woob – repurpose (plus a guide to ambient)

I woke up before the sun, and flew in a lawn dart from ORD to IND on a little over five hours of mostly-restful sleep. As I walked through the airport, I heard the muted voices of gate announcements echo off the walls, and it reminded me of the Pink Floyd song On The Run. The similarities took on a surreal, dreamlike quality when I ended up in a tunnel, on a moving walkway, under rainbows of neon tubes, surrounded by fellow travellers in various states of running to their gates.

A few hours after I landed in Indianapolis, I checked into my hotel, fed myself, and came back to my hotel room to do some maintenance work on my blog. While working, I listened to the entirety of Dark Side of the Moon, followed by Echoes from Meddle.

That’s when my arm began to itch. This has been going on for months, and nobody knows why, but I get the worst itching in the world between my elbow and wrist on the top of my left arm. It feels like it’s coming from my nerves, doesn’t respond to scratching or topical creams at all, and sometimes itches so badly it feels like I’m being pricked with tens of thousands of tiny needles. It sucks, and the only thing that helps at all is benedryl. So here I am, a little loopy on not enough sleep and two benedryl, listening to Pink Floyd like some kind of throwaway joke character in an HST pop-up book for children, when Echoes finishes up and this album called Repurpose by woob starts to play.

And this is what I set out to write in the first place, which I suppose could have just been a link on Twitter: woob is one of the essential ambient acts, and the (relatively) new album Repurpose lives up to expectations.

Here, take a listen:


If you’re intrigued, and want to know more, you may be interested in the following, which I wrote in 2008, referencing something I wrote in 2005:

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 (or Lunar 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.

This is not the first time I’ve talked about this album, but it will be the first time I’ve linked to woob’s newest album, Have Landed, which is brilliantly described as “The soundtrack for every classic sci-fi movie that should have been made.”

Have another embedded player:

It should come as no surprise that I encourage you to go buy these albums and give woob your money so he/she/it/robot/angel/devil/sentient fungus/ makes more music for us. I hope that, if you’ve come this far, you’ll go a little farther and dig beneath that one tree by the wall to find what’s there.

24 thoughts on “woob – repurpose (plus a guide to ambient)”

    1. I was wondering if it might be some form of shingles. I’ve had shingles without ever getting the rash, and it feels pretty much as described – a painful itching that scratching doesn’t touch.

      But going on for months, idk if it can do that.

  1. Thanks for reposting that older entry with all the great suggestions. I’m doubly thankful that you mentioned Magnatune, which is a terrific site with great artists; their subscription service was my first foray into serious online music streaming some years back, and it was worth every cent. They may still have Ray Carl Daye and Saros over there, both of whom are good, in addition to Falling You. Off to enjoy a little Cinematic Orchestra!

  2. Not very often im lost for words but oooooo ahhhhhh was all that went through brain as I listened to Woob if ever an album deserves a film made around its this. Im going to put this album on the shelf right next next Mr Waynes War of the Worlds and just behind Blade Runner amazing stuff that takes me back and makes me happy and want to do sci-fi stuff again well done Woob.

  3. Do you wear a watch or other accoutrements on your left arm? I had a terrible itch for weeks and then took alcohol pads to my watches (to killum the bacterias) and the itch is gone. Hope you get it resolved!

  4. I know the “rainbow tube-tunnel” of whence you speak. Hopefully it was playing music as you went, it really ads to the surreal nature of the experience.

  5. Regarding your ‘itch': I vote for Shingles. You had chicken pox as a kid, right? Feels like a burning/itching under the skin. Can appear anywhere, when I had it, there was no rash. Happens to 40+ people.

    Antibiotics, I think. Visit to the doctor/urgent care to get treatment. Mine was a mild case, lasted about a week.

    But, IANAD. (I am not a doctor).


  6. Re: Itching -> try to keep a log of when it happens including meals for the previous 24 hours, locations, exposure to anything unusual, etc. I know it sounds hard to remember what you ate and all that prior but often enough if you walk through your day you can figure out most of it. See what looks common. A particular food (even if you never had allergies to a specific food or allergen, you can develop one over time). I’ll sometimes get itches that itch to the point where I’ll essentially burn the skin (there are spots that become clear then clot over). But, I’m also allergic to animals (which is, logically, why I live in a house with several cats and dogs :) ) so often it’s just my body responding to that. I knew someone who had no issues but when she moved from San Diego up to LA she started to develop (it took a few months to become noticeable) an almost systemic response…she’d tried herbal and diet therapy (basically stripped the diet down to simple foods and working your way back until something happens) but nothing worked. She’s back in SD now and feeling fine. Likely the pollutants in the air and just a sensitive immune system. Also consider, if you’ve gone to a doctor and gotten nothing out of it, an OD or osteopathic doctor. There should be a few in LA. All about whole health not just looking for the best commission on a pharmaceutical to give you…

    Re Ambient: I never knew you were into ambient (well, until one post a few months back). Nice. Treading into places I’ve long inhabited. Soma FM is great as is Steve Roach and his catalog of artists on his label. I was introduced to ambient (along with space/new age/whatever you want to call it because everyone else has called it something different over the years) back in college so many years ago. If you haven’t heard of them before I’d suggest: Hammock (very ethereal guitar with ambient…very atmospheric and haunting), Tycho and Ishq.

    And for those who are new to ambient: you generally want to turn it up so it envelops you (obviously not so much that you’ll ruin your hearing). It’s actually a great way to meditate if you don’t really know how to be a guru. A set of headphones, a nice and comfortable bed or couch, and 20 minutes of your eyes closed and no interruptions. Just concentrate on the music and let your mind wander. :)

  7. I always enjoy good ambient music. Have you ever listened to Tangerine Dream? Some of their really early stuff is “out there” but after the first three albums I find their music quite enjoyable.

  8. Looks like my other comment was modded into oblivion, so let’s try again. That itch sounds like brachioradial pruritus. I’ve had it a few times. The first time was pretty wtf, so I googled itchy forearms and there it was. Drinking water, cooling down, and relaxing my neck muscles helped. I’m guessing massage would help. Good luck. + for the Floyd and thanks for the Woob.

  9. Yay, new ambient stuff to check out. This type of music got me through my Uni studies by helping me focus. It’s amazing how much of a difference it made to me. My artists of choice were Redpoint (Andy Lowe and Ian Boffin) whose beautiful tunes can be sampled on last.fm for free, Covert and Boards of Canada. Honourable mentions to the old Spheric Lounge website and Tangerine Dream. Plus the stirring game soundtracks of Andreas Waldetoft. Ahhh, I love this stuff.

  10. Wow, that’s some pretty cool music. Thanks for sharing that. I probably would not have found this otherwise. I think I dig it. I got a real Blade Runner vibe at times in the first cut. On a somewhat related note, do you have any music you prefer to listen to while brewing? I’ve found that I’m still a little too new to it and end up hyper-focused on the details. Maybe a little music would help me RDWHAHB. :)

  11. So. There I was. Listening to repurpose at Wil’s suggestion. I’m reading through a blog and come to another player. (inside my head). I start the second player. The music sounds pretty good. Similar undertone as the last one… Then I realize the old one is still playing. Pretty awesome mix. Start the second player about 1 minute into repurpose, you’ll enjoy it.

  12. Re: the itching, also could be nerve impingement in shoulder or a problem in the neck. I was having a multitude of small discomforts, and major occipital headaches. X-ray of neck revealed the curve was going the wrong way. Too much ‘looking down’ posture; hair stylists, pianists, etc. are known to get ‘military neck’. I went too long without getting diagnosed, too so chiro and physical therapy could only do so much. Something to think about at least getting ruled out. Will now read music portion of your post. Thanks for the great reading with morning coffee.

  13. Wil, I’m listening to Repurpose right now. Thank you. This may be exactly what the doctor ordered to keep me focused at work.

    Other things that go in my ear and keep me focused at work:
    Unabridged audio versions of books I know extremely well (LotR, Harry Potter series, Three Musketeers and Count of Monte Cristo – books I’ve read many times)
    Ken Burns’s Baseball on Netflix – only the earlier episodes that don’t have much video. When they can actually show me the home run or fantastic catch they’re talking about, I want to look at it, which unfocuses me. Note that I do not actually like baseball.
    This American Life
    My brother’s podcast

  14. If you are a fan of ambient music, then you might like Jim Guthrie. You may have already heard his work, as he did the soundtrack for Indie Game: The Movie, as well as the critically-acclaimed Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP adventure game for iOS, Android, Mac, and PC. His stuff has got a different vibe than woob’s repurpose that you embedded, but it’s still pretty amazing.

    I’m playing the embeds above at my work today to see what I think. So far, I quite like it. Stranger Air makes me feel like I’m lost in the woods being hunted by Slenderman or like I stumbled into a secret government research facility filled with escaped alien life.

    Most importantly, it reminds me of all the great point-and-click adventure titles of the Myst era that I loved so much.

  15. Well, your alter ego must be Dr. Who, because you have just taken me back in time. I am just a few (i stress few ) years older than you, but back when records were beginning to be “digitally” recorded, my father (who worked for Motorola at the time) would buy many of these ambient albums. Later he would buy them as cassettes, but i have fond memories of him playing the records on the stereo system and you could hear it wafting throughout the out (small house). I did feel as if it was all science-fictiony. SO, thank you, Dr. Who-ton, for that trip back in time.

  16. Welcome (back) to Indiana. If you have time check out the Star Wars exhibit at the Indiana State Museum. The museum is having extended hours during Gen Con. I also recommend going to an Indians game at Victory Field.

    Julie (who apparently should start working for the tourism board.)

  17. I love the music, some of it reminds me of the music from the old Quest For Glory games. I loved and still love playing those games. Playing the music from Erana’s Peace right now at work.

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