Title: A Pocketful of Changes Found on the Table
Artist: The Ambiguity
Release Date: 2014 Dec 18
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Self Release / BandCamp
A Pocketful of Changes Found on the Table comes to us by way of Iowa City, Iowa artist The Ambiguity. This may be the first Iowa ambient I’ve heard, and I hope it’s not the last. I have a strong connection with Iowa City, I attended college about thirty miles away, and spent about ten years there from 1999 to 2009.
The Ambiguity is something of a rising star on the netlabel scene. Recently he has appeared on releases from Petroglyph Music, ad Xenomorph Records as well as being featured on Episode 25 of the Comatose Podcast. So, let’s take a look at The Ambiguity’s most recent release.
A Pocketful of Changes Found on the Table
So, The Ambiguity submitted a different release to me back at the beginning of December. Unfortunately at the time I was well stuffed with submissions (and I still am) and didn’t get around to checking out his BandCamp site until after Christmas. By this point, A Pocketful of Changes was the latest release, so I downloaded it with several other releases.
The first thing that struck me about listening to The Ambiguity is that he is moving in a different direction than the majority of ambient music these days. Instead of vast expanses of soundscapes, The Ambiguity seems to be focused on smaller, tighter pieces that are concise statements. It’s kind of like the difference between a Beethoven Symphony and a Grieg miniature.
However, that isn’t something that you would pick up on just by looking at some of the track titles like ‘The Planet Rolled Past the Coffee Stains and Coins Before Falling to the Ground’. The Ambiguity can have a very playful approach to ambient music that seems to be forgotten by many artists these days.
And that is why I am totally digging this release (and several others that I hope to talk about in future articles): there is playfulness, and concise statements while building on many of the best elements found in ambient music these days. There is a lot of the lush textures, the suspension of time, and a whole “other-worldly” feeling to this work.
When I first listened to this release, the first thought that came into my mind was: this is ambient music for people with attention deficit disorder. That was a kind of snarky, hopefully humorous way to describe The Ambiguity’s work. However, the more I listened to this release, the more I realized that far from being purely abbreviated ambient works, it really as more like listening to Grieg miniatures versus Beethoven Symphonies or Sonatas.
Concise forms, rich textures, and very precise arrangements make for an enjoyable listening session that doesn’t get in the way, or force the listener to dissociate themselves. It’s an interesting idea that strikes at the very core of the current trends in ambient music. And that is a good thing: all art is about change and challenge at one time or another. The Ambiguity has brought an interesting challenge, very similar to the Subterranean Tide series of Haiku’s to ambient music.