Statement of Purpose

Ambient music powerfully employs the echo of memory.

Dear Readers,

Welcome to A Voice for the Background, a forum for the discussion of contemporary underground internet ambient and drone music: a place created with the intention of providing a critical outlet for the fledgling international online ambient community. We say “fledgling” in part because we believe that groups of associated or socially connected artists require a critical and theoretical component in order to establish themselves as a stable and respected community within the greater world of international music. In our opinion, criticism and theory are imperative foundational steps toward creating communal artistic discourse, especially in the case of ambient and drone music, where by definition, the music cannot speak for itself. On top of that, underground ambient and drone music is often overlooked by critics in larger music circles, even if it is of similar quality—and this is in part a consequence of the lack of community among and market for these genres. Online ambient genres need specially designated outlets and forums like this one in order to consolidate a critical and theoretical opinion, establish a canon, and so on, in order to be taken seriously by more powerful music journalism sources. With that in mind, our goal is to establish a voice for the background, which is not only to say a voice for those forms of music often relegated to the status of aural wallpaper, but also a voice for those artists kept in the background of society’s musical consciousness.

            With that purpose in mind, we intend to write music reviews that critically engage with the work in question on its own terms. We will never belittle a work by believing its quality can be captured by a feeble number or ranking. Numbers and rankings are the quantitative currency of those critics who believe a piece of art is merely a product to be bought and sold, consumed and digested, started and finished, and so on. That said, we believe lists of great albums and the creation of canon can act to guide listeners toward those works that especially capture the zeitgeist, and for us those methods of qualitative comparison remain acceptable.

            In addition, we will post articles written with the intention of describing a “theory” of our community’s current musical climate. This may be the most important element of this site, because these articles will attempt to establish a kind of thesis on the architecture of our community’s central works and artists. Writing this thesis, with which many may agree or disagree, is the first step in establishing a critical discourse within our community. It does not presume to be the final word on a work or selection of works, but rather the first word spoken in a conspicuously silent room.

            Finally I will address my use of the pronoun “we” in the above paragraphs. I, Isak McCune, have personally established this forum and written this statement of purpose, but by no means do I wish to remain the only voice on this website. I very much welcome more authors and perspectives. Feel free to submit individual articles or contact me if you are interested in writing for A Voice for the Background regularly. In that same vein, I do not think so highly of myself to believe that I am aware of all the music being composed in this rapidly expanding scene. I have and will continue to try to be as diverse as possible in my choices, but I would really like to be informed of new, rising, or otherwise small artists from other countries, from non-English-language backgrounds, and from underprivileged conditions (especially working class artists, artists of color, women artists, and LGBTQ+ artists).

Thank you for your support.

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