Friday, May 29, 2009

List_1: An ambient album list

Thought I'd compile a few of my favourite ambient albums, focusing on textural, non-beat orientated, electronically conceived work. It's all fairly abstracted stuff, where instruments, field recordings and synthesized elements are melded together through extensive processing using anything from guitar pedals to Max/MSP and reconstituted into tasty new aural treats.

Tim Hecker - Harmony in Ultraviolet

This is a big time favourite. Hecker manages to create an expansive sense of meloncholy with dense layers of crumbling sonic flotsam and jetsam. There's a great dynamism at work in this album, ebbing and flowing as submerged arpeggios or faint hints of strings or guitars peak out amidst the pleasantly distorted drones in an organic and cohesive work that never fails to be affecting.







Fennesz - Venice

There's a couple of Fennesz albums that I would stick in here, including his most recent 'Black Sea', as he is pretty consistently amazing, but this one was the first of his albums that I got big into and for me it really epitomizes his sound. Big washes of granular noise and haunting melodies that, despite having a distinctly digital aesthetic, always sound lush and warm. Got a chance to see him live recently at Andrew's Lane and would highly recommend checking him out.






Kreng -
L'Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu

Got this in the post two weeks ago on very attractive green vinyl. The vinyl is apparently limited to only 400 copies, and as soon as I see that word 'limited' my vision dims and I go into a bit of weird hazy frenzy and when I snap out of it I've bought a bunch of stuff. Fortunately, in this case it proved to be a happy circumstance as this is a great piece of work, with a haunting reappropriation of fuzzy old samples that take in Bernard Hermann-esque strings, battered gamelan recordings, disjointed jazz and shimmering piano melodies, all cloaked in layers of delicious murk.






Lawrence English - Kiri No Oto

Apparently the title is Japanese for sound of fog. That pretty much sums up the album, lovely soft textures that wrap around your ears like an ear blanket. The guy is pretty much as gifted at coming up with appropriate names for music as he is at making it, check out 'Organs Lost At Sea' to see what I'm on about.









Oren Ambarchi - Grapes From The Estate

This one is alot less dense in texture then any of the above records. Ambarchi uses heavily filtered and processed guitar to create clear, pure tones that he layers into subtle melodic movements that are then augmented with minimal touches of organ, piano and slight percussion.










William Basinski - The Disintegration Loops

Any half decent list of ambient works has gotta have a bit of Basinski in there and what better to include then his seminal opus 'The Disintegration Loops'. He created this work by recording the sound of his old archive tapes as he played them on loop and they gradually decayed, eroding and obscuring the recorded sounds to create a hypnotically profound and beautiful piece of work.









Obviously, this list only claims to be a list of personal favourites and is in no way definitive. Would be curious to hear what other people would have at the top of their list..

Also, if you want some homegrown ambient check out Ed Devane's excellent !Kaboogie ambient set, and my own effort Huddel Drone.

2 comments:

prendio2 said...

Great post… only have the Basinski so looking forward to feasting my ears on the rest

Chris Flynn said...

Cheers Dude, you're defo off to a good start with the Tim Hecker one, I flippin love that record.

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