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Title: The Ambient Collection
Author: Russell Brown

THE ART OF NOISE
The Ambient Collection
CHINA 843403/MC/CD

WHAT WILL all this Ambient shenanigans come to? The nation’s youth tripped out of their heads on camomile and cocoa? Getting together deep in the night to hold hands and bliss out to bootleg videos of the BBC test pattern? Nights of mellowing-out in the ambient room of every club in town? None of the above, probably.

‘Ambient House’ is but one of the UK dance scene’s ways of wrenching out the bottle of poppers that has been jammed up its nose since early ‘88. No one really knows what it means whether it’s pacy, spacy club records like ‘Pacific State’, subtle sounds like Mr Fingers’ ‘What Above This Love?’, groovy systems music like the sadly ignored Sidecut DB’s ‘The Obvious’ EP, or the hardcore chill-out stuff like this.

The KLF had the idea first, as they often do, but their recent ‘Chill Out’ LP was a somewhat arbitrary collage of comforting sounds on which the joins were thinly disguised. The Art Of Noise’s contribution, produced and mixed by Youth, is a more musical affair.

Spooky melodies dub their way in and out of earshot, waves break, planes buzz left-to-right, sampled voices bend and stretch into odd shapes. It’s a slipping, sliding, listening experience to escape into, leaving your body behind, which has a lighter intellectual baggage than your average Eno record but a lot more suss than the ghastly Windham Hill-style New Age.

In a way, Art Of Noise were born to this. Their ‘Moments In Love’ was the classic end-of-the-night float in ‘88 - and, anyway, their cachet of upbeat rhythms was looking a bit tawdry. Their new album is nice, charming and a wee bit silly. I’ll still take Sun Ra, thanks.

RUSSELL BROWN