iPhone Apps I Actually Use: Part II

Whether to stimulate those flat-lining Alpha Waves or just simply relax, Ambient Music on the go is indispensable!

Music is a big part of my life. While the iPhone/iPod Touch already does an admirable job of catering to this need, sometimes my desire for audible stimulation goes beyond listening to the latest album by Yo La Tengo and towards something a little more interactive. My interest in ambient music extends back to the early days of electronica, initiated by musicians such as Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream. I’ve always found ambient to be an intriguing musical genre – the apparent sonic simplicity of the style masks an underlying structure of complex musical arrangements, often triggering deep states of relaxation and/or creativity in the listener (me).

Ambient music pioneer and acclaimed visual artist Brian Eno. Click the picture for a discography.

So, what’s this got to do with iPhone Apps (I actually use)? I spent a few years living, working and commuting in Beijing, China – often spending more than 2 hours a day on the crowded subway system during peak hours. Most of the time I listened to BBC News podcasts interspersed with music while on the subway, that is until I discovered the Bloom application. Simply put, Bloom is an ambient music generator capable of translating your touchscreen finger taps into stunning tableaus of infinitely variable ambient music landscapes combined with soothing colour graphics. Or, if you don’t feel like interacting, Bloom will generate it’s own ambience… perfect for those seeking to double their alpha waves, simply wanting to fall asleep or mask the drone of thousands of co-transients in a crowded subway car.

Bloom is the creation of ambient music pioneer, Brian Eno and frequent collaborator Peter Chilvers and combines a deceptively simple artistic interface with a powerful ambient music generator. Users can choose to interact by tapping out patterns on the touchscreen which will trigger piano-like tones that will automatically compile into hypnotic rhythms or listen to randomly generated music. Classic, Freestyle or Infinite modes can be used for either creation or random generation of ambient music. You’ll notice there’s also a sleep timer so you can send yourself off into an ambient slumberland!

Through their production venture – Generative Music – Eno and Chilvers have collaborated on two iPhone Apps to date. The second App is called Trope and brings a darker tone to the ambient music fairyland. Inspired by Brian Eno’s 1978 ambient masterpiece, Music for Airports, Chilvers has gone on to collaborate with vocalist Sandra O’Neill to create a third ambient music generating iPhone App called Air. All three Apps share similar characteristics while producing divergent, yet complimentary ambient sounds.

All three are available through the iTunes store and will run on either the iPhone or iPod Touch. External speakers or headphones are highly recommended.

[CAUTION: clicking any of the App links will want to launch iTunes and go to the appropriate product page in the iTunes store, so don’t click if you don’t want that to happen.]

Bloom by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers
Requires iPhone OS 3.0 or higher: $3.99

Trope by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers
Requires iPhone OS 3.0 or higher: $3.99

Air by Peter Chilvers and Sandra O’Neill
Requires iPhone OS 3.0 or higher: $1.99

You can find “iPhone Apps I Actually Use: Part I” here…

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1 Response

  1. wes says:

    don’t know if you’re a south park fan (and god forgive you if you’re not),but “i am tripping balls right now!” bloom is awesome. i’m not sure if it’s a simple things for simple minds situation, but the fact remains, i am tripping balls. bloom is great, thanks for the heads up…freak.

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