If great mixtapes often express inspiration through contrast, then the centuries-spanning The Varieties of Ambient Experience, compiled by Ronen Givony, is truly something. Opening with a particularly introspective reading of one of J.S. Bach‘s Goldberg Variations, it moves back to the future and forth to the reconsidered past, from recent glitchy-ambient pieces by the likes of Boards of Canada and Loscil, to early works that serve, in this context, as precognitive glimpses of the importance, often hundreds of years in advance, that near-silence and a meditative pace would (eventually) play in music (MP3).
Thus laptop-wielders such as Tim Hecker and Stephan Mathieu (the latter collaborating with Ekkehard Ehlers) are heard interspersed with half-century-old Johannes Ockeghem (by Huelgas Ensemble) and Christopher Tye (by Kronos). The classical components of most recent vintage provide a kind of pivot — these include a 99-year-old piano piece by Claude Debussy and, even more literally, the 40-year-old Sinking of the Titanic by Gavin Bryars in a 2003 remix by Aphex Twin. Also heard: Grouper, Broadcast, Múm, and others.
Givony is the founder of the excellent Wordless Music concert series in Manhattan. Get full details on the mix at percussionlab.com.