Melting In The ’90s, The Ambient Mixtape

If it was Brian Eno that first gave shape to the idea of ambient music, it was rave culture that gave it wings. While the bass bins of the main stage thundered away, denizens of the chill-out room floated away on a beatless bed of synths and samples. Early Warp compilations like Artificial Intelligence reimagined electronic music for home listening, and Aphex Twin’s ethereal Selected Ambient Works Volume II soon set the gold standard for late-night soundtracks for insomniacs. Around the same time, Berlin’s Basic Channel / Chain Reaction crew was applying dub alchemy to techno, rendering it as smooth as a chrome-plated pulse, while Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS project, along with the Kompakt label’s Pop Ambient series, traded minimalist rigor for lush, liquid atmospheres bursting with color.