As with just about every genre, ambient music is difficult to really recommend and sometimes even describe in terms of the nuances between different pieces. What sounds glorious to one person will sound like trash to another and small variations in sound can make all the difference. A perfect example of this is Into The Void, which features the work of three different artists, two of which I have really enjoyed previous work by.
Sebastian Meissner (otherwise known as Random_Inc) released several great albums on the Mille Plateaux label several years back and has continued to create music that incorporates field recordings and electronic processing, while I first heard the work of Ran Slavin only recently on his excellent Insomniac City DVD and CD release. Created several years ago for an installation, the release is an aural reflection upon the history and the cultural changes in the 700-year Jewish Krakovian neighborhood of Kazimierz. The three artists walked around area interviewing people and gathering field recordings for several months before putting everything together into an audio and video (for which Slavin created impressions) installation.
As an audio document, Into The Void is bizarre and sometimes extreme. The release opens with twelve tracks from Meissner, and his series of tracks opens with icy ambience, as cold processed sounds are interrupted occasionally by interview fragments that are chopped and blurred at points. "Kazimierez: Empty and Ghostly Place" is a longer track of murky piano meanderings that sound like prepared piano tinklings gone array, while "...1998-2005..." sounds like klezmer glitchcore as playful horn melodies are turned into sprays of noise and chopped conversations become hiccuping chants.
Slavin's contributions to the release aren't quite as developed as his newer material, but have a similar glacial progression as processed instrumentation bursts and blooms in glorious ways in places ("Into Krakow On The Night Train / Melting Snow Tracks / Quiet Town") while not doing much in others. With only two tracks clocking in at fifteen minutes, Eran Sachs has the least amount of music on the release, and his work keeps the same course, pushing broken conversations and field recordings into sometimes heavy passages of extreme power electronics. As a whole, Into The Void offers some inspiring moments, but also sags pretty heavily in places, with lots of unfocused spaces that work better for backdrops (or installations, as it were) than attentive listening. I suppose it could be argued that all ambient music suffers from this same fate, but this one just seems too random for repeated listening.