One of the great things about ambient music is that it covers so many different moods, instrumentation choices, colors, atmospheres, and so on. This week we’re going to survey ambient music that looks back at instrumental traditions even as it uses modern technology to bring those traditions forward.
Composed by scalloped fretboard guitar innovator Matthew Montfort, Yearning for the Wind is a poignant piece based on Indian raga. Set in a nine beat rhythmic cycle, it provides a sublime setting for this duet with Indian tabla virtuoso Vishal Nagar, who is considered one of the most gifted tabla players of his generation.
Recorded in December 2013, this evocative piece was produced for the Archive of Future Ancient Recordings, Ancient Future’s ambitious ongoing recording project. To finance A.F.A.R., Ancient-Future.Com Records provides financial supporters access to select files from Ancient Future’s archives of alternate takes, live concerts, radio performances and new studio recordings as they are created. On February 11, 2014, the exact 35th anniversary of the first Ancient Future concert, Yearning for the Wind became the 10th track added to the archive and was made available to A.F.A.R. supporters in mp3, CD quality, and 96-kHz/24-bit hi-res audio and HD video.
Roy Mattson, a new artist in the Stillstream pantheon, is based in Stony Creek, New York. He says of his music:
With music I strive to recognize, reflect, and induce the great mysteries of life that I find so awe inspiring and inspirational. My relationship with music is dynamic. I am moved to create music; and music moves my being.
“spring meditation” – Fabio Keiner – 2014
Fabio Keiner is based in Vienna, Austria, and produces ambient in all forms, particularly windharp sampling and cello improvisations.
Their mission is to capture the sound of the early pioneers of electronic space music, and make their own version of it.
Ishq is an Arabic word used in Arabic as well as many other languages, and means ‘love’. It’s also the project name of Cornwall-based ambient artists Matt Hillier and vocalist Jacqueline Kersley. They fuse new age signatures with classic ambience and the technology of dance music, making some truly distinctive and special ambient works.
“Moss” – Jack Hertz – Green Mist – 2014
Jack Hertz has been playing, composing and recording experimental music for more than thirty years. Despite being a multi-instrumentalist, Jack is particularly interested in digital synthesizers, especially FM synthesis. He finds all aspects of creating sound to be fascinating, from early percussion instruments to the present day hardware and software innovations.Generally, Jack tries to create a sonic middle ground between the real and the artificial, utilizing synthesizers and digital effects almost exclusively. He likes to design his own instruments and effects with unique characteristics that create spaces and atmospheres for the listener to explore.His first experiments with sound were in the early 1980s with analog reel tape machines, microphones, percussion and a Casio VL-Tone. His first true synthesizer was the Alpha Syntauri digital synthesizer that was was hosted inside an Apple IIe computer. The learning curve was steep, but it provided a plethora of functions most keyboards on the market would not have for nearly a decade. Soon after that came Yamaha’s DX7, introducing the FM synthesis that Jack has been working with ever since.Jack focuses on innovation, as he feels electronic music “was meant to do”. Today, he is working to build on all aspects of electronic music with the intention of creating new and amalgamated sounds. Taking cues from classic electronic and popular music, his approach is basic, yet robust: to perform on vintage hardware that is processed and controlled with contemporary technology. Jack feels that, as an artist, this allows him the tactile interaction he needs as a performer, but with the kind of the control he wants as a sound designer.
“usr/sbin” is a live performance and recording project of Dennis Moser, these days based in Alaska. His work consists of guitars, guitar-controlled synths, Ebow, and keyboard controller.
“Forgiveness And Healing” – Paul Avgerinos – Bhakti – 2014
This latest release from New Age and Ambient artist Paul Avgerinos is a celebration of love and devotion. East meets West and Christian meets Hindu in this collection.
“Acoustic. ” – Luong Hue Trinh
Luong Hue Trinh is a Vietnamese musician and performance artist based in Hanoi. She studied music at Vietnam National Academy of Music, and performs regularly using a blend of sampled traditional instruments and field sounds to create a unique auditory experience.
Project Divinity is the ambient music project of Matti Paalanen, based in Helsinki, Finland. It’s a pure electronic ambient experience balancing new age and old school ambient. Drifting, slowly moving soundscapes that offer the listener peaceful and meditative experiences. It’s the only project of Matti’s that has managed to publish physical CD as well.
“Memories of Acoma” – Lucette Bourdin – Ancient Memories – 2008
The late Lucette Bourdin was a visual and music artist who was a native of France, having grown up in the villages and towns near the Doubs River in the eastern part of the country. The childhood phase of scribbling and coloring never ended for Lucette nor could several years of law school diminish her desire to become an artist. So, when she married an American and moved to the United States she felt her life was going to start over and her art would begin. Always an independent and self-disciplined individual, and feeling that the art programs available would only limit her expression, Lucette embarked upon a rigorous study of artists, color and design which eventually resulted in her own unique style.
Using watercolor/gouache as her media, Lucette developed a painting style which both expresses and evokes the subtlety of the soul. The outer landscape is a metaphor for the spirit that seeks expression as the light of transformation and redemption.
As accomplished at visual art as she was, Lucette was also a master of the ambient music genre, producing a wide ranging collection of albums that can only be described as masterworks. Lucette saw an interesting duality between the two forms of art, where the practice of one reinforces the practice of the other.
Lucette once said:
“The closest analogy to how I experience both the act of painting and a finished work of art is music. While I am painting I feel like music is streaming through me on to the paper. It is difficult to say whether I am playing the music or the instrument being played. My experience is the reverse of music however, because the performance is done privately in my studio while the completed score in its entirety is what I show the public. There is another interesting distinction between the two mediums for me as well. Music is played in a line, it is linear, but it creates an atmosphere that continues after it has been played. A painting is a whole piece of music sounding all at once and which the viewer replays by looking at it. As the eye wanders around a painting the colors, forms, textures and their relationships are “sounding” within the viewer creating an experience or mood or atmosphere.”
Lucette passed away in February of 2011, but her unique perspective on music and art lives on. Earth Mantra is very proud to have brought Lucette’s music to our listeners and to have helped ensure that her music continues to inspire for many, many years to come.
“Zeitlos” – Lumina Magica – Timeless – 2010