Even lovers of ambient music will accept that the genre has its limitations. Four decades after Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, too many new releases offer little more than waves of delicately performed synthesizer.
Thankfully, progress has come in multiple forms: found sounds, glitch elements and drones are all fine examples of tools that innovative ambient artists have put to good use. A new recording from Sven Laux and Daniela Orvin, a pair of Berlin-based artists familiar to baddpress blog readers, illustrates another rich vein of ambient music innovation. Their embrace of new classical music is lovingly executed on The Writings.
It’s not just Orvin’s remarkable talent at the piano that gives this disc a sense of refinement. There is a chamber-music sensibility to be found in each of these nine pieces that is both personal and deeply engaging. Even those tracks that don’t feature any piano at all.
The work comes at us with a kind of built-in gravitas. And so the addition of modern-day electronic sounds feels more composed. They’re not there simply because of their availability. Each idea – conventional or unconventional – is integral to the overall vision. Nothing is wasted.
According to Harry Towell’s notes in the album’s promotional material, Laux reached out to Orvin because he felt there was “something missing” from his early work on the disc.
“The Writings plays out in the exact order in which the tracks had been worked on, providing an accurate account of the studio time in which these stories had been etched. During the process, Sven and Daniela became friends and the concept of the album itself has become about collaboration itself.”
It would be an overstatement to say that this kind of mixture of new classical and ambient compositional styles represents the future of classical music. There’s too much history there, and too much depth of variety in the tradition for its focus to narrow that entirely. But as long as artists make records as compelling as this one, it is safe to say that The Writings is a fine example of what some of the best new classical made in the years ahead will sound like.