Author Topic: Overrated Ambient  (Read 14965 times)

9dragons

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 586
  • The Viatorium Press - Dedicated to the Weird
    • View Profile
    • The Viatorium Press - Dedicated to the Weird
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #40 on: August 24, 2012, 08:33:34 PM »
That's funny Ain Sophistry, the second I read the title of this thread, I too thought "Hipster Ambient". The last time I was actually paying attention in a meaningful way, that was a worrying trend. I bought some albums from these artists, and frankly, after being a fan of the best of the best in real ambient, this stuff seems pretty weak. I think it is the more savvy presentation of the music, and its lacing with metal/darkness that made it more cool for the kids to like it.

I think more hardcore critique by reviewers would be welcome, it definitely elevates things when the reviewers are not afraid to really take on a release. But pardon my ignorance, how many people are actually reviewing real ambient music anymore? I've been out of it, so haven't been paying attention, so pardon my unawareness. But if I wanted to buy a release these days (and after a long hiatus, tonight in fact, I am shopping around like the old days) I don't think I would look to any review, judging the samples and memory of past releases as the final arbiter.

For a while I did feel like this genre was dead. I was an obsessive collector too, but after a while just felt let down by a seeming lack of passion and intensity in the music. And I'm not talking about intensity as in heaviness, but intensity in terms of what ambient music offers. It just really started to feel like the music was becoming rote, and too well behaved and predictable. Not enough emotional input.

The other night I stumbled upon a copy of On Land and Music for Airports that escaped my album purge of some time back. I put both of them on back to back and was utterly mesmerized, almost coming to tears. I am not a big fan of Eno by any stretch, having been burned by many of his crap albums, but these two just had that rawness and emotion. They are intensely pleasurable in the way true ambient can be, and not tainted by the need to be annoyingly avant guard.

Now I've got out Mystic Chords, all four discs, one of the only Roach albums I saved from the last album purge (I needed money, but that wasn't the only reason, also wanted to clean my musical pallette) and am reveling in how great these are. I agree with some posters about Mag Void, I don't necessarily think it was overrated, but I personally just never caught on to it.

Anyway, it's good to be back, this music is quite refreshing after a bit of a break.

Altus

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 316
    • View Profile
    • Altus - aural journeys for the mind's eye
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #41 on: August 25, 2012, 05:07:49 AM »
They are intensely pleasurable in the way true ambient can be, and not tainted by the need to be annoyingly avant guard.

This a thousand times.

I get there's an audience for the really weird stuff, but sometimes it just sounds like they're trying so hard to be "cool" by making it as un-listenable as possible.  ::)
Mike Carss -- Altus : aural journeys for the mind's eye
www.altusmusic.ca

petekelly

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 617
    • View Profile
    • LuminaSounds
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2012, 02:22:26 AM »
Mike,
In my view the intentionally 'uber-cool' becomes somewhat dated, rather quickly.

drone on

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1691
    • View Profile
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #43 on: August 27, 2012, 12:10:11 PM »
For plenty of unlistenable "uber cool," check out 12k label.  They've released some good stuff, of course, but most of it to me seems more concerned with how it was recorded ("field recordings by a crackling fire with my synth hooked up to a generator so I could be inspired by my natural surroundings!" etc.) rather than how it sounds. 

9dragons

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 586
  • The Viatorium Press - Dedicated to the Weird
    • View Profile
    • The Viatorium Press - Dedicated to the Weird
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #44 on: August 27, 2012, 08:14:34 PM »
Does Tim Hecker count as hipster ambient? Got into his music for a while early on, but got out of it. Last time I had a listen at his stuff recently, it looks fatally hipstered out to me. I feel like I could be entirely off base on this one, but am too lazy to dig deeper.


chris23

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 451
    • View Profile
    • bandcamp profile
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #45 on: August 28, 2012, 04:45:09 PM »
For plenty of unlistenable "uber cool," check out 12k label.  They've released some good stuff, of course, but most of it to me seems more concerned with how it was recorded ("field recordings by a crackling fire with my synth hooked up to a generator so I could be inspired by my natural surroundings!" etc.) rather than how it sounds.

This comment made me laugh and, unfortunately, spit coffee over my keyboard.

I like about half of what comes out of the 12k label, which is a decent hitrate imo. I think Taylor Deupree is an extraordinarily creative person. And I think one of the consequences is that is that a lot of what he selects, produces, and facilitates are misses. But I'll happily trade some misses for a few hits. Some of my favorites off the label include Deupree's own Northern, Shuttle 358's Chessa, the first two Pjusk releases, Fourcolor's Air Curtains, and Bretschneider & Steinbruchel's Status.




Julio Di Benedetto

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 659
  • Life is a privilege, not a right!
    • View Profile
    • Digtalvoices
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #46 on: September 08, 2012, 04:54:18 AM »
Does Tim Hecker count as hipster ambient? Got into his music for a while early on, but got out of it. Last time I had a listen at his stuff recently, it looks fatally hipstered out to me. I feel like I could be entirely off base on this one, but am too lazy to dig deeper.

Cant say I know what hipster ambient is but I can say that Tim Hecker's Imaginary Country gets played a lot here.......grunge, distortion & glitch washed over beautiful melodic imagery!

For plenty of unlistenable "uber cool," check out 12k label.  They've released some good stuff, of course, but most of it to me seems more concerned with how it was recorded ("field recordings by a crackling fire with my synth hooked up to a generator so I could be inspired by my natural surroundings!" etc.) rather than how it sounds. 

I think 12k is a "Sound Art" label that occasional puts out music that may fit into a perspective of ambient, at least the ambient music that gets discussed here. Avant Garde, experimental type music is often concerned about the production environment and is as important as some here are about the synths/sound source used to produce their music. :)   Recording guitar in a WW2 ammunition depot could be considered really ambient....the field recording is part of the music.  This is the spirit of 12k for me. 



DeepR

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 188
    • View Profile
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #47 on: September 08, 2012, 02:09:31 PM »
Boards of Canada
Possibly the most overrated group ever, making 'ambientish' music with some beats. They have absolutely nothing to say. Just my opinion.

APK

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2223
    • View Profile
    • DataObscura
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #48 on: September 08, 2012, 02:40:04 PM »
Boards of Canada
Possibly the most overrated group ever, making 'ambientish' music with some beats. They have absolutely nothing to say. Just my opinion.

I agree.
www.dataobscura.com
www.dataobscura.com/apk
The Circular Ruins / Lammergeyer / Nunc Stans

Julio Di Benedetto

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 659
  • Life is a privilege, not a right!
    • View Profile
    • Digtalvoices
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #49 on: September 08, 2012, 03:12:12 PM »
Boards of Canada
Possibly the most overrated group ever, making 'ambientish' music with some beats. They have absolutely nothing to say. Just my opinion.

Care to differ there with you......Boards of Canada " A Beautiful Place Out In the Country" EP has everything to say IMHO.  I also don't thinks its ambient.   

petekelly

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 617
    • View Profile
    • LuminaSounds
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #50 on: September 09, 2012, 08:21:54 AM »
I quite like what I've heard by them, but to me it's 'electronica' and the drums are the least interesting part of their sound.
It would have been interesting if they 'd been brave enough to forego the drum element altogether.


doombient

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 141
    • View Profile
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #51 on: September 09, 2012, 11:12:44 AM »
When talking about *ambient* music, there are two entirely different *ambient* camps that would define *ambient* by completely different parameters:

a) There is the school of thought that defines *ambient* in the style of Brian Enos original works (and those who have followed him). This is the school of *ambient* I would subscribe to as well.

b) There is the type of sedated, Seconal-heavy slo-mo "Techno" that came from the "chill-out" areas of 1990s Techno movement, i. e. 70 instead of 140 bpm when using beats. This would be The Orb, FSOL, Aphex Twin, BOC and countless others that jumped the bandwagon of the Techno hipster movement. As you may have guessed already, this is the type of *ambient* Im not really interested in because Ive always found it blatantly boring and uninspired -- and it sounds dated and pass to me. Music that could only have existed in the time bubble of the 1990s.

I thought Id throw that in.

Stephen (being-clever-mode off)
"Honour thy error as a hidden intention." (Brian Eno)

petekelly

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 617
    • View Profile
    • LuminaSounds
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #52 on: September 10, 2012, 02:17:25 AM »
Well observed Stephen and its great to see some discussion here where people express their opinions, positively and negatively.

judd stephens

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 505
    • View Profile
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #53 on: October 01, 2012, 11:42:22 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 might be the reason why some albums (Music for Airports, Dreamtime Return, maybe Patrick O'hearn's Ancient Dreams) get more recognition because they were relatively more unique and groundbreaking for the artist, and the later, perhaps better albums were continuations or new directions that started from the one that people so often cite.  Also with Aphex Twin's SAW vol. 2, it was groundbreaking in the sense that it helped propel ambient to many more listeners (as previously noted).  I still like it, think it's a great album, the fact that Richard James claims to have lucidly dreamed each track then woke up and recorded it adds to the accolades.

 There's something genuinely alien but intelligent about most of the tracks- somewhat on the cooler to cold side, not super inviting, but there's a weirdness that keeps your ears fixed... Those are some of the reasons why I think that album while leading the way for the explosion of ambient music that came out in the 90's, stood the test of time. 




Bill Binkelman

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 152
    • View Profile
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #54 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. 

(snip)

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 different...so 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.
May the odds be ever in your favor.

LNerell

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 677
    • View Profile
    • Personal website
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #55 on: October 03, 2012, 09:56:18 AM »
I think there might be a very slight bitter taste to that album for Robert. It was his first HOS album and I know the label forced some changes to the album, not sure if any were musical but I know the album title and artwork was changed from what he originally wanted. On the other hand as you say Bill it is a lot of peoples favorite disc of his, and I think to  this day his best selling disc.
Take care.

- Loren Nerell

ffcal

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 865
    • View Profile
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #56 on: October 03, 2012, 11:05:20 AM »
I'm not sure that Robert's reaction was a diss of his earlier work.  I think it might reflect the discomfort of hearing that a older work could remain a favorite over what came after.  One of the things that keeps me creating is hearing mistakes that I want to fix the next go around.  I recently had some of my older analog material digitalized and it's hard not think about corrections I would make now.

Forrest
« Last Edit: October 03, 2012, 11:09:57 AM by ffcal »

mgriffin

  • Hypnos Founder
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6971
  • Life is a memory, and then it is nothing.
    • View Profile
    • www.hypnos.com
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #57 on: October 03, 2012, 01:24:04 PM »
Loren and Forrest are right. Robert probably hears a lot of "oh, I just loved your first few albums" and wishes people would appreciate what he's tried to do more recently.

It's a bit like people showing up for a reading/signing by Stephen King and telling him "I wish you would write more stuff like The Shining and The Stand." The creative person probably gets tired of hearing some variation on, "you used to be really good -- you should do more cool stuff like you used to, a long time ago." Even when the person doesn't mean it that way, as in Judd's case, I think artists are sensitized to it.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

judd stephens

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 505
    • View Profile
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #58 on: October 03, 2012, 04:03:25 PM »
Point well taken by you guys, I can see why Robert would think that.  The intent was different as Mike has intuited; it was a highly influential album for me at the time and the minimal beauty of it is still unforgettable.   And possibly I followed his comment with something true to the effect of "oh yeah of course I'm still a big fan", as it would be hard to leave him hanging after realizing he was sensitized to it.  And yeah I didn't want to be that boob who was just pining for his old stuff, surely not the intent. 

Another analogy would be perhaps Ridley Scott and how he must realize that Alien and Blade Runner are cult favorites and define his career, even after future awards and consistently good movies.  I think some artists come full circle after a while though, and after first distancing themselves from their early self and after achieving enough continuing success or having the fulfilling "career", come back around and eventually embrace their early genius as something deserving of the praise.  Or at least they have fun with it, as the Beastie Boys did later on with their License to Ill album.  (with full awareness how it appears putting the word 'genius' and the album License to Ill so closely in the same paragraph)


judd stephens

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 505
    • View Profile
Re: Overrated Ambient
« Reply #59 on: October 03, 2012, 04:39:20 PM »
I think there might be a very slight bitter taste to that album for Robert. It was his first HOS album and I know the label forced some changes to the album, not sure if any were musical but I know the album title and artwork was changed from what he originally wanted. On the other hand as you say Bill it is a lot of peoples favorite disc of his, and I think to  this day his best selling disc.

Loren, if you remember, what was the original title going to be?  I knew there was something very non-Robert Richian about that album cover  ;D