2019 marks a turning point for you and your spiritual health – a new year, a new you. As you open up that new tab marked 2019, let ambient be your soundtrack and the teachings that are to be found within them your mantras for future success and happiness. Music is the space between the notes and ambient has more space in it than most genres. Allow us to fill that space with some mind bombs. Breathe In…
Sam Kidel – Disruptive Muzak
Mantra: Destroy Technology Before It Destroys You
Disruptive Muzak is made up of Kidel playing one-size-fits-all call centre muzak back to the call centre, the individual reactions to which are recorded and then in turn played over the plummeting sounds of Windows XP. It’s a glitch in the matrix, a piece of pure ambient subversion and a timely warning that screen time is the mother of all evils and it’s slowly killing you.
Bots are rigging elections to vote in leaders who will destroy us all. Driverless cars are mowing us down in our streets while we mindlessly feed AI with our deepest, darkest fears and habits. Remember how 2018 started with you choosing to opt out of all that spam? Well, let 2019 be the year that you kick start opting out of the whole thing. Google Analytics will never know your true inner you and you are greater than the sum of your likes and shares.
Take pleasure in doing everything with old fashioned pen and paper – it’s OK to be misinformed in the information age. In life we are dandelions in a dandelion field. The best we can do is point our all natural being towards the wind and let the seeds of our productivity float on the thermal lifts and gusts that shape our life journey. We can be the confused operator at the call centre
Now, go smash that iPhone.
Art of Noise – The Ambient Collection
Mantra: Your Material Possessions Are Weighing You Down
This 1990 compilation of artful ambience comes presented in chill out mix form, making it the perfect soundtrack to de-cluttering the house. Start with your sock draw and the rest will fall into place.
Compilations are exercises in hoarding but this is a compilation that exemplifies and subverts the form. ‘Eye of The Needle’, with its titular nod to the old Jesus adage, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’ is a particularly poignant ‘work’ made up of found sound and smooth jazz muzak. In practice, there is nothing more unburdening than the sound of someone else’s material possessions falling down the stairs underneath the soft lull of hotel lobby xylophone.
A lot of The Ambient Collection revolves around the theme of Robinson Crusoe. Anyone who has read Robinson Crusoe or watched the Tom Hanks spin off Cast Away knows already that your footprints in the sand become craters when the weight of your material worth, is pushing you into the beach. Track ‘Robinson Crusoe’ features the sound of all your troubles and possessions washing out to sea. The waves say, “make more to-do lists and less Discogs Wantlists.”
William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops
Mantra: Be OK With Your Own Decay
The Disintegration Loops are really long. Over four hours in length it is is the same loop, played over and over again gradually getting more and more distorted before it splutters into silence.
Life is slow dying. Monotony wears the tape until the tape succumbs to the decay. Don’t let the monotony wear you down. Instead take pleasure in the rhythmic stresses it creates and the flourishes that come as a result. Accept that disintegration is inevitable and inflict chaos in the breaks between each dull swing of the pendulum. You’re here longer than you think. Each swing is opportunity to better the last one. The effort is slowly killing you.
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Mantra: Stop Doing So Many Drugs
When Richard James compiled Selected Ambient Works 85 -92 he probably had no idea that it would etch itself into the collective consciousness as the go-to ambient soundtrack of choice for the after-hours crack on. Nothing encapsulates the subaquatic ear melt and post-rave, irregular heartbeat more succinctly than tracks like ‘Tha’. There is no better accompaniment to the breathy snares of ‘We Are The Music Makers’, than the penetrating crack and hiss of someone firing up the next balloon.
But look, it’s illegal and there is no such thing as fair trade cocaine. Recreational drug use is the gateway to an unproductive and spiritually unfulfilling 2019. Stop taking so many drugs and stop listening to Aphex Twin.
Brian Eno/Jon Hassell – Fourth World Volume 1: Possible Musics
Mantra: Let’s All Go To Goa
Warm, organic, otherworldly – fitting descriptions for both Hassell/Eno’s Possible Musics and go-to travel destinations like Goa this time of year.
Listening to Eno and Hassell’s meditations on an imagined ‘Fourth World’ is an exotic reinforcement of the importance of a little R&R. Worlds one though to three aren’t built for everyone. Your chakras don’t align themselves.
Put simply, the best way of hitting the ground running this year might be to put off doing anything for a little bit longer. Forget about your carbon footprint, don some biodegradable glitter and escape it all. There is a lot to be said about rubbing shoulders with some barefooted contemporaries in a bongo circle while the sea caresses your ringed toes. ‘Griot (Over “Contagious Magic”)’ is a celebration of the imagined Fourth World’s rich storytelling tradition. Tell everyone about your explorations when you come back and they will thank you for it.
Hassell didn’t invent a whole sub genre of ambient music without a holiday and you shouldn’t be expected to either. Travel broadens the mind.
Happy New Year.