I recently found a Minnie Mouse mask at the edge of a Grand Canyon precipice. That was just about as out of place as stumbling on a recent article in AP about ambient music. AP or Alternative Press is an alternative rock magazine dedicated mostly to Pop-Punk music like Fall Out Boy, All Time Low and this month’s cover boys, 5 Seconds of Summer. So I was surprised to see on the back page of their September issue’s “10 Essential” series “Surprising Study Session Soundtracks.” It’s like hearing a Shakespeare sonnet in the middle of “Two and a Half Men.”
Among the 10 selections were Echoes regulars like Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra, Fripp & Eno’s No Pussyfooting, and Tycho’s Awake. Also in there was Nine Inch Nails’ purely ambient Ghosts I-IV; Outer Space, a project from Emeralds member John Elliott; and Norwegian ambient avatar, Biosphere and his classic Substrata CD.
Of Phaedra, author Jason Pettigrew said it “still holds up to this day” while Tycho’s recent Awake was declared “melodic, rhythmic and detailed while being somewhat introspective.” No Pussyfooting was acknowledged as being an “ambient music milestone.” There are some even more extreme and avant-garde ambient albums on the list like William Basinski’s extreme drone zones on The Disintegration Loops, Thomas Köner’s Nunatek/Teimo/Permafrost box set and the industrial guitar noise of Gog’s Ironworks. Pettigrew didn’t seem to pick up on any Steve Roach or Michael Stearns’s releases, but he was probably looking for more conventionally edgy materiel.
Maybe someday, these acts will make it from the back page to the front cover. Nah.