Mike Oldfield - Hergest Ridge - Virgin - Ambient
Track ListingA Hergest Ridge (Part One) (21:40)
B Hergest Ridge (Part Two) (18:51)
Media Condition » Near Mint (NM or M-)
Sleeve Condition » Very Good Plus (VG+)
Other Titles by Mike Oldfield
Information on the Ambient GenreIt can be reasonably argued that ambient music has roots that go back to the earliest years of the 20th century. In particular, the period just before and after the first world war gave rise to two significant Art Movements that encouraged experimentation with various musical (and non musical) forms, while rejecting more conventional, tradition-bound styles of expression. These art movements were called Futurism and Dadaism. Aside from being known for their painters and writers, these movements also attracted experimental and 'anti-music' musicians such as Francesco Balilla Pratella of the pre-war Futurism movement and Kurt Schwitters and Erwin Schulhoff of the post-war Dadaist movement. The latter movement played an influential role in the musical development of Erik Satie.
As an early 20th century French composer, Erik Satie utilised such Dadaist-inspired explorations to create an early form of ambient / background music that he labeled "furniture music" (Musique d'ameublement). This he described as being the sort of music that could be played during a dinner to create a background atmosphere for that activity, rather than serving as the focus of attention. From this greater historical perspective, Satie is the link between these early Art movements and the work of Brian Eno, who as an Art School trained musician, had an appreciation of both the music and art worlds.
Alongside these early developments, more conventional forms of music began to take note of such experimentation and in turn gave rise to future influence of ambient in the work of modernists composers such as John Cage and Morton Feldman as well as minimalist composers such as La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich.
Brian Eno is generally credited with coining the term "Ambient Music" in the mid-1970s to refer to music that, as he stated, can be either "actively listened to with attention or as easily ignored, depending on the choice of the listener", and that exists on the "cusp between melody and texture." Eno, who describes himself as a "non-musician", termed his experiments in sound as "treatments" rather than as traditional performances. Eno used the word "ambient" to describe music that creates an atmosphere that puts the listener into a different state of mind; having chosen the word based on the Latin term "ambire", "to surround".
The album notes accompanying Eno's 1978 release Ambient 1: Music for Airports include a manifesto describing the philosophy behind his Ambient music:
"Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting." Brian Eno, Music for Airports liner notes, September 1978
Eno has acknowledged the influence of Erik Satie and John Cage. In particular, Eno was aware Cage's use of chance such as throwing the I Ching to directly affect the creation of a musical composition. Eno then utilised a similar method of weaving randomness into his compositional structures. This approach was manifested in Eno's creation of Oblique Strategies, where he used a set of specially designed cards to create various sound dilemmas that in turn, were resolved by exploring various open ended paths, until a resolution to the musical composition revealed itself. Eno also acknowledged influences of the drone music of La Monte Young (of whom he said, "La Monte Young is the daddy of us all") and of the mood music of Miles Davis and Teo Macero, especially their 1974 epic piece, "He Loved Him Madly", about which Eno wrote, "that piece seemed to have the 'spacious' quality that I was after...it became a touchstone to which I returned frequently."
Beyond the major influence of Brian Eno, other musicians and bands added to the growing nucleus of music that evolved around the development of "Ambient Music". While not an exhaustive list, one cannot ignore the parallel influences of Wendy Carlos, who produced the original music piece called "Timesteps" which was then used as the filmscore to Clockwork Orange, as well as her later work Sonic Seasonings. Other significant artists such as Mike Oldfield, Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis have all added to or directly influenced the evolution of Ambient music. Adding to these individual artists, works by groups such as Pink Floyd, through their albums Ummagumma : Meddle and Obscured by Clouds. Other groups including Yes with their album "Tales from Topographic Oceans" , the Hafler Trio and Kraftwerk have all added distinctive aspects to the growing and diversified genre of Ambient Music.
 1990s: Ambient to Electroacoustic
Main article: ambient house
By the early 1990s artists such as the The Orb, Aphex Twin, Slowdive, the Irresistible Force, Geir Jenssen's Biosphere, and the Higher Intelligence Agency were being referred to by the popular music press as ambient house, ambient techno, IDM or simply "ambient" according to Brian Eno's 1978 definition:
"Ambient Music is intended to induce calm and a space to think."Music for Airports Liner Notes
So-called 'Chillout' began as term deriving from British ecstacy culture which was originally applied in relaxed downtempo 'chillout rooms' outside of the main dance floor where ambient, dub and downtempo beats were played to ease the tripping mind.
The London scene artists, such as Aphex Twin (specifically: Selected Ambient Works Volume II, 1994), Global Communication (76:14,1994), FSOL The Future Sound of London (Lifeforms, ISDN), The Black Dog (Temple of Transparent Balls,1993), Autechre, (Incunabula,1993, Amber), Boards of Canada, and The KLF's seminal Chill Out, 1990, all took a part in popularising and diversifying ambient music where it was used as a calming respite from the intensity of the hardcore and techno popular at that time.
Later in the period much experimental electronica, (particularly sound artists such as Pole, Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda, Christian Fennesz, Aphex Twin (drukQs, 2000) and Autechre) expanded the themes of 'ambient' along the lines of earlier 1970s ambient music & dub but with increasingly abstracted sample-based textures and digital electronics that ultimately began to converge with minimalist compositions and music concrete.
Digital era electronic 'electroacoustic' artists, including the recent work of Eno himself, are notable in their attempts to create 'sonic sculptures' which interact with the physical architecture of the listening space using advanced electronic installations.
Literally 'ambient' field recordings are a specialism of the Touch Music label. The electroacoustic influence can be heard in the contemporary work of Polish artist Jacaszek.
Glitch music is a major subset of this work produced by (usually German-speaking) labels such Mille Plateaux (Clicks & Cuts Series, 2000).
Some dubstep producers, notably Burial,2006, have nostalgically referenced the sonic 'post-rave' ambience of the nineties era.