Category Archives: ambient

USSS: Elaine DiMasi

The most highly trained FAWMer I know, Elaine DiMasi is also the only person I know who’s ever written a madrigal for a licorice advertisement.

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Tyranny of Beauty in an Ambient Tangerine Dream

The idea of progressive rock appeals to me. Take elements of classical and jazz and blend them into some variation of rock and make it, well, progressive. Since it requires composing, arranging, and performing skills beyond that of 3-chord blues and pop bands, it’s not always executed well. For myself, since I’m as fussy and opinionated about jazz and classical as I am about any other genre, I’m three times as fussy about prog rock.
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One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Applying thoughts from one industry to a completely different industry is one of my favorite business revitalization tricks. It’s been working with music for aeons. Speaking of Ians, have a listen to the psychedelic classical and big band music of Ian Stewart.

There are links on his bio page to some mildly psychedelic jazz, and a fantastic rock arrangement of the standard “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.”

Another page has downloads of a half-dozen ambient/techno tunes.

The home page has a video of a live performance of the adagio from Stewart’s Concerto Grosso. Perhaps I’m a sucker for live classical music (this is not rock or jazz where you can turn mistakes into improvisation) but it’s mesmerising.

Everything tomorrow doesn’t have to be like everything yesterday.

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Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For? (7)

Wow; three posts in four months.

More searches for “walking in memphis” which still surprises me. I originally wrote about it way back in April of 2002, followed up with a reader’s question a year later, and eventually included a link to the original post at the top of every page on the site. And still they come . . .

Searches for “celtsoc aol com” as well. Bob and friends at the Celtic Society are heroes, arranging for some of the finest Celtic artists in the world to play at cozy venues in the Monterey Bay area. I recently wrote about my hopes to take Best Beloved to see Lunasa; sadly, it didn’t happen.

One search for “dido my love is gone”; that would be right here where I review her first album, ‘No Angel’.

“oh yeah life goes on” would be from John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane”, which makes its first appearance at Know Your Music in this very sentence. I’m still living in a time when he was John Cougar, so forgive me if it takes a while to catch up.

Inga Swearingen is a name I should probably be familiar with; perhaps I heard her on “A Prairie Home Companion.” Perhaps I’ll go do that now.

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Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For? (6)

Hopefully, my new open schedule will allow me to do some more writing (which should include a 50,000 word novel during November.)

A search was submitted here at KnowYourMusic for “who was talking on little fluffy clouds”—the answer is Rickie Lee Jones, which I wrote about way back in August of 2003.

Other searches include “chimpta” (an east Indian instrument created from a pair of fire tongs with brass disks attached, as on a tambourine; I’ve watched Drew Sallee, once of Drusalee and the Dead, play one) and “king l great day for gravity” for which I still owe y’all a full review, don’t I?

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Clouds Over Mojave

Somehow I’ve missed this: for some time, I’ve been working on a site called ‘Clouds Over Mojave’ dedicated to the amazing synchronicity between Jim Earp‘s music and my life. The name comes from one of my favorites of Jim’s tunes.

You’ll find clips of all Jim’s music, links to buy some of the albums, composer’s notes unavailable anywhere else, and my own ramblings related to his music. Give it a look and tell me what you think.

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Entranced by Little Fluffy Clouds

Trance—according to the dictionary, it means “a state of partly suspended animation or inability to function; a somnolent state (as of deep hypnosis); a state of profound abstraction or absorption.” As a musical genre, it’s not generally my cuppa, but on occasion, when I thought no one would notice, I’ve tracked down a trance channel on internet radio for background music while working late at night. The driving beat is as effective as caffeine, and the repetitive, often nonsensical, lyrics require no attention and therefore cause little or no distraction.

Still exulting in my web stream from San Diego’s KPRI, I’m hearing lots of really weird stuff. No; not the regular playlist–that’s pretty normal, albeit top-quality, rock. But when they cut to local commercials, the web stream instead cuts to ‘filler’ music. It seems to be someone’s 5-CD changer set to random. I’ve heard Traffic’s “Glad” from “John Barleycorn” four times in three days; something or other by Joe Satriani (to paraphrase a joke about bagpipe tunes, when you’ve heard one Satriani recording, you’ve heard ‘em both) way more often than I care to, some blues I don’t recognize but intend to sooner or later, and a trance-ish track which has tranced its way onto my playlist.

The Orb's 'Little Fluffy Clouds CD singleAfter a voiceover intro sounding like a BBC-TV ad, a man’s voice asks “What were the skies like when you were young?” to which a youngish sounding female voice responds at length:

“They went on forever. When I, when we lived in Arizona the skies always had little fluffy clouds in them. And they were long and clear and there were lots of stars at night. And when it would rain they would all turn . . . they were beautiful, the most beautiful skies as a matter of fact. The sunsets were purple and red and yellow and… on fire. And the clouds would catch the colors everywhere. That’s unique, ’cause I used to look at them all the time. You don’t see that.”

After hearing it in toto three times in two days, I realized I was starting to enjoy it. A quick Google search for the oft-repeated phrase ‘little fluffy clouds’ led right to the source: The Orb.

Rickie Lee JonesThe Orb is a long-standing English group which has gone through multiple transformations, and is apparently still going strong. Their website provides precious little information, but much is available elsewhere if you dig for it. I’ll at least dig for some fluffy white clouds.

Oh; the youngish female voice on the ’91 release? Rickie Lee Jones. I guess 36 is young-ish, but then, when you make a living with your voice, it’s no surprise if it even sounds good just describing fluffy white clouds.

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Great Days of My Youth

One of my earliest memories (I have many vivid memories from before I learned to read at the age of 4, so earliest is really, really, early) is my absolute acceptance of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem singing in Gaelic to an audience at Carnegie Hall. Not that I had any clue who Carnegie was, or where his hall was, but it never occurred to me to wonder why I couldn’t understand a single word of the song “Oro Se Do Bheathe Bhaile.” After I learned to read, I was slightly puzzled that they pronounced it “Oro shay doe vaha wallya” but it was the only line I could figure out, and I sang it loud.

Statistics show that Gaelic is steadily making a comeback in Ireland. From the late 19th century until WWII, fewer than one in five residents of the Emerald Isle spoke Gaelic; nearing the end of the 20th century, over twice that many professed an ability to speak it. I’m considering doing my part by moving there and learning the language myself. Eventually. It would be heartbreaking to think of losing something as melodic and moving as the sound of such a glorious tongue.

Languages fascinate me; one of the strong appeals of Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” was his masterful ability, not just with English, but with fully formed languages he created himself. I’m also enthralled when a song to which I cannot understand the words still manages to convey enormous depth of feeling, merely by using the right music and the singer’s ability to emote.

One of the lesser known tracks from Enya‘s pseudo

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Link Death

Link rot is a web phenomenon whereby links from one site to others begin to fail over time due to changes in the target sites.

I’m about to introduce link assassination. Since I have to remove all my CDNow links, but haven’t had time to get all the Amazon.com links, I’m going to just kill them until I have the time.

So, if you read back through older articles (anything prior to the first of December) the links are about to unceremoniously cease to function. I’ll do what I can to get them replaced quickly. In the meantime, you can find everything you need at Amazon.com, which is where we’ll be buying our music from now on, right?

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Oak Creek Canyon Here I Come

I‘ve finally finished my Northern Arizona travelogue; the famous ‘Oak Creek’ trip.

I’ve decided that 1) I love photography and 2) I’m not necessarily very good at it. I only had cheap disposable cameras, so I understand there are limitations there, but if any of you artistic types (particularly photographic types) have any input, I’m here to learn.

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Feeling Waterbox

If Tangerine Dream wrote soundtracks for Alfred Hitchcock, the results wouldn’t be far from Waterbox.

Besides masterminding WaSP, the Web Standards Project, Jeffrey Zeldman is the primary conspirator behind a collection of what he refers to as ‘ambient music.’ ‘Ambient’ comes from the Latin for ‘surround’, and allowing yourself to be completely enveloped in the music is the best way to appreciate it. When I first discovered Waterbox, I listened to the tracks as if I were listening to the radio on my drive to work. I didn’t get it.

Recently, I gave Waterbox another listen, but this time, with headphones. I was working on the redesign of another of my websites, and just let the songs loop while I worked. After while, I wasn’t so much listening to them as experiencing them emotionally. My propensity is to dissect a work, instrument by instrument, note by note, looking for the patterns and structure. Ambient music is better served (or better serves) by allowing yourself to feel what the composer conveys.

  • Tether Part7 — Awakening in a strange place, we find ourselves unwillingly embroiled in a mystery, experiencing the disorientation of discovery.
  • Invaders — Rather than fear, we feel strength. We are the invaders.
  • The Years — Yearning, across
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