Dance Music Explained: Ambient


BPM 80 – 110

Distinctively more instrumentally driven, Ambient music consists of layers of synth and keyboard notes supported by all manner of bleeps, blips and unusual noises. Melodies are generally used sparingly with the key emphasis based on space and atmosphere. Embryonic forms of the genre can be traced as far back as the 19th century with French composer Erik Satie who famously stated that he “wanted music that would mingle with the sounds of knives and forks over dinner”.

Probably the true pioneer of ambient is Brian Eno, who wished to create a music that could interact with its environment differently each time it was heard. His 1975 LP “Discreet Music” is thought by many to be the first complete recording of the genre.

Following a decline in interest and indeed new material during the 80s, The KLF resurrected ambient for their 1990 album “Chill Out”; a continuous sound collage which reportedly portrayed a mythical train journey from Texas to Louisiana up the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Furthermore, The Orb would add house beats for their ground breaking 1991 collection “The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld”. “Little Fluffy Clouds” became the first recognisable hit.

Richard D James (AKA Aphex Twin) would add Techno rhythms for his breakthrough album “Selected Ambient Works 85 – 92”. Here’s “Heliosphan” from the album.

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