From The Vault: the nights are darker and longer than they were a week ago

My soundtrack to yesterday was a collection of essential 1990s ambient music from Woob, FAX Label, and Global Communication, and Deep Space Network.

I mentioned this on Twitter, and was delighted to discover that there is a new (to me) Woob album, which should be embedded here:

And this is as good a time as any to cut and paste part of an old post I wrote about ambient music in 2008:

I’m always happy to share this type of music with people, and if I have an opportunity to turn people on to music that really opened my mind (without the assistance from any chemical or mind-altering substances, I always feel compelled to add) I always seize it.

 

I’ll point those of you who are interested to a portion of a post I made in 2005 (my god, how is it that it simultaneously feels so long ago and so recent to me?) about ambient music. The “it” I refer to is an ambient song I made in GarageBand called Lakeside Shadow:

 

If you like it, you’ll probably like some of the artists who influenced me over the years: Woob (especially 1194, and especially the track strange air) Dedicated (especially Global Communication, also called 76 14), and Solitaire (especially Ritual Ground). Also, Instinct Records (still alive) andSilent Records (sadly, tragically, defunct since 1996) released an amazing number of genre-defining ambient discs in the 90s. And now, just to prove how hardcore I am, I’m going to throw out Pete Namlook, and the FAX Label, but their stuff is far more experimental than the rest of my list, and isn’t what I’d use to introduce a new listener to Ambient music.

 

Finally, if you can find it, Silent Records put out an incredible record called Earth to Infinity (I think in 1994) which was pulled shortly after it was released, due to some sampling issues. I think it’s one of the greatest ambient recordings of all time, and don’t ask me for it because I’m not going to jail for you, Chachi.

 

I think I could have said “incredible” a few more times. Allow me to emphatically pulverize this dead horse deep into the ground: if you only get two ambient records in your whole life, they should be 1194 from Woob and Earth to Infinity (holy shit there are two available from Amazon). If you can only get three, add 76:14, and thank me before you touch the monolith and journey beyond the infinite.

 

Okay, as I said in 2005, most of my ambient CDs are from Silent, Instinct, and Caroline, and I have a metric assload of FAX recordings that I don’t listen to very much any more. If I were to expand on the artists and albums I mentioned three years ago into a list of essentials, I would add Pelican Daughters‘ breathtaking record BlissConsciousness III (orLunar Phase) by Heavenly Music Corporation, and the 2295 compilation from em:t.

 

If you’re intrigued, and want to know what some of this stuff sounds like without waiting, please go directly to Magnatune, and fire up their ambient mix. They’ve got artists over there, like Robert Rich and Falling You, who make truly incredible music. (I really think I need to say incredible and really more. Really.) Soma FM has magnificent downtempo and ambient streams, as well. Groove Salad and Dronezone rarely disappoint.

 

The thing to understand about ambient, though, if you’ve never heard it before, is that it’s slow and deliberate. It takes its time. It doesn’t work in the car, and it doesn’t work if your brain is cranked up to eleven. It’s best enjoyed when you can relax, and let it fill the room around you as you slowly sink into it and out of yourself, like you’ve stepped into a giant gelatinous cube.

 

Hrm. Maybe that’s not the best way to describe it. Go ahead and fill in your own: “______________.”

Yes, that’s it. That’s it exactly.

So there you go. As the weather changes, the leaves begin to fall, maybe something here will help you through the nights that are darker and longer than they were a week ago.

17 thoughts on “From The Vault: the nights are darker and longer than they were a week ago”

  1. Sounds like we have virtually the exact same record collection. In fact, I loved FAX so much that my pal Warren and I started 2350.org back in the late ’90s as a sort of tribute/reviews/discography website for FAX before discogs.com really got going. (The site suffered a combination of hard drive crash and lack of free time to do anything about it a few years back, and now just sits there these days)

    I’ve been trying to recapture that late-90s feel with varying success… there’s some great ambient stuff on the Serein(http://www.serein.co.uk/) and Sending Orbs(http://www.sendingorbs.com/) labels, especially the stunning release “Pine” by Olan Mill on Serein and anything by Secede or Kettel on Sending Orbs.

  2. ORB: UFOrb
    [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.F.Orb]

    That’s my go-to album when I want to turn off my brain and (non-pharmacologically) check out.

    However, when I’m working on a project that involves a lot of work and needs auditory motivation, it’s, ‘Telecommunication Breakdown’ by Emergency Broadcast Network (EBN)
    [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunication_Breakdown]

    While it’s not truly ‘ambient’ in and of itself, it’s certainly not foot-tapping pop music either; and the repetitive, rhythmic qualities definitely have an hypnotic effect, very akin to straight-up-ambient.

    I also have an ambient track I slapped together in Garage Band. Its not Super Effective, but I do like to listen to it myself from time to time and I still like what I did. I’d be happy to let the electrons drift wherever they may be desired…

  3. Eerily enough, I have that very same global communications Cd and also a heavenly music corporation CD… but then again, you and I seem to have radically similar tastes in music in some ways. I know you have mentioned liking Cocteau Twins – have you checked out any of Robin Guthrie’s solo stuff? It’s all ambient and ethereal and makes excellent sleeping music. The stuff with Harold Budd is really top notch as well!

  4. I used to listen to a PBS show and they called it Space Music. If you like this music, try listening to the Vangelis soundtrack for Blade Runner. It’s what got me listening to this stuff 30 years ago.

  5. Wil, if you’re into Pete Namlook and Global Communication, I recommend the “Apollo Ambient Collection” from Apollo Records, Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol I and II, and Namlook’s Air II (Travelling Without Moving). If you can find a copy, also check out KLF “Space”, a project between Jimmy Cauty of The KLF and Alex Patterson of The Orb. On a side note, it’s really cool to find out you like this kind of music too!

  6. I don’t want to take the talk off topic, but my inner science nerd is screaming and I must say the following. If you don’t want to read something nerdy, go on to the next post. This statement: “the nights are darker and longer than they were a week ago” This is only true in the northern hemisphere, and we all know Mr. Wheaton is world famous, so this only applies to some of his many fans throughout the globe (an possible on other planets 25 or less lightyears away).

  7. I have been listening to the “ambient” channel all day because of this post and even with the vast quantities I pump into my system each morning, I feel relaxed and happy. You are a genius, and we owe you SO MUCH. I mean, don’t be a dick day by itself was pretty great, but that plus music based happiness…genius.

  8. I went to Amazon to check out woob at first, but then found woob.bandcamp.com which is much better because you can listen to the tracks in their entirety (which I am doing now) and get them in FLAC instead of mp3.

    I have found many of my most favorite recent releases on http://www.ektoplazm.com. They have a number of different electronic styles represented in their collection, including ambient and related/similar styles like downtempo, deep trance, psy dub. (I have never really paid much attention to exactly where one style begins and another ends, but I usually try out anything in those categories.) I found both “Three Spires” by Perfect Blind and “Mirage” by Radioactive Sandwich to both be simply astounding, and you cannot beat the price (free!). I would say if you like woob, these are both definitely worth a listen.

    Normally I tend towards more trance/goa stuff, especially when I am programming. It really helps to block outside distractions, get my brain focused and where it needs to be to churn out code. Suntrip Records has a number of great releases and I’m working my way through their catalog. “Corolle” by Khetzal is my favorite so far. Suntrip’s web site has 2 minute previews, but you can also find all of the songs on YouTube.

  9. Last night I purchased music from Woob and Loscil as a direct result of this post. It must be awesome for you to know that, along with being a multi-media entertainment juggernaut, you have the ability to INFLUENCE COMMERCE. Also, Streethawk rules.

  10. Global Communication’s 14 31 saved my life. Seriously. I’m fairly sure it was your original post which made me hunt down that and Woob, so thanks :)

  11. Ambient for me has always started with The Future Sound of London. “ISDN” and “Lifeforms” are two of my most listened-to records of the last 20 years (“Accelerator” and “Dead Cities” are more dancy).

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