Talking with Mick Chillage of the Chillage Idiots Pt. 2
In the second (and final) part of our interview, Mick and I talk about music and influences. There is a ton of information being conveyed so I'll skip the formal intro and just let Mick start talking....
Mick's a collector, so I wanted to know what his five essential chill out records were:
1. Brian Eno "Apollo/Atmospheres and Soundtracks"
[Editions EG] 1983
I was introduced to Eno's work a little late in 1992 to be precise, I investigated Eno after seeing his name being mentioned on various albums like Warp's Artificial Intelligence. What struck me about the album was its lack of bubbling synth sequences, trickling water samples and other sound bites which was quite the norm for chill out ambient music at this time, instead Eno used a mixture of eerie drones and other rather alien and unidentified sounds mixed with deep basses in a lot of the pieces and a rather emotionally devastating use of angelic choirs on tracks like "An ending" to the strangely effective use of steel slide guitar on many other tracks, it pretty much changed my perception of electronic ambient music and is a great introduction to the man's incredible work..
2. Chapterhouse "Blood Music" Re translated by Global Communication,[Dedicated] 1993
Although some people may argue that Global Communications 76:14 is a better album, I guess it all depends on what you heard first and I heard this reworking of the indie shoe gazer's album in early 1994, what makes this album so special is that while most ambient records create a great atmosphere to lose yourself in for an hour so this record is a real emotional roller coaster full of beautiful and haunting soundscapes, dreamy guitars, and distantly echoed vocals, organic and cinematic sound bites, and sometimes full on industrial techno beats but with some of the most heartfelt melodies and arrangements ever to grace an electronic recording.
3. Pete Namlook "Air" [fax] 1992
Its pretty impossible for me to pick an essential from Namlook or his Fax label but this rather early recording is a stunning collection of ambient which again shows that the ambient genre can adapt to almost any style of music. Air tells the story of two souls searching for one another set against a rather dark and haunting symphony of analogue synthesis that effortlessly blends classical guitar and solo soprano to elements of jazz, world music, pounding tribal techno, and beyond.
4. Biosphere "Substrata" [Origio sound] 1997
Norway based ambient composer Geir Jensen's third album under the Biosphere moniker sees him leaving the atmospheric techno/breakbeat strains of his earlier albums behind into a more environmental yet deeply emotional ambient album. No other ambient release gives you a greater sense of place like Substrata does, from the view of looking over the snow filled valleys of the Swiss Alps on "Poa Alpina" to the vast frozen wilderness of Siberia and a great sense of loss on "Kobresia" this is an essential and perfect introduction to the works of Biosphere. Look out for Substrata 2 for a bonus disc of previously unavailable tracks.
5. Peter Benisch "Soundtrack Saga" [Turbo] 2001
Swedish electronica producer Peter Benisch's third album continues with his lush production techniques displayed on his earlier releases but this time he displays his incredible talent for epic compositional skills, which as the title suggest its like a score to the greatest movie ever made with techno and IDM style sensibilities. Think Vangelis meets Plaid and your halfway there.
Tell me a little about the art and craft of making ambient music and how it's similar to that of techno and how it differs.
I basically approach techno and ambient in the same way at the beginning as I never really conscientiously set out to create any particular type of music.. Most of my music happens by just messing around with my synths, I might hear a particular sound on a record or in my head a set out to edit the synths to see if I can create a similar sound, this experimentation may lead me to playing some chords or a melody etc and before I know it I have the basis for a new track.
Or sometimes I may start off with the opposite approach by programming some beats or experimenting with breakbeats or other percussive loops and playing some pads or bass over the grooves until something clicks into place I may end up creating a techno or electro track but I may realize that the track sounds better without the beats and then I set about on creating a beatless ambient track instead, so I guess its down to what ever inspires me at that moment.
The beauty of creating ambient music is that the arrangement and production process have no rules, as you don't have to consider the DJ or the dance floor or the chorus, verse structure's of pop songs.
So a droning intro of five minutes on a track which slowly evolves and mutates over thirty minutes is pretty much an acceptable norm for the average open minded ambient listener.
Also another factor is the choice of sound which can be used in ambient music which gives you great freedom, with techno and house music etc a kick drum and bassline are always an essential, plus keeping the track within a standard BPM range is also another restriction not associated with ambient..
So I feel ambient music can pretty much lend itself to almost any instrument or genre that you can think of, with acts like Sunn O etc experimenting with doom metal and low bass frequencies to the modern classical strains of Max Richter and beyond, so it can be a producers creative paradise which can convey a multitude of feelings and emotions which transcends time and cultural boundaries.
Link to a classic mix recently recreated to share with all of you: