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.
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.