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Instinct Ambient
- Eric Watson

In URB, Issue No. 38, October 1994.


(Instinct) The Yellow Emperor said "When sound moves, it does not produce sound, it produces echoes." And moving sound is the essence of ambient music, sound that moves the soul and leaves echoes of thought and reflection. Fresh from Instinct's new Ambient label, these albums are the tentative footsteps of young explorers entering a realm that has been opened up to them by technology. The sequencers, drum machines, synthesizers, computers, and effects modules that are used to create electronic music no longer require that the composer have proficiency on an instrument to make the ideas come to life, just the ideas themselves. The relationship between technology and this collection of ambient albums is affirmed by creative use of computer graphic technology in the CD booklet design's and the numerous E-Mail numbers in the credits as well as the content of the music itself which is giving technology a much needed dose of humanity through the vision of these ambient voyagers.

Chill Out Phase Two - This is the tour-de-force follow up to 1993's Chill Out. Phase Two measures up to its predecessor with two discs featuring 17 artists that define the state of ambient in 1994. For newcomers to ambient this is an excellent sampler of blissed-out sounds and new worlds. Among the bands not noted later in this piece that stand out are the Voodoo Warriors Of Love with "Sweat," Serve Chilled with "Eve's Theme," Sad World with "Apadana," Deep Space Network with "Zenn La," the Aphex Twin with "Blue Calx," The Drum Club with "Spaced Out, Locked In," The Irresistible Force with "Space is the Place" and orbital with "Belfast."

Omicron Acrocosm - Savass Ysatis is the man behind Omicron and Acrocosm is his debut album that reveals a confident musician who is capable of creating powerful compositions without relying on odd bleeps or samples to create ambience. Acrocosm reflectively probes many emotional spheres with its liquid and primal sounds. Highlights include "Spaced Nature," "Caterpillar to Butterfly," and the pulsating dub track "Orca."

SETI - SETI or the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence is the U.S. government's network of radio dishes that listen for signs of civilization among the infinite array of radio waves striking the earth at all times. Author Madison Blue was inspired to write a short piece of fiction inspired by SETI and is the inspiration for this album and is included in the CD booklet. SETI is a collaboration between Taylor 808 (Human Mesh Dance/Prototype) and Savass Ysatis (Omicron) that translates "a wall of supple grey static singing softly to itself, the [sic] static is formless and fluid, ancient and pure, bathing all it encounters with voice of the void." An eerie one hour foray into the depths of the universe.

Terre Thaemlitz Tranquilizer - Terre Thaemlitz is a brilliant new ambient artist who has created some of the most peaceful sounds ever to come out of the chaos of New York City. From the jerky tuba elephant walk of "040468" to the disturbing bliss of "Fat Chair", Thaemlitz' inventiveness is inspiring. Drawing upon extensive experience within the New York club scene Thaemlitz captures the transcendental power of the dance floor on the locomotive "Raw Through A Straw", that combines the expansive paintings of a harpist with a steady progressive tribal beat. Tranquilizer is the echo of the city that never sleeps.

Mysteries of Science - Mysteries of Science is the creation of European Ambient artist Dominic Woosey. Blending distinctive electronic sounds with dramatic melodies and crystal sharp rhythms this disc had a lot in common with its cousin techno. Anybody familiar with Sven Vath's ambient compositions will find a lot of similarities in Mysteries of Science. The surgical electronic feel of this album conveys an emotion of cold electronic sadness akin to a lonely computer possessed with intelligence long after the humans have gone.

Cabaret Voltaire The Conversation - No newcomers to electronic or experimental music, Cabaret Voltaire's newest release is a double CD entitled The Conversation which is the final chapter of a trilogy that began with Plasticity and International Language. The Conversation's flirtations with ambience, house, industrial, and tribal music in its two hours are a pastiche of DJ friendly sounds. Cabaret Voltaires's large cult following are probably already immersed in a deep esoteric dialogue with the far reaches of this disk which has the potential to introduce their sound to a new generation of listeners with the epic "Project 80," but most of the tracks are standard dancefloor grooves that don't break any new ground.