Daniel Avery has today shared a rare ambient piece, available for download below. The 46-minute recording, entirely beatless, was recorded last month in Avery's UK studio in advance of his US tour alongside Jon Hopkins. Ambient soundscapes, as Avery explains, have long been part of his music but rather in the background than at the forefront; this is one of the first ambient pieces he's shared, and it's likely to be followed by some more. To explain more about the recording and the thinking behind it, Avery answered our questions.
This is a very beautiful piece of music. When did you record it, and what is the idea behind it?
I recorded it about a month ago. I’ve had a rough sketch of something like this in my head for a while; I’m interested in quiet pieces that take time to fully unveil themselves.
And why now? What’s inspired it now?
Jon [Hopkins] asked me to support him on his North American tour. We’ve become friends over the years and I wanted to offer something from my world, something more than simply turning up and playing techno records before a gig. As a DJ, I love to play all-night-long sets, I love how immersive that feels. I wanted to bring some of that energy to the tour so we decided that I would play from doors opening until Jon’s first note. It’s about building the atmosphere from the ground up. I was asked to make an ambient mix to demonstrate these quieter moments and one piece within it wouldn’t leave my head. I was transfixed. The idea formed very quickly and the resulting track came from a single, intense studio session.
What’s the sample?
It’s by Hiroki Kikuta, a Japanese composer. His music has been a part of my life from a very young age.
How do you find playing these downtempo sets, and why are beginning to appreciate them more now?
I love being able to draw a line between different parts of the night. It’s a rush to see folk sitting or laying on the floor at the beginning of a night, only to be climbing the walls several hours later. It’s a challenge but I find it the most inspiring part of DJing.
I suppose this is how it started for you, too, playing the warm-up sets?
It is. It’s exactly how I started and it’s been inspiring for me to revisit it recently. I would do it every time if I could; I would love to play all night for every gig.
Do you find yourself producing a lot of ambient material, even though you don’t release a lot of it?
There is a lot that I have not released, yes, but I plan on getting it out there. I find that producing this music helps to reset my thoughts; it has been a crucial part of the process in the studio.
So when you’re playing these ambient sets, do you find yourself producing lots of your own material that you haven’t released?
Yes, that certainly happens. Some is inspired directly by the nights themselves, some is made specifically with certain sets in mind and some comes as a result of playing already-existing music in a new context, pitching it down and running it through a string of guitar pedals on stage. The reverb of a large, unpopulated room can throw up new sounds in an interesting way. Music can take on a whole new life if you give it that time and space.
I suppose it’s difficult to release ambient music because as a techno DJ you’re expected to make music that makes people dance.
Well, I couldn’t survive if dancefloor techno was all I did, all I listened to, or all I made. I get the same feeling from making an ambient piece as I do something intended for the club. I think there’s a legitimate connection between these two worlds. I love any music that grabs you by the hand and takes you somewhere else.
So this ambient piece is one of the first times that people have seen this side of your character.
It’s always been a part of what I do but it’s true that this is the first extended piece of music in this style I have released.
And I suppose it’s very different from what you’ll be playing when you support Nine Inch Nails later in the year.
Yes, that’s going to be entirely different to the Hopkins tour. I want those sets to be much more visceral, more direct. The other side of my personality.
EU readers can download the work here, due to temporary GDPR restrictions.