Cage, influenced by Zen, found that open listening without having “music” in the focus had a deep value of its own. To him, everything was music in a wider sense, including environmental noise. Satie focused more on music in the traditional sense but he wondered if music could be something happening in the background, like furniture, like incense.
Livelooping music is often ambient music. I found myself creating ambient music with a tape delay system and synthesizers back in the mid-1980s (Soaring in Circles), and many of the tracks I improvised ten years later with a guitar and a digital delay (Ambient Veloopity) were ambient.
In 2001, I created a piece of ambient music (Stretched Landscape #1) as a backdrop for an exhibition of my fractal artwork (see: Impossible Music). The main ingredient of the music was a piano improvisation recorded on cassette tape in an abandoned church in Kingston/NY. I stretched and modified the piano sounds using granular synthesis, and added a few field recordings.
WIRE magazine wrote this about it:
“A single 57-minute surge that unfurls via waves of ghost voices, spare, nodding piano shapes, sustained guitar und coloured field recordings populated by bullfrogs, birds and the first rays of the sun as it breaks the horizon, Stretched Landscape #1 began life as an adjunct to one of German composer and guitarist Michael Peters’s installations.
Although ostensibly modelled on Brian Eno’s site-specific work, Stretched Landscape #1 more than transcends its roots thanks to the use of some grainy, sawtoothed sonorities and a recording quality that’s punk enough to impact on the guts as well as the third eye. It is at once reminiscent of the primitive minimalism of early Richard Young’s sides like Advent, the cavernous drone work of New Zealand Improv units like Surface Of The Earth and K-Group, and the solarised ensemble sound of the Makoto Kawabata-affiliated Toulouse-based group Ueh, as well as earlier progenitors of organic, minimal sonics like Robert Fripp and Tangerine Dream. But the sound remains very much the product of the world-straddling reach of Peters’s own fingers”
Stretched Landscape was released on the UK label Burning Shed and was the label’s most successful record of an ‘unknown’ artist for a while. In 2011, I released an album with remixes.
Several times between 2010 and 2018, I spent some time with Italian pianist Fabio Anile at his place in Rome. Fabio and I share a love for ambient music – we improvised every day and recorded everything. It was amazing how easily we found a common musical language.
In 2018, we decided to put some of our recordings on an album. Erdem Helvacıoğlu mastered them for us, and Philippe Paulus Jacobus Smeyers contributed a wonderful cover painting. The album ‘Presence’ got released in December 2019 on the Audiobulb label. Fabio and I are very happy with it.