North Vancouver's John Mabbott does a brief survey of ambient music's history and presents three of his own nascent compositions
Readers’ Choice
Part 6
  • Journalist and author Doug Smith has a way with words and observation. He introduces smiling Winnipeg jazz guitarist Jocelyn Gould

  • Among his many and varied pursuits, John Mabbott is a music maker. He offers a brief survey of ambient music from Eric Satie to Brian Eno and presents a trio of his own nascent compositions

The 4th Annual Readers’ Choice

Kurated readers share their favourite music of the last year in the annual Readers’ Choice series. Anything musical is welcomed whether its new, an old favourite, something self-composed and more. Thanks to all the contributors!

Kurated is a music sharing project.
Stay tuned and enjoy,
Kris Sig Plastic V3

15 January 2022

Doug Smith
Winnipeg, MB

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Winnipeg’s Jocelyn Gould was nominated for a Juno Award in 2021 for jazz album of the year for Elegant Traveller

I Concentrate on You by Jocelyn Gould

A Losing Battle With Her Smile

According to a recent biography, the American novelist and essayist Elizabeth Hardwick once wrote “writing is a very daunting activity and it will not make you happy.”

I have no doubt that playing jazz guitar is equally daunting. But it sure looks to me like playing guitar makes Jocelyn Gould very happy. Just watch her fight a losing battle with her smile.

About Doug: Doug Smith is still smiling

John Mabbott
North Vancouver, BC

An image from Jon Hopkins’ collection Music for Psychedelic Therapy

A Brief Primer in Ambient Sound

Mandalas for Your Ears: Exploring Ambient Music

I like avant-garde jazz to country western. But, it wasn’t until Kurated published its Ambient Americana edition that I really started listening to ambient music. The creation of cinematic mindscapes attracted me to it. It’s no wonder that ambient music is used extensively in the film, video game and the performance art worlds. For an early example think of Ry Cooder’s theme song for the Wim Wenders film Paris, Texas.   

Its antecedents can be traced back to impressionist composers like Eric Satie and Claude Debussy, but more relevant is an early electronic music example by composer Edgar Varese, Poeme Electronique. Works by Phillip Glass such as Music In Twelve Parts and the film score Koyaanisqaski also come to mind.

The digital revolution opened up all kinds of new possibilities to fuse natural and electronic sound as embraced by Brian Eno with his Ambient 1: Music For Airports.Then more recently by Jon Hopkins with Music for Psychedelic Therapy. But, there are many others at work in this genre.  

I have a home recording studio. So, I wanted to try my hand at creating some ambient tracks. I registered for a Vancouver New Music Society workshop called Sound Jars, hosted by several soundscape artists –  prOphecy Sun, Soressa Gardner and Janine Island. Over a four week period we explored recording and manipulating environmental sounds, transforming visual designs into sound and composing unique soundscapes using digital software and synthesizers. 

About John: John Mabbott plays guitar, bass and mandolin with YarDog, an alt country roots rock band based in Vancouver. As the pandemic unfolded he found himself dabbling in many other things, including creating ambient music in his home recording studio

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Britain’s Brian Eno coined the term “ambient music” describing his musical explorations in the 70s. His 1978 collection Ambient 1: Music for Airports comprised four compositions developed by layering tape loops. The work was designed as a calming sound sculpture for travellers.