Ambient music needs a new language. The current language of dreams, recollections, faded photos and fog just won’t do anymore, and the visuals, as pretty as they may be, need more variety. Ambient music itself is rich in resonance and rife with possibility, but few folks will ever realize this if the entry points remain the same. I do like the cover of Places, but it’s too vague to attract attention, and in a very crowded field, it may not be enough. The album title, song titles (for example, “4 v.3”), and description fall into the same trap.
Specific is better. Take this review, for example. Shall I write, “the album is filled with notes that allow the mind to wander to unidentifiable places?” That would be accurate enough – but would it get you to listen?
But what if I were to write, also accurately, that the album is comprised not only of field recordings, but of sounds from a noise generator and a mini bandura? Or that a bandura is a Ukrainian hybrid instrument, the mutant love child of a box zither and a lute, that it can also refer to a hurdy-gurdy (the subject of Donovan’s 1968 hit “Hurdy Gurdy Man”), or that many famous bandurans were blind – thus explaining the connection between the music and the conjured mental images? Or that Nasung, who lives in Poland, recently participated in a concert celebrating experimental music from Belarus, demonstrating his love for the preservation and continued exploration of ethnic music? Or that his cavernous music warbles and echoes in canyons of static and drone, that it is often deep beyond measure, that even a two speaker system bleeds it through in three dimensions? Would you want to check it out then? What if I were to tell you that the waves on the first track might not actually be waves, or that the stereo effects of the fourth come across as a clash between the cries of tradition and the pliers of the new? Or that the closing piece separates circus and construction, placing them at opposite ends of the sound field? What would you do then? (Richard Allen)