Buy Ambient Century

The Ambient Century - Mark Prendergast

UK Edition Release
New 2003/2009 Edition

In association with Amazon

The Ambient Century - Mark Prendergast

US Edition Release
New 2003 Edition
In association with Amazon


UK Edition Release
November 2000
In association with Amazon

US Edition Release
January 2001
In association with Amazon


Published by Bloomsbury Books


The Ambient Century - Mark Prendergast


As well as having a snazzy new cover and subtitle, The Ambient Century has had a radical overhaul since the first edition appeared in 2000/2001. First off it ends with a look at Moby, the world's best-selling Ambient Techno artist and a fine composer to boot. There's a certain ellipsis in ending with Moby as he talks about Satie, one of the influential (classical) artists who began the book in the first place. Secondly there was a set of parameters I put the first edition through before I said the printers could go. And these divided down into four sets of distinct patterns.

The first was a hard look at any proof reading or editing errors which occurred at the final stages of the 2000 edition. This time I had the advice of a keen musicologist who debated with me interpretations and whatnot of musical forms. The second was any necessary death changes, which in the case of Can's Michael Karoli or Popol Vuh's Florian Fricke were mandatory. The third was an essential album revision ie those new albums in the interim too crucial or important to ignore. The fourth was a veritable update of certain sections in the light of new developments for example the history of Compact Disc has been revolutionised by the superior fidelities offered by Super Audio Compact Disc and the, as yet to come, Blu-ray Disc. As well as a new Index there is also a new Afterword which aims to clarify the gestation and reason behind Ambient Century with unexpected references to Sigur Ros and Radiohead.

To quote in part "The Ambient Century is a journey through the evolution of sound in the twentieth century. It is a journey borne out of personal experience and curiosity. It is not supposed to be a definitive textbook aiming to include everyone and anyone who has ever worked on sonic innovation. The book is not designed solely as a reference work, though many say it can be used in that way. Each section is written in a chronological manner and by reading the short essays at the beginning of each section and then reading the sections slowly you should get a genuine feel of the drift of change through time".

Finally I'd like to say two new things. Anyone out there who can identify what's on the new cover deserves a tilted hat. And thank you Holly Roberts, at Bloomsbury, for your shrewd editing and proof reading skills during preparation of the new version in early 2003.

Mark Prendergast

The Ambient Century
is all about white men and technology then think again. Many women are featured including Madonna, Daphne Oram, Pauline Oliveros, Nico, Sandy Denny, Grace Slick, Laurie Anderson, Donna Summer, Anne Dudley, Liz Fraser and Enya - the latter two pictured below. Also many black men from Miles Davis to Goldie including the peerless Jimi Hendrix, pictured.
"Now the bleeding heart of electronic progress had by its very nature rendered all recorded music, by definition, Ambient."
"In the end Steve Reich aligned Minimalist music with meditation, its ritualistic sense shifting music away from the subjective attention of the listener to an objective appreciation of its very existence."
"Rock opened listeners' minds to new perceptions in sound - through its necessary innovation it served as a perfect vehicle for new Ambient and electronic ideas."
"Trance was a music tailor-made for club nirvana as millions the world over danced to slithery mixes full of synthesizer riffs, drum-machine rolls, long suspenseful build-ups and even lengthier breakdowns."
From London's Times to the Boston Globe, critics have been praising The Ambient Century. Here you can read a selection of their comments.
Mark Prendergast's Top Ten Ambient CDs and Books. You can purchase them from this site.