If you can picture the very furthest, coldest, darkest part of Norway, that’s where Mind over MIDI resides. If you want to get an idea of what it’s like there, and can do without the frostbite, then this is the perfect solution. Helge Tømmervåg produces sweeping, icy synthscapes, with digital snowflakes since 1995.
Astonishingly, it's been 22 years since Helge Tømmervåg first donned the Mind Over MIDI alias. All these years on, he remains one of ambient music's most consistent performers, as this 19th album-length outing proves. Shorn of the usual self-indulgence that plagues the ambient genre, Soft Science boasts 14 short, spellbinding pieces that never outstay their welcome…
The second volume in Virgin's priceless Ambient series is a bit of a retread from the first, alternating classics from Virgin's rich back catalog with the new school of ambient electronica (of which, the label's store is much harder to come by). The result is an Orb remix (of the Grid) instead of a normal Orb track; the only other contemporary acts are the Future Sound of London project Amorphous Androgynous, William Orbit's Bass-O-Matic, Tony Thorpe's Voyager, and such intriguing but obviously label-centric acts as Verve and U2's The Edge. As far as classic ambient tracks go, Virgin is tops – Eno, Sakamoto, Robert Fripp, David Sylvian, Phil Manzanera, Klaus Schulze – though the lack of more up-to-date acts can be frustrating.
Although it seemed to arrive out of nowhere in the early '90s, ambient music actually has a long and varied history, leading back to Brian Eno and Kraftwerk's electronic experiments in the 1970s, right up to Aphex Twin's textural techno soundscapes. As an introduction and history lesson, the two-disc A Brief History of Ambient Music can't be beat; it shows that the ambient-techno trend has roots that most fans wouldn't even realize existed.