The Ambientist – 1-6 (Reality used to be a friend of mine, 2019)

Deep hazelnut atmospheres meet breaks from the gods on a divine and holy repress.

Its quite rare that a producer finds thats real middle ground between the tonal sonicness of deep house and ambient releases, and the crunchy destructive power of the Amen break and the many dance genres it influences. Artists such as Burial, Gnork, Trampuianz, Soundboy Killah, Textasy and the like, have found their ground through the evoking of emotion and feeling with something more grounded and evocative, bringing together the riddims that drove the underground sound of the UK and elsewhere with a subtle touch that allows the listener to dive deep into the music and immerse themselves in a nostalgic yet refreshing bubble. Some of the artists mentioned above take this a step further, their world concerned with contexts and intensity, soundtracking our daily lives and emotions, rather than just the sweaty nights in drug fuelled fields and warehouses. These artists touch a chord between these two worlds, and bring listeners in who are charmed by both. A middle ground between sensitivity, grace, and the beat.

The Ambientist for sure falls into this latter category. His vibe fuses these two worlds in much the same way, a focus on powerful dreamy chords and pads create a narrative that then uses riddims from the past as a base to create lush environments and emotional rollercoasters. Its testament to this records ability to make you groove and feel that this will be its fourth repress, following on from his LP debut in 2017. This album contains a number of tunes from that debut, perhaps the one that best display the notions he was trying to achieve through this sublime and dreamy record. Let’s jump into it.

‘1’ kicks us off, and starts with swirling pads that set a tone for whats to come. A breakbeat comes in that feels like its been dipped in some kind of rich unending pool, with vocal samples to boot. The pads drop out, as the guitar riff takes focus and provides a refreshing take on the use of this sample. Vocal samples abound, akin to Moodymann, swirling around, much like the chords were doing before. This creates an interesting break from the chords, which set the tone at the start, but then allow the words to have some sort of meaning. The chants do their work, before those pads drift back into the periphery, with reverbs and the bass cut out to give it that extra touch of simmering exoticness. ‘2’ comes in next, with some delightful jazzy snazzy keys on top of a heavy amount of feedback. Dusty as hell, a soft and groovy beat comes in to compliment these ever drifting keys. Again the production feels very deep, giving the tune that extra dynamic, as the drums grow, giving it a proper decent groove. The haze keeps on coming, as this track just flows on and on like water. A vocal sample kicks in, and adds realism to this proper decent chunneee. ‘3’ churns out some distant horizons, a deep ambient tune that provides an interesting and well received down burner from two tunes reeking of upbeat goodness. Its nice to have these moments in tunes sometimes, where you are reminded of life little things, the good and the bad, the uplifting and the reflective. Glorious.

Next up, comes ‘4’ (naturally). This tune keeps the energy from the previous song alive, atmospheres about, before a real delightful drum pattern comes in. This adds a nice range and contrast to the chords floating above, and a vocal line comes in for that little extra dash of emotion. As this ends, the drums kick in another gear, and boy do they do their magic. The groove is relentless, beautiful, and uplifting, a reminder on the dance floor to love those around you and to just enjoy this moment together. The beat just keeps growing and growing, responding to the calls of ‘free your mind’, as all the barriers are knocked down and replaced with a eyes closed, smile on your face moment that everything feels alright. No worries, no street, just pure joy. This tune does a stand up job at building from the blissed out to the straight up euphoric, without breaking a sweat, its all about those sweet and well executed transitions. Damn good stuff. Up next comes ‘5’, that starts off with those pads and drums we’ve become to close to by this point. More driving, with lighter drums, but with more of an incessant groove. Another vocal comes in, providing an interesting backdrop for everything to reveal itself. Sounds quite garage-esq, simple, to the point, then the kick comes in. Again, very light, not taking too much from whats already in the mix, just lightly grooving along. its all about the melodic parts just now, that work very well together, swirling pads, vocals and even the drums put their shift in. ‘I can’t let go’ brings us to our knees, then from the gods, the amen break. Amen for that, this song was building to this moment, heck it even feels like this whole record was building towards this moment. Like a drop in life’s pool, this tune has it all. What a way its built up, again the Ambientist showing us all how its done. What a feeler. By this point, we’ve probably all peaked, but theres one final tune to come. ‘6’ provides this vibe one more time, more solid pads move around a slow beat, before a jungle beat comes in, with fast cymbals. Again the beat feels very light, even though its full of energy. This is the final blast before we all go to bed. Then finally, the groove breaks free, taking centre stage in such explosive fashion, the pads give away to the energy. It is a brilliant way to end an album full of focus on the way we feel, to finally provide us with a track that Is destructively danceable. Coooorrr blimey!

This record is brilliant, for many reasons. Mostly though, the Ambientist utilises his signature sound to an extent where over six tracks, that follow a similar vibe, all give something, they provide a backdrop. Be it through vocals, the clever use of drums and when they speak or don’t speak, along with the inventive use of synths and lines that provide a backdrop for everything. Finally, the way he builds tunes is just massive, intelligently using the gaps and spaces to provide drums with their place, with chords to grow or shrink. It is a real classic, and one that sits alongside those producers mentioned in the intro as something to savour. If you’re walking home at 4am, or chilling on a Saturday morning, or in a sweatbox, this record is for sure for you.

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https://styraxelectronica.bandcamp.com

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