sold’s mix for Resident Advisor’s 689th podcast is a narrative journey through a warped and fractured universe. It also exemplifies a development in ambient music as a style that I have great hopes for.
The term “Ambient music” was coined by Brian Eno back in the late 70’s. There was of course other music before and during the 70’s that in todays terms could be classified as ambient music (such as Krautrock and particular styles of ancient Indian classical music) - which is a point that I hope to tie in during this little post. In any case, Eno described ambient music as being music “designed to induce calm and space to think”, which is still definitely true and is one of the powerful abilities of ambient music. But if we were to strictly take that definition, then this wouldn’t be an ambient mix - as Resident Advisor have described it. Herein lies my interest and excitement of the development of ambient music in our modern era.
I take the RA podcasts as being a prolific source of various sounds, styles and presentations of music. They definitely know what they’re up to. So when they classify something as ambient - when they could’ve easily called it experimental instead - I can’t help but strengthen my viewpoint that ambient music is forking off onto a different path - one of psychedelia, narrative and surrealism.
It would seem that the only thing that makes this mix ambient is the narrative in the programming coupled with a strong focus on experimental sound design, processing and fairly cranial musical language - the mix definitely is not “designed to induce calm and space to think”.
This is a fantastic development. In an age where we’re losing our sense of self and society in the cavernous online world of social media and micro-manipulation, while watching extremism rise around the world (and knowing we all had a role to play in it) - we need a medium to bring us back into our own heads. A music that engages you through twists and turns in narrative over extended periods of time, coaxing you forward with its unbridled intention to arouse curiosity in your own imagination giving way to a greater understanding of the self.
Ambient music has a redemptive power and if you pay attention to the attention of the increased development and consumption of the genre, the renewed approvals into psychedelics research and the relentless technological innovations into creating virtual reality - there are some parallels to be made. Mainly that they are all explorations into creativity and transcendence of the body, which I think is a counter response to the loss of society, spirit and self that we have all helped each other create.