I admit that I’ve fallen out of love with ambient a little bit. Not entirely, mind you, but enough that I do not really care much about actively finding anything new in that genre. Most recently for example, I bought the entire discography of a certain online label – they gave it away for an absolute bargain price on Bandcamp, so instead of buying the one album that I actually wanted, I bought all 47 of their releases.
Maybe because I’m not really that open to the genre at the moment, I listened to less than 20% of those releases so far – and only two albums actually stood out enough (one of them the one that I actually wanted to download, obviously). I mean no disrespect but it all sounds so… interchangeable. The stuff from artist A sounds similar to what artist B does, and it completely doesn’t matter if I listen to something from 2012 or 2018. Weird!
A couple of years ago I’ve been a devout fan of one particular ambient artist – and then he began to release his own limited edition CDs (less than 100 copies), and downloads on Bandcamp. And he began to release 15, 20 albums per year. I soon stopped buying his music altogether. The “signal to noise* ratio” was simply off.
I get the feeling that, with electronic music in particular, the liberation from traditional labels that the internet has brought forth made it waaaaay too easy to get music out into the world – and that has lowered the bar. A lot.
I stumbled upon this gem, thanks to the Bandcamp blog: How an Album Meant for Scientific Research Became Therapy for Its Co-Creator. The album is called “Passage”, by Paul Voudouris and Chris Spheeris. Interestingly, it was made in 1982 – a time when I didn’t even know, let alone cared about the ambient genre. And it sounds much more like something I’d expect to hear as ambient (perhaps in the “new age” sub-folder;-) – I guess I’m getting old, and stuck… 😛
(note: the embedded player goes to the official re-release on the “Emotional Rescue” label; the Bandcamp blog links to the artist’s own download – it’s up to you which one you buy of course, I just wanted to have both options mentioned here)
*) and then the actual noise. What is it with noise? Hissing white noise, irritating crackling, brown noise, all way too loud in the mix. Why insert obnoxious, dominant noise into music? I’m getting the feeling that noise is to musicians what saturation is to photographers: the more you add, the more you get used to it, the more you think is okay to add. You’re losing the sensitivity for what’s okay and acceptable. Or maybe the thinking is that, only if it gets onto someone’s nerves (or ears – mine!) it’s art?! </rant>