The mind revealing itself to itself: the TOP 100 AMBIENT ALBUMS as voted by ILX

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The votes have been counted, altogether there were around 30 ballots, and now it's time for the results...

https://www.ancient-code.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/greenland_anomaly_prv2_by_julian_faylona-db8rifx.jpg

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:14 (four months ago) link

Boo to 30 ballots. Was hoping there'd be more

groovypanda, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:16 (four months ago) link

Cue tired joke about how that was too swift, tempo-wise, and should instead be stretched out over several months.

pomenitul, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:16 (four months ago) link

99.(tie) Stars of the Lid: The Ballasted Orchestra
197 points, 3 votes.

https://i.imgur.com/GvqOGm1.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rFNL6HQ1mM

Big second on Stars of the Lid, although I think I like "The Ballasted Orchestra" better. It's like being in a scene from 2001. For 74 minutes. On heavy downers.

― Kenan Hebert (kenan), 30. huhtikuuta 2003 20:39

I want to put in a plug for "Sun Drugs" off the underrated Stars of the Lid release The Ballasted Orchestra, as it totally nails the feeling of laying​ in a wide-open field under a cloudless sky listening to the rumble of distant jet aircraft.

― bernard snowy, 19. maaliskuuta 2017 18:28

Also I still feel like I've got a long way to go before I've internalised most of their stuff, but The Ballasted Orchestra is in to my top 3 with a bullet.

― ledge, 11. joulukuuta 2012 17:44

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:27 (four months ago) link

I have a feeling that if I went back and listened to their entire discography again their early material would win out but Tired Sounds was such a formative album for me that I couldn't bring myself to vote for anything else.

pomenitul, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:29 (four months ago) link

Hoped for more than 30 ballots too, but stoked for the ambientness nonetheless

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 24 June 2019 10:37 (four months ago) link

Ballasted Orchestra is a fantastic album, but I too found it after Tired Sounds came into my life.

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 24 June 2019 10:38 (four months ago) link

99. (tie) DeepChord presents Echospace: Liumin / Liumin Reduced (2010)
197 points, 3 votes.

https://i.imgur.com/Tktdri0.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGPZpr5H9Sk

Liumin Reduced

deepchord presents echospace - liumin, brock van wey - white clouds drift on and on (cd2 esp.)

― ILX Point Never (diamonddave85), 20. heinäkuuta 2011 2:24

after diving back into a bunch of minimal techno following the pfork IDM list, just discovered Deepchord Presents Echospace - Liumin. Great stuff here, dub/ambient techno, but there's a couple of tracks with deeply obscured disco samples that almost come out as vaporwaved house tracks. always finding more...

― Dominique, 27. tammikuuta 2017 22:16

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:41 (four months ago) link

Sorry, I forgot to add the release year to The Ballasted Orchestra, that one is from 1997.

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:41 (four months ago) link

Too low, partly through my own fault (I forgot to vote for it!).

xp

pomenitul, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:42 (four months ago) link

I felt conflicted about nominating that album, but the second disc is definitely ambient of the found sound/field recording kind, and the first disc shows how they made awesome dub techno out of those sounds.

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:44 (four months ago) link

I didn't vote because NOTAMBIENT. Amazing album all the same and, perversely, glad to see it.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Monday, 24 June 2019 10:45 (four months ago) link

I do share your reservations, genre-wise. I tried to be as much of a purist as possible in my own ballot (although I nommed 76:14, I ultimately refrained from voting for it upon hearing it again and realizing that it's nowhere near as unadulterated as I remembered).

pomenitul, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:46 (four months ago) link

Someone should run a study about how ambient music induces taxonomically negative feelings in listeners.

pomenitul, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:48 (four months ago) link

98. Hatchback: Zeus & Apollo (2011)
198 points, 3 votes.

https://i.imgur.com/pXxhJP3.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-VuU2ulc_8

picked it up today (zeus and apollo). production is super spacious. this is going to be one stoned out summer.

― so confused (blank), 28. kesäkuuta 2011 7:06

Stupidly, stupidly great. Stately and luminious and just perfectly arranged, perfectly paced... Thank you dudes SO MUCH for bringing this to my attention.

― Clarke B., 29. kesäkuuta 2011 1:51

and it makes perfect sense as a progression from his previous stuff; he puts more emphasis on his lush, perfectionist sound design and goes further out into cosmic popol vuh territory by mostly eschewing the krautrock/disco element.

― karl...arlk...rlka...lkar..., 29. kesäkuuta 2011 6:20

Gave a no-laptop-or-other-distractions listen to Zeus and Apollo today...what a great ride that album is, so wide-ranging and immersive but at all these different levels - like, when I think of "immersive" music, I sort of assume a certain sort of depth - bass depth, but also mood - but this thing hits all these different + to my ear very subtle moods and sustains them, really fleshes them out. Tremendous tremendous record.

― pathos of the unwarranted encore (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), 17. elokuuta 2011

this album is definitely still holding up for me, one of my favorites of the year too for sure. don't want to get too REAL TALK here but it was playing in the background during some fairly traumatic/life-altering discussions for me this year and i still love it. just the right amount of melancholy and escapism, i feel like with any other record in the world the negative associations would kill the music for me but this all just keeps sounding so comforting

― a lagoon par la mer (psychgawsple), 17. elokuuta 2011 6:16

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 11:22 (four months ago) link

hey i remember this record! good memories

nxd, Monday, 24 June 2019 11:26 (four months ago) link

HAd doubts if it qualified, as I associate it way more with balearic. But the two can overlap, and it's a gorgeous album. It's in my top three of my 50 records ballot that I listen to the most.

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 24 June 2019 11:28 (four months ago) link

97. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green (1986)
201 points, 3 votes.

https://i.imgur.com/RdorN7C.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-k9Xu5O7AY

alan i've been going through hiroshi yoshimura's discography since you recommended him, he's so wonderful

― (曇り) (clouds), 8. joulukuuta 2014 8:21

The first music you hear on Green were the sounds of a stream and bird song. Once the “synthetic” part cycles in, they played a part of an unlikely ensemble; unobtrusive, complementary of the larger, sonic vision. Brian Eno once spoke of “Another Green World“, but with Green this one somehow remains the most impressive. It must be. It’s our green world, presented in these refinements, that speak of a golden period in time when Hiroshi graced us with one astounding vision after another, culminating in this utterly sublime masterpiece. My suggestion: gather, digest, and refresh.

Diego Olivas, Fond/Sound

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 11:29 (four months ago) link

96. Ekkehard Ehlers: Plays (2002)
201 points, 4 votes.

https://i.imgur.com/GyJWLBO.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ev68XXZo6w

Look, I've had a love affair with both of these tracks for months now, but while I was listening to them again today they both kinda looked at me funny, cock-eyed like, and suddenly I just *knew*.

Seriously, I couldn't feel more strongly about music right now.

― mark p (Mark P), 4. tammikuuta 2003 5:32

i didn't realise the strings on "..cassavetes" were from the beatles until tonight.

― jed_, 22. marraskuuta 2008 2:14

Are you serious!?

From where, specifically?

― Their time's limited, hard rocks, too (mehlt), 22. marraskuuta 2008 2:56

It's a loop of a section from the intro to "Goodnight", very obvious in fact, not processed or anything. I would love to know what he does with it, exactly. One of the really fascinating things about that track is that you can't tell for sure if it's changing at all through most of it.

― Mark, 22. marraskuuta 2008 3:12

Loving the whole 'Plays' compilation despite not recognising any of the references. Glorious.

― Ctrl+Alt+Del in Poughkeepsie (fionnland), 30. syyskuuta 2018 18:39

I, er, Spotified "Goodnight" and "...Cassavetes 2" back to back two days ago, killing time at my mother's house. She was out of the room for some ten minutes but was then all "Is it still going? Wait, did The White Album have a locked groove as well?"

― Nag! Nag! Nag!, 1. lokakuuta 2018 12:21

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 11:46 (four months ago) link

Another two great records that didn't make my ballot.

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 24 June 2019 11:48 (four months ago) link

That Ehlers album is fantastic. The John Cassavetes track is all time.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Monday, 24 June 2019 11:55 (four months ago) link

cool, a bunch of stuff I don't know! I have heard the Ehlers and some SOTL but not that one

Ambient Police (sleeve), Monday, 24 June 2019 13:55 (four months ago) link

95. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Tides (2014)
201 points, 5 votes.

https://i.imgur.com/Ex3Term.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMKBKjmM5xE

btw, pulled up the kaitlyn aurelia smith on spotify
first thing i heard were birdsongs and wind chimes
immediately saved that shit

― brosario nawson (m bison), 17. tammikuuta 2015 6:22

kaitlyn aurelia smith: tides - you just woke up and you can float above the heap of thoughts on suspended waves of synthesis for a little while, calmly

― home organ, 18. joulukuuta 2015 7:13

Grounded in the work of these early electronic artists, the album feels like a natural extension of their meditative project. Its production is also predicated on practical use. It was produced originally as a soundtrack for Smith's mother's yoga classes. The slow modulation of the Buchla simulates breath on "Tides III," while sustained resonance on "Tides V" builds hypnotically. It is, in a word, relaxing.

Arielle Gordon, Resident Advisor

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 13:57 (four months ago) link

Does anyone know what happened between the original release of Tides and its reissue this year? I got it from Bandcamp in 2014 or 2015, and back then it had ten tracks, but at some point it disappeared from Bandcamp (thankfully I'd saved my copy on the hard drive), and then this January it was rereleased there with the final track ("Tides X") missing. What's up with that?

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 14:01 (four months ago) link

Looks like I need to hear that Ehlers record!

Siegbran, Monday, 24 June 2019 14:02 (four months ago) link

Anyway, as much I've enjoyed Smith's journey into synthpop/IDM freakiness, I wish she'd do another pure ambient album like this one day. Tides is the one record of hers to which I return the most; the RA review criticises it for being too new agey and too functional as yoga background music, but to me that's just a plus, and I don't even do yoga.

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 14:04 (four months ago) link

imago to thread if to thread he would.

pomenitul, Monday, 24 June 2019 14:06 (four months ago) link

A Life Without Fear is my favourite Ehlers but it can't reasonably be dubbed ambient.

pomenitul, Monday, 24 June 2019 14:07 (four months ago) link

and I don't even do yoga.

lol Tuomas. Never considered KAS for this poll, even though I do enjoy her music.

Everyone should hear that Ehlers record, you too Siegbran!

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 24 June 2019 14:10 (four months ago) link

I voted for the Deepchord album, and although I was aware there might be complaints that it wasn’t ambient enough it was a vote for the second “reduced” disc.

There were other ones I voted for that might also raise eyebrows but they’re ambient to me!

I am using your worlds, Monday, 24 June 2019 14:33 (four months ago) link

I... forgot to vote. This weekend was particularly busy.

I nominated Deepchord - Immersions, which is amazing too.

Evan, Monday, 24 June 2019 14:38 (four months ago) link

some of my choices were grandfathered in from a time in my life when A. I had not reified "ambient" and B. there was no Internet to argue about it on

frex Future Sound of London's Lifeforms, which is a superposition of definitely and definitely not ambient

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 24 June 2019 14:48 (four months ago) link

Yeah this is from around the time that the term IDM did not exist yet and all this stuff (FSOL, Global Communications, Autechre, Aphex Twin, beats-era-Biosphere) was called ambient.

Siegbran, Monday, 24 June 2019 15:02 (four months ago) link

I think my first exposure to 'ambient' was around 92/93 and it was some swirly, beat-driven Namlook excursion into the heart of the sun/inner space so I guess I am being daftly proscriptive about what is/what isn't ambient on here, really. So it goes.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Monday, 24 June 2019 15:05 (four months ago) link

it's interesting how this lasted only briefly before the more complex/abrasive stuff was shoved under the IDM label, and the laidback beats stuff became "downtempo".

Siegbran, Monday, 24 June 2019 15:08 (four months ago) link

Time Recordings' Em:t series was big for me in this respect, they rejected the "dance music" label that electronic music had, but also weren't into abrasive or glitch stuff... often focused on an evocation of place, which is a foundational aspect of the best ambient works for me. Like you could call it the Ambient 4: On Land branch of the family.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 24 June 2019 15:12 (four months ago) link

I would argue that FAX records carried on with that inclusive early-nineties spirit of ambient right until Pete Namlook's death and the label's folding in 2012. Though sadly the audience for their releases gradually dwindled, even though they kept on releasing quality music throughout the years; some of the albums from FAX's final years are just as good as their '90s classics.

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 15:24 (four months ago) link

Plays was a new one for me from the nominations thread, really impressed on first listen and I'm sure it'll grow on me.

I love Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith but haven't heard that particular album.

Gavin, Leeds, Monday, 24 June 2019 15:58 (four months ago) link

94. Meg Bowles: The Shimmering Land (2013)
201 points, 3 votes, 1 first place vote.

https://www.megbowlesmusic.com/img/Shimmer1000px.jpeg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctOuviFsVf4&list=PL7CHOwWwIsi9pbsRPYwvgJYKdD68_1FQE

Meg Bowles is one of my favourite ambient artists, it's always nice when people discover her music. I've said it before here, but IMO she would be more acclaimed if her albums weren't self-published and labelled (by herself, admittedly) "new age". The sort of hippie elements a lot of new age artists have are completely missing from her music, mostly it's just pure cosmic synth drones. (Personally I love corny hippie new age too, but I do understand why those elements alienate people.) If her records were published by an established ambient label, they'd probably be considered classics of the genre.

― Tuomas, Saturday, February 2, 2019 12:49 PM

Liking the Meg Bowles album. I think 'new age' would have seemed like a pejorative up until a couple of years ago but that sound is unexpectedly coming into vogue it seems.

― mirostones, Saturday, February 2, 2019 2:31 PM

Shimmering Land is the arena where tone poems meld into a galactic National Geographic of the spaceways before coming back to meditate in Earthly deserts. Everything, however, has a very very slow underlying pulse, and the listener is set within strange lands in order to contemplate what lies on the other side of so-called civilization and progress, places where Nature reigns supreme in all her brooding mystery…and not all that impressed with human beings while inviting consciousness to shed its limits and bask in primal oneness.

David N. Pyles, FAME

(Sorry about the self-quote there, but ILX doesn't have too many posts about Meg Bowles.)

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 16:24 (four months ago) link

Hmm, looks like that Youtube link didn't work, here's another one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctOuviFsVf4

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 16:24 (four months ago) link

This was my number 1 vote. Ambient music serves many uses in my life, but probably the most important one is that it helps me relieve stress and calm down. And ever since that album came out 6 years ago, it's been my top choice when I'm feeling anxious or stressed and need some music to take off the edge. There's no gimmicks or "wow!" moments, just some beautiful, serene soundscapes. So I couldn't anything else but put it on the top of my list for what it's done for me.

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 16:28 (four months ago) link

Oops, sorry, there was a typo with The Shimmering Land, it got 202 points, not 201.

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 16:36 (four months ago) link

Interesting. I'll be sure to check it out.

xp

pomenitul, Monday, 24 June 2019 16:36 (four months ago) link

Tuomas I really appreciate doing a top 100 here instead of 77 or 50

Ambient Police (sleeve), Monday, 24 June 2019 16:37 (four months ago) link

I've never even heard of this, I'm intrigued.

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 24 June 2019 16:38 (four months ago) link

Will check it out too. Also reminds me that I bought a Lucette Bourdin album on Bandcamp after your recommendation and then forgot to include it when I voted, despite really enjoying it :(

I am using your worlds, Monday, 24 June 2019 16:39 (four months ago) link

i woke up on Sunday morning and my first thought was: "I forgot to include one of my favorite albums on my ballot."

So, everyone, please please please spend time with David Behrman's On the Other Ocean.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Monday, 24 June 2019 16:44 (four months ago) link

Also, this Meg Bowles record is gorgeous, thank you Tuomas

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Monday, 24 June 2019 16:46 (four months ago) link

93. 2814: 新しい日の誕生 (2015)
202 points, 4 votes.

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a4099353330_10.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9L4q-0Pi4E

I’ll be satisfied when 2814 is a brand and I can buy a faded T-shirt with the cover of 新しい日の誕生 on it at target

― calstars, Saturday, March 3, 2018 12:17 AM

2814 isn’t vaporwave. More like ambient phaser slush

― calstars, Thursday, May 10, 2018 5:54 AM

新しい日の誕生 sets itself apart with a vivid, picturesque scope and wide ambient landscapes. The dominant theme here is drift. Sometimes the duo deal in drone—like on "テレパシー" where they luxuriate in a constant tone for over 10 minutes, savouring every miniscule tonal change and decay across the lengthy runtime. And decay is another prominent aspect that separates 新しい日の誕生 from the pack. Where vaporwave is often resolutely digital and clinical, the duo indulge in Basinski-like looping.

Andrew Ryce, Resident Advisor

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 16:49 (four months ago) link

Table is Table, don't worry, your favourite album might show up anyway. :)

Tuomas, Monday, 24 June 2019 16:49 (four months ago) link

xp it's really a shame how thoughtless the sound design is in most public / commercial spaces

budo jeru, Friday, 5 July 2019 17:20 (four months ago) link

true.

in all seriousness though, yoga with no music is the best yoga.

maffew12, Friday, 5 July 2019 17:20 (four months ago) link

xp it's really a shame how thoughtless the sound design is in most public / commercial spaces

i completely agree. the urbanized world sounds like shit

i will never make a typo ever again (Karl Malone), Friday, 5 July 2019 17:22 (four months ago) link

i feel really fortunate that i get to pick my own music at work. it's one of the only reasons that keeps me at this otherwise nauseating job. unfortunately, though, putting on ambient would mean i wouldn't hear 98% of what was playing (kitchens are loud) and it would also be sort of unacceptable / not super morale boosting. i think that partly explains why i have a lot more to say here about the stooges and ac/dc and not so much harold budd

budo jeru, Friday, 5 July 2019 17:23 (four months ago) link

consider open headphones or ear clips?

similar situation here. A delicate balance.

maffew12, Friday, 5 July 2019 17:25 (four months ago) link

i mean you just cannot be a line cook and wear headphones

budo jeru, Friday, 5 July 2019 17:28 (four months ago) link

ohh I only work next to one! Been a while since I was inside, blasting Deerhoof. They loved me.

maffew12, Friday, 5 July 2019 17:46 (four months ago) link

Brilliant poll and rollout, everyone. I'm sorry I did not contribute.

I will surely be referencing this list for many months to come. Thank you!

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Friday, 5 July 2019 18:11 (four months ago) link

Most recent Fax discovery: Namlook and Richie Hawtin's From Within I. Veers into NOTAMBIENT in places but is damn fine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWNk6Olt5Kc

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Friday, 5 July 2019 18:21 (four months ago) link

For those interested, I re-sorted the results by decade:

1960s (2 albums, 0 in the top 20)
41. Miles Davis: In a Silent Way (1969)
74. Raymond Scott: Soothing Sounds for Baby Volume 1: 1 to 6 Months (1964)

1970s (13 albums, 3 in the top 20)
3. Brian Eno: Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978)
16. Tangerine Dream: Phaedra (1974)
17. Brian Eno: Discreet Music (1975)
33. Fripp & Eno: Evening Star (1975)
36. Tangerine Dream: Zeit (1972)
39. Vangelis: L'apocalypse des animaux (1973)
40. Harmonia & Eno '76: Tracks and Traces (1976 (issued 1997))
44. Fripp & Eno: No Pussyfooting) (1973)
50. Brian Eno: Music for Films (1978)
52. Iasos: Inter-Dimensional Music (1975)
70. Popol Vuh: In den Gärten Pharaos (1971)
75. Charlemagne Palestine: Strumming Music (1974)
80. David Behrman: On the Other Ocean (1978)

1980s (20 albums, 7 in the top 20)
2. Brian Eno: Ambient 4: On Land (1982)
7. Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno: Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks (1983)
9. Laraaji: Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980)
14. Harold Budd / Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: The Pearl (1984)
15. Steve Roach: Structures from Silence (1984)
18. Manuel Göttsching: E2–E4 (1984)
19. Pauline Oliveros / Stuart Dempster / Panaiotis: Deep Listening (1989)
21. Arthur Russell: World of Echo (1986)
22. Laurie Spiegel: The Expanding Universe (1980)
24. Harold Budd / Brian Eno: Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (1980)
25. Brian Eno: Thursday Afternoon (1985)
26. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Music for Nine Post Cards (1982)
31. David Hykes & The Harmonic Choir: Hearing Solar Winds (1983)
49. Jon Hassell / Brian Eno: Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics (1980)
51. Harold Budd: The White Arcades (1988)
64. David Sylvian / Holger Czukay: Flux + Mutability (1989)
69. Constance Demby: Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate (1986)
83. Henry Flynt: You Are My Everlovin / Celestial Power (1986)
97. Hiroshi Yoshimura: Green (1986)
81 (tie). Syntonic Research Inc.: Environments 2: Tintinnabulation (Special Low Frequency Version) (1987)

1990s (26 albums, 6 in the top 20)
1. Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)
6. Biosphere: Substrata (1997)
11. KLF, The: Chill Out (1990)
12. Orb, The: The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1991)
13. Global Communication: 76:14:00 (1994)
20. Gas: Königsforst (1998)
27. Future Sound Of London, The: Lifeforms (1994)
28. Gas: Zauberberg (1997)
34. Éliane Radigue: Trilogie de la mort (1998)
38. Susumu Yokota: Sakura (1999)
42. Windy & Carl: Antarctica (The Bliss Out, Vol. 2) (1997)
45. Slowdive: Pygmalion (1995)
53. Autechre: Garbage (1995)
54. Thomas Köner: Permafrost (1993)
61. Oval: 94diskont. (1995)
68. Robert Rich & Lustmørd: Stalker (1995)
71. n/a: Symphonies of the Planets 1: NASA Voyager Recordings (1992)
76. Spacemen 3: Dreamweapon (1990)
84. Windy & Carl: Depths (1998)
56 (tie). Chapterhouse / Global Communication: Blood Music: Pentamerous Metamorphosis (1993)
56 (tie). Tetsu Inoue: World Receiver (1996)
66 (tie). Earth: Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version (1993)
66 (tie). Stuart Dempster: Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel (1995)
81 (tie). Woob: Woob 1194 (1994)
89 (tie). Steve Roach: The Magnificent Void (1996)
99 (tie). DeepChord presents Echospace: Liumin / Liumin Reduced (1997)

2000s (21 albums, 4 in the top 20)
4. Stars of the Lid: The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid (2001)
5. Gas: Pop (2000)
8. William Basinski: The Disintegration Loops (2002)
10. Stars of the Lid: Stars of the Lid and Their Refinement of the Decline (2007)
23. Oneohtrix Point Never: Rifts (2009)
30. Bohren & Der Club of Gore: Black Earth (2002)
37. Tim Hecker: Harmony in Ultraviolet (2006)
43. Eluvium: Talk Amongst the Trees (2005)
47. Dead Texan, The: The Dead Texan (2004)
55. Fennesz: Endless Summer (2001)
60. Alio Die: Aura seminalis (2008)
62. Loscil: Plume (2006)
63. Boris: Flood (2000)
79. Biosphere: Cirque (2000)
87. Keith Fullerton Whitman: Playthroughs (2002)
91. Richard Skelton: Landings (2009)
96. Ekkehard Ehlers: Plays (2002)
72 (tie). Deathprod: Morals and Dogma (2004)
77 (tie). Vladislav Delay: Multila (2000)
89 (tie). Tod Dockstader: Aerial #1 (2005)
29. Autechre: NTS Session 4 (2018)

2010s (18 albums, 0 in the top 20)
32. Various Artists: I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America, 1950–1990 (2013)
35. Caretaker, The: An Empty Bliss Beyond This World (2011)
46. Winged Victory for the Sullen, A: Atomos (2014)
48. Tim Hecker: Ravedeath, 1972 (2011)
58. Max Richter: Sleep (2015)
59. Ryuichi Sakamoto: Async (2017)
65. Gigi Masin: Talk to the Sea (2014)
85. Justin Bieber: U Smile (800% Slower) (2010)
86. Loscil: Endless Falls (2010)
88. Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica (2011)
92. Labradford: Fixed::Context (2010)
93. 2814: 新しい日の誕生 (2015)
94. Meg Bowles: The Shimmering Land (2013)
95. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Tides (2014)
98. Hatchback: Zeus & Apollo (2011)
72 (tie). Terekke: Improvisational Loops (2018)
77 (tie). Ian William Craig: A Turn of Breath (2014)
99 (tie). Stars of the Lid: The Ballasted Orchestra (2010)

sctttnnnt (pgwp), Friday, 5 July 2019 18:45 (four months ago) link

awesome thank you

maffew12, Friday, 5 July 2019 18:48 (four months ago) link

Oh shoot, that last Stars of the Lid album is supposed to be 1997, not 2010. I hope that doesn't mean I fouled up others.

sctttnnnt (pgwp), Friday, 5 July 2019 18:49 (four months ago) link

Well, now the entire list is completely invalid.

j/k, this is awesome, thank you!

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Friday, 5 July 2019 20:42 (four months ago) link

i used to work in a very special sector of retail, and the music was perhaps one of the only redeeming qualities of the job, alongside the copious free stuff. (i worked for a notoriously pricey luxury skincare brand from Australia in their brick and mortar stores in SF).

i played SotL endlessly, and we also listened to lots of Hammock, Andrew Chalk, and the soundtrack to The Proposition. all of this was on a work iPod at some point.

later, when i was able to choose from "stations," i often played the "postpunk" station and could be found slathering face cream on rich folks while rocking out to Kitchens of Distinction lol

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Friday, 5 July 2019 21:58 (four months ago) link

good work/music crossover there

would this be a skincare brand people tell fables about

mh, Saturday, 6 July 2019 02:20 (four months ago) link

Vitamin Aesops?

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Saturday, 6 July 2019 06:44 (four months ago) link

xposts yes, that company.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Saturday, 6 July 2019 15:49 (four months ago) link

chill out stores

mh, Saturday, 6 July 2019 22:40 (four months ago) link

Discovering so many great new records thanks to this thread. You guys knocked it out of the park again.

Van Horn Street, Monday, 8 July 2019 01:55 (four months ago) link

https://imgur.com/w3eE03K

na (NA), Monday, 8 July 2019 20:23 (four months ago) link

This thread continues to reveal riches. My latest find is Pentamerous Metamorphosis which, with the garden full of late, golden light, is just about perfect right now.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Sunday, 21 July 2019 19:34 (three months ago) link

I've been slowly working my way through the top 100 and so far my number one discovery is Apollo which I would have had in the top three of my ballot if I'd heard it befor voting. I picked up the reissue on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing as well, so that was nice.

It comes with a bonus disc of new material from Brian and Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois which is well worth checking out. This was a pleasant surprise as I've not been too impressed with Eno's work from this century (not that I've heard much of it).

paolo, Monday, 22 July 2019 08:20 (three months ago) link

Ending (An Ascent) from Apollo would surely be in the top three if we did an ambient tracks poll

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 22 July 2019 14:20 (three months ago) link

Er I guess it's "An Ending (Ascent)"

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 22 July 2019 14:20 (three months ago) link

I bought that David Behrman CD, so good

Skip Spence None the Richer (sleeve), Monday, 22 July 2019 14:33 (three months ago) link

I Am The Center is the best new discovery for me - so far!

The weird thing is a went on a long meditation retreat at the beginning of the year and swear to god the view was exactly like the cover - same configuration of peaks, bathed in moonlight etc.

but everybody calls me, (lukas), Monday, 22 July 2019 17:49 (three months ago) link

Please take me to your meditation retreat. I will literally say nothing!

Karl Malone, Monday, 22 July 2019 17:57 (three months ago) link

i've made several great discoveries through this but one i just can't get my head round is the Constance Demby. Apart from a sublime 5 minute section on side 2 it is just so bombastic, as if John Williams went New Age. i just don't get it at all. What am i missing?

stirmonster, Monday, 22 July 2019 23:11 (three months ago) link

all the Hearts of Space stuff seemed indefensibly patently false to me as a teenager. then I turned 30. around 2003, those digitally sampled violins & oboes & choral pads became hilarious instead of offensive, then charming, and then 10 years later vaporwave further fused the strengths and weaknesses into one weird mess once all those sounds showed up in software, and now... I just don't know any more but laughing's more fun than crying

(Novus Magnificat would not be first stop for me but I give it props for being inescapable, the opening of side 1 got used as a bed on 80's episodes of Over The Edge all the time)

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 23 July 2019 00:01 (three months ago) link

the eponymous Hearts of Space track sums up the tightrope of good & bad taste -- the first half is so ridiculously great, you feel almost incredulous it doesn't get namechecked in the avant / modular synth field more often, and then... the horn solo starts and you understand exactly why. in the same way that Wolf Eyes was named after a Paul Winter record, the only appropriate sequel to this poll will launch from the '500 most extreme noise albums of all time' thread so we can see which albums are nominated to both

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L9_6EXei5A

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 23 July 2019 00:19 (three months ago) link

posted on his dedicated thread, but saw Charlemagne Palestine perform an aural ritual for Tony Conrad a week or so ago, and it was sublime.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Tuesday, 23 July 2019 21:07 (three months ago) link

I will give the Constance Demby another 20 or 30 years then and report back.

Oddly, despite waiting for the horn solo on the Kevin Brahenyh to fill me with disgust I quite enjoyed it. I don't think i would have even just a few years ago.

stirmonster, Tuesday, 23 July 2019 22:35 (three months ago) link

slippery slope!

got to that Meg Bowles record that made the list. full on Hearts of Space renaissance! still sounds modern though.

even though both Windham Hill and Hearts of Space were frequently typed as stereotypical 'New Age' labels, they were basically diametrically opposed sounds - former being cleanly recorded acoustic chamber folk, and latter being the US response to 70's EU synth / kosmiche / space music. almost diametrically opposed - I can think of only one artist who was on both labels

now that the blanket 'New Age' term has stopped being as much of a perjorative, I'm seeing it's usually the HoS side of the aesthetic that's getting reclaimed

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 24 July 2019 21:47 (three months ago) link

if anyone is interested in a recent iteration of a more Windham Hill style of ambient, I highly rec this record by Kayla Cohen, who records under the name Itasca. her more recent efforts include vocals and are also quite good, but this one is definitely for the Alex de Grassi fans. https://itasca.bandcamp.com/album/anns-tradition-2015

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Wednesday, 24 July 2019 23:26 (three months ago) link

^^ I saw her play with Sarah Louise and Marisa Anderson, great show

bookmarkflaglink (sleeve), Thursday, 25 July 2019 00:26 (three months ago) link

cool! i missed her the last time she came here, sadly.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Thursday, 25 July 2019 00:58 (three months ago) link

I just discovered Watermusic II by William Basinski through youtube autoplay and am loving it. Quite a lot better than Disintegration Loops for me.

paolo, Wednesday, 31 July 2019 16:36 (three months ago) link

Also Structures From Silence is absolutely amazing

paolo, Wednesday, 31 July 2019 16:37 (three months ago) link

check out The River as well, I love that one

a LOT of his stuff is better than Disintegration Loops!

sleeve, Wednesday, 31 July 2019 16:44 (three months ago) link

i love disintegration loops, but i don't even think it should be directly compared to anything else he's done. as far as i know, that's the only "experimental" thing he's made (in the Nyman sense, of the outcome/results being uncertain) since it was based off a unique process, whereas everything else he's done is composed, right?

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 31 July 2019 16:46 (three months ago) link

I think so, yes, good point

sleeve, Wednesday, 31 July 2019 16:48 (three months ago) link

if you haven't ever heard the albums he did under the F.P And The Doubling Riders name, I love them very much

So it turns out Spittle Records (don't know them) released a six-CD box set of all the Doubling Riders stuff just this year, which I got! So far it sounds pretty great... only listened to Doublings and Silences Vol. 1 so far.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 17:04 (three months ago) link

oh that's super cool! I might have to get that for the rarities disc.

sleeve, Wednesday, 31 July 2019 17:20 (three months ago) link

My favorite basinski is probably el Camino real

brimstead, Wednesday, 31 July 2019 18:12 (three months ago) link

^^ Mine too, but most of his records beside TDL are great imo. 'The Garden of Brokenness' is another great one, just like Melancholia and, indeed, The River.

Le Bateau Ivre, Thursday, 1 August 2019 07:29 (three months ago) link

three weeks pass...

my copy of the newly reissued Still Way by Satoshi Ashikawa arrived in the mail today!

although it was my #1 in this poll, i must admit that was a bit of a strategic vote (which didn't work).but still, it would have been in my (real) top 15. but that was based on a well-intentioned but scratchy youtube full album stream that i've been relying on for years. played through laptop speakers, or listened to on headphones.

listening to a clean copy of it, playing on my speakers at a moderate volume, with the sounds of the AC coming off and on and airplanes overhead, i must now recognize that it is in fact a top FIVE ambient album..of ALL TIME. it is a contemporary of releases by Hiroshi Yoshimura (who designed this cover) and Midori Takada (who plays vibraphone on this album, albeit "without expression" per ashikawa's request for the instrumental performances in the recordings), but where those albums succeed in part by being transportive, Still Way is more transformative (and that rhymes!). what i'm trying to say is that this 1982 album is minimal and repetitive but takes a completely different path than the celebrated minimalist composers. it's not just the sound palette, which is always lovely, with muted vibes, sustained harp string tones and intertwining flutes. maybe it's the way that extended passages loop for so long that they become distinct objects in themselves, only to slowly morph into a malleable form, almost always with the same instrument playing a variation on the melody, only it's hard to pinpoint when exactly anything changed. in the liner notes, from 1982, Ashikawa mentions being inspired by the sounds of a shaminsen in the neighborhood being gradually overtaken by rain, and then the shaminsen gradually reemerging as the rain dissipated. that's what this album is like. there you go - that's what i mean about this album. Ashikawa's liner notes manage to provide a better description of his music in a simple two-sentence story than all of my ravings.

my goal is to get someone who knows how to explain this better than me to write about it. this album deserves to be the Kind of Blue of ambient music

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 27 August 2019 01:35 (two months ago) link

that sounds awesome

sleeve, Tuesday, 27 August 2019 03:55 (two months ago) link

Will check that out. I just heard Soliloquy for Lilith by Nurse With Wound recently and am surprised it didn't feature in this

paolo, Tuesday, 27 August 2019 09:16 (two months ago) link

Bohren And The Club Of Gore are amazing by the way. Another awesome discovery from this thread so thanks to whomever nominated them

paolo, Tuesday, 27 August 2019 09:18 (two months ago) link

I voted for NWW! Also highly recommended: Salt Marie Celeste

Siegbran, Tuesday, 27 August 2019 09:27 (two months ago) link


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