Focus: Ambient

The term Ambient music is often attributed to Brian Eno. In the 70’s Eno had an accident and was hospitalized. As he lay there listening to music on very weak volume, he discovered that there were some glitches in one speaker and the sound came and went because it was so low volume. He couldn’t reach the volume button to increase, so he had to lie there and listen. After a while he became fascinated with the sound and the hospital stay would be of great significance for his future music making. The album ‘Discreet Music’ was released in 1975 and Ambient music was born. I will in a series of themes give tips on discs that should exist in each virtual record collection.


Vangelis – Opéra sauvage (1979)
Score for the nature documentary by the same title by French filmmaker Frédéric Rossif. The album sleeve design is by Vangelis himself.
Vangelis produced this album during his electro-acoustic period, which was one of the most productive in his musical career. Opera Sauvage is more akin to his classic sound than his earlier nature scores for the same director, such as L’Apocalypse des animaux and La Fête sauvage. A later collaboration with Rossif in the style of Opéra sauvage was Sauvage et Beau.
The album became #42 in the Billboard top 200, and stayed in the charts for 39 weeks.

Budd/Eno – The Plateaux of Mirror (1980)
Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror is a 1980 album by ambient musicians Harold Budd and Brian Eno. This is the second installment of Eno’s Ambient series which began in 1978 with Music for Airports, identifiable by its similar cover art which looks like it depicts rural terrain on a map.

Brian Eno – Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983)
Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983) was written, produced, and performed by Brian Eno, his brother Roger and Daniel Lanois. Music from the album appeared in the films 28 Days Later, Traffic and Trainspotting, whose soundtrack sold approximately four million copies. Two of the songs from the album, “Silver Morning” and “Deep Blue Day”, were issued as a 7″ single on EG Records.

Budd/Eno – The Pearl (1984)
This album is similar to Budd and Eno’s previous collaboration Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror, consisting mostly of subtly treated piano textures, but this time with more pronounced electronic treatments and nature recordings. This album was produced with Daniel Lanois, who is also credited on the front cover.

Harold Budd – The White Arcades (1988)
The album was recorded at various locations, including the Palladium in Edinburgh and the Cocteau Twins Studio in London, and individual tracks were engineered by the Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and by Brian Eno, the latter also adding his characteristic treatments to those tracks.

Biosphere – Substrata (1997)
Biosphere’s first truly ambient album, it has a theme of cold, of mountains and glaciers and running water. Sounds of howling wind and creaking wood, although infrequently employed, create a chilling soundscape interrupted by sonorous but quietly suspenseful music.

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