My partner has a thing where she posts selections of tunes on her Instagram Live, and she asked me to do a guest slot yesterday. The brief she gave me was “You Have Fallen Down A Well (But It Is Okay)”. I decided to restrict myself to the last decade or so, because more constraints makes it easier to choose, and ended up with a subtitle of “10 ambient & drone tracks from the 2010s — and one from 2020”. Making this was fun!
You can hopefully find the playlist on YouTube Music. (Yes, it 2h23m. That’s mostly because the Guðnadóttir and the Basinski are really long. I think they’re worth it!)
Here’s the track listing and blurb.
- Some Limited and Waning Memory (feat. Echo Collective) by Christina Vantzou (from No. 4) — Taking in modern classical drone and electronic ambient, which seems like a pretty good place to start this selection.
- Xerrox Isola by Alva Noto (from Xerrox, Vol. 3) — Pure electronic ambient, from a master.
- Eilean (feat. Paul Anderson) by Claire M Singer (from Solas) — Whereas this is a gorgeous bit of neo-classical drone.
- Expect by Balam Acab (from Wander/Wonder) — A bit of a left turn here. I’m not sure this strictly qualifies as ambient, or indeed any other genre, but it would seem wrong to make a playlist about falling down a well without it.
- Leyfðu Ljósinu by Hildur Guðnadóttir (from the album of the same name) — This 35-minute piece for looped cello and voices was, staggeringly, recorded in a single take. The title is Icelandic for “Allow the light”.
- Alien Observer by Grouper (from the album of the same name) — Let’s ease ourselves into the second side of this mix-tape with a dream-pop classic.
- I’ll Change Your Life by Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek (from Bird, Lake, Objects) — Another hard-to-classify number, here a jazz-influenced vibraphone player meets a sample guru, with blissful results.
- Rock House With Door by CV & JAB (from Thoughts Of A Dot As It Travels A Surface) — A second appearance for Christina Vantzou, this time in collaboration with John Also Bennett, from an album inspired by visual artist Zin Taylor.
- Erosion Always Wins by Stephen O’Malley & François J. Bonnet (from Cylene) — I guess it would be remiss to talk about drone and not have any guitars, so here’s half of Sunn O))) collaborating with the director of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales.
- Night / Disco by Nozomu Matsumoto (from Sustainable Hours) — Time to lighten things up, and also to come bang up to date, with this bit of installation ambient. Lyrics by Sid Vicious and by Crass!
- On Time Out of Time by William Basinski (from the album of the same name) — Using sounds based on the gravitational wave detection signal from LIGO, this does seem to stretch time like a black hole might, and it is utterly serene.