Various Artists

United State of Ambience, Vol. 1

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The first of the United State of Ambience series probably features a more stylistically diverse collection of tracks than either of the follow-ups. In fact, at many times the collection seems to veer off into the worldbeat genre, where sampled chants and hand drums take the place of synth pads and computerized sound effects. Other times, it hovers perilously close to new age. The compilation was released in 1994, when electronica was still a very new genre -- and it shows. Both the Eastern-influenced "Goa: Season of the Monsoon" and the uplifting "Creation" are underscored with fairly up-tempo drum tracks --something you would never find on a more recent ambient work. This collection features some of the earliest offerings by groups such as Dubtribe and Rabbit in the Moon (writing under the name LunaSol). Though this collection came out four years before the chart-topping Pure Moods I compilation, it has a very similar vibe. One could say that it laid the groundwork for the hugely popular electronic/new age compilation. However, where Pure Moods features tracks that are commercial enough to be almost cheesy, USA remains happily within the underground. Though some of the artists featured on United State of Ambience became somewhat famous, none of them ever crossed over into the mainstream. One can only assume that it was their choice to remain on the cutting edge of music.

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