If you listen to this compilation – as I did – without a track-list to hand, while each piece is clearly individual, different, it`s pretty much impossible to pinpoint the join between the “veteran” musicians / composers and their younger counterparts. I think that`s a terrific testament to all involved, including compiler, Jon Tye. The fact is that folks such as JD Emmanuel and Ariel Kalma are still making cutting edge music, and people like Cool Maritime, JQ, and Precipitation, are creating art comparable to that of those aforementioned pioneers. Archival, early `80s, sounds from David Casper and Suzanne Ciani slot right in alongside, almost indiscernible to, brand spanking new stuff from Lauren Doss and Moon Circle. Jon`s selection, and sequencing, is spot on. Nothing here is exactly “easy-listening”, none of it falls back on, or is simply a replay of, “chill out” cliches and tropes, and in places it is “challenging”, but the set is woven together in such a way that the more “adventurous” moments are balanced, built up to, and so rendered readily accessible.
Gigi Masin gets all Autechre, remixing Brain Machine. Don Slepian`s Earth To Venus is a joyful, beatless, dance. Techno or trance with the 4 / 4 far removed. Much of the music makes like the missing link between `70s kosmische and `90s IDM, with the programmed pastoral of machines mimicking Mother Nature’s organic flow. Circuits busy with a cicada-like buzz. Marimba-like movements bubbling with a gentle Brownian motion. Phased pulses and pretty keys in racing river like patterns. Spare, sparse, Kankyo Ongaku notes sending out ripples like raindrops puckering otherwise still, silvered, lakes. These frequencies are often fused with traditional instrumentation -the timbres of which are sometimes transformed. Flute, kalimba, pedal steel, pipe organ drone, usually countered by shocks of sub-bass boom. On Ariel Kalma`s Space Forest DSP high-pitched ancient reeds, quite possibly thighbone trumpets, send out celebratory fanfares above subliminal Casio arpeggios. The heavenly hum of Mary Lattimore`s A Unicorn Catches A Falling Star, appears to be constructed entirely from assorted acoustic strings. Peacefully plucked and bowed. Their echoes evolving, expanding, symbiotically shimmering, giving off an almost holy glow. The human voice is here, in hymns of disembodied harmony. An ethereal ether of angelic cries and sighs, glossolalia loops, surrounded by modular chimes. Nature’s own song is a constant presence too. A field recorded aria of “found” fauna, often pushed high, dominating, the mix. On JD Emmanuel`s Cruising In The Dimension Of A Shenandoah Backyard it`s a crazy cut-up cacophony of (at least) one hundred birds. On IKSRE`s Giant Kingfisher Of Paradise it`s there in the rustle of leaves, the wind through the trees. It`s there in twists of treated spiralling surf on Vague Imaginaires` Le Village du Vaguarti, complimenting, perfectly, the romantic crashing, the synthetic soaring and swooning, of Suzanne Ciani`s bucolic Buchla waves of love.
The term “ambient” has become completely over-used. Its meaning kinda lost. Now more of a lazy term to label anything without a discernible beat, rather than the nuanced, site-interactive, “BGM-not-BGM” than Eno envisaged when he first floated the idea. The music on Spaciousness 2 isn’t ambient. It isn’t intended to be half-heard, half-ignored, at an unobtrusive volume. It`s more demanding than that. “Deep Listening” I guess would be a better description, a better couple of words. As a whole the collection is a hypnotic collage, that draws you in, forces you to focus on spinning sequences, pushing out all other thought. A musical meditation, and a psychedelia of sorts, since it provides momentary shelter from the the world outside its sonic walls. Together, as my mate, Dave Howell, once eloquently essayed, cleansing your ears, and your head.
Spaciousness 2 is released tomorrow, August 6th, on Lo Recordings. Compiled by label founder Jon Tye, twelve of the fourteen tracks are exclusives.