Ambient music and its now many subsiduary genres really is a tricky thing. For some it is boring and souless whilst for others it is wonderous, etherial. The best being, literally, of the ether. Global Communications 76:14 is one of the finest examples. Here reissued with a companion disc of other singles of the period, this gives a very fine idea as to exactly what the band were doing at the time and why many find this album a sublime example of electronic music's ambient possibilities.
76:14 isn't always about melody. Ambient music at its best provides an addition to the environment it exists in. This album succeeds in providing this throughout its 76 minutes. There is a beauty and a sense that the sound is there to fill the empty corners of the room. Opening track 4:02 has a dark foreboding to it and also most closely relates itself to Brian Eno, the Godfather of ambient music. The ticking clock of the second track drops its component parts in one by one, gently and hypnotically building up and slowly injecting gentle melodies.
As an example of how the album works these pieces clearly define it. Later pieces such as 8:07 add more rhythm whilst closer 12:18 relies more on sound textures. For some all of this may try the patience but it is not meant be listened with rapt attention throughout. This is as much about the environment and keeping to the original ethos of ambient music far more closely than some who have taken the moniker.
For those with a desire for more rhythm or melody then the additional disc will probably provide more entertainment. Comprising of a selection of singles the band released at the time this has more dancefloor considerations although still keeping to minimal repeated melody lines. Tracks like the "The Way" and its sister piece "The Deep" adequately illustrate the point. "The Biosphere is one of the highlights. This has a quality close to the early IDM era of Warp. Whilst "The Groove" is a full on dance track gently rolling along for 8 minutes. Yet for all this it's a sideshow for the completists some good music, probably even enough for those challenged by the feel of the main album, but it's still very much the supporting material.
76:14 is pure ambience and a classic of its genre. That doesn't mean to say everyone will like it. It's a beautiful gentle, floating, piece which is designed to be experienced as a whole. It is best summed up by quoting Brian Eno's definition in his original essay, "Ambient Music must be able to accomodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting."
Whilst much music using the term ambient forgets this original ethos Global Communication's 76:14 embraces and expounds this perfectly. It is a classic of its genre and also transcends this to be an essential listen to anyone interested in electronic music as a whole.
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