Today’s act I’m going to introduce to you is no band. Neither it’s a solo artist. You might call it a project. And it sure has developed in a way not expected.

Ambient Circle is a collective of various participants located in Germany’s North-Rhine area. Every now and then, they get together to play electronic music sessions. They are entirely focused on electronic ambient music, and it’s just twelve sessions they did so far. This includes public and private sessions.

“The concept of Ambient Circle is derived from the prototype of Spheric Lounge in Munich. Meanwhile there are quite a few people going that way. Nine such groupings have joined forces establishing a “Live Ambient Scene” blog. It much helps to cross-promote news and gives access to audio tracks from all participants involved.” (Michael Kathke – Ambient Circle)

You can’t buy Ambient Circle’s music (unfortunately), but you can download it (even better). Legally, and for free. Listen to their soundscapes on their own site – it’s both streamed and available for download too. Tracks are released under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Germany 3.0 licences.

Sorted by session, you can find mp3 files, video, and photos.

I like their approach to composing a lot. It’s just on three occasions they in any form prepared tracks as basic structures to their set. Usually, all of their sessions are improvised in their entirety. The whole session is recorded – just the stereo master. Single tracks are not to be separated and elaborated later on. Best parts are cut to be released as mp3 on their site. Michael Kathke: “Nothing we play live we’ll play a second time.”

Now listen to the tracks again. If you ever played similar sessions yourself, you know just how great it is being inspired to play licks or tunes and find your input echoed again. Take your time, and have a listen. Forget about any prejudice regarding Electronic Music. Listening means discovering. It’s great to see (hear) tunes and sounds developing from arbitrarity to structure. You can’t help but get the feeling it was supposed to build that particular layered structure. Yet, it’s highly volatile. A glimpse of the moment.

Apart from straight not wanting any payment for their music, and following right the opposite approach in composing compared to sterile production, there’s even more about Ambient Circle that catches your attention.

These are no pros. Everyone has a daytime (and full time) job. Everyone plays for fun. Whereas others are tuning cars, hanging around watching TV, or whatever – they spend their spare time at home designing soundscapes. But instead of hiding away the results in solitude, they collaboratively contribute to Ambient Circle. It’s pure and grassroots culture. Made by guys like you and me, it is common people grown culture.

Much to their own surprise, in 2009 their music actually won them a prize (“Schallwelle – Prize in Electronic Music”). Without any promotion besides their site, and having played just a few times in public they were voted best new act by the jury of German “schallwende e.V.”.

It is not just a sculpture they won. To top the fact of being awarded, Ambient Circle are sponsored in recording their first CD.

This text has been published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported licence. If you would like to make use of the text or parts of it in a way that goes beyond the scope please get in touch with me.