Friday, 4 January 2013

Ambient addendum

The man across the road obsessively uses his petrol driven blower to remove leaves from the concrete slab in front of his house. A neighbour shatters the afternoon peace on his ride on mower. He mows every Thursday afternoon regardless of whether the lawn needs it or not. Wattlebirds squawk as they aggressively chase a spinebill through the garden. Up the back kids laugh and squeal on the new trampoline they got from Santa. The breaking surf can be heard in the distance. My computer gently drones away in the background. This the soundtrack to our lives...

I was thinking about these things yesterday while listening to, and penning the post on, emptywhale's latest release 'That Grey Place We Go'. I marvel at their ability to create these works of art, to develop the structures and moments that have the capacity to take you unexpected places and thought patterns that seem to emerge from nowhere. I wonder for a moment about the technical aspects of who using what can make these sounds, then decide it doesn't matter how, all that matters is now...

I am a relative 'newbie' when it comes to the ambient genre, although accepting I have probably listened inadvertently to 'ambient' music in the past without realising it. And what is ambient, or any classification of music anyway? My first love has always been jazz...but who can define what that means anymore? And, shock horror, I have even been listening to some classical sounds lately! And in cyberspace threads start to appear...

I had accidentally come across Erik Satie on UbuWeb in the same way as I had with emptywhale on The Internet Archives, and had used music from both as sound tracks to some recent video work. It turns out that Satie is considered a precursor of ambient music. He also wrote the music for Rene Clair's 1924 dadaist film 'Entr'acte'. The film was scripted by one of my main influences Francis Picabia, and starred, among others, Marcel Duchamp whose 1957 talk 'The Creative Act' I had used as soundtrack for another video, a video that was greatly influenced, at least visually, by Brian Eno, the father of ambient music.

In recent discussion with emptywhale about possible collaboration Chris had followed his own path in finding out more about Herbie Hancock, whose 'Funk Hunter' I had rather lazily used in another video, but had never been happy with, wanting a more menacing effect. He had come across, and really liked, a 1974 Miles Davis track called 'He Loved Him Madly' written as a tribute to Duke Ellington. It turns out that it was a major influence on Brian Eno.

And so on it goes...I am a HUGE Miles Davis fan, never tiring of listening to his music, and drawing constant inspiration from his adoption of change as part of the creative process. His capacity to always push ahead, try new things, and yet remain true to his discipline propels me to write this post, not for you dear reader if you have ventured this far, but as a reminder to myself to build on the new directions in my work that developed through 2012. I will always have a soft spot for eros and thanatos, but in 2013 my hand reaches out for the handle of a new door...

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