Choose life, choose ambient

It started, I suppose with Trainspotting. The soundtrack at least. In 1996 the film was huge in the UK and its bright orange livery was transplanted into teenage bedrooms and bedsits all over the country.

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I actually really miss the 90s

It was a pop cultural lodestone, symbiotically linked to the prevailing fashions of the day from Renton’s Addidas Sambas to -heaven help us- ‘heroin chic’. Above all was the music. My brother bought me a cassette tape of the soundtrack. Shot through with Britpop, it featured several of the artists in my teenage sphere –Pulp, Sleeper, Blur; a few who were about to feature very heavily –Primal Scream, Leftfield, Underworld, and a couple about to enjoy a deserved minor resurgence –Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. There was, however, one track that I was delighted that had been included, Deep Blue Day by Brian Eno.

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Scotland’s bog-snorkelling training regime was nothing if not thorough

heard the piece during the film itself. It appears early on, during Renton’s dive into the WorstToilet in Scotland. It was a scene that dripped with symbolism, not to mention piss and shit, but it was strangely beautiful. It had been enhanced by the music the dreamy, plaintive Country ambient of Eno.

I loved it. It was so atmospheric and peaceful, but in those days prior to Google (or at least prior to my being able to access Google), and Shazam, I had to wait until I had the soundtrack to check the name of the piece.

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It’s rather nice once you get used to it

I suspected it was the one credited to Eno. The name seemed appropriate. Eno. A bit odd, a bit space-y. Of course it was him. (that is not to say that names can be a good indication of sound. The dubby/funky tune that follows it in the album’s running order was credited to Primal Scream, a name that, if you were unfamiliar with them, you would be forgiven for thinking belonged to a heavy metal band).

The song was played and rewound, played and rewound over and over and over again. Eventually plucking up the money to buy its parent album, itself a soundtrack, and listened to it one summer afternoon. The opening piece, Understars evoked space and weightlessness from the very beginning, that low rumble and constellation of sparkly notes. It was like a descent, a beginning of a lifetime of exploring a genre. 

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