Ambient is the oldest of all electronic music styles, a sound that was born the first day someone started fiddling with electricity as a way to manipulate sound frequencies, and that has grown throughout the decades in its influence over modern electronic music. Otherworldly, disembodied and abstract, ambient is an elusive and shapeless musical genre, strictly designed for headspace and not for the dancefloor, and it can be relaxing and soothing or even dark and chilling, it’s all about creating an ambiance (hence the genre’s name), a mood, a place to shelter oneself after an intense night of partying, or a soundtrack for art galleries, shops, etc. Throughout the years, and like every other musical genre, ambient has mutated from simple bleeps and echoes to more complex structures thanks to artists like Brian Eno and Aphex Twin, drawing from other electronic styles such as house (The Orb), goa trance, and even techno.
Greek label USM Recordings offers a glimpse of the different faces of modern ambient music in their new compilation titled ‘Future Soundscapes’, a collection of 7 tracks by local producers that ranges from the heady to the ghastly, from the psychedelic to the organic, covering a wide spectrum of the ambient sound.
Beginning with the tribal, spacey sound of opening track ‘Enthalpy’ by AgainstMe, ‘Future Soundscapes’ embarks on a dense journey that gives way to the pure ambient of ‘Subconscious Trip’ by Mic Meimaroglou, using droning noises, floating melodies, and vocal samples and effects to create a track where everything seems to be suspended in time and space. Then it’s Kobzev’s turn with ‘Memories from the Future’, continuing the sparse ambient sound of the previous track, with its synth pads appearing and disappearing into thin air until a brief filtered beat comes into play right at the end.
Things turn dark in ‘Altered Impressions’ by Rlct, which employs natural-sounding elements such as bird samples and different effects as a way to establish a deliberate rhythm that continues to evolve towards the end of the track, with a croaking bassline that seems to rise up from the depths. Then, in ‘Sandcastles’, the following track, producer Resilient brings things back to the sunnier side with a sleepy seaside vibe, in a piece that manages to provide a relaxing and soothing ambiance in under 2 minutes.
Next, ‘Fos’, by Exarchos, introduces the first real beats on the compilation, accompanied by the chilling vocals of Zorzét, crafting an intriguing mix of psychedelia, ambient, and trip-hop that is unique and well-executed. ‘Unexpected Shapes’, by Icarus In Love, closes the collection with intense style, using pads and rain-like sounds in the background while a nervous, jittery synth line flutters around, then joined by spacey effects that evolve into distorted broken beats that turn the cut into a blistering discharge of energy, very fitting for a closing track.
Viewed as a whole, ‘Future Soundscapes’ serves as a great way to sample different views on a genre that always has something interesting to offer, a well-rounded showcase that makes for an enjoyable listen for anyone with an appreciation and understanding of ambient music.
‘Future Soundscapes’ is out now via USM Recordings. You can grab your copy here.
- AgainstMe – Enthalpy
- Mic Meimaroglou – Subconscious Trip
- Kobzev – Memories From The Future
- Rlct – Altered Impressions
- Resilient – Sandcastles
- Exarchos feat. Zorzét – Fos
- Icarus In Love – Unexpected Shapes