In the same decades that electronic music was forming and ambient was being shaped, humans still had firmly in their memory that man had so recently strode upon the moon. Indeed, Music for Airports is only predated by the last manned moon mission by six years. So a subset of genre grew up that uses big, sweeping sounds and slow, smooth tempos in an attempt to capture the vast expanses of space in musical form. One of the pioneers of this field is the American composer, Jonn Serrie, who will be introduced in greater detail later. Now we go to focus on some of the modern masters, Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad.
Hedberg and Segerstad create and perform under the name Carbon Based Lifeforms (CBL). CBL produces absolutely haunting music that really does capture the feelings of space: emptiness, mystery, darkness, beauty, wonder, awe, and so many more. They do this while keeping their music “solid” by weaving more organic instruments and the sounds of earth, such as waves and wind, into it. Hydroponic Garden, from 2003, is their best selling and most popular album, but 2011’s Twentythree is also a masterpiece.
A spinoff from space ambient is psybient, or psychedelic ambient. Psybient and space ambient frequently run together, even CBL above could be considered as psybient. One of the modern masters of this subset of music is Magnus Birgersson. Magnus is an electronic musician who makes a variety of music, both upbeat trance and downtempo ambient, under the moniker of Solar Fields. His music brilliantly blends trance and more chill ambient into sonic nirvana. Birgersson has put out an impressive, and extensive, body of work. He released his first album in 2001 and has released 14 more since then, and an additional 7 soundtracks for movies and video games. His soundtrack work includes the critically acclaimed and award winning music for the game Mirror’s Edge. However, his best album is Movements, released in 2009. Movements is pysbient/space ambient and is thought to be trying to capture the feeling of moving through space on a ship as an explorer rather than just the general ‘feelings’ of space like most space ambient. Movements perfectly blends a droning, classical sound with more modern electronic elements and is one of the best ambient albums ever made. I once read that it is only good with a good sound system, and while I don’t believe that, it certainly doesn’t hurt. This album is an hour and a half of pure auditory ecstasy.
Now we leave the icy plains of Sweden and make a quick trek to their western neighbors, Norway, where we find artists doing things just a bit different.