Back in the 1990s, it seems like i picked up a great various artists ambient compilation every week: Astralwerks' Excursions In Ambience series, the From Here To Eternity discs, Wax Trax's Artificial Intelligence, Virgin's A Brief History of Ambient, and so many more. I discovered lots of interesting music on those CDs, and i still play them, to this day. That Excursions In Ambience series has held up very well, in my opinion.
And back then, late on Friday nights, Album 88 even played that kind of music on the radio. I woudl listen, and know the artists, and for one brief moment, i felt like i was in tune with the world. That there were other humans out there, and we were really connecting via these sounds... It was a sort of Golden Era of Ambient Electronica.
Sadly, those days are gone. I miss them, i really do.
With such expectations stuck in my head, i purchased Ambient Not Not Ambient, a collection featuring 17 artists who make contemporary music in the genre. (The double negative in the title you see….) Anyway, this is not just an electronica collection. Since the 1990s, the nature of "ambient" has changed. It is no longer a purely computer based genre. Heck, a lot of so-called post-rock is really "ambient" in one sense.
My expectations were high, perhaps artificially and unrealistically so. And yet, this collection meets them. Ambient Not Not Ambient fits right into my collection of similar CDs from the 1990s, and that is saying something.
Not to say this CD features remixes of trance artists (mellow remixes of dance hits were a mainstay of the 1990s ambient artist), but rather that the spirit and general tone of the disc fits right in with those other CDs. This is a compilation of strange industrial sounding noise tunes blending into mellow drones, into distorted folk rock, and back again. It ebbs and flows, and meanders along quite nicely.
Lots of standout tracks here. See and the Field Feels by White Rainbow is spacey dub like something The Orb (or maybe Ultramarine ) used to do. Less of Everything by Bird Show is layers of distorted guitar. Quiet Eyes by Grouper is a folk tune played by someone down a well -- it is echoed to hell and back. Even As We Here by AM/PM sounds a lot like what Loscil was doing -- slow beats and odds bleeps in a dub-like framework.
Very interesting stuff. This CD has given me a list of artists to look for while managing to make an engaging CD that is fun to listen to at the same time. Well done.