Composition originates in the assembly of interesting sounds and textures which are then brought together in a complete mix where the levels are adjusted, dynamics added and the whole 5.1 surround space tweaked for optimum effect. Because these pieces are largely freeform ambient creations, they lend themselves well to surround formats and sound and feel perfectly natural when played through the correct surround setup.
The term 'Experimental' is quite deliberate as the sounds are created and brought together in a random fashion and then adjusted extensively to produce the desired effect. Sometimes the result is nowhere near the original intention of the composition when starting out, hence the experiment. Ambient is a loosely adopted term incorporating anything from whale noises to the beautiful creations of masters such as Brian Eno. Ambient music has often been developed to act as a 'background' deliberately affecting the atmosphere of the environment, but these compositions often go far beyond that as the various component sounds are assembled.
Although I term these compositions 'ambient', they also deviate from time to time towards a more avant-garde and far less structured form. Not always do they turn out to be the soft meditative sounds that are usually associated with ambient music. Some ambient music, dark ambient in particular, has taken on more sinister sounds and structures and some of these compositions feature such ideas.
Composition usually commences in Propellerheads Reason where the basics are laid down. Once the shape of the piece is in place it is connected to Steinberg's Cubase to complete the surround master in 5.1. All compositions are targeted for this surround format. Some compositions use generative music applications such as Noatikl or Wotja (see Intermorphic) which are used to produce an algorithm which defines a composition, rather than the composition itself and consequently this results in a given composition being different each time it is 'run'.
The stereo mixes are then down sampled from the surround versions and finished in mp3. The surround mixes are available here in wma surround format which can be reproduced on any computer with surround speakers running Windows Media Player.
It is debatable as to who 'invented' ambient music - sophisticated muzak, designed not to be listened to or even heard, but to merely affect the ambience and comfort of the space within which it is deployed. It is sometimes (according to Eno) to be so quiet it cannot really be heard, but it should not be noticeable. It also originated in the minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass, who wrote music with very basic structure and a degree of repetition, but with a sophistication that made them very impactful. Theirs is not music to be ignored or pushed to the background, but to be engaged with, so perhaps not explicitly ambient.
Brian Eno's first meaningful foray into ambient music was with Discrete Music, an album, one side of which, featured soft, quiet and featureless sound structures designed very specifically to be experienced in the background.
Eno furthered this experiment in ambient with Ambient 1, Music for Airports, where he used more recognisable instrumentation and structure, but at the same time sustained the concept of ambient music. Ambient 2, 3 and 4 followed and since then, numerous new compositions using the technique.
Although my music is targeted to be ambient, it often strays into other areas influenced by other pioneers of more advanced music concepts. The 20th century saw a massive trend towards far less conventional musical techniques with composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Steve Reich, Morten Subotnick and so many others, exploring entirely new ideas in the same ways as the visual artists pioneered new ideas in painting and sculpture.
Arguably the most significant evolution of musical technique came about with the introduction of electronics to the range of instrumentation available to composers. They were able to create sounds and effects that were not possible with other techniques. Beginning with the tape recorder, brilliantly utilised on Stockhausen's Hymnen, composers could create audio 'tapestries' and incorporate sounds from an unlimited range of sources. The advent of the synthesiser opened up the next main phase of musical development with artists such as Tangerine Dream utilising them exclusively in their compositions.
Synthesisers were originally analogue systems, but they evolved into digital systems, which in turn enabled them to be modelled on computers. Now we can create almost anything we wish using a relatively everyday computer.
All these new and exciting ways of making music (and sound) have encouraged unbounded experimentation.
As my music has moved away from the basic concepts of ambient music from time to time, I have been influenced and inspired in part by other artists. I have always had a great love of the German rock music of the late 60's and early 70's from the likes of Faust, Can, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and Amon Düül II. More recently some of the artists venturing into forms of dark ambient and other more sinister styles, have taken a more expressive and direct approach to a less structured musical style. Here are some of the other albums that have inspired me.