A ‘Space Ambient’ mix from one of our favourite producers, HOLOVR – aka Jimmy Billingham – with accompanying essay exploring music in the void. Sublime! When not bending gravity, Jimmy finds time to run the ace tape label Indole. They have several new releases out, with the wistful analogue key meanderings of Precipitation an instant fave. Words from Jimmy below…
This is a collection of tracks that by others’ – and probably just mine in some instances – reckoning have been deemed as belonging to the ‘space’ subgenre of ambient music. Space ambient tends to feature subtly shifting synthesised soundscapes, utilising long delays and massive reverb to evoke expansive vistas. In addition to this technical spatialisation of sound, much of it explicitly references outer-space, with an astronomical discourse and aesthetic often surrounding it. It therefore has a sense of futurism absent from most other ambient/drone musics; the sound design also feels advanced, tending to exhibit a hi-fi sheen and shimmering, gaseous quality only possible with the advent of digital synthesis. Which leads me toward expressing what it is about this music, and these tracks in particular, that appeal to me.
If music is escape, then this is the furthest you will get – I love the romanticised (and completely fictional/arbitrary) conception of space as a future-styled refuge and zone of contemplation/reflection, and the grandiose themes that this suggests. The best space ambient not only conjures a sense of drifting and floating in impossibly vast space (at its worst, it sounds like unengaging sci-fi sound effects), but through harmony and subtle melodic progression evokes some of the emotions and feelings that such an experience might: isolation, calm, loss, liberation, ease, melancholy, hope.
(I wonder whether, as with many preferences in life, I can trace my response to this music back to a childhood experience: I have always had a strong memory of viewing a documentary on space exploration at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford as a child and the feelings that it evoked in me, and after listening to the Brian Eno soundtrack to For All Mankind (included in this mix), I think that was the film I saw.)
John Serrie – Starmoods
Steve Roach – Dream Body
Andrew Lahiff – Unfolding Frontiers
Modulator ESP – Summer Solstice 2010
Thomas Stanton – Untitled [Whipsiderry?]
Bochum Welt – The Garden (and the Chateau)
Aphex Twin – Stone in Focus
Autechre – VLetrmx21
Burial – Rival Dealer
Brian Eno – An Ending (Ascent)