The beautiful thing about ambient music is that it does not really have to go anywhere. The experience of the music is the reward; how it complements the listener’s environment, mood, or mindset is the primary concern. This is probably why explaining the beauty of a Harold Budd track or a Kevin Drumm piece to an uninitiated friend can be tough. One is reduced to making nebulous statements about “floating” and “ethereal grace,” while both parties get frustrated at the things that are obviously not quite being communicated.
The solution to this inability to articulate is simple: play them the damn album. If you can swing it, play it outside, in the appropriate weather (listener discretion, of course), and tell your friend to shut their trap and let their mind sink into the music. Now, there is some finesse to be exercised here; some entry points are better than others when it comes to genres. Brian Eno’s Ambient 4 has no problem enveloping any listener while I Dormienti may cause you to get punched in the temple for “wasting” your friends’ time. Have patience; they are novices on the path to beauty.
Alternately, you could put on Ghostly International’s new SSM: Opiate compilation. With any genre-based compilation, variety can help the neophyte see different facets of the genre. And this one is a hell of a cross-section of some of the best stuff out there now, including Noveller, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, and Jim Haynes. So if you want to turn your friend’s syrupy, putty-like brain into a discerning, intellectual, and musical power-house, this should be your first stop.
For those among you needing proof of these claims, below you will find the track “Ti Prego Memory Man” by A Winged Victory for the Sullen. To create the appropriate listening environment, take your computer outside, find a green-belt somewhere, and lie on your back staring at the clouds while AWVFTS rinses the little gray edges of the day away.
Ghostly International’s SSM: Opiate compilation is out October 28. Visit the comp’s page for tracklist info and more.
• Ghostly International: http://www.ghostly.com