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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Ambient Volume 2   Imaginary Landscapes CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

3.05 | 2 ratings

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Easy Money
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3 stars In the early 90s ambient music enjoyed a big surge in popularity due to it's increased use in dance clubs' "chill rooms" all around the world. Like any smart label, the Virgin label attempted to cash in on this growing trend by putting out a series of ambient collections on CD. Unfortunately for Virgin their artist roster included only a few modern ambient electronic artists, so they turned to their many progressive rock musicians as well as post-new wave, world beat and various experimental sound sculptors to fill out their CDs. The end result is a highly eclectic collection that shows many different styles under the general heading of ambient.

Almost every single cut on here is either good or outstanding. The CD opens with Baaba Maal's call to prayer which gently fades into one of Eno's more interesting ambient pieces, Tal Coat. The two pieces make a great combination. Other highlights include Tangerine Dream's excerpt from Rubycon. This cut shows TD at their peak using classic analogue synths driven by pulsing sequencers with swirling Mellotron chords on top. Sylvain and Fripp contribute Bringing down the Light, a beautifully sad and melancholy piece filled with long sustained notes on the synth guitar. Other highlights on the first CD include Jah Wobble's post-nuclear mutant take on Dub Reggae, and the Grid's infectious bubbly ambient techno cut, Crystal Clear.

The second side opens with Phil Manzenera playing a quiet guitar instrumental that sounds like an outtake from a mid-70s Pink Floyd album. This song fades beautifully into Prince Fari's classic Bendel Dub. One of the strongest cuts on the whole collection is Daevid Allen's Euterpe Gratitude Piece. This clever composition starts off like typical mellow ambient electronica, but soon starts shifting into unexpected harmonic changes. Towards the end of the piece Allen starts blending in samples of rock stars yelling at their audience as well as free jazz groups and all manner of non-cliché sound samples. The end result is a very powerful piece of sound sculpture.

Klause Schultze's Nachtmusik Schattenhaft is the only cut on the CD that I found annoying. It consists of breathy female vocal samples combined with bad cliché "exotic" Asian sounds. The end result sounds like Martin Denny in some sort of Hollywood idea of a brothel in Bangkok. What is it about Schultze and porno soundtracks anyway?

On this CD the folks at Virgin tried to blend each track into the following track attempting to produce the sound of an early 90s "mix-tape". It is an interesting experiment that succeeds occasionally, but often fails as well. Some of the songs with a pronounced beat stick out like sore thumbs, including the cuts by Wobble and Bass-O-Matic. Also the cuts that feature classic folk singing from Asia don't blend well either.

Taken as individual cuts almost everything on here is well worth a listen, but if you listen to it as a continuous mix, there are some very clumsy transitions.

Easy Money | 3/5 |


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