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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.

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 :

Ambient Subgenres:

New Age

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 . 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. :)

The Alienist

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The following comments are for "Quick comparisons in musical opposites"
by The Alienist

You ain't hoyd nuttin'yet. Check out Glenn Branca!
At a new music festival many moons ago,John Cage
told Glenn that his music was EVIL and that if he didn't stop composing the music he was playing,he
could bring on The APOCALYPSE! As soon as I heard that I knew I just had to grab some o'dat action!
By the way,were you ever into Alice Cooper or
Brian Eno? I love the old BOC but they're just resting on their laurels now. Just like the Coop.
It's great to see that you're passionate about the
darker musics. Can you reccomend?

( Posted by: metrozol [Member] On: December 2, 2004 )

Haven't you heard BOC's recent two albums, 'Heaven Forbid' and 'The Curse of the Hidden Mirror'? There's nothing wrong with those two brilliant albums. And they're playing better than ever. Bobby Rondinelli's 'Our Cross, Our Sins' solo album rocked hard, and Steel Prophet (see my review) is kicking ass and taking names. There's always Falconer and the later solo Bruce Dickinson albums ('Chemical Wedding' and 'Accident of Birth'). You can also try Powers Court (my buddies at ).

( Posted by: The Alienist [Member] On: December 2, 2004 )

This is a good guide when shopping for music. I wish there was more material here on Lit like this.


( Posted by: Teflon [Member] On: January 3, 2005 )

Thankew, thankew. :)
I'll try to work up something else like this very soon.

For now, I can tell you that I have quickly built up a solid Ambient collection and that the internet has turned out to be my best way to expand my knowledge of musical genres.

Trying to learn about Ambient at the cd shop (that is, real-world cd shop) on South St. Philly where I was buying the stuff (events few and far between) was like pulling teeth. Even the guy who owned the shop couldn't really tell me anything at length.

I have just had the idea that someone out there must certainly be putting out some sort of publication. I think my best bet for finding such a publication is the site that I mentioned in this article.

( Posted by: the alienist [Member] On: January 3, 2005 )

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