Review Summary: An extremely atmospheric and hypnotic affair that should appeal to any fan of ambient or electronic music.
Ambient music is arguably the most ideal form of background music. Calmly floating in the background, it is rarely obtrusive and highly atmospheric. That isn’t to say that an ambient album cannot be engaging or cannot be enjoyed with one’s full attention. For when done right, this style of music can absorb and transport any listener who is willing. One such album is Ambiant Otaku
by Japanese electronic producer Tetsu Inoue. Released on Pete Namlook’s (who sadly passed away a couple of months prior to the writing of this review) fairly prolific FAX label in 1994, Ambiant Otaku
is one of the most important releases on said label and perhaps the ambient genre at large.
While that may be a slightly bold claim to make, Inoue does his best to convince the listener it is the case throughout the 72 minute runtime of this album. The songs all surpass the 10 minute mark with ease and are largely beat-less despite this being an electronic album. The songs are seemingly crafted to put the listener in a trance, and there is plenty of repetition to aid this goal without the music ever becoming tedious. Ethereal synths swirl in and out of the listener’s grasp while they are lulled into a daze by the soothing nature of this album.
No track better embodies this description than the opener and perhaps the best track, ‘Karmic Light’. Opening with a gliding drone, the song envelops the listener with its tranquility before a pulsating and astral-sounding synth line gradually creeps its way out of obscurity and into the forefront. This line loops and loops until it becomes mesmeric. It all comes to near silence around halfway through with only what sounds like a breeze to keep the listener from breaking from their trance. This is but the administration of Inoue’s aural soporific, and it is throughout the rest of the album’s duration in which its effects are felt.
While the rest of the album retains its ethereal qualities, it diversifies in its sound. The songs are all quite different stylistically. ‘Low of Vibration’, a lullaby of sorts, has a quiet ringing sound and swells of bass that permeate it. ‘Holy Dance’, another stand out track is as the name hints at, an almost ritualistic song. Beginning with some heavily reverb-drowned chanting, it soon develops into the most involved track on this album. It also contains the most pronounced use of percussion found here (though it is still very minimal) as well, which adds to the tribal feel of the song.
In short, Ambiant Otaku
is an extremely atmospheric album that should appeal to any fan of ambient or electronic music. While not an easy listen at 72 minutes, it will definitely satisfy those looking for music to get lost to.