Echoes in London – pt2:

Absolute Ambient
Right off the plane after an all night flight, we drove south, pretty close to as far south as one can get and still be in England, and were greeted by this landscape:

That’s the scenery outside the home of Matt Coldrick, who records with Matt Hillier as “Absolute Ambient”. They performed some really great new music for us in a Living Room Concert.

More recording today!


Comment posted by
at 5/31/2006 7:11:53 PM

I had originally written this in an email to John, and it covers many of the topics touched on in the various blog entries of John and Jeff (I don’t recall Kim blogging, although it appears that she got to interview Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la salle Eno instead:)

As a matter of total disclosure, I have known John & Kim since we worked together at WXPN almost thirty years ago. Currently, I am a trial attorney in New York, an occasional DJ with WVKR at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie,New York, and I also maintain a private practice representing, promoting, and generally coddling various ambient musicians, including Mathias Grassow, Jim Cole, Life In Balance, and (we are working this out right now) Al Gromer Khan. I don’t believe I plugged anybody; however, let there be no doubt that these are my personal opinions, which may run counter to that of my present or past clients. With those caveats, here goes:

Hi John-Just read your blog. Enough with the kvetching; we’d all like to do what you and Kim & Jeff had the opportunity to do. You should know enough not to drive in London; they do all that stuff backwards, and you can get very confused just by driving on the “wrong” side of the street. And it sounds that, just like in New York and Philly, there are decent “curry joints,” as well as some that will make your life miserable for a day or two after your “meal.”

I’m a little disappointed (as I’m sure you are, probably far more so than I,) that you couldn’t figure out a reason to interview Sheila Chandra. No new releases from Ms. Chandra? A pity, my friend.

I’ve been speaking to the “Matts” (Coldrick and Hillier) for a couple of years. I think “Music For A Busy Head” is a superior record to “Elemental Journey,” and I also like the “Elve” project quite a bit. Coldrick always seemed very promotion savvy, besides being a mench in general. He and Matt (Ishq) Hillier seemed like good guys with no overweening ego issues (well, not yet, anyway,) and I’m looking forward to what they will come up with next, individually and together.

The whole issue about ambient music “performance” has been bugging me ever since I saw Mike Griffin at a Gathering in Phildelphia, looking like a CPA on Casual Friday, and occasionally pressing a key on hiw laptop so he would not doze off. I also saw Jeff Pearce play guitar that night, and as much as he could do live, he could creative a far broader palette in the studio. In general, I believe that ambient musicians are increasingly facing the same issues that the Beatles (with George Martin) dealt with 40 years ago about the inherent limitations of live performances. Or perhaps I should phrase the question this way, which you also alluded to: Has anyone reading this ever seen an ambient concert as exciting as a Sun Ra performance, or the Art Ensemble of Chicago (when Lester Bowie was with us,) or Carla Bley’s Big Band? It ain’t even close. Granted, there is an (almost century long) history of live jazz performance; the same goes for folk music and stretches back into the Gothic Ages of troubadors and trouveres, and even rock has a performance ethos about fifty years old. What are the most frequently mentioned “live” ambient performances? Those would probably be the Robert Rich “sleep concerts.” Coincidence? I think not.

I know that some munificent souls are literally holding ambient concerts in their living rooms-Jim Cole, who lives outside of West Hartford, has hosted Don Slepian, James Johnson, Jeff Pearce, David Darling, Alex DeGrassi, and Pierre Bensusan (three times.) But even Jim is switching his focus to singer/songwriters
and has booked Gregory Douglass (on the suggestion of Will Ackerman,) amd Jim has thrown out some names to me like Kate Rusby, Luka Bloom, and (after I learned that she actually did a house concert to some contest winner,) Suzanne Vega. I have attended several of the shows, and

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.