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Here are another five albums I find intriguing, exceptional, favorites, or I find just so interesting I want to share some thoughts on them.
Radian - Juxtaposition
This is not an ambient album. Although I think it has tendencies towards ambient and maybe idm. It's three guys based out of Vienna - a live drummer (always better than the dead ones...) - a live bass player (verdict is out on whether dead or live is better... hahahahahha - sorry... I'm a bass player.) and a synth / computer guy. They focus on sparse songs - and a lot of controlled feedback. The feedback is a musical tool. This isn't knock you against the wall torture your ears feedback, this is controlled musical perfection feedback. With live drums and live bass... and hints of processing and synth. I bought this on a whim at a used cd store. The kind of store that likes to write a little note on each cd and explaing who the band is and 'buy if you like band a or b' type of store. You know - those stores that barely exist anymore... I loved it. I still do years later. Label: Thrill Jockey
Orbital - In Sides
In Sides is still my favorite from them although I like a ton of their other albums. The album is worth the price of admission for The Box alone. (and if anyone has the Box E.P. - send me a note - I've never been able find it after passing it up in the mid-90's in Chicago... I'm an idiot.) This album marks kind of a turning point in their career for me - or at least in my listening to it.. where before this album - there's almost nothing bad - and the sounds are big and well produced. After this album the sounds start to get too "digital" for me. I don't know - it's like the oomph got yanked from their songs. There were fewer and fewer amazing albums and just a handful of spectacular tracks per album - as opposed to entire albums I'd love to listen to cover to cover. I think In Sides was on FFRR - but I'm going on distant memory on that and don't feel like googling it. This is not a hard album to find anyway... ;-) p.s. No - this isn't ambient. Electronic, lots of beats.
Brian Eno - On Land
I didn't come around to Brian Eno until long, long after my entry into loving ambient music (I actually got into ambient via background soundtrack music and David Sylvian - but didn't know it was called "ambient" until the 90's.) So in the 2000's I bought a bunch of Eno's music... and On Land is pretty much the pinnacle for me as an entire album of just Eno. (Other tracks move me tremendously - An Ending, Ascent - one of the tracks on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts - the entire The Pearl album with Budd.) I backed my way into Eno - I listened and loved his followers before I got into the man himself. On Land though - that is one spectacular highly recommended album.
Early to mid-90's a series of 12" singles were released under the label name Basic Channel. I didn't discover them until I'd already discovered Chain Reaction label releases - my entry point was Monolake - Hongkong - still among my favorite albums... but it wasn't long before I started tracking down anything from these labels and artists. At first I could only get the BC-CD - and dream about plunking down the money to buy reissues of the vinyl from Hard Wax in Berlin... but then they finally released them in file form - and I bought them all in one go. They are brilliant if you love minimal techno dub. Some day - I will spring for the vinyl.
David Bowie - Low
Bowie did a trio of albums with Brian Eno producing - and those three albums are all exceptional (Station to Station (corrected 7/11) Lodger and Heroes are the other two). Low has two sides to it - literally and musically - the first side is pop songs, quirky, different, great pop songs. Side two is more of a long form journey - almost "ambient". The reissue of Low in the early 90's included a song, "All Saints" which sounded like Nine Inch Nails would 15+ years later... brilliant track - throbbing electronic nearly "industrial". Bowie was a genius at getting the right musicians together and creating a vision and then shedding that totally and changing gears.
Thanks again for reading!