ambient online podcast #31 (Ascendant: Special Edition)

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KVRist
301 posts since 9 Jul, 2009 from Bay Area, California

Post Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:59 am

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http://soundcloud.com/s1gnsofl1fe/ambie ... al-edition

Podcast number 31

Today on the podcast we are having an Ascendant special to celebrate the release of our new album "Source Transmission" coming out on April 29th, 2014.

Throughout the entire show we'll be hearing tracks from the new album before they are released on bandcamp this Tuesday.

Also on the podcast, we will have a very entertaining and insightful interview with my partner in Ascendant, Don Tyler, aka Phase47.

Check out our new album "Source Transmission"

http://ambientascendant.bandcamp.com

The ambient online podcast is a bi-weekly podcast featuring the ambient tracks, drones, and soundscapes of the talented members of ambient online.

Track Listing:

Source Transmission - Ascendant
Fortran Drift - Ascendant
Interview - Phase47 & S1gns Of L1fe
Smoke Ring - Ascendant
Solar Sea - Ascendant

Interested in learning more about ambient online? We are the fastest growing ambient music community on the internet! Join us and find out why.

http://www.ambientonline.org

REMINDER: The Ambient Music Conference 2014 is going to take place this year in Helsinki Finland. June 27th and 28th are the dates and performing live will be Ascendant, Nemesis, Simon Lomax, Massergy and just announced, Ivan Black. Register for your tickets and find out more information by going to:

http://www.ambientmusicconference.com
http://www.soundcloud.com/ambient-music-conference
http://www.facebook.com/ambientmusicconference
http://www.twitter.com/ambientmusiccon

Host: S1gns Of L1fe (http://ambientascendant.bandcamp.com)

Cheers and enjoy,

-S1gns

Note: Downloads will be enabled after "Source Transmission" is released on April 29th. Pick up your copy today! http://ambientascendant.bandcamp.com
Synphaera Records
Space | Time | Matter

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KVRAF
10101 posts since 13 Mar, 2009 from UK

Post Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:12 pm

Great job with the podcast us usual, and that was a very interesting interview with Phase47. The podcast gave me a chance to listen to 2 or 3 new Ascendant tunes which I hadn't heard previously. I'm really looking forward to the album release.

Good work :)

KVRAF
1807 posts since 10 Feb, 2007

Post Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:50 pm

Great listen!!

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KVRAF
5600 posts since 18 Jul, 2008 from New York

Post Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:39 pm

Great music and interview. The ambient Batman and Robin are a force to be reckoned with!

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KVRAF
6131 posts since 29 Mar, 2003 from Location: Location

Post Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:21 pm

What`s happened to ambient music? When did it turn into mainstream consumer, new age with beats schlock? Shame how eventually everything goes commercial.
It`s no longer conceived as electronic music since it`s mostly in the box software, perceptually. Hardware kept the genre with purists...now that anyone can pump it out of a box for a few dollars, the genre has seemed to have disappeared and diluted down to mass appeal schlock. Similar nontechnical dilution happened yrs ago with what was a purist 'western' genre. Now it`s all become commercial country shit, accept for a few purist artists.
My home town ambient show 'Starsend' has mainly gone mainstream and has been that way for over 10, 15 years now. Where have the real innovators/experimentalists gone?
Has ANYONE heard of the great Michael Stearns? Sure Steve Roach is a master of ambient and Tribal for sure...but he`s the only real ambient artist name I hear dropped these days. TD was never ambient, they fell into the category of electronic...especially when seqrs were used. I think new categories could be useful within the catch-all of the electronic music/ambient genre.

I liked hearing Don Tyler speak on times gone bye. It`s a shame though how the (electronic) ambient genre has mainly gone, and despite what Don remembers.
He is confused now about what is mass appeal commercial new age schlock with smoke,mirrors and flashing stage lights and what is ambient music.

annode.
....................Don`t blame me for 'The Roots', I just live here. :x
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KVRian
910 posts since 21 Aug, 2011

Post Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:31 am

@annode - so you buying a copy of Source Tranmission, or what?

All kidding aside, I do like Michael Stearns & his mighty Serge Modular. I used to listen to one of his CDs on a loop whilst cutting film in college. I lost track of him after Encounter, but I think the reason you don't really hear his name dropped is that he hasn't had a release, to my knowledge, in over a decade. That doesn't make him less of a luminary in the electronic music world though.

I think the reason you hear Steve Roach over and over again is because he continues to release albums - usually 2-3 a year.

At any rate, the electronic ambient genre isn't mainly gone, as you've written. Far from it - it's just evolved, and will continue to evolve, and hopefully continue to grow like crazy, as it has been over the past couple decades. If you don't like where things are going (and how they're growing) or what Chuck van Zyl (another luminary in the business) plays on his radio show, you've still got the stuff you like, right? There's nothing wrong with being, following your phraseology, an "ambient purist" - that's great, but you can't expect the world to stay in a kind of stasis, just because you don’t like where it’s headed.

Things change. Things grow. And often for the better. And I think it's absolutely FANTASTIC that the electronic ambient market has blown-up to include a more diverse range of music and artists. The bigger the blow-up - the better for everybody, especially the artists and fans.

You can go to any given hardcore techno forum and mention Richie Hawtin or Minus Records, and people will have a similar negative "purist" reaction. I'm not sure if people are jealous, or scared of change or being challenged or what with growth and success. I don't get it, personally. But, for the hundreds of people that are threatened or upset that Richie Hawtin has taken another niche electronic music genre and blown it wide open, there are hundreds of thousands of people who love it. This brings more people to the genre, and creates a healthy economy and ecosystem for the music and the artists that create it. Not to mention the trickle-down effect whereby you might get into Plastikman, et al, and then discover some of the brilliant smaller techno labels like Prologue or Cocoon, etc.

I think you're going to see the same kind of scaling & market broadening with "ambient" - like it or not. It’s going to be a natural reaction to the current popular electronic music as the pendulum swings away from Skrillex, it’s going to swing back from the spastic toward a more minimal, deep sound - what we’re broadly terming now as “ambient” and whatever other sub genres people are calling them: downtempo, psychill, etc.

And you're right, anybody can make a halfway decent sounding track these days, which is why it's important to come with more than just the music. Sure, it would be nice to operate on the meritocracy of "let the music speak for itself" but the reality is, there is so much music out there - the signal-to-noise ration is nearly impossible to overcome with just the music on its own no matter how brilliant it might be. Hence the importance of a complete package of sound & vision - music videos, artwork, live performance - anything you can do to raise your profile above the s:n ratio - and yes, that might have to include a pretty technically proficient stage show, though I'll leave the smoke and mirrors to the hair bands.

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KVRAF
6131 posts since 29 Mar, 2003 from Location: Location

Post Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:45 am

Thanks for responding to my perceptual dilemma. I know you`re quite invested into the idea of what is 'ambient' so I chose you to bat the ball around with me a bit on this.

My above rant was two-fold I guess...my angst on what I perceive as a 'de-evolution' from what 'was' considered ambient to what now is also considered ambient...over the last few decades.
Ambient doesn`t have kick drums @ 80bpm, in my world. :) I don`t know what I would call that,(electronica?) but not ambient. Ambient rhythms can be primal but very minimal. Primitive sounds can be within ambient, for reasons beyond the scope of this discussion. They aren`t snare, hat, kick components, or similar. I have trouble with that. It becomes non-ambient. Rhythms like 4/4 w similar modern sound components make the music move more towards 'new age' or something else...and that aint ambient. New age, for example, is deliberate in nature. It has a perceivable melody. Ambient is cloud-like, amorphous, without edges, indistinct, neither here nor there. When it starts to be more and more definable, at some point it is no longer ambient. It becomes something else. It becomes something.

I want a name for those somethings to be outside of the term ambient. I know I won`t get this, but that`s the center of my angst.
a more minimal, deep sound - what we’re broadly terming now as “ambient” and whatever other sub genres people are calling them: downtempo, psychill, etc.
My argument is that they are not within an ambient sub-catagory, they are outside. Ambient is an element which can not be made more elemental. A cloud of gas can not be sub-divided.

I don`t care for 'new age' at all. So when music gets close to how I define new age, I say it becomes more schlocky. That`s just my opinion. Music I see as outside of ambient doesn`t make it schlocky.
....................Don`t blame me for 'The Roots', I just live here. :x
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KVRian
910 posts since 21 Aug, 2011

Post Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:55 pm

Well, the categorization, classification & genre-fication of music is well beyond my control or purview. People feel the need to categorize. There is a (seemingly natural) compulsion to compartmentalize the concepts of musical classification (among other things) probably since the very beginning.

In addition, for practical reasons, there had to be some sort of conflation in the music business - it's been going on for decades - you are probably old enough to have had to go to the NEW AGE section of Tower Records (or wherever) to buy your Stearns or Roach or Eno/Budd or Jon Hassell or Tangerine Dream or whatever - none of which, really, were "new age" really at all. That never bothered me - I mean, they had to put the good stuff somewhere. Alot of that was practical, as in, there is only so much room in the record store, but probably also driven by labels, marketing, etc., which is almost always a bad idea in my opinion. (I say let the artists & fans decide what is or isn't genre-x or whatever.)

I do know where you're coming from, in the 90s it sort of irked me that bands like The Orb or Future Sound of London were being branded as “ambient” among other things like electronica or IDM or whatever. But that whole scene which started in the early 90s (as realized on the ground-breaking compilation Artificial Intelligence Vol 1.) was born out of the idea of creating a kind of sedentary music for the bedroom or living room. So, you know, not unlike the same kind of "sit down and chill out whilst listening to a record" intent of more pure ambient releases. Those tracks had beats and more uptempo arrangements and broadened the "ambient" market on the whole, like it or not. FSOL and the Orb, et al, sold a ton of records, relatively speaking, compared to more pure ambient artists. So it’s not hard to see the how or why the ambient market grew or evolved the way it did. And so now we have artists like Solar Fields, Carbon Based Lifeforms, etc., that are flying the ambient flag at full mast - drum machines and all.

I guess, that’s maybe some historical context on how we’ve come to have skittering drum beats in what is widely considered to be ambient music. I’m sure somebody knows the history or details better than I do - I was too slammed in the 90s working to care much about new music at the time. But it’s all good. Look, I like all kinds of electronic music, i don’t take the labels personally - because really, how can you? I listen to something, if I like it, I buy it. If I don’t, I move on. Whether or not Ascendant or Aes Dana or Solar Fields (or whoever) fits into your idea of this or that “genre" really isn’t the point. The point is that “ambient” is both a genre and a market, if that makes sense, that has evolved over time - for better or worse, to include the “cloud of gas” as well as the more progressive variants. Do we really need or want to start dividing that up like house music has been divided? House, Deep House, Progressive House, etc? I dunno - like I said, beyond my control or purview.

Somebody ought to do a book or a documentary on the insanity of music classification and the endless genres and sub-genres we create and why we feel compelled to slap a label on everything. If you really want to see something vexing and inscrutable - go check the Beatport genre charts. I’ll take the tagging system at Bandcamp any day of the week.

Fantastic conversation - good stuff.

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KVRian
910 posts since 21 Aug, 2011

Post Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:06 pm

Addendum: I guess the house music thing was maybe not the best example, as there's probably a practical reason behind those kinds of sub-genres as well w/ the DJs and such needing to find a more specific thing for any given club/dance floor/venue.

We won't have to worry about that until ambient clubs start appearing ;)

KVRAF
2358 posts since 24 Nov, 2012

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:56 am

annode wrote:What`s happened to ambient music? When did it turn into mainstream consumer, new age with beats schlock? Shame how eventually everything goes commercial.
It`s no longer conceived as electronic music since it`s mostly in the box software, perceptually. Hardware kept the genre with purists...now that anyone can pump it out of a box for a few dollars, the genre has seemed to have disappeared and diluted down to mass appeal schlock. Similar nontechnical dilution happened yrs ago with what was a purist 'western' genre. Now it`s all become commercial country shit, accept for a few purist artists.
My home town ambient show 'Starsend' has mainly gone mainstream and has been that way for over 10, 15 years now. Where have the real innovators/experimentalists gone?
Has ANYONE heard of the great Michael Stearns? Sure Steve Roach is a master of ambient and Tribal for sure...but he`s the only real ambient artist name I hear dropped these days. TD was never ambient, they fell into the category of electronic...especially when seqrs were used. I think new categories could be useful within the catch-all of the electronic music/ambient genre.

I liked hearing Don Tyler speak on times gone bye. It`s a shame though how the (electronic) ambient genre has mainly gone, and despite what Don remembers.
He is confused now about what is mass appeal commercial new age schlock with smoke,mirrors and flashing stage lights and what is ambient music.

annode.
I pretty much draw the line at beats for ambient, but language changes and 'ambient' means a whole lot more than it used to, which makes it less precise. A nice overview of ambient music is found in David Toop's Ocean of Sound http://www.amazon.com/Ocean-Sound-David ... 826&sr=1-1

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KVRAF
6131 posts since 29 Mar, 2003 from Location: Location

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:26 am

@woggle

Don`t think i`ll buy the book. Don`t need his take on it since i`ve been listening to the electronic/minimalists from their beginnings thanks to once non-commercial college station wxpn (university of Pennsylvania), and a friend who had a subscription, importing 'Melody Maker' from the UK where we not only followed the British scene but other Euro-countries such as Germany and France.
I followed the record label 'Nonesuch' which would release early experimental electronic music such as computer assisted music with early 'mainframe' computers by professors within a college/university. (IRCAM) Paris.

Musical genres used to be categorized properly and logically.:) Like following the evolution of rock back to American slavery field calling. Directly related music styles evolved but remained pure to what defined them. Blues is not jazz, and ragtime is not jazz. Blues is not rock but there is blues rock and jazz rock or jazz fusion. There came a sort of 'schlock jazz' and was called smooth jazz. It`s not jazz, it`s jazz with something added or different enough to conceed to become a new category.There is no ambient rock or ambient xxxxx. Ambient like blues or jazz should have remained elemental. One can branch from it or add to it to create something else with some other name, but making music that is more then what defines ambient can not be ambient anymore...it`s ambient + something, or another term all together.
This hasn`t really happened over the last 40 years with music derived/built upon ambient, ambient electronic. There is a clear reason I can see for this (I lightly touched on earlier)...but that`s a big long discussion. :)

Phase47 makes good points as well concerning why things went/are this or that way.
....................Don`t blame me for 'The Roots', I just live here. :x
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KVRian
910 posts since 21 Aug, 2011

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:56 pm

An article from the Guardian on the ambient scene:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/o ... -of-canada

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KVRAF
6131 posts since 29 Mar, 2003 from Location: Location

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:40 pm

Thanks for the article Don. Nice to know there is a growing scene emerging.
Reminiscent with the 'Beat' scene,the Beat scene attracted a young intellectual to the idea of socializing with liked minded ppl concerned with the essence of their lives. Speaking to a like minded group in a form of poetry or verse about ones existentialist essence,ideals and the abrasive society while accompanied by minimalistic, tribal drum (bongos).

Like ambient music, which was, in essence, an audible form of minimalist art, much like cubism or the existentialist dadaism which led up to Beat. Ambient ,like art, can lead to controversy in defining what is art or ambient. As long as ambient is held as a(minimalist) art form, there will be ppl who care whether or not it can lose it`s true essence in a white-wash of other 'outsider' music infiltrating and diluting it.

Like minded ppl who find a group to share ideals on the essence of what brings them together are strongest when the group is kept relatively small, tightly knit, and difficult to infiltrate. If just anyone is allowed to enter the group should it become so popular, it will eventually disintegrate. This can happen when ppl see profit can be had within an increasingly popular group. Commercialism will break down the group essence as well.
Minimalist art in the form of ambient music becoming popular is not necessarily a good thing. It means it will become more and more dilute the more popular it becomes.
I for one don`t see it becoming as popular as all that...but in certain states and countries new age performance became very popular. What was once a meditation/environmental category became a large commercialized bag of crap. :) I want the essence of ambient to remain as a minimalist art form...for the most part, it has.

Eno, apart from Roxy Music and with Fripp on some recordings, produced minimalist art using sound as the medium. Using the idea of presenting this palette of sound within a large acoustic space and then referring to it with the name of the space in the title seems to have led to the idea that this minimalist art form can be referred to as ambient.
Thus ambient was termed. Terms arise so interested ppl can relate to it with one another. "This is something worth looking into". Ppl started to define it and reproduce it. It`s essence remained pure for some years. Now in the present day, ppl have access to a minimum of 128 sound patches with names that can`t possibly lend to a description of the sound since the sounds have become more and more complex and diversified.(within the cat. of pads & keys) The numbers of ppl creating synthetic music, matched by the diversity of sound synthesis, lends itself to major difficulty in classifying it all. So, music, similar to 'minimalist', and then to add melody and progressive structured, 'new age', seemed to have become the catch all genres for what falls within the ambient category.

Thanks for considering my thoughts. :)
Barry/annode.
....................Don`t blame me for 'The Roots', I just live here. :x
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KVRian
910 posts since 21 Aug, 2011

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:36 pm

If we're going to get into the beats, inclusion/exclusion, pollution, dilution & contagion, action and reaction, minimalist art, selling-out vs. obscurity, dadaism, and I'll throw in the Italian Futurists, then I am in this conversation for the long haul. It will only be a matter of time before I bring up Rothko, Richie Hawtin (again) and Bauhaus.

It would be great to get a few more diverse opinions in here first though. It may be that we migrate the topic over to ambientonline.org where this kind of discourse may get more attention.

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KVRian
910 posts since 21 Aug, 2011

Post Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:53 am

Okay. This thread has been fully-migrated to AO. Jump in, the water is ambient:

http://www.ambientonline.org/forum/show ... #post15168

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