Search - Various Artists :: Brief History of Ambient 1

Brief History of Ambient 1
Various Artists
Brief History of Ambient 1
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Alternative Rock, World Music, Jazz, Special Interest, New Age, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #2


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Nineteen hundred and ninety four
Mr. A. Pomeroy | Wiltshire, England | 01/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This was the first in Virgin Records' four-volume 'Brief History of Ambient' series (its proper title is 'A Brief History of Ambient, Volume One: 152 Minutes, 33 Seconds'). It was released in 1994, a time when ambient music was entering the mainstream in Britain - the Orb, most notably, had got to number one in the album charts, and people were willing to spend money on releases by the Future Sound of London and the Aphex Twin. Eventually the term 'ambient' became devalued somewhat; a tag added to sub-standard remixes of left-field pop singles, usually dull affairs which added wishy-washy sound effects and some dub basslines.However, this album went down well at the time and was a big influence on the burgeoning 'electronic listening music' (or 'IDM', depending on your taste). Just as James Brown's 1987 'In the Jungle Groove' compilation had renewed interest in his music, and in the 'funky drummer' loop, so this compilation opened people's eyes to a genre of music usually dismissed as an offshoot of prog. Over the decades spanned by this compilation, ambient music existed in something of a ghetto.The compilation is restricted to releases from Virgin and its sub-labels, although this isn't really a handicap, especially as the CDs were assembled with loving care. Many of the acts represented here are not really 'ambient' - Hawkwind, most obviously - but the individual tracks are relentlessly fascinating, and fortunately not overlong. Furthermore the booklet gives sources, and I can imagine Virgin's back catalogue receiving something of a going-over at the time - Faust, for example, were completely forgotten before this compilation came out, whereas they are now recording music again.Standouts include Brian Eno's excellent 'Ending (An Ascent)', recently dusted-off for the '28 Days Later' trailer; the two Tangerine Dream tracks, although similar, are obvious precursors to later dance music; Hawkwind is made to seem hip; whilst ex-children's TV actress Shiela Chandra shows off her pipes on a typically atmospheric drone. All told the Eno family and members of Tangerine Dream contribute between them eight tracks, from various points in their careers (in the case of the Enos, mostly the 1980s; there's nothing from 'Music for Airports' or 'Discrete Music', despite the latter having some short tracks). Amorphous Androgynous are of course the Future Sound of London under another name, and I believe this particular version of the track is unavailable elsewhere.A few things let the side down. 'Kazoo' by Ash Ra sounds feeble, the track by The Grid, who were briefly popular at the time, is one of the aforementioned boring 'ambient remixes', Hawkwind don't really fit. But the compilation as a whole stands up today and is well worth seeking out. The overall mood is mysterious and optimistic, and its nice to listen to in the background whilst recovering in bed from illness.The next two 'Brief History of Ambient' releases were much the same, trawling through Virgin's back catalogue; the fourth licensed tracks from other labels and was much darker and 'illbient'. All are decent, but you could do with just the first and last."
Look no further...
uberzoned | Houston | 01/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you've ever been looking for ambient music, this is it. After working in a music store for a few years, I think this is what I'd been looking for. The perfect album to chill to... fall asleep to... read to... study to... or do nothing to. All of the songs are good, and more importantly, have substance. Whoever picked the tracklist was the guru. Don't ever buy an ambient album without listening to it first... and don't buy another one until you hear this in full. I haven't met a person that didn't like it."
A great ambient primer
uberzoned | 01/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you've heard of 'Ambient' music, but dont know much else about the genre, this double CD is a great place to start. Most of the album focuses on earlier (70s-80s) examples, but that part of this discs beauty -- it provides clear context for current trends in experimental 'chill' music. The other CDs in the series are weaker, but don't ignore this one, for it delivers what it promises."