Nashville Ambient Ensemble Adds an Extra Sensory Dimension to the Frist Art Museum

(All photos by Carissa Stolting)

Nashville Ambient Ensemble, one of the best names in the niche world of ambient country music, was commissioned to create musical accompaniment to the Frist Art Museum’s Light, Space, Surface exhibit.

Light, Space, Surface: Works from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art runs from June 3-September 4, 2022. The gallery features immersive installations, sculptures and paintings by over 20 Southern California artists that examine how the properties of light and space can themselves become a form of art.

The pieces included in the exhibit play with light as a medium, manipulating it through reflections or projections to modify the perception of form and physical space. For each installation, light is as essential of an ingredient as something like paint or sculpting clay. This gives the entire gallery an ethereal and translucent-like quality. The perfect music to accompany such a quality is unquestionably the gossamer soundscapes of the Nashville Ambient Ensemble.

The leader of the group, Michael Hix, chose to emulate the electric and digital aspects of the gallery’s art pieces by constructing a framework of coldly stoic synthesizers. From there, the rest of the ensemble built upon that base with a mix of familiar Nashville sounds, like pedal steel guitar and violins. Yet, these instruments were played in a more sweeping, atmospheric way that is more akin to post rock and the work of modern experimental composers.

The music slowly pulses and fades in and out like the soft glow of a neon sign caught in a fog bank. The synthesizers certainly have a stronger presence in this collection of songs than the previous recordings by the NAE, but as mentioned before, this was a conscious choice to better reflect the smoothly clean aesthetic of the exhibit.

If you happen to be in Nashville this summer, do yourself a favor and do not miss this incredible pairing of visual and aural art. Click here for more information now. To hear music by the NAE (and to keep tabs on when this score will be available on Centripetal Force Recoeds), just click here.

-KH


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and Thewaster.com and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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