This is Paul Clipson. He saw the world in a way that few others did. He created films from this unique perspective and inspired a whole lot of us through doing so. I’ll miss you Paul. Safe onward journeys.
You can read my essay on Ambient via Fact Magazine. In the meantime, here are 12 provocations towards the music’s future.
Ambient is a music of lived moments.
Ambient recognizes control must be forgone with respect to how the music is encountered (but not how it is composed).
Ambient is experientially discrete, but not musically so.
Ambient acknowledges the deceit that is the promise of repetition.
Ambient is never only music for escapism. It is a zone for participation in a pursuit of musical listenership that acknowledges sound’s potential values in broader spheres (the social, political, cultural etc). It is a freeing up, an opening out and a deepening, simultaneously.
Ambient pulses; it courses. Rhythm is a rare friend to this music.
Ambient is never only music. It is a confluence of sound, situation and listenership; moreover it’s an unspoken contract between the creator, listener and place, seeking to achieve a specific type of musical experience.
Ambient is about the primacy of listening (for audience and creator). The music and the spaces and places (interior and exterior) it occupies are critical to how it is appreciated, understood and consumed.
Ambient is transcendent but does not seek some higher plane. It is not new age music. Rather ambient music’s transcendence is within, and invites us deeper into the lived experience of the everyday.
Ambient is never a documentation of somewhere or sometime. Instead it creates an individuated, impressionistic and imagined place. It is realized in-between our internal and external selves.
Ambient is a music of perspectives. It is never fully knowable, in that the music seeps between perspectives (micro and macro) and dimensions of listening constantly. It maintains a sense of the eerie (as Mark Fisher noted).
Ambient is friend to noise, to volume, to physicality. It is however, an enemy of uncalculated dynamism.
Ambient is never finished. It is an experiential process of becoming – for listeners, for creators and more broadly as a musical philosophy.
In the late naughties, Tujiko Noriko, John Chantler and myself were touring in AU. We played Brisbane the same night as The Fall (was a shame to miss them). The next morning we were on route to the airport and as we pulled up at the lights, The Fall were in a small bus next to us. Mark E. Smith was sitting in the window holding his head. As we finished checking in, we turned around and low and behold Mark E. Smith was right there in front of us. He looked UTTERLY hungover; Pacing around in circles. Rather than let the poor fellow spiral onward John and I decided to pop over and say hello. He asked us what we were doing, and we told him we were touring with Tujiko Noriko. Without missing a beat, he glanced at us and in the most diminishingly elegant way, he said to us ‘so what you then? the backing band?’. I couldn’t help but smirk (caught in the photo too), such a perfect exchange with a frontman par excellence. One who clearly did not have much time for the ‘backing band’. Another great character of our age gone…RIP.
And still it sounded, but who listens?
It’s hard to express how much someone like Éliane Radigue’s work has meant for me over the years. Her pieces have been a critical touchstone for me over a great many years to say the least.
In the past few years particularly I have found myself returning to her final electronic piece L’île re-sonante. In this work of singular beauty I have found myself lost again and again. In my opinion this work brings together the finest aspects of minimal and ambient traditions in a very specific and natural way. It breaths with intent, clarity and calm. It maintains the most profound focus on the softest of impressionist ways of sound-world making.
In early 2017 I wrote a letter to Éliane. I wasn’t sure if she would have time to respond. A few weeks later I had a generous and enthusiastic reply from her. We exchanged some more messages and in August, between concerts, I had the opportunity to visit Éliane in Paris and spend the afternoon with her. It was a real and true pleasure to be sure. A reminder of the lifelong journey that is making art!
During the afternoon, I asked if she might be interested in a commission to create a new solo composition for the masterful Australian artist Cat Hope. She very kindly accepted the invitation. I am so pleased to announce the world premiere of Occam XXIV, which will premiere at next year’s Open Frame. The commission was made possible by Carriageworks, as part of their incredible support for the creation of new works. Here is a photo that shows just how chuffed I was spending time with this inspirational and generous woman!
Because why not…here are the recordings (old and new, released in 2017) that have reached into me, resonated and made me love being alive (even on planes!)…
Tony Conrad – 10 Years On The Infinite Plain
Keiji Haino – Watashi Dake
Mt Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me
Sarah Davachi – All My Circles Run
Felicia Atkinson – Hand In Hand
Omar Souleymann – To Syria With Love
Xiu Xiu – Forget
Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Akira (Symphonic Suite)
Coil – Time Machines
William Basinski – A Shadow In Time
Washington Phillips – Washington Phillips and His Manzarene Dreams
Pan Daijing – Lack
Jaap Vink – Jaap Vink
Giusto Pio – Motore Immobile
Burial – Sub Temple
Morteza Hannaneh – Tchashm-E-Del
Equiknoxx – Colón Man
Alessandro Cortini – AVANTI
Rafael Anton Irisarri – The Shameless Years
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Levitation Praxis Pt 4
DEATHPROD – Treetop Drive
Roland Kayn – A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound
Midori Takada – Through The Looking Glass
Annie Anxiety – Soul Possession
Various – Tokyo Flashback
also that Moor Mother record is a monster!