Into the Mist, The Ambient Mixtape

The word “ambient” literally means “encompassing”; it etymology derives from the Latin for “going around.” But one of the genre’s most captivating strains might better be described as going into the mist, the water or even the earth. This strain emphasizes the grain of sound, the rumble of resistance, the thingliness of the recorded medium itself. This school of thought is best exemplified by William Basinski, whose album Disintegration Loops famously captured the sound of years-old piano sketches being played back on crumbling magnetic tape; it also comprises the full-bore intensity of artists like Ben Frost, Tim Hecker, and Fennesz, who whip up shoegaze-grade distortion and then grind it down to dust.