Not Knowing by Nicholas Szczepanik is one of the finest ambient pieces of recent vintage. Inspired by the work of Eliane Radigue, whom he found without knowing he needed to, it opens purring contentedly as a cat curled up on a woolly afghan in the den, before a higher note joins, following its breathe in-breathe out rhythm. And then, really out of nowhere, comes a symphony orchestra like the sun illuminating the path to enlightenment, although it rises, falls, recurs, winds and loops. (And I know this swirling, romantic sample but damn my limited knowledge of classical composers, it just won´t come to me. Maybe it will to you.) Are we making a required number of circuits around the holy mountain, is the destination not the goal? Unnoticed, the purring has ceased and the symphony been covered in a great, glass dome, muffling its drama. Angelic tones ascend like gathering clouds climbing the mountainside, and finally, the eternal return: purring on a comfy afghan. The world fits into the smallest places.
For its cohesion, balance and pure beauty, Not Knowing vies with this album for best ambient in a very long while.