Sun, 09 Dec 2018 23:49:09 +0000

On Ambient

Now playing: Aphex Twin - Rhubarb

Ambient, a genre of music which could be considered in Adornian terms, the end level of commodification of music. Where the fact of musics' being the background has become the defining factor of it. The main task of ambient is to be unintrusive, to the point where we do not notice it. Will it disappear with the end or capitalism?

Ambient, supposedly, started with the release of Brian Eno's Music for Airports. Airports, an element of modern society which could have been considered impossible and science fiction concep one hundred years before. We can be quite sure, that no matter what economic system, or social system we will live in, the airports will stay. Of course, they might die with a technological collapse, but this is an exception. Is the ambient music result of development of technology, or result of commodification of music?

The elements which are parts of ambient music, were existing in the music beforehand, and we can see that in works i.e. of Eric Satie, or Hildegard von Bingen (and for it, majority of medieval Gregorian Chants, which greatly fulfill the requirements of your average drone ambient record). With them there is a sister genre of ambient - soundtracks, were the most remembered tracks, are those which are not ambient as themselves, so therefore soundtracks as such will not be discussed, but still are part of the topic and the same rules apply to them.

An ambient track must be directly connected to the author, as there is no way for it to be remembered in any "folk" setting, and even the music which was ambient-ty in the past, was also music applied to certain settings (the background to the mass, a music playing at some bourgeoisie meeting in 19th century). This forces it to become a commodity, as there is always a need for them, and they are by their nature, not kept in peoples' memory. The more forgettable the ambient track, the better it is. But also the nature of its forgettability shows its power of creation of the mood.

The main task of ambient, is to create a scene, a mood. It is to note the senses we have of possible, better spaces we could be in. Therefore ambient can be as certain revolutionary tool, as it takes us out of our current moment, and puts us, in a better space, created by the musician (or to better call it - a sound designer). Is this "furnituration" (music becoming background, being tool of comfort) of music to better fit with a new public.

I think the problem that Adorno failed to recognize was the prevalence of media. The fact is, that no matter the economic system, people will also use technology for their own leisure. It is also the fact that most people now live in places with high noise pollution, where hearing a siren becomes a meaningless encounter, despite it being dangerously loud. Adorno wanted music to be like literature, but it has become a paint on the wall, the well designed chair, and that forced it to lose its "revolutionary" ability (of which I am critical, as I think no aesthethic experience can lead to a good/reasonable political action, might write on that later).

Will ambient music stay after the fall of capitalism? In my opinion surely, as ambient music became part of our lives. Yes, music stopped showing its aesthethics in its affection to impact us, but to comfort us. That is result of the nature that we listen to music at all times, and because of that, we need "unimpactful" music. The ambient music is for me a development of technology, which just happened to be in capitalism, therefore it will stay as it is of us for any human beings of the future, as it is with all great works of art, no matter where they had come from.

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