The second volume in Virgin's priceless Ambient series is a bit of a retread from the first, alternating classics from Virgin's rich back catalog with the new school of ambient electronica (of which, the label's store is much harder to come by). The result is an Orb remix (of the Grid) instead of a normal Orb track; the only other contemporary acts are the Future Sound of London project Amorphous Androgynous, William Orbit's Bass-O-Matic, Tony Thorpe's Voyager, and such intriguing but obviously label-centric acts as Verve and U2's The Edge. As far as classic ambient tracks go, Virgin is tops – Eno, Sakamoto, Robert Fripp, David Sylvian, Phil Manzanera, Klaus Schulze – though the lack of more up-to-date acts can be frustrating.
Although it seemed to arrive out of nowhere in the early '90s, ambient music actually has a long and varied history, leading back to Brian Eno and Kraftwerk's electronic experiments in the 1970s, right up to Aphex Twin's textural techno soundscapes. As an introduction and history lesson, the two-disc A Brief History of Ambient Music can't be beat; it shows that the ambient-techno trend has roots that most fans wouldn't even realize existed.