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The ambience of our discontent

Ambient music is turning out to be controversial. You would think listening to the haunting mating call of hump back whales, with a backbeat of bird song, was enough to instill calmness in the heart of any raging beast.

The opposite, however, appears to be true, and ambient music can no longer be regarded as a balm for the tortured soul of modern humanity.

Ambient music is not the Woodstock of the 90s. And it is not going to be spreading peace, love and other hippie stuff as society chills out by taking a walk on the mild side.

To find out more we must turn our attention to Ultima Thule, Sydney's premier ambient music program hosted by the top guru himself, George Cruickshank.

The master of the beigest sound around has shown himself to be quite a radical when it comes to whipping up a storm of controversy.

It appears an insomniac bingo player, life-long subscriber to 2MBS-FM, and a radical Pauline Hanson fan to boot, disapproved of some of the evenings entertainment that had been lined up on Ultima Thule. He decided to do something about it. He called the station and complained. More directly, he demanded that Ultima Thule "get that Asian music off the air" or he would be canceling his subscription.

The fact that the music was actually a romantic, Gaelic ballad, sung by a Catholic nun accompanying herself with a piano accordion and didgeridoo made no difference. The caller remained adamant that Asian music had no place on 2MBS-FM

The Ambiantrix of ambience was left suspended in amused disbelief at the notion anyone could mistake a Gaelic ballad for Chinese opera. "There were not even any fireworks", he was later heard to exclaim.

At this stage it is not known if the Board of 2MBS-FM are aware of the controversy. Although it is no secret that they would prefer to replace Ultima Thule with a program dedicated to Strauss waltzes rather than lose a single subscriber.