Music for a Summer Evening (1998) — Robert Scott Thompson — Long-form Ambient Music

...staggeringly beautiful...

Sometimes you come across a piece of music that blows your mind. It is a combination of chords/harmonies (and sometimes DISharmonies) and tonal color that is impossible to describe, other than as “totally immersive.”

Robert Scott Thompson has written many grand pieces of music, and is currently among my absolute favorites (among the likes of Vangelis, Eno and Harold Budd), and Music For A Summer Evening, in particular, blows one’s mind, as its musical qualities combine the sensual, the ethereal and the mystical to create a whole which, for want of a more subtle description, can best be described as “staggeringly beautiful”, and to Hell with being subtle anyway. This is GREAT music!

Here is hoping Music For A Summer Evening will be more widely distributed. THIS is what should be #1 at all musical charts.

— Ulf Claesson

...a beautiful tapestry of sound and silence using both acoustic and purely electronic elements...

An enthralling composition of one single movement over seventy minutes in duration, Music for a Summer Evening is a work which crosses the stylistic boundaries separating ambient music and the contemporary avant-garde. Composer Robert Scott Thompson weaves a beautiful tapestry of sound and silence using both acoustic and purely electronic elements. Psaltery, strings, singing, piano, and bells are heard among many other sounds and textures, but in a context that is tremendously futuristic and innovative. The music constantly evolves and presents an alternative soundscape in significant contrast to more the more commonplace “drone-based” ambient music.

Fans of Brian Eno, John Hassell, Robert Fripp, Steve Roach and similar artists will want to add this CD to their collections. Perfect for either close listening or as background sound Music for a Summer Evening is destined to become an important contribution to the literature of both ambient music and computer music.

...traverses the fine lines between ambience, minimalism, avant-garde and dissonance...

Over the past seven months or so, I have delved deeply into the shamanic qualities and textures of Dr. Thompson’s music. I have come to expect the unexpected! None of that could have prepared my biosonic playback device (BRAIN) for this experiential listening! Robert traverses the fine lines between ambience, minimalism, avant-garde and dissonance. While the music has echoes and qualities of all those styles, it fits none of them in toto. Dr. Thompson calls it ambience. Other ‘experts’ will call it avant-garde and dissonant. Still others will find it minimal. Personally I have to coin a term and call it FUTURISM; (I’ll discuss more on that below.)

The music is all of that and the proverbial glazed doughnut! The stark soundscapes evoke feelings of isolation. The computer sounds evoke warmth and friendliness. The manipulated vocals evoke angst, existentialism, excitement and terror. This is NOT dark minimalism. Robert is in a zone that only he can define and he is not about to do so. He is perfectly willing to share his soul and his spirit. He is just as willing to share his techniques. (He is, after all, a teacher and a very generous man.) Not sharing the zone does not come from unwillingness. Like all great artistes, Dr. Thompson is unable to define how his intellect interacts with his spirituality and emotions. As a therapist, I know that process as integration. Dr. Robert Scott Thompson, PhD, is one of the most completely integrated individuals I have ever met!

— Jim Brenholts

Program Note

A long-form ambient composition, Music for A Summer Evening is a work comprised of one long, developmental track of over 60 minutes. This CD grew out of a site-specific, installation work of the same title, which involves 128 musical fragments presented in a “mobile” structure – asynchronously and randomly.

Though the work is technical in its construction and execution, the music on this disc provides a splendid backdrop to a long twilight. This is a perfect ambient music, compelling, evocative and strange in nuance yet able to blend perfectly into the sonic landscape. This recording can be listened to with rapt attention in headphones, for example, or in a variety of “ambient” settings.

Music for a Summer Evening is a disc which embraces the general aesthetics of “classical” ambient music but also presents materials derived from state-of-the-art computer music techniques. This long-form, evolving work features the sounds of voices, percussion instruments, plucked instruments and completely new and compelling sounds and textures.


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