When a genre of music manages to establish itself permanently, it branches out into subgenres. This is the sign that a genre of music has staying power and will last from one generation to the next; it is rather like the saying that only a living religion may have acommpanying heresies.
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This is true, for example, of heavy metal. First there was Sabbath, coming out with what was originally nomenclatured as blues-based acid rock. Then more bands followed Sabbath's lead, and immediately diversity began appearing. Blue Oyster Cult established American Metal, as Judas Priest laid down the groundwork for New Wave of British Heavy Metal. In the early 1980's, definite subgenres of heavy metal began to appear which were discernible from all others. Some of the survived, others languished, a few died. Examples:
Heavy Metal, 'thinking-man's heavy metal' (BOC), NWOBHM, boogie-metal (Spyder, which came and went), thrash metal, speed metal, hair/cock/glam metal (ugh!), melodic metal (with Don Dokken representing as the Perry Como of Metal) as a ramp-up from glam, progressive metal (originally Rush until they left the genre), black metal (beginning with Venom, then reborn via Mayhem and all of that lot from Norway and Sweden); finally came the long-overdue cross-pollination of metal and punk in the form of hardcore. There are others, emerging in the nineties, such as goth-metal and symphonic black metal etc.
I've quickly learned that this is equally true in the Ambient scene. Of course, the Ambient genre is actually very nearly as old as Heavy Metal. Tangerine Dream began as the progenitor of this music in the very early seventies, even becoming well-known enough to provide soundtracks to famous films, such as 'Risky Business' (Tom Cruise). In the ninties, the band that put the Ambient genre on the map was The Future Sound of London, but there are so many artists making amazing organic and electronic ambient music (meaning acoustic as well as synthesized, respectively) that it can truly be said that the genre has exploded.
Not only is there Ambient music in many forms, but disturbing and nightmarish Dark Ambient. (Yes, of course I love that stuff!) Here is the list from http://www.ambient.us :
Dub/Chill is extremely mellow, mellifluous, otherworldly. It will help you immensely with tension. Electronic can move at any tempo and even at times get a bit hard. Experimental can be very off-the-wall and quirky. New Age is actually a merge of Ambient and what we usually call New Age, which is its own genre as you well know. Psychedelic is just as it sounds, often with a fusion of '60's music as well as eastern sounds. Space is much like Chill and Electronic but is very futuristic, mind-warping. World is Ambient's answer to World Beat, mixing sounds from many different lands.
That's what I'm listening to now, in the form of 'kaya project'. There is African as well as Indian music in the mix here, and while it's certainly relaxing, it's also very engaging with its primitive beats and mesmerizing voices.
Others might have had a less difficut experience collecting titles in the Ambient genre, but I have only been able to find a few good selections in stores, in fact mostly in one store (SpaceBoy Records on South St., Philadelphia). As I have mentioned before, I get the vast majority of my stuff at the abovementioned ambient.us . I've downloaded a large proportion of their best stuff. I'm sure I must be one of their best customers; the price makes it easy. I now have a rather large ambient collection, at least large enough to bear some diversity. There's something there for every mood... at least every mood that doesn't demand Metal. :)