probably wouldn't go back before that, to listening to Klaus Schulze and Eno and Jarre in college, because I had no sense of any kind of "scene" or any knowledge of other fans, or reviewers or radio shows.  

Somewhere in the 90s I started to discern an actual "scene," or a group of listeners, reviewers, and music-makers overlapping in their listening and reading and discussion... between rec.music.ambient and rec.music.newage and ND magazine, Option magazine, i/e magazine, Wind and Wire, Deep Listenings, Outburn, New Age Voice, Dreams Word, and a variety of early webzines like the AmbiEntrance and Ujamaa's Ambient Experience, as well as many informal reviewers (many people actually took this somewhat seriously back then) on the ambient@hyperrreal.org mailing list.

The most talked-about recordings were released on labels such as Hearts of Space (and their excellent "dark ambient" imprint Fathom), Silent, Emit, Multimood, Extreme, Side Effects, Linden, Raum312, EarRational, Asphodel, Barooni, Amplexus, Mirage/Oasis, Charrm, Manifold, Tone Casualties, Beyond, R&S/Apollo.  

Pretty close to 100% of those labels and periodicals are gone now.

So, the ambient scene as it was before could be considered dead and gone, except that many of the people who were creating and listening to the music then are still doing so.  Also there are many new listeners, zillions of new music-makers, and even a few new record labels and music outlets that didn't exist in the mid-90s.  I recognize many of the individuals who post on this forum from the old rec.music.ambient and rec.music.newage threads, and the banter on the ambient@hyperreal mailing list.  Just this morning, Stephen Fruitman posted a mini-review to the hyperreal list and I though to to myself, he's probably been doing that off-and-on for fifteen years!

The above should not be mistaken as an assertion that everything is thriving.  Thriving music scenes don't see three music reviewers stop writing reviews for every one new music reviewer to come along.  If the ambient scene were really thriving, you'd see more people starting up periodicals, webzines, mail order companies, download stores, and record labels.

We're stuck somewhere in between dead and thriving, with many signs of weakness, and some impossible to ignore areas of necrotic flesh.

I think blogging and podcasting about ambient music might be the sort of thing that gives listeners, artists and various enthusiasts a sort of common ground, a gathering point, a town square in which to banter and share, to warn others about inferior new releases, and give encouragement where interesting new sounds are made.  I'd like to think this Hypnos Forum has served in some way as such a meeting place, but I can't help thinking there's more I could be doing to make it appealing and attractive, so more people are compelled to visit more often.  Maybe some of you can share ideas along those lines.

Wherever people care enough to wonder "What's happening to our little scene here?" I'd argue you still have something.  It can be a little unnerving when months pass without a worthwhile post to the ambient@hyperreal mailing list, or to realize there are only a few webzines going that are consistently updated and worth reading.  But people still keep listening to the music, and others keep making it, and I believe there's still enthusiasm there.  It's certainly changed from the times when the number of releases was small enough that an enthusiast could hope to purchase virtually all the noteworthy recordings as they were released, and everyone could discuss, say, the latest O Yuki Conjugate album, or the new Amorphous Androgynous.  Now unless it's the newest Steve Roach, it seems you can't find two people who want to discuss it, and most people's "now listening" lists seem either increasingly obscure, or backward-reaching.

I'm a little discouraged in some ways but I also feel there remains enormous opportunity for participants in this scene to make something more out of it.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 04:53:04 PM by mgriffin »
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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2009, 05:51:54 PM »
Excellent points made by everyone here.  The only thing I would like to add is perhaps the state of music in general has changed.  I am friends with artists in more "popular" genres like rock and I can tell you sales and exposure are not what they used to be several years ago.  Basically, the independent artist has a much harder time making it than they did before.  It is like the "middle class" of music is vanishing.  I could be wrong but it seems like for even popular genres you are either a major artist or you are nothing.  Maybe ambient is just following this trend.

Again, I could be wrong but that's one thought I had.

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2009, 06:25:42 PM »
Hell, I don't know.  I've been into "ambient" music I suppose for lots and lots of years, and just joined this forum a couple of months ago.  I also was around for the MP3.com days, and was just listening to a "Mystical Sun" track a few days ago (anyone listen to him?).

My buddies David Helpling and Jon Jenkins have done pretty well with their "Treasure" release, and I'm about to release an album that while not fitting the ambient genre completely, certainly has those elements in many places.  I hope to learn of other recordings that I'll dig while hanging around here.

As long as it's good, it'll be around.   ;)
Cass Anawaty, Mastering Engineer
www.sunbreakmusic.com

judd stephens

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2009, 09:48:49 AM »
Judd, you just made me bust out laughing with that mulleted master comment...luckily I was not taking a swig of beer at the moment, or I would have doused my computer screen.


These works are just amazing, and these artists are masters, how can we get the word out and create that same milieau of excitement around them that other music scenes generate? They certaintly deserve it...

Well cheers to you 9Dragons!  :D  Drinking while reading this forum can be dangerous...


I tried for a while to find a picture to post here, but can't find it online, that being a picture of Patrick O'hearn on the inside of the Ancient Dreams cover.  He has a fro-mullet, that's cropped close to the sides of the head and pointy sideburns.... it's like part 80's Bono, a little flock of seagulls, and a part Don King.  It's awesome.  If some of our current artists grew thick mustaches and long flowing hair, perhaps changing their name to some enchanting, mysterious persona, perhaps that will resuscitate the ambient scene. 

Seriously though with more download purchases, Cdr's, and less time spent on "branding" the music, I mean physically, not online (because a lot of musicians work hard at online promotion via myspace and other creative avenues), it sadly runs the risk of being a more disposable experience at times... I remember the album Strata with Roach and Rich standing next to a giant wall of rock during sunset, both of them looking rather inquisitive, and of course the long descriptions of the "concept" behind the music.  And Desert Solitaire where you actually had all 3 artists' pictures taken together, in the desert.  How often do you see that on the inside of your ambient cd?   

To your second point of how to get the word out, I'm not sure as it's a little out of my league, but why not have concerts where ambient represents only part of the music featured?  Mainstream music has tried this "Lollapalooza" format many times, with the opening acts often being far different in style from the following.  I know certain artists have benefitted enormously from the Yoga scene in this country (as well as the blatant pairing of new age artists selling music for the spas, the meditators, and other niches); if ambient could better attach itself somehow to other scenes, whether indirectly or very commercially directly, that might help.

Also, going back strongest times of the scene, there were a lot of great musicians collaborating with each other.  I don't presume artists to make a conscious decision to promote their scene, but whatever the motivation for such collaborative efforts, it often made their art more diverse, deeper, richer, and the listener anticipated that music greatly.  I told Jesse (Numina) when I met him earlier this year that it would be awesome if he and singer Azam Ali did a cd together, sort of a rapturous goth-vocal ambient cd.  As of yet I haven't devoted time to contacting Ms. Ali myself (hmm... ambient promoter.. "The P. Diddy of Ambient...interesting)


Shane Morris

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Re: The ambient 'scene'
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2009, 11:04:35 AM »
From another perspective, ambient music is in its 3rd / 4th decade (depending on where you start) which is amazing in itself!
Almost every genre undergoes peaks and crashes throughout the course of the genre's lifetime...some peak and die in less than 10 years total. For ambient to stay around and relevant for so long is an accomplishment in itself. It is also reasonable that eventually ambient also will OR has reached a valley in terms of interest. Thus like many other genres, participants that are left are those diehard to the ideas of the genre which will or will not keep the genre alive.
This is where IMO a lot of great new cutting edge ideas, sounds, concepts, and uniqueness emerges before the next big surge in listeners occur. I feel that ambient and its arsenal of genres are producing and evolving wonderful new stuff right now and is a very exciting time musically.

Also, in response to Judd's statement about live ambient playing with other styles...I think this is a great idea. Everyone likes variety...and mixing genres always brings in new listeners that might not normally try out some music they will experience at one of these events... be it ambient, or drum n bass, or modular weirdness.

Just want to say that Electro-Music 2009 Festival is a festival along those lines. There is an ambient undertone to the festival usually, but many styles of electronic music are represented. Check it out... in one month in New Jersey this year.

http://event.electro-music.com/
« Last Edit: September 29, 2009, 11:06:55 AM by Shane Morris »