So far the Class of ‘93 mixtape series has payed homage to those early rave genres we all know and love: hardcore breakbeat, techno, trance, jungle, acid. This time the focus shifts to ambient, a genre that enjoyed a brief spotlight in the early ’90s, both in and out of the rave scene, and easily deserves a mixtape of its own.
In 1990 Art of Noise released an ambient collection to critical acclaim, and within a few years artists like Future Sound of London, The Orb, and Aphex Twin were mentioned in the same breath as Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream. Raves had chill rooms and DJs found themselves spinning records from labels as unlikely as 4AD and Windham Hill.
Artificial Skies picks up where Lords of Ecstasy left off, leaving the listener floating in a cloud of analog soundscapes. The idea was to keep the chill vibe going, while moving in a decidedly sci-fi direction. The use of the word “artificial” was deliberate: with a few exceptions, the songs on this mixtape were made on synthesizers. There’s a great deal of very fine acoustic ambient music out there, but the point of this mix was to showcase music that makes no apologies for its use of technology.
One exception to this rule is the song Nike from the phenomenal 1989 album Deep Listening by Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster & Panaiotis, an album that was recorded, of all places, inside an abandoned cistern at an old military fort. Even though it’s an acoustic song, I included it in this mix for a number of reasons, including its staggering beauty, but mostly for the fact that it was recorded under an actual artificial sky. (That reverb is real.) Read the liner notes on the the Discogs page when you get a chance. It’s a fascinating story.
This mixtape features music that came out in the early 90s, as of course is tradition, but the majority of songs actually came out decades before, some as early as the 50s (e.g. Hugh Le Caine). No matter the era, all songs share a set of aesthetic sensibilities that make ambient such a compelling genre. The result is equal parts relaxing, expansive, at times a bit unsettling, but always interesting. I hope you enjoy it!
- Negativland – Announcement (Artificial Skies Mix)
- AFX – CD Only Track #1 (from Analogue Bubblebath Vol 3)
- Pauline Oliveros – Alien Bog
- Laurie Spiegel – Mines
- Brian Eno – Francisco
- Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, & Panaiotis – Nike
- Laurie Spiegel – Crying Tone
- Lustmord – Heresy Part IV
- Hugh Le Caine – A Noisome Pestilence
- Hugh Le Caine – Safari: Eine Kleine Klangfarbenmelodie
- Nurse With Wound – Untitled (from Soliloquy For Lilith)
- Morton Subotnick – Part A (from Silver Apples of the Moon)
- Wendy Carlos – Summer
- Jason Herrboldt – Chemical Suit
- Laurie Spiegel – Immersion
- Hugh Le Caine – Nocturne
- Else Marie Pade – Faust: I. Prolog I Himlen
- Laurie Spiegel – Voices Within: A Requiem
- Laurie Spiegel – Swells