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Ambient music

It was a long time ago I wrote about music last time, but for a while now, I’ve felt the urge to write an article about ambient music in general and two specific artists in particular. I don’t use ambient music frequently, but I like it when I’m writing role-playing material or fiction. This article is not about nondescript ambient music you can find in heaps out there. This article is about ambient music which makes you really feel that you are somewhere else. I’ve only found three really good examples of this and those are what I plan to share with you now.

Robyn Miller – Myst Soundtrack

I bet at least some of you still remember the first Myst game, but do you remember the music? I do, because I’ve been playing it for hours and hours ever since. This album by Robyn Miller is probably the best ambient music ever written and it continues to be awesome even after all these years. I loved the atmosphere in the first two Myst games and I still feel exactly the same sense of mystery and wonder as I did when I explored those worlds so many years ago.

The above piece is the title track of the first Myst game and serves as an example of Miller’s genius. I love the mixing of “tribal” sounds and the more menacing undertones. I feel like I’m walking into a strange village, surrounded by marvellous things that might be dangerous, but that never the less entice me to move on. Before I end this bit about Myst, I should say that the music to the sequel, Riven, is a bit more unoriginal, but still really, really good as ambient music. This last track is from the first Myst, though, but the soundtrack for Riven is easy to find on YouTube if you want to have a look.

Shpongle – Nothing lasts… but nothing is lost

Shpongle is an old favourite of mine, originally recommended by a friend (thanks, Johan). The album Nothing lasts.. but nothing is lost served as my main inspiration source when I wrote my parts of Haragada, and also for parts of my own grand project, Magneter och mirakel. I have a very romantic view of deserts, probably because I live far from them and don’t have to endure their unforgiving climate, but also because I grew up with Frank Herbert‘s Dune and its various offspring (see this post in Swedish about . This album takes me straight to the heart of the desert, where dunes stretch as far as the eye can see and the sky is a sapphire blue. This feeling can best be exemplified by the following track:

In this album, Shpongle manages to do more that create a dream of deserts, it also has a strong Arabic touch which again stirs the love for that fictional place where robed, Arab-like people fight for their freedom (or indeed real Arabs, as in Lawrence of Arabia). The following track takes us to a small, dimly lit tent, where a sorceress is performing an invocation. Of what? Of that I can only dream.

Kenji Kawai – Ghost in the Shell: Innocence

After watching Ghost in the Shell (the first anime, Innocence is the sequel), for many years I held that soundtrack as one of my very favourites. Then, when I watched Innocence in 2004 (review in Swedish), I was ecstatically pleased that Kenji Kawai, the composer, not only had followed director Mamoru Oshii‘s instructions to keep developing the themes from the first movie, but that he also managed to make it even better. Here is the title track:

In addition to this kind of music, which brings memories of rain, neon signs and philosophical cyborgs, Kawai also composed more action-packed tracks for the film. If I want to write either cyberpunk or anything where a high-technology Japan fits in, this is the given choice. To be honest, though, I listen to this soundtrack a lot more often than that. The track below still resembles the first one, but with a completely different tone. It’s one of my favourites and is called “Attack the Wakabayashi”.

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  1. Martin Ackerfors’s avatar

    Jag skulle kunna tänka mig att du skulle gilla Yann Tiersen som bland annat gjort musiken till fantastiska “Amelie från Montmartre” (som kan vara en bra början om du bara vill lyssna på något litet till en början). Han är mångsidig men har ändå något som gör att man känner igen honom. Mycket bra.

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  2. Moortis’s avatar

    Jag rekommenderar att du borde checka soundtracket till dataspelet Incubation. Det släpptes som en fristående cd-skiva som en bonus till collectors edition versionen av spelet. Musiken till det spelet ger mig fortfarande kalla kårar längs ryggraden ^^

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  3. Olle Linge’s avatar

    Tack för båda tipsen, jag ska kika närmare så snart jag är tillbaka från Hongkong.

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  4. Marcus’s avatar

    Hela soundtracket finns på youtube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZFfWm_186A&feature=PlayList&p=A544179973012F55&playnext_from=PL&index=1

    Duger ju för en första genomlyssning iaf.

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