David Cunningham – Ext. Night

David Cunningham - Ext. NightI’ve been picking through my collection, looking for ambient and electronic music that I haven’t heard in years. I was thrilled to stumble on this one by David Cunningham, best known in the states as a member of the Flying Lizards.

Beautiful clean guitar ambiance for an hour, there’s a lot in common here with Brian Eno’s classic ambient albums.

Here’s what the composer had to say:

ext.night is a sixty minute ambience derived from a few fragments of guitar playing treated by looping, overlaying, permutating and playback at different tape speeds.

this CD seems to work best when played very quietly. reports indicate that it is also an effective relief from migrane headaches.

one morning in july 1992 I decided to make a ‘barbeque ambience’ for playback later in that same day on a system of small speakers distributed around the yard outside my old studio in brixton. the small community of artists from the surrounding studios used this yard for barbeques in the summer. my studio, being the nearest source of noise would become, by default, a very minimal discotheque for the evening.

my self-imposed discipline was to try and make a continuous background atmosphere entirely derived from about one minute of guitar recorded that morning and finish it before the barbeque was lit. this music is the result.

as that evening continued I noticed that if the tape played back very quietly, below the level of peoples’ voices, their conversation became quieter. subjectively I felt that the quality and intensity of that conversation improved.

this hypothesis was tested again a month later when the tape became the music for a bar I used to frequent and where I was becoming interested in lowering the overall level of noise in order to have a sensible conversation. background music in bars in england is becoming the loudest in the world and I don’t appreciate having to lip read and shout all evening.

david cunningham 1997



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