Post Ambient

I’ve seen the ambient wave rise over the past 5ish years. It has been a nice ride with many new personalities putting out great music. What will this somewhat ambiguous genre turn into next?

I’d like to hear the community’s take on what “Ambient” might turn into or perhaps what new aesthetic preferences will be the next popular (in our community at least) form of expression.

If there are some artists doing something like this already, please post some recommendations!

16 Likes

i’ve been waiting for Minimal Grunge to catch on for years. I think the time is now.

39 Likes

I thought Rock got better with Post Rock. The “in” sound has a cyclic nature to it so we could see a spin on Grunge once it’s old enough to become cool again.

2 Likes

I will admit I’ve never known what “ambient” is supposed to BE, because I’ve heard music in so many different genres I’ve been involved in referred to as such. All vastly different in approach.
Is it “drone?” Is is kompakt records stuff, is it Eno?

Meh.

3 Likes

It’s seeming to me like ambient and ambient-adjacent sound production has become a new sort of folk music. For example, I’ve become able to make my own, in a way that is 1) spontaneous and somewhat casual, 2) personally satisfying and 3) not at all worth sharing out in the world. That last because I’m not doing anything innovative, and moreover I suspect many many others are engaged in similar practices.

This feels roughly analogous to parlor pianists in a different cultural place & time, or people just having fun with an acoustic guitar and standards.

67 Likes

As an once upon a time music critic i would say that there’s this wonderfoul blend of ambient and noise going on where it’s impossible to see where one ends and the other begins. Is Tim Hecker an ambient or a noise artist? Also, there’s a definite rise of what i would call “lofi ambient” which is rarely interesting. Furthermore I would say that ambient suffers from an overflow of releases just like any other genre i guess, but it’s more severe with ambient because it’s deceivingly easy to make.

14 Likes

it’s impossible to see where one ends and the other begins

yes! Things like the contents of Kankyō Ongaku, any given Duck In A Tree podcast, and Editions Wandelweiser all have a place on my personal ambient…shelf? Even though they represent a bevy of diverse approaches and outcomes.

6 Likes

super interesting topic! the Motion Ward / West Mineral Records / Experiences Ltd ingroup make music that i guess could be called ‘post-ambient’. they’re often mixing in house and glitch and dub techno and noise and jazz and lofi music…musicians like Ulla are making just about the most interesting quote unquote ‘ambient’ music around these days and there are often only the barest ambient signifiers present.

case in point (and maybe my favourite song of the past three years!):

Ulla - Soak

10 Likes

@slumplifter, thanks for that link! i’m listening on bandcamp, and the album is wonderful so far :slight_smile:

also:

this feels very much like my practice/approach/understanding of “ambient”, though i do sometimes share it anyway :cowboy_hat_face:

10 Likes

“After… laughter… come tears.”

Nothing can come after ambient.

The ambient genre is an endless bardo, sorry.

Think “Kid A” played by a swarm of bees. It would take an infinite amount of bees an infinite amount of time to do so.

But that’s no problem!

No one can see the bottom of the pool and the fish therein have eyes… in triplicate.

–So it’s like blinky from The Simpsons?

Yes. blinky, like TMNT, was transformed from the norm by the nuclear goop.

In this way, we find ourselves each on equal footing with one another.

When Iggy did his “lust for Life” he proposed the resurrection of a lost paradigm of enjoyment.

This paradigm, uncovered accidentally by acid-heads listening to guitar static, inspired a generation.

Today, we know this generation as “gen LCA” (lower case ambient).

In closing, we can see from my argument that “gen LCA” can only be succeeded by “gen capital Letters.”

Consensual yet emergent, draughty yet cozy.

Perhaps a better metaphor might be if “Kid A” never existed but a swarm of bees played it anyway.

16 Likes

Maybe it’s the next elevator/supermarket muzak? Listen while you wait for your Ambien prescription.

4 Likes

I could imagine Spotify, Amazon, etc. using some sort of generative AI tool to make a contemporary equivalent of K-Mart tapes. Maybe that’ll be the Next Big Thing

5 Likes

Those are the areas of “ambient” that I have always been the most interested in personally. Brian Eno’s original concept is really not quite right, but it’s adjacent to that in some ways.

More true to Eno’s concept, there’s the whole “lo-fi beats to study to” thing. I kind of like some of that range of music, but… more for its function, just some pleasant sound to live in the background than something to get lost in.

In past years there was definitely Chillout Room music which kind of got lumped in as ambient but was its own sort of movement, too. Future Sound of London, etc. I kind of expect to see a revival of that.

2 Likes

a friend once described a set the duo im in did as harsh ambient and it’s something we’ve been exploring ever since

11 Likes

A long time ago I observed that a number of rockers had stopped writing songs and started making ambientish music.

David Sylvian being an example, Fripp, Eno, etc…

It occurred to me that what had likely happened was that as their youthful hormones had subsided, they discovered that they had little to say in the way that rock songs “say” things.

Or something like that. At any rate, the same thing happened to me…

17 Likes

This is how I feel, too. The main difference I can see is that if I can write jams with specific sounds and play that on demand, I will call it a song and then be able to play it live. If I can do that, I’m a real artist right?

2 Likes

i think they’re probably already doing it. spotify makes a lot of money from populating popular playlists with music that is produced directly for spotify by a bunch of “in the style of”-musicians using numerous pseudonyms, with made up background stories for fake authenticity, bought at a low cost. having ai generate infinitely more new copyrighted content for spotify’s account must be the shareholder’s wet dream.

2 Likes

US copyright law doesn’t allow works created by machines to be copyrighted, at least for the moment.

https://www.copyright.gov/comp3/chap300/ch300-copyrightable-authorship.pdf#page21

See Compendium Section 313.2:

To qualify as a work of “authorship” a work must be created by a human being.

8 Likes

random quantum sonic acquaintances

1 Like

I’ve been enjoying exploration of the hypnagogic realm of sleep music.

And it also happens to be a clever hack of the Spotify algorithm: get somebody hooked on your sleep music and they just might listen to you for 8 hours straight every night. Profit!

Dumb capitalism jokes aside (I don’t actually have any music on Spotify), I really do think it is interesting to look for sounds that both pull your attention away from your internal dialogue and the noises in your environment, but also manage to guide consciousness, once piqued, back down under the covers.

I wouldn’t say there’s a single formula to it. Different approaches play with my consciousness in different ways at different times. What works well one night might either be boring or too active on another night.

I just find it interesting to play in that space between waking and dreaming.

11 Likes