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Phil Ogison; Electronic Music's Ambient Devil.
By Catherine Tammaro

'Sine Qua Non' 'THE VOICE' Toronto.

"While driving through the countryside in England with my parents, we passed the ruins of a monastery. I was five or six years old. I heard a distant repetitive melody and when I asked my parents if they too heard the music, they said no. It seemed that the music was mine alone. Hearing that music remains a pivotal experience, which although unexplainable, is at my core to this day. Motivation to make music is not something I need to pursue, it's inside me."

Phil Ogison's main musical project name is The Devil In The Design, which refers to a metaphorical Devil defined as 'a chance occurrence, which when introduced to an erstwhile stable design, produces a new pattern in that design. The chance occurrence is always a feature of improvised music, Phil explains. By introducing new improvised musical phrases, one changes the array of the musical pattern, as in the holographic and chaos theories of physics that inspired the development of The Devil in The Design project.

Born at Folkestone, Kent, England in 1948, Phil has lived in Canada since 1963. In 1966 he began to foster his musical skills and experimented with various forms of tape-manipulated electronic music. He has remained active in the experimental music scene for most of his adult life and continues, with several concurrent projects, to the present. Phil is also a painter, collage/assemblage artist, digital artist, and some time writer, but music is his way of being in this world.

What is ambient music? Phil comments, "Ambient music is an often misunderstood term. In the late 1970's, it more often described music that had no rhythmic, tonal centre. Since then much of electronic music has been lumped into this category. Ambient music, like ambient light, is reflective; Phil elucidates, "I think I have a philosophical approach to music rather than a stylistic allegiance. I'm concerned with producing a texture or quality of sound that may not have anything to do with a guitar sounding like a guitar. If you can ebb and flow like the sea or scatter across a stage like clouds blown by the wind, you're more likely to communicate with a crowd that likes ambient music.

Phil's catalogue is extensive with over 30 CDs of various types of music to his credit in the last five years alone. It includes albums such as 'Cloudface', 'Dantalion' and 'An Elemental in Nirvana'. Jamie Todd co-founder of The AMBiENT PiNG, Toronto's ambient music headquarters, offers this praise of Phil, "I love jamming with Phil, it's as if we are both plugged into the same source, a strange sort of musical deja vu occurs where we are both familiar with what the other is about to play. It's intuitive yet also like a memory." Scott M2, the other co-founder of The PiNG said of Phil, "Beyond the good vibe he projects and the inevitable good taste of his playing, Phil's deep musical experience and love of music, make playing/working with him a truly rewarding experience."

Ogison performs mostly at The AMBiENT PiNG venues in Toronto and collaborates with ambient and experimental artists abroad such as Tom Byrne in England. In Canada, collaborations include The League of Imaginations with Scott Johnson, dreamSTATE with Scott M2 and Jamie Todd, A Pretty Sonic Splatter with Anne Sulikowski, Worthy Records Founder and artist Menno Krant. He is also half of the ambient duo subduction current with this writer. Phil receives fan mail from as far away as Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the UK.

As The Voice goes to press this issue, Phil will have just begun VESSEL, a performance series of five independent pieces in combination with renowned modern artist Menno Krant. VESSEL explores simultaneous singular generation of music and art, as fine art, in performance.

Phil's career in music is flowering. He has two major distribution agreements in effect.

The Canadian Music Centre is offering for sale, five album titles worldwide. The Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) is offering songs from five other albums on a pay per download basis with over two hundred download music services such as Itunes, Live, Napster and Puretracks. Phil is signed to Worthy Records and produces his own album packaging. He manages his websites at:,, and

and his music is available through:

Phil Ogison - The Devil In The Design