This thread is great, but, to be honest, it has thrown me for a loop. When I graduated art/music school 8 years ago, I (for the most part) left behind the gnarly, crunchy, “difficult”, noisy, messy, insistent, and assertive ambient music that was, and still is, extremely prominent in academia. I was finally free to explore. I found a trove of great ambient works that sound intensional, emotional, sometimes challenging, but also sometimes blissful.
Ambient is popular now. There is a lot out there, so it is a little harder to find the gems, but personally, I find the same to be true with every genre of music I listen to these days.
Several years ago, I went on a tour of the Lagunitas brewery. Apparently at some point, there was a bit of a craft beer collapse in the US. When asked how Lagunitas survived, the tour guide explained that, at the time, many of their competitors would pull their products off the shelf if they started to become too popular. These breweries equated popularity with uncoolness, and as a result, they failed (as capitalist businesses; interpret that how you will).
I have no problem with attempting to define post-ambient, but a lot of the discussion in this thread feels like – “ambient is popular now which is lame, and it’s also easy to write which is lame; let’s do something else.”
It brings me right back to when I was an undergrad and many of my fellow composition students would say “popular music is dumb because it’s so easy to make.” I would reply “okay, write a popular album then, if it’s so easy.”
I have enjoyed much of the discussion here, and many of you are being extremely supportive. Opinions are great, but hopefully we can continue to keep the discussion constructive without dismissing anyone’s artistic practice. Hopefully that is fair to say.
Personally I would guess that the progression of ambient can more-so be defined by the seemly infinite number of other genres it has inspired, rather than imagining that there will be some sort of monolithic “post” era.