This is a review of a few "Ambient House" tunes Gamall played for Terry Riley.
MOBY : "Mercy"
Terry Riley: This sounds a little bit like to me some combination of new age music and dance music. Everything done very simply that same pulsing E all the way through. For my taste, that wouldn't carry me very far into myself, although I find it pleasant to listen to, but musically not challenging enough. It's like a painting that's done very beautifully but doesn't have too much depth.
JUAN ATKINS : "The Passage"
T.R : I hear a kind of point of view on the first two that maybe is shared. There's not a lot of highs, they're bass orientated which would bear out your idea that this is for people to chill out to. What I find pecular in these first two tracks is the organ music in the background it's very nostalgic. I guess nostalgia is a big part of this. But it might be recent nostalgia. I mean a sample is a nostlgia isn't it, it's something you know and you like. I think nostalgia is an important element of music.
This gets interesting as it melts down - the last one melted down too. That part to me is interesting, but I think it would be interesting if it wasn't used just for an ending, but used to take people down to there and then begin again.
SPEEDY J : "Fill No 3"
T.R : now this is getting a little edge to it. I like the fact that theres different disparate elements going on at the same time that are related. Its interesting what's happening to music, getting up toward the milenium, we are getting ready to move as a whole culture, we're becoming different kinds of human beings than those of the past and the music reflects that.
I.A.O ( aka BLACK DOG ) : "The Clan"
T.R : the drummer sounds live.... it doesn't sound drum machiney -it's lighter... the time has a looser feeling than a drum machine to my ear not so uptight....this is a good band, I'd like to hear more.
BANCO DE GAIA : "Souffle"
T.R : This is psychedelic. It reminds me in a way of some of the things the Beatles did without their pop music in it, strip away all of their tunes and put the background in. This is very good. 'Am learning something here. Drums are very grounding the're the thing that ground us to the earth, take away the drums and you start floating up into space, its a simple idea but I always find its true.
These are the reviews done for the 1992 issue, so they are a little out of date. None the less they are still excelent albums.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ( U.K. import - Warp CD6 - cd / dbl lp )
I've had this compilation since it came out a few months ago and it just keeps getting better and better. Superbly packaged in Cyperpunky style on Sheffield's Warp label ( home of L.F.O., Sweet Excorcist, the Step, Nightmares on Wax. Kid Unkown etc ) it's decribed on the sleeve as " electronic music for the mind created by trans-global electronic innovators who prove music is the one true international language. Real people whose unity lies in a common sound + spirit and whose 'listening music' cannot be described as either soulless or machine driven. The atmosphere and emotion both come from the musicians, their machines are merely the means to a human end." . This is not just a 'listening album', it's a dictionary to the 'new' sound and a guide book to freshly laid roads.
Everything on this compilation is outstanding. My favorite track is the mellow groove of "the Clan" by pagan computer hackers I.A.O aka Black Dog.They've been working away unrecognized mainly due the ignorance of the media and the hard to find status of their12"s. This track has brought them to the attention of the media and will hopefully make their music more available. Their use of sustained sound and subtely mixed in breakbeats is innovative and unique. If Brian Eno was truly cutting edge these would be the guys he'd hire to do his remix.
Underground label B12 provide the duo Musicology aka Red Cell who supply 2 tracks - the sublime, ambient groove "Telefone 529" and the harder, upbeat, direct, piano and diva sample laden "Preminition".
Autechre aka M.Y.S.L.B productions, also a duo, also supply 2 tracks, again one groove laden hard percussion heavy track "Crystel" and one more ambient, squelchy bubbling groove. They decribe their music as being for people "who get goosebumps listening to their favourite tracks". The beginning of their 2nd track "the Egg" gets very close to an aural equivalent of a 'goosebump'.
Pioneering label +8 provide three tracks in all, Speedy J's upbeat, well structured european hit "De-Orbit" and his drumless chill track "Fill 3". "Fill 3" is an excellent track to listen to after a hard night's clubbing, rtyhmic and soothing the lack of a pounding rythm makes it a pleasant way to settle in home. +8 label head Richie Hawtin aka UP! provides a hard edge quirky, rising tone traack which is about as close to hardcore techno that this record gets. It proves you can be loud and subtle at the same time. Look out for releases on +8's new ambient music and video label L.O.C : left off center.
Taking his name from a groundbreaking, shocking novel the Dice man, provides the opening cut "polygon window" he states in the liner notes that his music is for "nice people with 3 ears". There's a rumor being circulated that the Dice Man is also Aphex Twin, make up your own mind - true or false ?. Look out for Dice man 12"s on the Vivatonal label.
Finally the last track on the compilation is "loving you live" by the Orb's Dr in residence, it's a transcentral recording collaboration with his old pal and ex-orb, current Klf member J. Cauty. It makes a lot of use of natural sounds in particular water. Somewhere between the klf's 'chill out' lp and the Orb's 1st lp.
Essential. Find. Buy. Listen. Absorb.
AMBIENT DUB volume 1: the Big Chill ( U.K. import Beyond records cd)
This compilation serves as an excellent companion to the A.I. compilation (reviewed above) giving a strong overview of Birmingham's eveolving ambient scene. Described by the label as "trancey, dancy, ambient (but not that ambient) grooves to lift you.( not to be played before 3 a.m.)". This recording also features liner notes by Lewis Carroll and gives respects to Coltrane, Ornette, Terry Riley, Bootsy Collins and others. Obviously the guys at Beyond have been listening and this recording deserves to go on your shelf next to those artists.
With 10 tracks clocking in at a total 79 1/2 minutes, this cd's worth every $ even at current import prices. The tracks vary from the excellent mellow ambient-reggae- house of "Sexy Selector" by Original Rockers (most of the current ragga crews should check this out) to the innnovative sound and mind altering twisted state of the Higher Intelligens Agency's "Ketamine Entity" - let me tell you there's plenty of 'Ketamine' in there. (In Europe total ambient/ chill out only clubs exist and the H.I.A run one of birmingham's finest by all accounts).
Those 2 tracks are most definetly high points on a compilation that also features floating grooves and acidic beats by 21st Century Aura spine chilling, arabic voice influenced transcendance on the track "Desert wind" and arabic flute influenced enlightenment on "Souffle" both excelent trance tribal tracks by Banco de Gaia ; wired fruit in form of "strawberry" - "ok, let's do it" and extended floatation, "you make me feel so good" in the form of the Kabbalah induced 'Tree of the Sun, Tree of the Moon' both by Mimoid ; bells and recitation by Angelica in Delirium ( the name speaks for itself), this is excellent drama for any chillroom ; finally an interplanetary upbeat whistling groove investigation is supplied by Planet Hoskins.
The message is SEEK and you shall FIND.
THE ORB : ASSASSIN CD set ( U.K. import - Big life/Wau! Mr modo )
Judging by the art work on the cover of the Orb's latest U.K. release, which features a moorish warrior hands above his head ready to kill, with a glowing Orb in the place of a curved sword, the ORB have gone on a Jihad against predicitability, not only on this release but in general : recording Iggy Pop and the stooges "No fun" for John Peel, remixing 70's new age pioneer Mike Oldfield, covering Hawkwind, doing obscure white label remixes and on and on.
They've also obviously been catching up on their pot culture history, the title being an obvious reference to the old man of the mountain Hassan i Sabbah and his pot controlled cult the hashishins. Read your W.S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin kids.
There's 4 mixes of the title cut on this set. On the "oasis of rhythms" mix it's very rythmic and ambient with a repeating phasing guitar line ( courtesy Mr.Hillage), floating synth warbles, echo treated break beats and samples of the brilliant moroccan pipes of the master musicians of Joujouka, this is definetly an a.m. mix. It's a less "commercial" sound than their earlier work and less ambient than the "Blue Room". New mixes of that track by Frank De Wulf and the Orb will be released, in the U.S. only, in October.
The radio 7 edit is a short, direct mix obviously for those radio jocks who won't play the full 15 minute version.
The live version recorded at Glastonbury this past July starts with the sound of rain (is it real or virtual ?) and the sound of a man screaming. It features more spoken word samples and more echo effects and is generally more acidic. It definetly makes it seem like it was a great show. Can't wait till their U.S. tour. (next Jan or Feb.)
The final "the Choclate hills of bohol" mix was done in Japan and is more spacey and ambient - in a similar vain to the "Blue Room".
The 1st cd also features a remix of the "U.F.Orb" track by Bandulu, this is more of a reworking / total overhaul than a remix making the original into a dense great trancey tribal groove. On a distant shore than the original ambient dub stylee.
The drag behind this set is the cds are sold seperatly with a overboard commercial approach. ( Bullshit like a sticker with the 2nd Cd make it seem like the Orb are trying to grap the youth market. )
Ignore the Bullshit. Listen to the music.
Also recomended :
Juan Atkins : The Passage ( 12" - Apollo - Belgium )
3MB with Eddie "Flashin" Fowlkes : Detroit / Berlin ( dbl 12" - Tresor - Germany )
Aphex Twin : Selected Ambient Works 1985- 1992 ( double 12" - R+S - Belgium )
Armando : 151 - remixes (12" - DJax - Holland )
Coming next issue : an overview of the many independent Detroit based labels including - Transmat, Planet E, U.R., Dow, Acacia, etc.
written by Gamall, a Transmedia artist and DJ.
Thanks to Jonah, Space Time Posse, Formula, PTV, Kim and Silent Records.