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Mille Plateaux - Force Inc. / IRIS, 1999
Textured ambient music, largely constructed from heavily processed samples of cellos and violins, underlaid with quiet electronics. Interestingly, Ayres plays both acoustic and electric stringed instruments. It's in the Eno tradition of composition based on textural shifting rather than melody. Suitably he's skilled enough at this technique to both make every second of the music interesting to focus on, and make the whole piece smooth and spacious enough to merge with the background. "Cellosphere" underlays the pulsing string textures with bubbling synths, "Harmonic" explores more noisy terrains, while the epic "Jeannie" creates a hollow, windswept and dusty atmosphere from extended drones. Interesting stuff, although I'd check out Eluvium in preference, if you were seeking the best of modern ambient.
The only thing that bugs me slightly is the sound quality of the recording. The effecting seems to be too heavy, so that it becomes muddy and loses some sense of space. Although some of this annoyance may be the fault of my badly trained ears - I still haven't got used to the use of distortion in this kind of music. I'm no audiophile, but distortion on anything other than an electric guitar still makes me instinctively think there's something wrong with my speakers or the recording!
March 16, 2006