Ambient at 40

Interesting write up here, and quite a manifesto at the end.

  • Ambient is a music of lived moments.
  • Ambient recognizes control must be forgone with respect to how the music is encountered (but not how it is composed).
  • Ambient is experientially discrete, but not musically so.
  • Ambient acknowledges the deceit that is the promise of repetition.
  • Ambient is never only music for escapism. It is a zone for participation in a pursuit of musical listenership that acknowledges sound’s potential values in broader spheres (the social, political, cultural etc). It is a freeing up, an opening out and a deepening, simultaneously.
  • Ambient pulses; it courses. Rhythm is a rare friend to this music.
  • Ambient is never only music. It is a confluence of sound, situation and listenership; moreover it’s an unspoken contract between the creator, listener and place, seeking to achieve a specific type of musical experience.
  • Ambient is about the primacy of listening (for audience and creator). The music and the spaces and places (interior and exterior) it occupies are critical to how it is appreciated, understood and consumed.
  • Ambient is transcendent but does not seek some higher plain. It is not new age music. Rather ambient music’s transcendence is within, and invites us deeper into the lived experience of the everyday.
  • Ambient is never a documentation of somewhere or sometime. Instead it creates an individuated, impressionistic and imagined place. It is realized in-between our internal and external selves.
  • Ambient is a music of perspectives. It is never fully knowable, in that the music seeps between perspectives (micro and macro) and dimensions of listening constantly. It maintains a sense of the eerie (as Mark Fisher noted).
  • Ambient is friend to noise, to volume, to physicality. It is however, an enemy of uncalculated dynamism.
  • Ambient is never finished. It is an experiential process of becoming – for listeners, for creators and more broadly as a musical philosophy.

Not sure about rhythm being a rare friend, but otherwise, I like it!


Lawrence is brilliant.

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Lawrence is a fantastic human.
If anyone ever has the opportunity to go on a field recording walk with him, hear him give a talk or see him perform live… you should do it w/ out hesitating. It will be well worth your time.


Really enjoyed this. We need more manifestos in general but I definitely needed this one in particular.

i’m glad they went to lawrence for this piece. they couldn’t have picked a more articulate, thoughtful person.