Ambient Music

The Orb enjoys new found fame as they collaborate with Pink Floyd's

Alex Paterson has every right to sound slightly tetchy as he points out: "You've ignored us for years, but suddenly everyone's interested just because of who we're working with." His ambient-house pioneers The Orb have been treated as whimsical irrelevances for much of their career; now they're getting to work with one of their heroes and the world is sitting up and listening. Paterson's latest album is Metallic Spheres, by The Orb featuring David Gilmour. The chill-out mavens have been paying tribute to Pink Floyd since their 1991 debut album The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld, with its Battersea Power Station cover and a track called "Back Side of the Moon". Now they have worked the guitarist and vocalist's precise, bluesy style into their own dubby excursions.

Album: Neu!, Neu! '86 (Gronland)

It says "rock" up there, but let's not be coy: this is what used to be known as "krautrock", with all its strange, formalist, concretised and alienating precepts about noise and noise's relationship with music.

Album: Laurie Anderson, Homeland (Nonesuch)

Anderson's first studio album in 10 years is one to divide opinion – either enough to induce "stultifying boredom" (the NME) or one that makes her "the most important multimedia artist of our time" (The LA Times).

Album: Gary Burton/ Chick Corea, Crystal Silence, (ECM)

When the star duo's Crystal Silence first appeared in 1973, it heralded a new house-style of ambient-friendly chamber jazz, where Corea's piano and Burton's vibes seemed to float amidst the listening space like benevolent feng shui sprites.

20 years of the Warp factor

Sheffield's Warp Records celebrates its 20th anniversary in September. Nick Hasted looks back on the cutting-edge electronica/indie label that has produced acts as diverse as Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Grizzly Bear and Maxïmo Park

Album: Moby, Wait for Me (Mute)

Despite Moby's claim that Wait for Me is the first fruit of his decision to make "more personal" and "maybe more experimental" records, it's the closest he's returned to Play, featuring the familiar complement of sombre soul, gospel and choral vocal samples swathed in warmly melancholic string-synth textures and reassuringly logical synth and keyboard progressions.

Album: Arve Henriksen, Cartography, (ECM)

Trumpeter Henriksen – whose playing invokes the breathy whisper of a Japanese flute – confirms his status as the most compelling improviser on the planet with 12 tracks recorded in Kristiansand.

Album: Armstrong, Memory Takes My Hand – BBC Symphony

Portentous and banal, "Memory Takes My Hand" is the least interesting of the three works here. Not even Lucy Crowe can make Peter Arnott's lyrics intelligible at the tessitura chosen by Craig Armstrong, and the BBC SO treads water in a score that sounds as though Carl Orff had been reincarnated as an ambient composer.

Album: Matmos, Supreme Balloon (Matador)

This innovative duo of Björk accomplices returns to its core of pure electronic music here, eschewing the idiosyncratic sound sources of earlier works (amplified semen, anyone?) in favour of a battery of Moogs, Arps, Korgs and even Radio France's massive Coupigny modular synth, once used by the likes of Boulez and Stockhausen to sculpt musique concrète.

Album: Steve Reich, Daniel Variations (Nonesuch)

Propelled by darting vibes and dancing violins, Steve Reich’s four-movement memorial to the murdered American journalist Daniel Pearl interpolates apocalyptic dreams from the “Book of Daniel” with Pearl’s own words. Old Testament terror jars against the simplicity of what Pearl said to a friend when asked if he believed in an afterlife: “I don’t know... But I sure hope Gabriel likes my music.” It’s a powerful,thoughtful, loving piece but the voices of the Los Angeles Master Chorale are weak. Far superior is the London Sinfonietta’s performance: a work of classically Reichian dazzled ecstasy.

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