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Friday, February 22, 2008

A Brief History of Ambient Volume 1: 152 Minutes 33 Seconds (1973-1993)

Update 04/30/2012: Sorry, folks. Muso TNT Limited, working on behalf of Hawkwind, has filed a DMCA takedown request with MediaFire to have this share removed. Apparently, because this out-of-print compilation features two Hawkwind tracks, the band feels you do not have the right to download and listen to any of it. If this myopic thinking bothers you enough, sent Hawkwind an email or drop by their Facebook page to let them know how ridiculous they are being.

In August of 1993, Virgin Records dug into their vaults to compile and release this two-disc collection of ambient music. This compilation helped kick off a more widespread appreciation for this type of mellow electronic mood music. Considered the father of ambient music, it was Brian Eno that first coined the phrase in the mid-70s, describing it as music to be "actively listened to with attention or as easily ignored, depending on the choice of the listener."

Limited to music originally released by Virgin Records, the historical importance of each track varies, but it is still an essential and important primer for fans of music in general and electronic music in particular. From this point forward, electronica would begin to diversify to such an extent that the descriptive use of ambient music as a genre would become irrelevant.

I found four fan-made clips on YouTube that utilize music from Amorphous Androgynous' "Mountain Goat," Hawkwind's "The Forge of Vulcan" and Tangerine Dream's "Phaedra":

Virgin Records released a second two-disc compilation by the end of 1994 that covered much of the same ground. A third volume followed in 1995. In 1997, Virgin Records released the fourth and final volume in the series. It was the first to feature licensed tracks from other labels and focused solely on the darker Isolationist sub-genre.

A Brief History of Ambient Volume 1: 152 Minutes 33 Seconds (1973-1993)
1. Harold Budd - Flowered Knife Shadows [1986] (7:00)
2. Tangerine Dream - Thru Metamorphic Rock (Edit) [1978] (9:43)
3. Robert Fripp / Brian Eno - Evening Star [1975] (7:29)
4. Amorphous Androgynous - Mountain Goat [1993] (4:28)
5. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Sea of Vapours [1990] (3:49)
6. Hawkwind - The Forge of Vulcan [1977] (3:01)
7. Killing Joke - Requiem (A Floating Leaf Always Reaches the Sea Dub Mix) [1992] (10:35)
8. Brian Eno - An Ending (Ascent) [1983] (4:11)
9. Richard Horowitz - Marnia's Tent [1990] (2:58)
10. Irmin Schmidt / Bruno Spoerri - Rapido de Noir [1990] (6:32)
11. Ashra - Kazoo [1980] (5:36)
12. Harold Budd / Brian Eno - Their Memories [1984] (2:38)
13. The Grid - Leave Your Body [1993] (4:46)
14. Christopher Franke - Electric Becomes Eclectic [1991] (3:36)
15. Tangerine Dream - Phaedra (Edit) [1974] (10:21)
16. Brian Eno / Jon Hassell - Delta Rain Dream [1980] (3:19)
17. William Orbit - The Monkey King [1993] (4:49)
18. Gong - Castle in the Clouds [1973] (1:02)
19. Hawkwind - Life Form [1979] (1:40)
20. Laraaji - The Dance #2 [1980] (9:04)
21. Sheila Chandra - Sacred Stones [1992] (5:26)
22. Michael Brook - Earth Floor [1985] (4:44)
23. Faust - Läuft...Heisst das es Läuft Oder es Kommt Bald...Läuft [1973] (3:19)
24. Jon Hassell - Gift of Fire [1981] (4:41)
25. Material - The End of Words [1989] (3:44)
26. Edgar Froese - Panorphelia [1974] (9:31)
27. Roger Eno - Voices [1985] (2:14)
28. Holger Czukay - Träum Mal Wieder [1984] (7:21)
29. David Sylvian - Home [1986] (4:10)


Anonymous said...

HEYYYYYYY!! Missed you Kevin! Great post!

Kevin Sartori said...

Great to be back! A failed motherboard and then hard drive (not to mention a heavy load at work) all conspired to keep me away. I enjoy maintaining PLM and will do so 'til I run out of stuff to post!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're okay. I was worried about you and yours... or maybe the Orange Box swallowed you up! lol Well again, I'm glad you made it back. You have class!

Kevin Sartori said...

Classy? Well, shit, I'll take that!

Y'know, on a more serious note, you guys really rock! I honestly appreciate the folks that check in regularly. Especially the ones that leave comments. Thanks again! It's comments like this that make it all worthwhile!

mdnardis said...

Been looking for this one for years.
I've not seen any other collection
like this one -- the personnel list
is amazing.
Thank you!

Vaykorus said...

Brillant blog!

Casa De Galletti said...

I'm in shock to see Killing Joke on any ambient collection. Yeah, ambient for Klingons!

Casa De Galletti said...

I had a brain cloud - As I was culling my LP collection the other night I realized that Killing Joke's first record was on the label Ambient Records. The label not the type of music. Then I realized that "A Brief History" was about the label Ambient not the music Ambient!
After that they switched to EG Records.

Kevin Sartori said...

No, this is definitely a compilation of ambient music released on various Virgin-owned labels. Including Killing Joke may seem like a stretch, as they are certainly not an ambient band, but the included song is not a typical Killing Joke song, it's a dub remix. Maybe the point Virgin was trying to make was that many bands have participated in creating ambient music in one way or another. They probably wanted present as diverse a collection of artists as possible and used this atypical Killing Joke track to do so. The same could be said for their use of Material, Gong and Hawkwind. It could even be said that Virgin were doing what they could to fill two discs ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, great collection.

Steve Engler said...

It was the whole idea of hearing Youth turn the Killing Joke song into ambient music that made me buy this many years ago. The entire collection is incredible, would you consider giving us Volume 4 sometime? That is the only one I can't get my hands on.

Kevin Sartori said...

Absolutely! In fact, that's the plan. I just have to get around to posting Volumes 2 and 3 first...

Anonymous said...

thanks for vol 1 and 2. i remember these from long ago and its nice to hear them again.

Jeff said...

It's great to find this on here. I've had volume 2 for years but have never come across any of the other volumes.
Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Download stops everytime at half of the road...shame. For my pc this file is a too big cake to digest. I'd like to share with you impressions...hope to find this album in a more suitable part1.2.3.4 way. Cheers!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, this was a classic album that deserved to be posted.

I am a big fan of ambient 'band' the Orb. Here's a quote.
Paterson began his career in the music business as a roadie for the influential English band Killing Joke, signing on to their crew in the late 1970s when he was just eighteen. "This was the major turning point in my life," he told Melody Maker's Ian Gittins. "If Killing Joke hadn't formed, The Orb would never have existed."

Anonymous said...

This album is utterly flawless, utterly essential. I've had it for a while and it's the best ambient (and ambience-setting) collection I've ever come across. My CDs are all packed up as I've just moved house so thanks for the upload!

the saucer people said...

Virgin were not slow to capitalise on the interest of 'ambient' music which was sweeping the chill-out rooms of the UK and Europe thanks to people like Alex Patterson and Mixmaster Morris aka The Irresistible Force and of course Fax Records in Germany who were pioneering this kind of music since the late eighties.

...As a sometime chill-out room DJ back in the early 90s I found it far less of a mediated and proscribed zone in terms of what could be played and I used to love mixing things like Cluster with the tape experiments of the late John C Lilly then into Negativland and back again!

Anyway, thats enough of my old man ramblings, I do remember been blown away but the diversity of the music on this compilation when it came out and the strange thing is hardly any of this music sounds any less dated than it did at the time (and many of the tracks were already years old when this came out)...that's what I love about 'ambient' music, its fluidity and lack of historical reference points...the music could have been made 41 years ago or equally 41 seconds ago.

Huge thanks for sharing all four compilations, I stupidly sold all my vinyl years ago so its a wonderful thing you do, allowing me a second chance to fall in love with this music all over again!

So many wonderful releases on this blog and such diversity! You are a star!

Kevin Sartori said...

Share has been uploaded to MediaFire and is available now!

Kevin Sartori said...

Sorry, share removed. See note at the beginning of post for details.