Crate Diggin’ in Columbus Dance Music History: Midislut’s Ambiento Tape

You remember me talking about the importance of Midisluts “Ambiento” Tape during my interview with him a few weeks back? (READ THAT HERE) From that discussion, It was pretty obvious that I was obsessed with the 90 minute mix. Back in ’95 when Quality Crew member Midislut released this tape, he was obssesed with the dark side of dub with groups like The Orb and the intricate textures of Brian Eno. Though these sound come from artists you don’t normally hear on dancefloors, this tape highlights a whole universe of sound that is waited to be opened by you. It would be a crime for me to just let that tape sit in a vault somewhere and not let people listen to it.  With the help and blessing of Midislut himself, we are bring back this tape first release on cassette back in 1995 so you can hear some of the more experimental sounds that were circulating in the mid 1990’s.

Ambiento Side A

Ambiento Side B

You may ask, well why would you want to do that? The past is the past right?. Well, not necessarily. I think its important to bring back this tape, because it highlights how there have always been members of our scene that have gone out to the edges of the sonic universe to test the limits of the sounds around them. For them, it was about pushing the artistic dialogue in our scene in different directions than those highlighted in the clubs. Today, this is still the case, as we have numerous people still pushing those boundaries. One need only look to the artistic energy being put into the monthly Frequency Friday shows put on by The Fuse Factory Electronic and Digital Arts Lab at Wild Goose Creative. Frequency Fridays have been an incubator for such experimentation and have highlight the work of foundational experimental electronic music artists like Evolutionary Control Committee, Tactil Vision, Doctah X, Jeff Central, and many more. The line ups they put together for shows on the first friday of every month are the who’s who of dabblers, knob turners, and experimenters in Central Ohio and beyond. Or you could look at the amazing experimental programming being laid down by the radio shows Beat Oracle  or Doctah X’s Prescriptions on WCRS. Finally, you could look at the unique genre bending creations of Textbeak or FUNERALS to see how people still very interested in moving dancefloors have brought in elements of subtlety, darkness, and controlled aggression in their tracks. There is no doubt that we still have people willing to absorb what they hear around them and spit out whatever their twisted vision of sound is for our enjoyment. Often times, these cats are just in bedroom studios creating music that gives meaning to their everyday lives. They got no support other than their dream and the noises that surround them. Just look to the work of OHIOAN, who is pushing his characteristic sound and looking to break out and share with everyone in the scene. Got a lot of respect for his work and the musical influences that drove him to create.

OHIOAN–“Microscopist”

True to this energy, I believe that Midislut’s “Ambiento” tape was a relic of this same type of experimentation and dedication to pushing boundaries we continue to see today. I mean just think what Midislut had to do just to complete this mix back in the day:

This meant gathering extraneous samples, running sound effects records, using signal processing, the whole process. All of these mixes were recorded in one take with 4 turntables, cassette decks, CD players, effects processors, all in real time. It was like a dance to put it all together for a 90 minute mix.” (Excerpt from Midislut’s Exclusive Interview with L.A.)

Though it may be easier to complete such a task today, Midislut’s mix continues to hold up to extended listening and shows what a mix can do to expand our mind to new sounds. There’s no doubt in my mind that the “Ambiento” mix opened up people minds to what dense layers and wide listening could do for a mix back in the day. What can it do for us today? My hope is that we can appreciate the artistic merit in its creation and look to the people in our scene that are continuing to push these boundaries. As I say over and over, each genre and form electronic music takes can provide us key tools to use in listening and creating music in a richer fashion. The more we open ourselves up to the wide gamut of diversity our scene provides the most dynamic and amazing our listening, producing, and mixing will be.

This was obvious the thrust behind the show What Next Ohio. I mean just think about the first three hours of that show. It was absolute chaos genre-wise. Once fixed sound boundaries were completely torn down and recreated. I think Midislut’s “Ambiento” tape pushes us in that same direction as the main lessons from this show and calls us to think radically about what genre deconstruction and expansive listening can do for us as memebers of the Columbus dance music community. The more we connect the sounds coming from the fringes with the sounds in the club the more we will find ways to make our scene one of the best in the world. We won’t just be playing and dancing to the hottest tracks. Rather, we will be charting the paths to find new ways to chop and screw those hits into something that is distinctively COLUMBUS. Yet, I digress. I get utopian and hope you can share in the dizzying intoxication that is that dream. But I am sure you want some more insight on the Ambiento Tape from Midislut himself? I know I do. Check out Midislut’s illuminating interview responses on the ambiento mix below:

LA: Why was it important to you to: “share ambient music with the masses” in the Ambiento Tapes?
MS: Ambient atmospheres, dub, etc. was really where my head was at in the early 90’s. I made numerous trips from OU to World Record to visit Poppa Hop and he always had an impeccable selection of vinyl for me to listen to. These tapes pre-date my affinity for house music, but you can hear the beats start to creep in as I move through the mix. I wanted to share these mixes with everyone to spread the word that electronic music could move in multiple directions all at once.

LA: What lessons/tools does Ambient Music provide electronic music more generally?
MS: Ambient music proves that no matter what the genre there are always artists pushing the envelope. Since there’s no set formula that an ambient track has to follow it opens the possibilities for sonic exploration to an infinite level. No constraints means no two projects sound the same or even similar.

LA: Do you think that such translate over to getting dance floors moving? In what ways?
MS: The concept of textures and layers incorporated in electronic music serve to convey a mood, build tension, release, and guide a listener. Whether or not there’s a beat associated with it seems inconsequential. Any well constructed song can do all of the above with a minimum amount of beats and percussion. It’s the spaces in between that moves the floor.

If this doesn’t get you amped about seeing the rest of the Quality Crew this saturday at Basil I don’t know what will. Though Midislut will not be performing, you can expect Jason Lyman and Jeff Pons to come correct with all the best in underground techno and house. They are even bringing in a secret weapon: Dustin Knell. What’s that? your not hip to Dustin Knell’s game? You don’t know what he brings to the table? I give my word that this guy is as focused and exciting an artist that I have heard spin in Columbus. He is set to blow the top off Basil with the rest of the Quality crew this Saturday after the Gallery hop. Event Details: CLICK HERE.

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