John Beltran’s music should be placed on a mantelshelf, as a tenderly crafted phial. Spoken metaphorically, obviously, in truth I neither own mantle nor shelf. And even if I did, I probably wouldn’t put a phial on it. Especially not a tenderly crafted one. These lines actually summarize the essence and the dilemma of the Beltram’s »Ambient«. Writing about John Beltran’s music is like writing about »beauty«. But »beauty« in the means of Kant, as »disinterested pleasure«, as an aesthetic attempt for the perfection of form modeled after the ideal of the ancient world, or at least theologically, as an eschatological hope, as a kind of anticipation of the kingdom of god right here and right now. It’s this point of view that illustrates the differences between Ambient Works and the similar titled album Selected Ambient Works 85-92 by Aphex Twin. Still, Beltran sometimes sounds somewhat similar to Richard D. James’es »majestic« – as Rolling Stone once entitled it – sound from back then. And both works also share the understanding of »Ambient« as a form of electronic music for listening, which wasn’t created for the dance-floor per se, but can neither be defined throughout mere renunciation. But where John Beltran’s melodic and harmonious excess seems to be well aware of the dangers of falling into a higher form of elevator-music, Aphex Twin always avoided this scenario through a far-reaching radicalness. John Beltran’s 16 tracks from eight albums produced between 1995 and 2001 only rarely manage to succeed in that. With Brilliant Flood, for example, he does. In summary: it’s just all a bit too beautiful.