Mix of the Week 31/10: Sam Muzza - SHED: scapes #1

One of the strengths the best mixes have is the way in which they can deeply describe a feeling, sensation or experience. One of music’s most idiosyncratic forms is ambient music, which incorporates an extended engagement with sounds from the real world and electronically produced, with the effect of refocusing our interaction with music on the act of listening. Relatively unknown Australian artist Sam Muzza has launched a series on Soundcloud that explores the world of ambient music, with his first mix combining the tranquillity of soft real world noise with calm world music. This mix is an easy gateway into this often overlooked music form.

With the faint crackle of vinyl adding a delicate physicality to the soundscape, the mix moves through a series of genres, emotions and, most impressively, locations. Opening with distant electronic drones that reverb out, establishing a huge space, Muzza first explores world music through the burr of an Indigenous-Australian digeridoo. He moves through multiple musical traditions, including the Oud, a stringed instrument popular in Arab music, South American rainforest pan flute and medieval European liturgical chant music. While this is all tied together through more traditional ambient sounds, like water fountains, traffic and some quiet narration, there is a wide variety of musical genres that are on full display. The mix moves from some smooth jazz and classical tango, to heavily experimental electronic bass music and pop influenced vocal tracks. As he moves through this vast array of musical textures, he evokes multiple different emotions. It would be easy for ambient music to simply calm the listener, but Muzza takes the opportunity to extend the purpose of ambient music to create multiple emotive responsive from the listener without breaking the delicate trance he has put them in. While most certainly calm, the mix also shifts to more upbeat and exciting moments, picking up tempo, and on to some downright haunting sections, with dynamics playing a key role. All of this combines into a varied but consistent mix, displaying the power of ambient music.

While definitely bold, Sam Muzza’s highly ambitious foray into ambient music pays off through the sophistication and depth of his soundscape, with the rest of the series sure to explore even more experimental territory.