In Search of Space, Lost in Ambience:The Orb, Future Sound of London, Orbital, Tangerine Dream

There’s been a lot of activity on the space music list lately. One topic is what’s the difference between Ambient and Space music. Folks are camping out at either end of the spectrum, saying the twain should never meet, with a few taking up the middle ground, that space is a subset of ambient or that ambient is a variant on space music. I think that difference is less important than the perception of each. Space music is perceived as a fringe genre that was spawned and pretty much remains in the 1970s. While fans of the music, like myself, always thought of it as high art, that was never the general perception. Ambient, always had a hipper aura. As initially created by Brian Eno, ambient was considered high art. It wasn’t just music, but an intellectual construct. That put it on a par with minimalism and new classical music. The first iteration was a child of Detroit Techno in the late 1980s and early 90s. It was inspired by Eno, but it wasn’t the same thing. Ambient House was the sound born in clubs and chill-out rooms at raves by The Orb, KLF, and Future Sound of London. It had an edgier veneer and it was popular to a degree that space music almost never attained. Phaedra

Yes, Tangerine Dream topped the British charts with Phaedra, but many ambient bands, including FSOL and The Orb did the same thing.
Orb\'s Adventures Beyond the UltraworldLifeforms

Nearly two decades on from its latest variation, Ambient is still perceived as the hipper, more forward looking music. Interestingly, some folks on the list are taking shots at Steve Roach for being overly prolific and possibly repetitious. Both points are worth discussing, but Roach is an artist who has firmly planted himself outside the space and contemporary ambient spectrums.
Dreamtime Return
He transcended his space music inspirations nearly two decades ago and if anything, he’s now more an adherent of Eno’s original ambient conception of music that is always changing but never dramatic in those changes. A river was his analogy at the time. Music for Airports
If you want to get in on the discussion, head over to the Space Music group on or you can just subscribe at or toss your thoughts in here.
While we’re here my favorite ambient album of the year: Mystical Sun Deeper Worlds Deeperworlds
Inventive programming, cut & paste surrealism, surging, almost anthemic grooves and deceptively haunting melodies.
My favorite Space music album of the year: Mark Dwane 2012
This will be a CD of the Month for April, so more on that soon.

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