Dark ambient

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Dark ambient (referred to as ambient industrial especially in the 1980s) is a genre of post-industrial music [1] [3] that features an ominous, dark droning and often gloomy, monumental or catacombal atmosphere, partially with discordant overtones. It shows similarities toward ambient music, a genre that has been cited as a main influence by many dark ambient artists, both conceptually and compositionally. [4] Although mostly electronically generated, dark ambient also includes the sampling of hand-played instruments and semi-acoustic recording procedures, and is strongly related to ritual industrial music. [5]

Contents

Etymology

The term dark ambient was coined in the early 1990s by Roger Karmanik to describe the music of Raison d'être and related artists that are heavily associated with the Cold Meat Industry record label. [4] [6]

Origins and development

Dark ambient has its roots in the 1970s with the introduction of newer, smaller, and more affordable effects units, synthesizer and sampling technology. Early genre elements can be found on Throbbing Gristle's 1978 album D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle , and in the soundtrack to the 1977 David Lynch film Eraserhead. Important early precursors of the genre were Tangerine Dream's early double-album Zeit (1972), which unlike most of their subsequent albums abandoned any notion of rhythm or definable melody in favour of "darkly" sinuous, occasionally disturbing sonics; and also, Affenstunde (1970) by fellow krautrock band Popol Vuh.

Lustmord Lustmord cropped.jpg
Lustmord

Projects like Lustmord, [7] Nocturnal Emissions, and Zoviet France [8] evolved out of industrial music during the 1980s, and were some of the earliest artists to create consistently dark ambient music. These artists make use of industrial principles such as noise and shock tactics, but wield these elements with more subtlety. [8] [9] Additionally, ambient industrial often has strong occultist tendencies with a particular leaning toward magick, as expounded by Aleister Crowley, and chaos magic, often giving the music a ritualistic flavor. [8]

Among the artists who produce ambient industrial/dark ambient are Controlled Bleeding, CTI, Coph Nia, Deutsch Nepal, Hafler Trio, Lustmord, Nocturnal Emissions, PGR, Thomas Köner, Zoviet France, [8] Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, Lab Report, Akira Yamaoka, Robin Rimbaud, Endura, Vidna Obmana, Daniel Menche, Lull, Hwyl Nofio, Hieronymus Bosch, Trepaneringsritualen and Final. Many of these artists are eclectic in their output with much of it falling outside ambient industrial. [8]

Characteristics

Dark ambient often consists of evolving dissonant harmonies of drones and resonances, low frequency rumbles and machine noises, sometimes supplemented by gongs, percussive rhythms, bullroarers, distorted voices and other found sounds, often processed to the point where the original sample cannot be recognized. [8] For example, entire works may be based on radio telescope recordings (e.g. Arecibo's Trans-Plutonian Transmissions), the babbling of newborn babies (e.g. Nocturnal Emissions' Mouths of Babes), or sounds recorded through contact microphones on telegraph wires (e.g. Alan Lamb's Primal Image). [8]

Generally, the music tends to evoke a feeling of solitude, melancholy, confinement, darkness, and isolation. However, while the theme in the music tends to be "dark" in nature, some artists create more organic soundscapes. Examples of such productions are those of Oöphoi, Alio Die, Mathias Grassow, Tau Ceti, and Klaus Wiese. The Symphonies of the Planets series, a collection of works by Brain/Mind Research inspired by audible-frequency plasma waves recorded by the Voyager unmanned space probes, can also be considered an organic manifestation of dark ambient. [10]

Subgenres

Isolationism

Isolationism, also known as isolationist ambient, is a style of ambient music prominent in the 1990s. The term was coined by British musician Kevin Martin and first appeared in print in a September 1993 issue of The Wire magazine. [11] He described it as a form of fractured, subdued music that "pushed away" listeners. In 1994 Martin curated a compilation album, Isolationism , collecting various examples of the genre.

Journalist David Segal referred to it as "ambient's sinister, antisocial cousin". [12]

John Everall, owner of the Sentrax label, places the origins of "Isolationist" music in early industrial groups, krautrock, ambient music and experimental composers such John Cage, non-experimental composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, and others. [12]

James Plotkin identifies Brian Eno's ambient works as the greatest influence on the isolationist scene, along with American experimental music such as Illusion of Safety. [13] As Plotkin says,

I really didn't know what was meant by Isolationism [...], because it encompassed this broad spectrum of music that ranged from Ambient to avant garde music to even something more aggressive – like the Japanese Noise scene. [...] Isolationism was a Virgin compilation and it needed a marketing angle. And [compiler] Kevin Martin was definitely responsible for exposing a really large amount of people to music that would otherwise have gone unnoticed, so I guess it's not all bad. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

Ambient music is a genre of music that emphasizes tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure or rhythm. A form of instrumental music, it may lack net composition, beat, or structured melody. It uses textural layers of sound which can reward both passive and active listening and encourage a sense of calm or contemplation. The genre is said to evoke an "atmospheric", "visual", or "unobtrusive" quality. Nature soundscapes may be included, and the sounds of acoustic instruments such as the piano, strings and flute may be emulated through a synthesizer.

Whitehouse (band) British power electronics band

Whitehouse were an English band formed in 1980, largely credited for the founding of the power electronics subgenre of industrial music.

Industrial music is a genre of music that draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes. AllMusic defines industrial music as the "most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music" that was "initially a blend of avant-garde electronics experiments and punk provocation". The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by members of Throbbing Gristle and Monte Cazazza. While the genre name originated with Throbbing Gristle's emergence in the United Kingdom, concentrations of artists and labels vital to the genre also emerged in the United States, mainly Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.

Industrial rock Music genre

Industrial rock is an alternative rock genre that fuses industrial music and rock music. It initially originated in the 1970s, and drew influence from early experimental and industrial acts such as Cromagnon, Throbbing Gristle, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Chrome. Industrial rock became more prominent in the 1980s with the success of artists such as Killing Joke, Swans, and partially Skinny Puppy, and later spawned the offshoot genre known as industrial metal. The genre was made more accessible to mainstream audiences in the 1990s with the aid of acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, both of which have released platinum-selling records.

Electronic body music is a genre of electronic music that developed in the early 1980s in Western Europe. It combines sequenced repetitive basslines, programmed dance music rhythms, and mostly undistorted vocals and commandlike shouts with confrontational or provocative themes.

Throbbing Gristle English band

Throbbing Gristle were an English music and visual arts group formed in 1975 in Kingston upon Hull by Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter Christopherson, and Chris Carter. They are widely regarded as pioneers of industrial music. Evolving from the experimental performance art group COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle made their public debut in October 1976 on COUM exhibition Prostitution, and released their debut single "United/Zyklon B Zombie" and debut album The Second Annual Report the following year. Lyrical themes mainly revolved around mysticism, extremist political ideologies, sexuality, dark or underground aspects of society, and idiosyncratic manipulation of language.

Krautrock is a broad genre of experimental rock that developed in West Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s among artists who blended elements of psychedelic rock, electronic music, and avant-garde composition among other sources. These artists moved away from the blues influences and song structure found in traditional Anglo-American rock music, instead utilizing hypnotic rhythms, tape-music techniques, and early synthesizers. Prominent groups associated with krautrock music included Can, Neu!, Amon Düül II, Faust, Harmonia, Ash Ra Tempel, Agitation Free, Guru Guru, early Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Cluster.

Lustmord British musician

Brian Williams is a Welsh industrial musician, sound designer and film score composer. He is often credited for creating the dark ambient genre with albums recorded under the name Lustmord. His experimental work has been described as "not traditionally 'musical'" with "more clearly visual aspects".

Chris Carter (British musician) Musical artist

Chris Carter is an English musician, best known for being a member of Throbbing Gristle and the duo Chris & Cosey, both with his longtime partner Cosey Fanni Tutti.

Staalplaat is an independent record label that is located in Amsterdam with a separate store in Berlin. Founded in 1982, the company's mission was to create a sound forum for sound artists, who write and perform new and experimental music.

Nigel Ayers is an English multimedia artist.

The Sterile Records record label was formed in London in 1979 by Nigel Ayers and Caroline K of the post-industrial music group Nocturnal Emissions. With a background in the mail art networks, their intention was to create and promote a new form of music. Sterile Records’ approach was a combination of the experiments of musique concrète and Fluxus combined with the critical eye of conceptual art and the spontaneity and energy of punk rock. The dark humour of industrial music and the incomprehensible nonsense of various ultra-leftist political fractions were an essential part of the mix. Sterile Records used both commercial and non-commercial media to deliver anti-capitalist messages, multi-coloured noise and information overload. Growing from cassette culture, output included records and videotapes. Caroline K left the label in 1983. The October 2011 edition of Record Collector magazine published an article about the significance of cassette culture in the UK and listing 21 rare but sought after cassette releases, including "Standard Response".

<i>Isolationism</i> (album) 1994 studio album by Various artists

Ambient 4: Isolationism is a 1994 studio album of new material by various ambient artists released on the Virgin Records label, part of its Ambient series. The compilation was issued as a double CD, packaged in a slimline case. It was compiled by and features liner notes by Kevin Martin. It was the first in the series to be composed entirely of new, exclusive material.

Tesco Organisation

Tesco Organisation is a German record label, mail order company and distributor, specialising in industrial, noise, neofolk and ambient music. Tesco has also organised music festivals in the past such as "Heavy Electronics", "Tesco Disco" and "Festival Karlsruhe"

Post-punk is a broad genre of rock music that emerged in the late 1970s as musicians departed from the raw simplicity and traditionalism of punk rock, instead adopting a variety of avant-garde sensibilities and non-rock influences. Inspired by punk's energy and DIY ethic but determined to break from rock cliches, artists experimented with styles like funk, electronic music, jazz, and dance music; the production techniques of dub and disco; and ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art, cinema and literature. These communities produced independent record labels, visual art, multimedia performances and fanzines.

Florian-Ayala Fauna is an American artist, musician, poet, and music producer. Fauna is the main member of the post-industrial music project uncertain.

References

  1. 1 2 Reed, Alexander: Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music, Oxford University Press, 2013, ISBN   0-199-83260-9, p. 190
  2. "Days of Yore: Dark Ambient, Black Metal, and the Birth of Dungeon Synth". February 15, 2016. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  3. Partridge, Christopher; Moberg, Marcus: Industrial, Post-industrial and Neofolk music, The Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music, Bloomsbury Academic 2017, ISBN   1-474-23733-9, p. 206
    "From the early 1980s onwards industrial music as represented by Throbbing Gristle influenced and was fused with other musical styles, resulting in what can be termed 'post-industrial styles'."
  4. 1 2 Thomas Hecken, Marcus S. Kleiner: Industrial. Die zweite Generation., Handbuch Popkultur, J. B. Metzler Verlag, 2017, ISBN   978-3-476-02677-4, p. 99.
  5. Schmidt, Axel; Neumann-Braun, Klaus: Die Welt der Gothics. Spielräume düster konnotierter Transzendenz., Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2004, ISBN   3-531-14353-0, p. 274.
  6. Diesel, Andreas; Gerten, Dieter: Looking for Europe, Index Verlag 2013, ISBN   3-936-87802-1, p. 340
  7. Stosuy, Brandon (October 31, 2008). "Show No Mercy". Pitchfork . Retrieved October 31, 2008.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Werner, Peter. "Epsilon: Ambient Industrial". Music Hyperreal. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  9. "Headbanger's Blog". MTV. Archived from the original on August 28, 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  10. Lamb, Robert. "Space Music: Symphonies of the Planets" Stuff to Blow Your Mind. September 15, 2009.
  11. The Wire 20 (2002). The Wire, 225, 42–51.
  12. 1 2 Segal, David (1995). Isolationism: Going Somewhere Vast. Alternative Press, 81, 35–37.
  13. 1 2 Plotkin, James (2009). "Invisible Jukebox," interview with Phil Freeman. The Wire, 300, 22–25.