Welcome to ISC HiFi. Explore new records daily from our growing collection of classics and rarities from around the world. Discover the stories behind the records. Experience the ISC listening space from home through our (( ROOM RECORDING )) audio player below.

“To hear more, say less.”

Our website uses cookies
Read our privacy policy.

I Agree

Envisioning the Future of Ambient Music

Written By: 
Tana Yonas
Tags: 
Share:
  •  
Photo by Mariah Tiffany

Exploring contemporary projects and shifts in a futurist utopia with releases from Arushi Jain, Brian Eno, Laurie Spiegel, and Kuniyuki Takahashi.

Since its origin, ambient music has been a music that fearlessly explores the unknown. That essence of breaking convention has offered expansive new ground for musicians and sound artists for experimenting with and developing new technologies and musical philosophies. The ambient renaissance of the past few years is due not only to the accessibility of instruments and technology, but a reaction to a contemporary life that has never been more rushed and busy. With all-consuming digital lives and the increased strain of a multitude of capitalistic pressures, it’s no wonder many are flocking to meditative aural experiences composed by artists all over the globe.

Below are some forward-thinking creations by some of the most pioneering artists and labels of our time. Their approach helps reflect the new emotional landscapes of modern life.

Generative Music And Artificial Intelligence

Generative music is a term coined by Brian Eno, who ialso famously named ambient music. It describes the modality of the ever-changing textures of sound created by a system. The cues and data are usually first composed by a human, and then infinitely performed by computers. As computing — and, specifically, artificial intelligence technology — develops, Eno eagerly peers over that edge in the pursuit of creating new ways of expressing the human condition in the realm of sight and sound.

With Eno’s 2017 record The Ship, he used AI “to make a record of songs that didn’t rely on the normal underpinnings of rhythmic structure and chord progressions but which allowed voices to exist in their own space and time, like events in a landscape.” It’s a notable departure from his previous work, and hauntingly pervades this 48 minute musical suite. 

Laurie Spiegel’s pioneering work from the early ‘70s through the ‘00s still sounds brand new. Her 1980 record The Expanding Universe was recently reissued by Brooklyn-based label Unseen World, and though Spiegel began her career studying classical instruments, her main focus has been software development. She had been making music with synthesizers for years, having been drawn to the precision she was able to achieve through early computing. Spiegel founded New York University’s Computer Music Studio which brought forward a new generation of experimental music . 

Grounded Integrations of Non-Western Music  

Musicians have long exposed their ears to other musical traditions and tunings, which has inevitably produced surprising collaborations. But many of these integrations of traditional music, for example  from the Global South and Asia, were adopted absent a holistic understanding of the culture or history. Brooklyn-based and New Delhi-born composer and vocalist Arushi Jain’s new record Under the Lilac Sky illustrates the ways in which cultural understanding and integration can deepen the collaborative potential. A nuanced interplay between Jain’s own diasporic journey of Hindustani Indian classical music and her background studying engineering and coding at Stanford has combined to create something wholly new and exciting. 

Producer Endeguena Mulu, who composes music under the moniker Ethiopian Records, explores a similar synthesis. Mulu is based in Addis Ababa, and combines tech-generated ambient and beat-making with unique layering of traditional Ethiopian folk music and traditions. The politics of music and appropriation, and the importance of native musical traditions, are  constants in his work.

Looking to the Past With Fresh Ears

Two recent reissues happen to both come from the same era in 1980’s Japan, where a bustling bubble economy transformed city centers into cultural utopias. Neither got the attention they warranted, but that’s not surprising. Many modern ambient favorites, most famously Laraaji,  were overlooked by mainstream listeners until recently. This shift in taste has sent many to the vaults with the goal of resurrecting lost-to-time future classics that are prime for the receptions  they deserve.

This Music from Memory re-release of Kuniyuki Takahashi’s privately run tapes is one of those deep dives into a particularly exciting time in contemporary music’s history. What remains impressive is the ways in which records from this period sound brand new — a sign that they were masterpieces awaiting rediscovery.

Synergetic Voice Orchestra was a 1990 project led by pianist and composer Yumiko Morioka. Morioka was encouraged by long time friend Haruomi Hosono (Yellow Magic Orchestra). The band consisted of novice and professional musicians, and was a culmination of her fascination with the musical traditions of India, Mali, Korea, and China. The recording has recently had its first vinyl release by UK Label Métron Records.

Related Articles

Sort By
12th Isle
2020
33rpm
45rpm
4AD
5 Selects
7"
99 Records
A&M
Abbey Lincoln
Aboriginal
Abstract
Ace Tone
Acid Archives
Acid Folk
Acid House
Acid Punk
Acoustic
Adrian Sherwood
Africa
African
Afro
Afro-Cuban
Afrobeat
Alan Ginsberg
Alan Greenberg
Alan Thicke
Albert Ayler
Alice Coltrane
Amazon Music
Ambient
Amoeba Music
Amplifier
Analog
Anatolian Rock
Andy Warhol
Animation
AOR
Aquarium Drunkard
Archie Shepp
Archival
Art
Art & Design
Art Dudley
Art Film
Art Pop
Art Rock
Artform Radio
Arthur Russell
Article
Ash Ra Temple
Audiogon
Audiophile
avant
Avant-Garde
Avant-pop
Avant-Rock
Balearic
Bali
Ballad
Bargain Bin
Baroque Pop
Basquiat
Bauhaus
Bayou Funk
BBC
BBC Radiophonic
Beats in Space
Bebop
Belgium
Bennie Maupin
Berlin-school
Best of 2020
Beverly Glenn​-​Copeland
Bhutan Stamps
Big Band
Bill Laswell
Black Jazz
Blaxsploitation
Blue Note
Blues
Blues Rock
Bob Marley
Bola Sete
Bollywood
Boogie
books
Boredoms
Bossa
Bossa Nova
Brazil
Brazilian Folk
Breakbeat
Breezy
Brian Eno
Bruce Weber
Bruton Music
Buddhism
Cabaret
Calypso
CAN
Cape Verde
Caribbean
Cartridges
Casio
Cassette
Cats
CD
Channel One Studios
Chanson
Charles Lloyd
Charles Mingus
Chee Shimizu
Chet Baker
Chicago
Choral
City Pop
Classical
Classics
Coctueau Twins
Commercial
Community
Compass Point
Compilation
Condesa Electronics
Conny Plank
Contemporary Jazz
Cornelius
Cosmic
Cosmic Disco
Cosmic Folk
Country-Rock
Covers
Cult Classic
Cumbia
Daft Punk
Dance
Dancehall
Dark
Dark Entries
David Bowie
David Byrne
Davida
Deep Dive
Deep Listening
Delia Derbyshire
Demo
Dennis Bovell
Denon
Detroit
Devotional
Diasporic Disco
Dick Verdult
Diggin in the Mags
Disco
Discogs
DIY
DIY / Amateur
DJ
Documentary
Don Buchla
Don Cherry
Donald Byrd
Doom Metal
Downtempo
Dr. John
Dream House
Dream Pop
Dreamy
Drone
Drum Break
Drum Machine
Drum n Bass
Drums
Dub
Dub Poetry
dublab
Dubwise
Durutti Column
Düsseldorf School
Eames
Earl King
Early Electronic
East African
EBM
ECM
Electric Lady
Electro
Electronic
Electronica
Elegant Pop
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam
Enossified
Environmental Music
Eric Dolphy
ESG
Esoteric
ESP Institute
Essential Listen
Essential Listening
Essential Listenning
Ethereal
Ethiopian Jazz
Ethnic
Event
Events
Exotica
Experimental
Factory Records
Fela Kuti
Field recording
Films
Fingertracks
Fishing with John
Fleetwood Sound Company
Floating
Floating Points
Folk
Folk-Rock
Fonts
Fourth World
France
Free Improvisation
Free Jazz
Friends of ISC
Funk
Fusion
G.S. Schray
Gal Costa
Gamelan
Garage Rock
Garrard
George Martin
Gilberto Gil
Gogo
Gospel
Grado
Graphic Novel
Group Sounds
Guide
Guitar
Hard Bop
Harold Budd
Harry Nilsson
Haruomi Hosono
Heavy Metal
Henry Lewy
Herbie Hancock
hi-fi
hi-NRG
Hidden Gem
Highlife
Hip Hop
Hiroshi Yoshimura
history
Holger Czukay
Holiday
Hollywood
Holy Grail
Home Listening
House
Hypnotic
Iasos
IDM
Illustration
Improvisation
In Conversation
India
Indian
Indian Classical
Indie
Indie Rock
Industrial
Ingmar Bergman
instock
Instrumental
International
Interview
ISC Classic
ISC Collection
isc guide
ISC Record Store
ISC Selects
Island Records
Isolation
Italy
Jackie McLean
Jamaica
James Baldwin
Japananese
Japanese
Jazz
jazz kissa
Jazz-funk
Jazz-rock
JBL
John Fahey
John Martyn
Jon Hassell
Joni Mitchell
Judee Sill
K. Leimer
Kankyo Ongaku
Keith Haring
Keith Jarrett
Kid-Friendly
Kitty Records
Klaus Schulze
Klipsch
Kompakt
Kosmiche
Kosmische
KPM
Kraftwerk
Krautrock
L.Shankar
La Monte Young
Labels We Love
Lafawndah
Lagniappe Sessions
Laraaji
Larry Levan
Last Resort
Laswell
Latin
Latin Jazz
Laurel Canyon
Laurie Spiegel
Leaving Records
Lebanese
Lee Scratch Perry
Left-field
Leftfield
Lena Horne
Les Baxter
Lester Bowie
Library
Library Music
Liquid Liquid
Listening bar
Live Performance
Live Recording
Los Angeles
Lost & Sound
lost and sound
Louisiana Blues
Lounge
Lounge Lizards
Love Songs
Lovefingers
Lovely Music Ltd.
Lovers Rock
Luaka Bop
Mad Professor
Marantz
Marcel Duchamp
Marcos Valle
mbaqanga
McIntosh
Meditation
Meditative
Melancholic
Mellow
Melody As Truth
Meredith Monk
Metal
Michael Franks
Mid-Century
Miles Davis
Milford Graves
Mills College
Minako Yoshida
Minimal
Minneapolis Sound
Mixes
Mizell Brothers
Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs
Modal
Modern Classical
Moki Cherry
Mono
Mort Garson
Motown
MPB
MTV
Munich
Music Blog
Music from Memory
Music Interior
Music Therapy
Music Video
Mwandishi
Narrative
Neptunes
New Age
New Music
New Wave
News
Nico
Nina Simone
No Wave
Noise
Non-Profit
Northern Soul
Now Sound
NTS
Nubian Pop
Nubian Soul
Numero Group
OBI
Obscure
Obscure Sound
On Screen
On-U Sound
online radio
Organic
Organic Music
Ornette Coleman
Ortofon
Oswalds Mill Audio
Outsider Pop
Overtone Singing
Painting
Painting with John
Pandit Pran Nath
Paradise Garage
Pastoral
Patrick Cowley
Paul Horn
Paul McCartney
Pauline Oliveros
PBS
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Pensive
Percussion
Pharoah Sanders
Phillip Glass
Piano
Pioneer
Plantasia
Plants
playlist
Playlists
Plinth
Political
Pop
Pop Rock
Popul Vuh
Post Bop
Post Rock
Post-Punk
Power Pop
Premiere
Prince
Private Press
Productions
Professor Longhair
Prog Rock
Progressive
Progressive Rock
Prophet-5
Psychedelic
Psychedelic Rock
Psyhedelic
Punk
Qobuz
Quadraphonic
QUARK
Quiet Storm
R&B
Radio
Raga
Rare Groove
rca victor
Receivers
Record Label
Record Stores
Record Stories
Reggae
Reissue
Reissues
Releases
Remix
Rock
Rocksteady
Roland
Roland Kirk
Roller Skate
Room Recordings
Room Treatment
Roots Reggae
Rotary Mixers
Rough Trade
Rudy Van Gelder
Ryuichi Sakamoto
Ryuichi Sakmoto
Sacred
Sade
Sam Gendel
Samba
Samples
Sci-fi
Séance Centre
Seefeel
Sensual
Shamisen
Shibuya-kei
Shoegaze
Singer-Songwriter
Sisters with Transistors
Sly & Robbie
Smooth Jazz
Soft Rock
Solid State
Songwriting
Sonny Sharrock
Soul
Soul-jazz
Sound Collage
Soundsystems
Soundtrack
South Africa
South African
South America
speakers
Spiritual
Spiritual Jazz
Spoken Word
Staff Picks
Steely Dan
Stereolab
Stereophile
Steven Halpern
Stevie Wonder
Stoner Rock
stores we love
Streaming
Street Soul
Studio One
Sun Ra
Sunn O)))
Surround Sound
Susumu Yokota
Suzanne Cianni
Suzanne Kraft
SYNG
Synth
Synth Pop
Synth-pop
Synthesizer
Synthwave
Taarab
Takoma Records
Tangerine Dream
Tape
Tapes
TD-160
Techno
Techno Pop
Television
Terry Callier
Terry Riley
The Beatles
The Broad
The Loft
The Meters
The Mizell Brothers
The Music Center
The World Stage
Thelonious Monk
Third Side Music
Third Stream
This Mortal Coil
Thorens
Tim Sweeney
Too Pure Records
Total Luxury Spa
Traditional
Trip-hop
Tropical
Tropicalia
Tuareg
Tube
Turntable
TV
UK
Underrated
Val Wilmer
Vanity Fair
Velvet Underground
Vice
Video
Vince Guaraldi
Vintage
Vintage Gear
vinyl
Virginia Astley
Visible Cloaks
Visual Art
Vocal
Vocoder
Walearic
Wally Badarou
Water
Website
Werner Herzog
West Africa
West African
Windham Hill
World
Yacht Rock
Yasuaki Shimizu
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Yma Sumac
YouTube
Zamrock
Zither