You could say there's a resurgence of ambient music focusing on the strength, simplicity and soul of the synthesizer nowadays. There's not necessarily more of it (it's always been around if you dig hard enough), but it certainly seems like it's more prevalent. This might be due to more known artists switching up styles and giving it a go, but more than likely, it's more and more artists challenging themselves within a restricted pallet.
I've heard several artists talk about this approach recently - our very own 36 and Merrin Karras being two of them, and fine examples of it. Today, with all the tools at our disposal and the likes of Ableton opening up entire new worlds of sounds, there's something challenging and exciting about getting the most out of an old piece of gear, or manipulating a single sound into your own.
Steve Hauschildt's latest album Strands might not be the epitome of simplicity that comes to mind with that introduction, but it's certainly another beautifully manipulated synthesizer focused album that echoes many of the genres earliest inspirations.
From the opening track Horizon Of Appearances, sweeping synthesizers paint a picture of deep space exploration, and the constant anxiety of the unknown - a similar exploration in the swells of A False Seeming. The glistening, arpeggiating Same River Twice nods to early Global Communication and Steve Roach, and in a more IDM-approach; Ketracel pings classic highly-strung pads and squelches a-la Autechre & Arovane.
With such a wealth of electronic inspiration present amongst the album, it's important to remember that Steve has been doing this for quite some time on the esteemed Kranky label. Just last year, Where All Is Fled bought us beautiful warm compositions like Vicinities, and in 2011, the sparkling patterns in Tragedy and Geometry.
Hauschildt's latest, Strands, is yet another finely tuned, analog masterpiece that stretches the boundaries and possibilities of vintage, analog ambient music. From deep-space tones, to colorful textures and melodic IDM, this is also a reminder that despite my earlier comparisons, this type of music will soon stop echoing the sounds of yester-year, and instead be seen as a style that many of today's best producers are perfecting and pushing forward.
Available on Bandcamp.