Something I’ve returned to in these musings is the importance of the ‘slow’ in ambient music (and in the wider world). For me, in the increasingly frenetic world most of us inhabit, ‘slow’ things are much undervalued and it’s certainly a rare quality to find in music. I’m fortunate at present to be able to adopt a ‘slow’ approach to creating my ambient music.
One of the advantages about being an independent artist is that you can release when you want – there’s no record company dictating that your third album this year is due to be released ! I can take as long as I think it takes to create an album and in the process of creating an album, there are a sequence of stages that I adhere to. Repeated reworkings and listenings are undertaken, which I repeat a number of times until I get to the mastering stage. Regarding the listening stages, I try to listen to the work-in-progress material in different places and times of the day in order to get a different perspective on how it’s developing. I find that conscious and unconscious observations occur and some subsequent responses and ideas are developed over time. The part of me that is creating the music hears the material, makes mental notes and responds either immediately (by making listening notes) or later, by ideas formulating themselves over time. This adds to the music I feel, in that it’s development is the result of a ‘refining’ period over time.
I’m currently working on an upcoming release and the above ‘slow cooking recipe’ is applying to it’s progression, as has been the case for my previous works.
Regarding the ‘slow’, I make no secret about the fact that a fair amount of my material employs time-stretching – slowing sounds down (usually by 200%, but sometimes much more). By doing this, new ‘facets’ of the original sound can be revealed as the whole spectrum of the sound is shifted downwards and it becomes lower pitched and longer in duration. The whole slowing down process effectively makes the sounds ‘more ambient’. This technique is as old as the hills, but is still very useful for creating drone type sounds. This is just a starting point for me and further processing and other manipulations are usually later employed, but it’s something I do a lot. In fact, I used to do it years ago when I was using a 4-track machine and it’s still applies in the ‘digital studio’.
More slow – slower !