The 'Ambient Not Ambient' compilation features a whole wealth of contributions coming from composers, producers and electronic musicians alike and serves as the reminder that computer-generated music as such never really grounded. It just got a bit smelly. As Audio Dregs's first release in a long time, this seventeen track album is an almost flawless illustration of the state of things in the, still minor, county of Electronica. 'Ambient Not Ambient' provides some sort of a sweet revenge. Whilst The Barbican Centre may well stage Laurie Anderson during the Summer season, at the very same time, interest in electronic music and composition seems to be waning. E*Rock and Eric Johnson's efforts notwithstanding, the Audio Dregs label maintains the foothold that it is known for.

Anyone who's ever used file sharing software will have noticed the alarming amount of electronica releases shared by internet user. The genuinely interesting releases, however, won't make it on to these, platforms for copyright violation that they are. The result of a mere misconception now persists; there is this set belief that electronica, folktronica and electro-acoustics are in a rut. How the consensus is proved wrong ! Need I explain at greater length ?

I suppose I do. On the strength of this cream of the crop compilation, one tends to beg to differ. 'Ambient Not Ambient' portrays the electronica scene, featuring a gang of stalwart Audio Dregs' afficianados, as well as introducing several young guns.

E*Vax, one half of Ratatat, starts off in a quick shower like manner. His 'Awl' prepares for White Rainbow's 'See and The Field Feels' which is another snappy - three minutes - workout, but one now, of overwhelming rhythm patterns and complex (de-)composition. The second movement from Mudboy's 'Study for a Sleep Album' follows and works like a spiral escalator down the depths of terra elektræ.

Next, Dania Shapes crash in with their 'Weird Boombox' and just when you start to recuperate from Dania Shapes' zany splash of bleeps, Bird Show brings 'Less of Everything'. As the first track to feature the human voice, 'Less of Everything' closes off the brighter part of 'Ambient Not Ambient'. Yellow Swans resume the sinister hold of the early tracks with 'To Valleys of Beautiful Arson' ,yet alas the firearms get a hold of them again within three minutes of stoppage time. A real sense of drama and explosion in 'Discuss Winter' from WTZ Hearts continues the felt mood, that of an eruption from darker and deeper grounds.

Sawako's 'NST' is the compilation's breaking point, being a very slight meander on a toy glockenspiel. This is followed by Grouper with 'Quiet Eyes'. Yet again an outfit new to the scene as it were, this Grouper for better or worse eventually gets its message across. With Strategy's very own Paul Dickow on board, Nudge fill in the gap next, the level of quality being restored and we're back on track. Pumping beats melt with sparkling computer sounds on AM/PM's excellent dancefloor-orientated 'Even as We Here' - functioning as the album's grammar glitch.

It is in Smoke & Mirrors's honour that the latter part of 'Ambient Not Ambient' gets lashed about. Ambient becomes uncomfortable as ambience turns into confusion veering towards nightmare. Smoke & Mirrors's 'Ocean' takes on the tide but just as it splashes on the shore, Audio Dregs's very own E*Rock appears as from nowhere on the mighty 'Exexpat' which has a sense of disposition that rocks you back and forth. Cut short, 'Exexpat' segues into Freeform's 'Ante Meridian' like a drone of orchestral appeal that has been interrupted by a busy signal.

We've now reached the deepest depths as Freeform struggles to find a stage. The busy signal from Freeform's mobile phone is mixed with a few obligatory sounds, but this, however, proves not enough. As Freeform is cut short -the theme to this compilation - Chris Herbert takes us to the lower echelons of dubchamber with his 'Whips & Jingles' . Appropriately enough Lucky Dragons and Valet try their hardest to achieve the darkest of moments with the final two tracks, 'Sayles Street Ok Ok' and 'Tuesday Partly Sunny'.

'Ambient Not Ambient' it shall be though. This compilation album showcases plenty of talent that can either be ignored or paraded in grand fashion some time soon.








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