Sunday, April 26, 2009

William Orbit - Strange Cargo (1987)

I seem to give glowing reviews of everything I cover here, so I thought I'd reach into my CD collection and pull out something I can't say I'm a huge fan of. William Orbit is his name, and the first in the Strange Cargo series is the unfortunate CD.

Strange Cargo is just so... dated. Sure, it was made in 1987, but that is not an excuse, when Ambient 1 sounds like it could be made today. The album does get off to a bright start, with Via Caliente's catchy spanish guitaring, but it's followed by the abomination of Fire and Mercy, with it's hideously awful drumming, keyboarding and electric guitaring. The start of Silent Signals regains some credibility and reveals Orbit is able to make passable ambient, but it too disintegrates into cliches. The rest of the songs just parade the same ideas out, except Out of the Ice, which amusingly steals the bassline from Blondie's Rapture, before doing absolutely nothing with it.

Strange Cargo is not a good album, in any way shape or form. The second in the series is barely any better either. Mr Orbit seems to be alright at making ambient, and good at producing, he should probably stick with those.

Here's a link to Via Caliente:

Tor Lundvall - Ice (1999)

Out of all of the different EDM genres, the one I think I've been listening to the most in the last few months is ambient. I enjoyed ambient before then, but recently I've developed a deeper understanding and passion for the genre as a whole. It really is one of the more immersive and profound genres of music, once you can appreciate the lack of readily accessable melodies and the free-flowing nature.

Tor Lundvall is apparently a painter that that only recently has entered the world of making music, and will hopefully continue to do so. Ice is a majestic album, an album full of interesting ideas. At a pinch, you could say this is loosely a dark ambient album, but it is so much more. It's a diverse array of styles, ranging from the Eno-esque opener Another Evening, to a tribal Roach-esque Nghtbow, to the almost Coldwave synth/vocals of Alone. All of the songs are bound by the concept of winter (hard to tell I know, judging by the title), and best of all, Ice manages to straddle the line of being dark without disintegrating into sounding like a horror movie soundtrack, much like the excellent Biosphere has been able to do. It's also an approapriate "starter" album for new ambient listeners, due to the short song lengths (19 in 60 minutes) and abundance of variance.

If you couldn't tell, I really think you should give Ice a listen. Unfortunately, the blog where I got it from (the fantastic MUTANT SOUNDS) no longer supplies a link to the album due to a request from Lundvall himself, strange considering Ice is long out of print and unavailable elsewhere. So unless someone asks me to upload a song on youtube or the like, you basically have little chance at all of getting Ice, barring a lucky find in a second-hand CD shop, which is a shame for such a quality release.