Best Ambient music of all time

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  1. Another highly requested list. For everybody who wanted it, here it is, enjoy. :)

  2. Ambient is best defined as Brian Eno did it: music that fades into the background, but if you want to listen to it, is interesting in the foreground too. This is really difficult to do well. While normal musicians only have to satisfy the second condition, ambient artists have to deal with the first as well, which very much changes the way their music must be made (note that when ambient fails, it's usually because only the first condition is met).


  3. Biosphere - Substrata (album) [1998]
  4. I almost inarguably call this the best ambient album of all time. It sounds at turns like floating through space, sitting on an iceberg travelling down a frozen river, wandering across an alien beach at night, walking around a tiny fog-enshrouded rocky lighthouse island, and travelling through the arctic on a dogsled. It is truly a work of art that can be listened to (or rather, slept to) again and again: it almost never grows tiring, because it takes you to so many places. It manages to be dark without falling victim to Halloween cheesiness (Lustmord): its menace is hinted at, not told. There is no evil in Substrata: the worst you'll find is a beautiful emptiness.

  5. The Orb - A Huge Evergrowing Pulsating Brain that Rule From the Centre of the Ultraworld (track - make sure you get the 18 minute version - the shorter one is pointless) [1990]
  6. I've always felt like this sounded like a world created within a song. It doesn't "microvary" as much as traditional ambient - it creates little scenes within itself through faster shifts and bizarre samples. Really interesting, but like I said, don't get any version but the complete one, at 18 minutes. The shorter one is basically a bad ambient remix of an old 80's song (which was one small part of the full version, but in the full context, it's actually excellent).

  7. Tim Hecker - Radio Amor (album) [2002]
  8. This is a pretty experimental work, but still fantastic. Its sound is difficult to describe, but it always conjures for me the image of a deserted island on an alien world, with a small sentient transmitting device trapped in the centre, calling out it's lonely song to any who will listen, wanting nothing more than an end to it's solitude. Yet, on your discovery of the box, you are taken away, hypnotically entranced into the device's mind. You find yourself flying above the earth's atmosphere on a sound wave, through space, underwater, to unimaginable, beautiful, and warm tropical places, before finally finding yourself away from the island, sailing home on a ghost ship, called by the transmitter. At least, that's what it conjures up for me. But still, even if you don't listen to music like that (then why are you listening to ambient? Or electronic music, for that matter?), it's a beautiful album.

  9. Aglaia - Three Organic Experiences (album) [2003]
  10. You're going to have trouble tracking this one down. You'll need Soulseek, and even then it'll be difficult. But it's worth it. I might post one of the 3 tracks (think: Three Organic Experiences: Three tracks. AHA!). Reminds me of...I'm not going to go into explicit detail like I did with the previous one, but it's a very mystical atmosphere. I think the best comnparision, is all the beauty of the game "Myst", without the psychotically hard puzzles (which I actually didn't think were that bad, but all my friends complained, and I heard it gets insane by the time you play "Riven"). Exploring a lost ancient civilization and it's wondrous remains, yet...a mysterious emptiness. Oddly though, this world changes with each listen. At first it was this Myst-like abandoned ancient civilization, now it looks like the Earth before humanity turned it into it's own personal toxic waste plant...with a touch of the ethereal and mystical. As for the sound itself, it's stuffed with real instruments: flutes, strings, unheard of wind instruments, synthesized but organic drones, ethereal choruses singing in forgotten tongues; all played underwater. At least, that's the first track. The second features them played in the trees of a (yet unnamed) China over a bamboo-bride crossed waterfall: where those monkeys live in eccentric little treehouses, all connected by rickety, yet mostly indestructible bridges. The third features them played on a melting glacier.

  11. Monolake - Hongkong
  12. This is an excellent album: perfectly representative of the deep/ambient techno sound. I begin my journey in this musical world inside a huge biodome containing the last animal life remaining on the planet - no humans reside here, so it is overgrown with jungle to all corners. Only the occasional gardening machine makes its way past to keep the ecosystem in check. On finding my way out (hiding with a group of robots who make their way into an airlock), I wander into a barren field populated only by strange technology, robots, and the remains of human manufacturing plants. As I wander through this world, I find myself on a gray shore, looking out to an island across a small passge. On it is a robotic factory of some sort, automated past any need for humanity. Crickets chirp around me, but on closer inspection, I find they are tiny robots, subsisting in an ecosystem made up of only of technology. As I continue my wander through this deserted world, I find a radio tower still standing, starkly silhouetted against a barren backdrop. On entering, I discover it still transmits - the room is filled with screens broadcasting all kinds of historical recordings. I find a door to a basement of some sort, which appears to be an abandoned subway station. This is confirmed when I hear the sound of an approaching train. I board when it arrives. As it travels through the darkness and out of the tunnel onto a bridge high above the barren world, I realize I'm not really alone here. I'm being taken back to humanity.

  13. Tetsu Inoue - Ambiant Otaku
  14. This is a beautiful album. To me, it sounds like walking through the clouds during a thunderstorm. I feel completely safe there, as I'm carrying a massive Chinese umbrella that protects me from the lightning as I hop from thunderhead to thunderhead. I'm surrounded by a faint red glow. Electrical rays shoot into the star, nebula, and galaxy-filled night sky above.

  15. Future Sound of London - Lifeforms (album)
  16. Truly beautiful, incredibly organic. It's really evocative, and all of the images it brings are very alive, very primordial. There isn't a machine to be found anywhere in the world of Lifeforms: nothing but life, evolving rapidly from humble cellular beginnings. It's an alien world, passing through the stages of it's evolution stylized and sped up for our viewing. Entirely different organisms from those on earth develop, now no longer for our viewing, but simply because time is percieved at a different rate in this universe: our laws of physics don't apply. Then, when the end of this process comes, the lifeforms you see standing before you...are yourself. Thousands of versions of you, crowding around you. Your presence created these beings. But...they aren't you. But they don't want you alive: they attack and destroy you, believing death to be the greatest gift any being can be given. Maybe it is (we don't know).

  17. Global Communication - 76:14

  18. Mille Platueau - Clicks & Cuts 2 (collection) [2001]
  19. This isn't ambient per se either - it's IDM/glitch/REALLY microhouse/minimal techno. However, coincedentally, combining those genres together winds up creating the exact sound of ambient, and therefore deserves a place on the list. This is also a collection of tracks (unavailable elsewhere), not an album, with pretty much the entire Mille Plateau glitch backcatalogue from that period. For those who know Mille Plateau, that's a good thing. A VERY good thing. Same label that put out Tim Hecker, in fact (as well as classics by Oval that would probably make the list if I managed to get a hold of them anywhere, and I can't - not even Soulseek has hints of their existence, despite their fame as being all time classics). Anyway, this collection is full of glitchy textures, and scratchy, nostalgic sounds, along with tiny, pretty melodies, all ever-changing as only ambient can be. Each track has it's own (very fascinating) imagery, but they all work together to paint a sparse, tiny, and futuristic, yet beautiful world. It can be best compared to a science-fiction short stories collection, all wrapped around a single (brilliant) theme. Being trapped inside tiny machines, Nanobots travelling through the bloodstream of an alien creature, a human mind stored in a tiny clock, an insect-like nanodevice in a life-destroying rain, unable to contact it's creators in a now-annihilated world...well, that's my take on it, anyway. Point being: it's worth getting. (It has 60 tracks too! Although CD 1 and the first few tracks of the 2nd are the real gems here).

  20. The Orb - Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
  21. The album containing "Huge Evergrowing pulsating..."
  22. Lush ambient soundscapes, an ether of music, out of which surreal noise and samples float, bubble and intertwine. Absurdly humorous: nothing here makes real sense, but somehow you are relaxed in the nonsense anyway. Perhaps it's better described as the "Monty Python" of ambient music. Evokes all sorts of images, some blatently obvious (Little Fluffy Clouds...da da...), others more introverted...personal. Fast, yet slow at all at once: one moment you float through space, the next in a tropical rainforest - but never once are you jarred: Ultraworld lulls you through the universe at a relaxing yet breakneck pace. The final track is a seperate but complimentary entity that can't be fairly compared to the rest: it's the crown jewel of a true classic - it stands head and shoulders above what is already a masterpiece.

  23. Helios - Eingya (album) [2006]
  24. A musical definition of the experience of relaxation, through sweeping, orchestral soundscapes. Eingya cradles you in its warmth and sublime beauty, without succumbing to new age yoga mat pandering. I've always believed that the best ambient contains a hint of darkness, but this sonic journey is challenging that perception.

  25. Echospace - The Coldest Season (album) [2007]
  26. Traversing the ocean floor in an impenetrable submarine.

  27. Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (album) [1993]
  28. Just fantastic, that's all there is to it. I'm not going to go off into another long pseudo-poetic rant about imagery, I'll just tell you that this album has it. In celebration of Easter (which is today), it'll be like a little treasure hunt (only instead of finding chocolate eggs, you have to find ambient imagery).

  29. Steve Roach - Dreamtime Return [album]

  30. Boards of Canada - Music has the Right to Children (album) [1998]
  31. It sounds like a memory of distant childhood, but not as we're meant to remember it, the way it really is. When we remember childhood, for most of us, it often feels like remembering another life: like the memories are barely ours. And what we remember is a confusing, and often dark place, not the wonderful, carefree existence we're meant to have had. Music has the Right to Children captures this feeling of disquieting nostalgia perfectly.

  32. Chicane - Offshore (original ambient mix) (track - make sure you get the 1996 ambient version with no lyrics and no simplification - AKA don't get the almost unrelated radio edit) [1996]
  33. The shortest ambient track I'm posting. At only six minutes, this isn't a journey, so much as a snapshot. However, it's image is so tranquil, so beautiful, that I still keep coming back to it, after knowing it for so many years. Nothing captures the sound of a Mediterranean Sunset on a deserted island like "Offshore." This was one of ambient's few radio hits.

  34. Sasha & Digweed - Northern Exposure volume 1, CD 1 (DJ mix) [1995]
  35. This is, in fact, an ambient trance mix. However, that's entirely alright, when the mix is this perfect. I'm not going to bother describing it - I've done that too much already. It's just good.

  36. Brian Eno - 1-1 (From "Ambient Music for Airports") (track) [1978]
  37. This is a real classic. One of the first tracks ever to fully gain the title "ambient," (only predated by Eno's earlier "Discreet music" compilation), and for good reason. A zen garden of sound, a meditative journey to nowhere at all. The others on the album were a little disappointing, I thought - lonely without being. However, this track still remains one of my all time favorites. It still doesn't sound dated, even though it was created in the 1978. This is by far the oldest album on the list.

  38. Klaus Schulze - Irrlicht

  39. Biosphere - Shenzou [2002]
  40. Another from Biosphere? Well, it's no coincedence that Biosphere is considered by many (including me) to be one of the greatest ambient artists (not technical wizard - Brian Eno wins that one) of all time. This has more of a primordial feel to it, like earth before life came into existence, or maybe as life began to form. Biosphere's home probably ahs somethin to do with his talent - northernmost Scandinavia is a very peaceful location, atmosphere wise. Rather than trying to escape their ever-accelerating world, like most other ambient artists, Biosphere bottles the tranquility around him into a musical form, as a sort of gift to those forced to live in our maddeningly paced society. Point being: It's awesome.

  41. Autechre - Amber [1994] (album)
  42. I'll add a description later, but for now, we'll just say it's good. Very futuristic ambient. Almost IDM, but not quite.

  43. aMute - The Sea Horse Limbo [2006] (album)

  44. Steve Roach & Kevin Braheny & Michael Stearns - Desert Solitaire [1989]
  45. The title explains it all. It sounds like a desert. I could go on and on about imagery, etc., but just discover it yourself. It's good.

  46. Vir Unis & Saul Stokes - Thermal Transfer (album) [2002]
  47. Another primordial journey...only this time, it's through the vast, deadly jungles of a last hidden pocket of the dinosaur age. I would go on with all the images and stories (including the footprint-shaped volcano as the centrepiece of this surreal world, slowly erupting in the end, wiping out all traces of a once beautiful land), but there are quite a few, and I've skipped a large number on all of them anyway. Moving on, Thermal Transfer employs the Vir Unis trademark: what he calls the "fractal beat" - a truly tribal sound, moreso than any other tribal beat - it's very "unsynthetic," highly organic. This is likely the primary influence on the mental world described above, it's a truly fantastic sound...

  48. Nathan Fake - Peary Land (track) [2004]
  49. What a great little tune: it's so beautiful. And oddly enough, it evokes images exactly like it's title suggests. The track conjures a view of an engless gray landscape completely covered in oddly-shaped (gray) pears as far as the eye can see: a canopy over the unseen ground (which all signs suggests is a giant gray pear). The sky is gray, at least in the beginning, but as the track progresses, the sky opens up into a beautiful blue vista, and colour comes into the gray world, envelops everything, and you drift peacefully in a sea of colours and oddly-shaped pears. It sounds nothing like any of Nathan Fake's other work: this is pure ambient here, and it's great. It's also entirely ignored. Except by you. Who will now download it. So ha!

  50. Gas - Pop [1999]
  51. It's hard to describe, but there is one thing I can say with absolute certainly: this is not pop music. Not that that needed to be said...
  52. Anyways, it's a tranquil piece (it's an ambient piece...), evoking images of floating high above lush landscapes (or soundscapes, perhaps), wandering through places of ancient ruin before they were ancient ruin, wandering among darkly majestic rolling hills. There's an overwhelming feeling of peace, and perhaps mysticism; with something sinister lurking just below the surface...

  53. The KLF - Chill Out [1992]


  54. Anyway, that's only the start to the list - I don't have time to add more (I have more too - I'm just busy again now). Suggestions would be really great! :)



  55. To listen:
  56. Art Of Noise - Ambient Collection
  57. Hector Zazou - Geologies
  58. David Sylvian - Weatherbox (5cd set of first 5 albums)
  59. William Orbit - Pieces In A Modern Style
  60. Steve Roach - Structures From Silence
  61. Brian Eno - Apollo, Atmospheres & Soundtracks

To me, Brian Eno's Discreet Music and Ambient 1 are the epitome of ambient music, but I haven't heard anything else on this list besides Music Has the Right to Children, which I think of as techno or IDM, not ambient. And if Music is here, why not Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92? (An album I always thought was improperly titled, but what do I know.)

Have you heard much dark ambient music? I'm especially digging Sephiroth's Cathedron right now. And I can't speak of ambient without giving a shoutout to Paul Ruskay's soundtrack for Homeworld, an overlooked ambient masterpiece.

The list isn't done yet :) Otherwise I would've added Discreet Music and Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works. (And in that vein, also Autechre - Amber). BTW techno is a VERY close relative of ambient, as is IDM. Ambient is, however, usually differentiated from the other gernes by it's use of drones and microvariations. BoC uses those, and therefore I consider it ambient as well as IDM. I don't think I'd call it techno though...not at all actually. It's not machine-oriented music in the slightest, and remember: techno is almost entirely constructed out of beats. BoC is almost entirely melodic, and has no machine samples.

I've never actually heard the Sephiroth or Paul Ruskay albums (although I have played Homeworld - didn't pay that much attention to the music - but I have heard friends comment on how awesome it is). I'll be sure to check them out! Thanks :)

Sorry, I shouldn't be throwing around the term 'techno' when I'm not 100% sure what it is yet. I can see now why you'd call BoC ambient. There are microvariations and drones. But there's often too much going on for me to think of it as ambient the same way I think of Discreet Music as ambient, you know?

Don't know if you've heard it, but would you consider Stars of the Lid ambient? Somehow that doesn't seem quite right, but I'm not sure what else to call them. Drone, perhaps.

Anyway, thanks for this list. Good luck adding to it!

Here - download the album Plastikman - Connected. That's pretty definitive of techno. Or anything by Monolake.

There's always a lot going on in ambient music. It's just often hard to hear. Also, Discreet music, was early ambient, and a much closer relative to minimalistic avante-garde at the time (ie early Philip Glass), and therefore hadn't "padded itself" so much. The process with almost all genres of music seems to be:
1)Creation of a genre, usually through random chance, although sometimes deliberately.
2)Other artists discover this interesting sound, and apply some of it's concepts to their own music, making a very varied, fascinating genre of music.
3)Amateur artists hear this sound, and think "I can do it too!" The genre begins to water itself down, but the early artists still create interesting work, and new REAL artists still pick it up.
4)A formula begins to...uh...form. Artists begin getting lazy, and steal ideas from one another, in the hopes that no one will have heard the original track.
5)(Sometimes) Commercial radio picks up the genre. A commercial sheen is added to everything.
6)A backlash occurs, and the entire genre is bashed to no end (even it step 5 doesn't occur, this always seems to).
7)The underground attempts to pick up the pieces. People try to get back to the "golden age when the genre was still creative." A tonnage of other genres are applied to the template, which no one ever thinks of dropping, and the result is a mess of highly pretentious music that calls itself "innovative".
8)A REAL new progression of the genre pops into existence. Return to step 1.

Eventually 9)Retro trends bring the genre back, but it starts off in step 3 when this happens.

Ambent is interesting, in that it's been eternally in step 2-3. Variations of it break off, and go through the rest of the steps, but ambient itself stays in 2-3. Discreet music, however, was step 1. Therefore, it's the only "pure ambient" as it was intended work, and that's why its so basic in comparison.

OOOOH! I love Stars of the Lid! Very much so ambient. (Drone is a central sub-genre of ambent). I'm actually considering adding "Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid" to the list.

Heh, great progression. Watch out for me to refer to this post several times in the future.

I've always felt that drone music best exemplifies ambient and have been immersed in it for years. Perhaps the father of drone is La Monte Young, with nods also to Alvin Lucier and other composers of a minimal bent. There are so many recommendations to make, highest of all is Stars of the Lid, particularly "The Tired Sounds of..." Also check out Windy & Carl, Birchville Cat Motel, Fennesz, Johann Johannsson, Hazard, Growing, Rafael Toral, Rameses III, Belong, Christopher Bissonnette. There's a lot of variety in the above list. Anyone wishing for elaboration on any of the artists listed, specific albums you should check out, further recommendations, or artists within a certain subset of drone/ambient, feel free to reply or hit me up at wewillstartajazzband@gmail.com. Happy drifting.

I'm tired and I never respond to things like this. like this. things... (s) But what about John Cage? Of course one would say his music is Avant Garde. But that's not really a genre. In fact, inside your list there is much that could be considered avant garde- 'A huge evergrowing... ' etc. etc. ct. ct. CT Scan. Scandal! Scandal! ...or modern. ...or post modern. By now everything is ambient. Everything is everything. Nothing is anything of import unless it is ultimate truth. Stockhausen died two days ago. My sister needs antibiotics. At any rate 4'33" is the quintessential ambient composition. And Satie is the most deceptive ambient composer. Remember, if you can, HE 'invented' furniture music well before Brian Eno's hospital driven invention. This like things to respond. This like things to respond. This like things to respond. I wag my head...

I disagree that John Cage's 4'33 is ambient. It doesn't fit into the "works in the background, still interesting in the foreground" requirement of ambient, nor is it atmospheric. I'd personally call it a piece of pure art music. The point was to pose the questions: "What is music? How do we define music? What separates music from sound?" by creating a composition with nothing in it at all. It doesn't create any sort of mood, or "ambience," because there's literally nothing there.

What about KLF's Chill Out (1990)? Perhaps you would place it in a different genre (or sub-genre), but I think it is one of the better ambient albums; the concept of traveling through the lazy backcountry of the South that links the songs seems perfectly suited (if a bit paradoxical for such technologically-driven music) for the genre.

Johnny Waco

I've actually never heard it! I'll have to check it out. (That's surprising, as it's SUCH an essential work, from what I've heard - then again, most of the KLF's work from that period is)

Thanks! :)

No problem; yeah, I yearn for the days of the KLF. If only they could burn another million pounds (damn! American keyboards don't have a pound symbol) worth of money.

Biosphere's Substrata sounds really intriguing; you hooked me with the "alien beach at night" thing. I'm going to check it out.

Johnny Waco

Trust me - you won't be disappointed at all. I listen to an ambient album as I fall asleep almost every night, and I think I've listened to that one about 60 times, and I'm still nowhere close to being tired of it. (although it takes a few listens to get totally into - still very enjoyable the first time, it just gets better with each listen)

That's why it's number one on the list.

(It's also the best reviewed ambient album of all time, with 4-5 stars across the board, and number 1 on Hyperreal's "top ambient releases of all time list" (now disappeared for some reason...I can't find it anywhere). On top of that, it's an eternally steady seller. So yeah - it's not just me)

Let me know what you think!

If you haven't gotten "Chill Out" yet then find it as soon as you can. It's really great stuff, especially since you liked Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld - kind of the same sound. If you ask me, it's miles beyond anything else Cauty and Drummond would do.

I can recommend &nbsp 'No Pussyfootin' &nbsp by Fripp and Eno (Robert and Brian).
According to my notebook I bought this on 21st December 1973, together with David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and
Manfred Mann's Chapter Three.

Never actually heard that one.

I'll give it a try. Might even add it, if I like it. Thanks! :)

substrata is the best in my opinion too. it has so good atmosphere

Definitely. Well, it wouldn't be ambient if it didn't, would it?

i would like to hear some good dark ambient. what would you offer

Anything by Monolake is very dark. Supposedly minimal techno, or "deep techno," but I don't quite see that, it seems to me more like dark ambient that contains tiny morphing beats.

Biosphere - Autour De La Lune is about as dark as ambient can get. Too dark for most tastes, in fact, so you may not enjoy this.

Tim Hecker - Mirages is a good choice.

Any of the ambient work by Massive Attack (not their trip-hop) is pretty dark - if you can find it.

That should do it for now.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Lustmord as far as dark ambient. His album, Carbon Core is REALLY as dark as ambient gets.

Also, for fans of ambient techno, try Polmo Polpo - The Science of Breath. It's infused with a fuzzy warm distortion and murky beats that always make me think of an enormous submarine churning and clanking it's way through the silent depths of the ocean.

Another great unmentioned ambient artist is Japan's Ryoji Ikeda. He experiments with drones, as in his album "Matrix", and clicks and cuts as in my favorite "0 degrees" >but with the degree symbol.

Nobody mentioned ambient rock: check out Eluvium. Talk Amosgst the Trees is my favourite.

I've never liked that sound though (Lustmord and the like's dark ambient): there's no subtlety. I once heard it described as a "soundtrack to waiting for a demon to come around the corner and torture you to death." Some of it even has screams and that sort of thing in it, which is just too in-your-face evil. It's like the satan metal of ambient.

I may like the others you recommend though, and I'll download them eventually for sure.

have you heard substrata vol 2. it includes the original substrata remastered. disc 2 includes some record that has never relased, it is more industrial and noisy

Nope, never heard it.

I'll try to get a hold of it though - it sounds interesting.

Thanks! :)

[Major OT here]: Hey. This is completely random, but umm, I wanted to shoot you a message, yet I didn't see an addy on either this site or on Deviant. You haven't been to the latter in 10 weeks anyway. Listen, would you do me a favor -- shoot me your address over to bilbob42@mailinator.com so I can send you a message? I kind of have a lot to say to you, as I found your lists quite by accident and have become completely enamored. We have so much in common it's fucking insane. I kind of have a big favor to ask, so please, hit me back. If you don't I'm gonna annoy you, har. But seriously man, you know how it is -- every great once in a while you just stumble upon something that leaves you gasping saying, "Shit, that's just way too uncanny." It's nice to have met you, in this roundabout way. You are fucking incredible. - 'Bilbo'

Thanks, I sort of lost this message and only now came across it. I'll send you a message.

i listened monolake momentum. its pretty close to techno. not bad at all. do ambient musicians use instruments like piano or guitar. many seem to use only computers. i have a friend who makes great ambient music by guitars and pedals. he also use tapes and old recordings, though many use some of the same technics.

i have listened ambient music only for couple months. i have only heard substrata, and brian eno ambient on land 4. thanks for the list, im going to check out some of these records. i have alvays listened experimental music like van der graaf generator,mars volta and a lot of progressive rock, but ambient is totally new to me. i have to hear more

Glad you're enjoying it :) :) :)

have you heard biosphere-autour de la lune. great album. maybe not as good as substrata but i like it very much

Not bad, but I'd say it's more experimental than ambient. Very much a concept album (among ambient, a concept genre, which makes it doubly so, and therefore somewhat inaccessible), really takes a certain mood to be able to listen to it at all. I like it when I'm in that rare mood, outside of which I find it merely OK.

Then again, my home soundsystem isn't that good, apparently you need perfect equipment to appreciate it. You see, it feels like realistically floating through space, which may seem pleasant, but this album also includes a feeling of all the annoyances that actually come with floating through space (rather than just the enjoyable parts of such drifting, as other space ambient). Fascinating, but, like I said, takes a certain mood.

could you mention the songs you think are the best from each album? its hard to get whole albums for us bootleggers :)

Nope, unlike most other genres, these albums are "cohesive wholes". You can't really cite a favorite track, because that would be missing the point. It's the atmosphere that makes each album good, and every good ambient album has a pervading atmosphere. Therefore, there can be (mostly) no "best tracks."

Use soulseek, you can get whole albums easily off that, in fact it's expected. Search in both the "main area," and the ambient room.

I've just started listening to the electronic genres, this week really. And basically I've used your lists as a guide of what to download (Trace and Ambient)--I find all of it quite quite amazing. I love Substrata but not as big of a fan of Shenzhou, perhaps my new ear hasn't picked up full appreciation of the many idiosyncrasies. I've downloaded most of the list above and I'm fien'n for more. I was hoping to get some tips about very chill ambient music, and preferably stuff that is more organic than robotic. Anything would be very appreciated, danka.

For more of an organic chillout sound, try these:
Royksopp - Melody A.M.
Air - Moon Safari
Bonobo - Animal Magic
Bonobo - Dial M For Monkey
Zero 7 - When it Falls
The Orb - Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
Boards of Canada - Music has the Right to Children (although this has both, and is really different from just about anything else: more nostalgic and surreal than organic or robotic)
Chicane - Far From the Maddening Crowds

The top 5 are pretty jazzy, maybe with some funk and other bits of awesome. Warm, druggy, surreal, organic little soundscapes. I'd say, exactly what you're looking for. Chicane's is warm and tropical, very ocean beach at sunrise. The Orb's album is an absolute masterpiece, but it's only organic in parts. Get it anyway, you couldn't possibly be disappointed by it. It's impossible to dislike, unless you're against the whole idea of music (music leads to dancing! Dancing leads to...TOUCHING!), you're tied down to musical conventions, or you're just an asshole. Boards of Canada is indescribable. Get this album no matter what (kill if you have to), you've never heard anything like it, I can't even describe it. Great, great music.
Glad you enjoy my lists :) :) :)

You are the best source of electronic knowledge available on the net! Oh yes this stuff is good, Royksopp rocks, Chicane WOW. I have four of the other albums queued up on my download list. I'm having trouble getting the Orb, but I'll continue to work on that. I don't know how soon you will see this posting, but I'm looking for superhappy, blissful, chiiilllllll musicscapes for this weekend. Hook me up? Puh puh Please.

Well, just about anything above falls under that category, but as for the "superhappy" bit, there's very little in way of chillout.

The closest I can think of to "superhappy" chillout is a track off of Moon Safari: Air's Ce matin la. However, I think everything you're looking for will be in the list I sent you earlier.

For organic, I must recommend: Carbon Based Lifeforms the album: Hydroponic Garden.
Also, I think it should be added to the list of best ambien.. that album is very ambient, at least to me. :-)

Thanks for the list. It's very good!!

have you heard the tired sounds of stars of the lid. i bought it yesterday. truly beautiful music

I've heard it, but I really haven't gotten into yet. A lot of what put me off is the titles, this doesn't usually happen, but there's such vivid sad imagery in the song titles that I can't get into the music, for example requiem for dying mothers: I can't shake the image of a cruelly suffering woman moaning in pain as she coughs up blood over months and months of endless torment, all the while her children cry outside the room they can never enter for fear of dying too. Even the strings themselves sound like they're crying (especially that little one that rises out of the melody every now and then). Not very pretty to me, I prefer my ambient music to be otherworldly. This also stifles any ambient wandering I normally get really into: because I'm trying to shake that image with each listen, I end up thinking about nothing but. (YAY, dangling participle! Ah whatever). 444444! DON'T THINK ABOUT ELEPHANTS! NOT ONE THOUGHT FOR THE NEXT TEN MINUTES!!! Odds are good that if you really attempted this, you'd think more thoughts about elephants in the next ten minutes than the rest of your life combined. I've fallen into that stupid psychological pitfall with Stars of the Lid. I don't know if I'd like it anyway, the imagery is too human, too down-to-earth, and all-in-all, too sad to let my mind really wander.

It certainly is beautiful music though: it just doesn't work for me. Maybe I'll like CD 2 more, I haven't listened to it yet.

yeah, i understand what you mean

radio amor is amazing album, so much noise but still so qiuet and relaxing, i have to check out some other albums from him

Totally agree, definitely one of my all-time favorites.

some recommedations.
Lull- cold summer
sleep research facility- nostromo
loscil- submers or first narrows

thanks!
+adds to wishlist

Gridlock - Formless
Gridlock - Live.Traces

endless

Notice to everyone:
I won't really be here for a while. Until about early May (2006), I'm pretty much entirely tied down to the rest of my life: I'm going to have almost no time at all to respond or update here. I may make an occasional post, but don't expect anything regular (and don't take offense if I don't answer you for a very very long time).

Sorry to anyone who has posted and I can't respond to: I'm juggling university (a SCIENCE degree, in others words the nightmare of university existence - this is a complete time filler as it is), a (very serious - not in nature, in depth of relationship) girlfriend, two entirely seperate groups of friends, several plays, several clubs, and possibly soon a job. There really isn't time left to handle answering comments...

Goodbye for now everyone! (I'll be back again, eventually). It's been fun.

nice work fella! thank you and bless wishes

No prob :)

How 'bout
Lost You Somewhere by Chicane
and
Halcyon & On & On by Orbital?

Those are really really close to making the list. However, I don't personally use them as ambient, and find them too distracting to be proper ambient. They're undoubtedly both "ambient dance," but...I don't really put them on before going to sleep, and don't think i ever would. I'd rather listen to them during the day, than drift off to them, although they do certainly have a very chilled and...almost...ambient vibe. But then again, The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld has REALLY entered that category for me too, and yet, it remains on the list. By that suggestion, I'm going to really retool this list. It will become two lists: "Best ambient of all time", and "Best ambient dance of all time."

Eventually.

What about Alva Noto?

Really, I haven't a clue what "Ambient" means, but a lot of the stuf on the list I already enjoy (and much more I will be checking out in the future, for sure, thanks!), but I guess it means, "music that doesn't distract you, music that is just there, and you can go in as deep as you want, music you can fall asleep to, drift off to, trip to", wait a minute; I feel a stick starting to work its way up my arse.

Okay, Alva Noto. He fulfills all these criteria, though perhaps could be more accurately described as "environmental audio", or something. His work with Ryuichi Sakamoto vrioon [2004], insen [2005], and revep [2006], is probably the most melodic, but there isn't anything he's done that doesn't deserve multiple listenings.

Noto's "modul 4" is my current favourite track to fall asleep to, looped. It just takes you to that place and keeps you there.

The downside is that it's incredibly difficult to get hold of original Alva Noto releases, being both limited and quite beautiful.

When I play Noto in company I get mixed reactions; but commonly folk say "That's just noise, man!". Each to his own, I guess.

There are other artists that come to mind, stuff that's absent here, but like I said, I haven't a clue what ambient means, so I'll leave those for another day, perhaps.

;o)
(or

I'll check it out. Thanks a lot! (I've heard an Alva Noto track on Mille Plateaux's "Clicks + Cuts" series. I quite liked it.)

I'm surprised the great Pete Namlook hasn't been mentioned,the most prolific composer of modern times?Maybe,but he has made some great music,loads n loads.
I'd go for Aphexs' Ambient Works 2 and Global Communications 76.14 for truly great Ambient.

I really just don't get that Global Communication album. I've listened to it only twice though...

As for Aphex Twin's SAW 2, I find dark ambient to be too disturbing a background for sleeping.

I'm too lazy to listen oto Pete Namlook. It's too hard to separate good from bad, and I just don't have the time to sift through 300 albums looking for 2 classics.

Was wondering if you have heard Sacred Waters or Mondi Sensibili, both by Aglaia. If you have would you say they are as good as 3 Organic Experiences and worth tracking down?

I've heard Sacred Waters, but I don't find it as good. As for Mondi Sensibili, it's on my wishlist right now, but I don't think there's any way it will be as good as their early masterpiece.

Hey again dude.

I've put Three Organic Experiences up here:

http://www.torrentbox.com/torrent_details?returnto=%2Faccount-cp.php&id=...

Peace out

Thanks a lot, people were having quite of bit of trouble finding that one.

Great album, isn't it?

I personally didn't like it as much as Substrata or Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld, but I have it, and it is rare, so I decided to upload.

Yeah, that's certainly a personal like that probably won't appeal to as many people as the undisputed masterpieces Substrata and Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. But I like it just the same. It likely has something to do with the way I fall asleep - it's one of only a very small number of albums that can put me to sleep without boring me or putting me into a disturbed sleep. It's such a fine line to walk, as almost everything calm without dark undertones is boring, but almost everything with dark undertones will give me a disturbed sleep, and almost everything that isn't calm won't put me to sleep at all. I have trouble sleeping (I was even diagosed with insomnia at one point), so it's hard to find something that balances the three. Three Organic Experiences can do that - it's the perfect sleep album (Substrata and Ultraworld also fit that category). Substrata and Ultraworld (Ultraworld especially), however, are also nice to listen to when planning on staying awake, but they're just not quite as effective as Three Organic Experiences, and that's really what this list is based on (mostly).

If anything, Three is too dreamy for me. I am really new to ambience (your list is the first I've heard of it), and listen to it when I am doing stuff on my computer, and Three doesn't do anything for me.

Another thing, why is the Orb song ahead of the whole album. Because it is better per minute wise, more consistent?

Ambient is pretty much meant to be dreamy.

For listening while using your computer, ambient dance genres are far better. My advice:
The Orb - Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
The Orb - Orblivion
Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
James Holden - Balance 005 (includes the Petter [These days] and Nathan Fake [outhouse] tracks)
Sasha & Digweed - Northern Exposure
Orbital - Snivilization
Orbital - Orbital 2
Orbital - In Sides
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 1
Plastikman - Consumed
Global Communication - 76'14
Banco De Gaia - Last Train to Lhasa
The Future Sound of London - Lifeforms
Shpongle - Are you Shpongled?
Air Liquide - The Increased Difficulty of Concentration

Those are the albums for you. They're great to listen to, they're not simply for sleeping, or for use as a "background." Ambient is supposed to be interesteing in the foreground or the background, but those lean more towards the foreground (Aglaia balances the 2 best, which is what makes it perfect for sleep).

That's the thinking behind that track's placement, yes. I listen to that song seperately at different times and places than the album (the song is for sleeping, the album - including the song - is played when I'm going somewhere with headphones, doing something on my computer, studying, doing business, etc.).

Cool. Dreamy was maybe the wrong word. More like slow and simple. Not in a bad way, it's just boring to listen to for me.

Loved Beyond Orbworld, and Last Train to Lhasa, and have 005 and Lifeforms, but haven't listened to yet. Thanks for the recs.

Also, could you suggest some Goa to me? I'm having trouble finding a good list on the net.

Goa...
Not my biggest genre, but here's a few favorites of mine:
Astral Projection - Mahadeva
Infected Mushoom - Mush Mushi
Juno Reactor - Samurai
Man With No Name - Sly-ed
Hallucinogen - LSD
Yahel - Going Up
Sensient - File Not Found
Infected Mushroom - Sailing in the Sea of Mushroom
Juno Reactor - Feel the Universe (Kox Box mix)
Astral Projection - Aquo Line Spirit
Ticon - We Are the Mammoth Hunters
Yahel - Voyage [this is more along the lines of anthem trance, but it's got more of a goa style to it]
Infected Mushroom - Never Ever land
Neum - Meet you At the Milk Bar
Kox Box - Searching For Psychoactive Herbs
Astral Projection - Dancing galaxy
Man With No Name - Visit the Moon
Vibrasphere - Sweet September
Intergalactic - Suriana

At that point, it all just starts sounding the same to me. Because it is mostly all the same. For some good ambient psytrance, Shpongle - Are You Shpongled? is amazing. Really, there are only 6 artists that do anything interesting in the whole genre: Astral Projection, Juno Reactor, Infected Mushroom, Yahel, Hallucinogen (aka Shpongle), and Man With No Name. Past that, good tracks are rare, except in minimal and ambient psy.

Yeah, Mahadeva is one of my favourite tracks, and I really enjoyed Are You Shpongled?

Thanks for the list.

I am REALLY liking Shpongle at the moment...

Any other bands/artists like them?

Any other ambient psy artists. There's a whole channel (semi) dedicated to it on DI.fm.

Ambient Psy Trance? Great track by Phutureprimitive - Submerge. Really good!

Some early Oakenfold is great Goa. His "Voyage Into Trance" is amazing and his '94 BBC Essential Mix, now called "the Goa Mix" was monumental in bringing Goa out of the backroom of electronic music.

I'd never really thought of Shpongle as ambient (I usually play it at 11), but nevertheless, any list with Shpongle on it gets my vote!

Theres a couple of things on your list I haven't heard. Cool! Thanks.

;o)
(or

ps. probably *not* ambient, but if you love the Star Shpongled Banner, do check out the Brothomstates version on the remixes album. I've no idea how it might sound to someone who isn't intimate with the original, but it certainly does it for me!

Biran Eno 1/1 is AMAZING! thanks for makin this list it's really helped in gettin some of the best ambient stuff.
1/1 is so serene and peaceful, it belongs nowhere but can be played everywhere, it's a definite favourite! :D

Agreed. The rest of the album really doesn't even come close...

I couldn't help but add my personal favorite (and terribly obscure) compilation-album that mostly fits the ambient genre, although sometimes it gets a little busy. It's called "Anamoog", and it starts with the one track I've ever been able to find from its artist, Air 2 Zero, by Squaredust. It's got lots of other great stuff, from artists like wavestar to the decades-old Kraftwerk, to soundtrack composers such as Jerry Goldsmith and Christopher Franke (former member of Tangerine Dream), great stuff all. And it ends with a synthesized rendition of Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love, kind of kills the mood but is entertaining to hear. Off of it I've found Wavestar and Redshift to be especially promising after further investigation. Wavestar's album Zenith is pretty choice, in my opinion. I actually got Anamoog from my father, and I have no clue where he found it, so I will try to upload it, probably to mininova, whenever I get a chance. Let me know what you think =)

I'll try to get ahold of it. It sounds pretty good.

your missing a great song called arisen by arksun =) check it out

Sure. I'll download it.

Hi there darktremor, a suggestion for you
Klauz Schulze - Irrlicht

Surely? It's definitive ambient and is an amazing album, top 5 worthy!

It's great, but I can't listen to it as ambient music. It doesn't fade into the background very well: it's too dramatic. But it's worthy of the list, for sure, just not top 5. (Remember that this is a functional ambient list - it has to fade into the background and be interesting in the foreground).

Ahh I can see what you mean about it being too dramatic to be pure ambient, it certainly has a unique presence.

How about Jean Michel Jarre's classic Oxygene album? pretty dreamy for the most part, and a great electronic composer. I think he actually also had the largest concert audience ever too, '97 Moscow, surprising for an electronic musician imho, not that it isn't merited =)

That's actually slipped through the cracks for me, for years. I listened to part of it once 6 years ago and hated it - which is a good sign - but I've never given it a real listen. Yeah, I'll download it.

Thanks for the list darktremor. I've heard many of these, but there are several artists new to me.

You are right about "ambient" being hard to corner. It seems to me that you know it only when you hear it; a very general term. Some artists with music full of beats, like BOC, are often called ambient. I don't think there is an agreed upon definition for the word, it just means loosely: partially or fully atmospheric, very often electronic driven, music.

I have a few additions for anyone who might be interested. I am not much for descriptions, but I promise that I only provide gems.

M83 - Digital Shades Vol 1 (Album): Great Stuff. Almost entirely beatless. Songs to sample: Strong and Wasted, or Coloring the void.

Helios - Eingya (Album): I can't say enough about this entire album. Try "Coast Off" see what you think. If you like, you will like the rest.

Kettel - My Dogan (Album): I can't tell you how good this is either. Try tracks "My Dogan" for beats, or "billiton beruh with cleo&wouter" for non-beats. Amazingly playful music!

Little Plastic Pilots - Words and LEtters in Color (track): Very much like BOC, but this song is too good to shrug off. This is their standout track.

If you like I have more.

Thanks for the suggestions. I've never heard of any of them (except the m83 album, which I'm sure I'll love, as I love m83). They're being downloaded right now.

I go with Brian Eno's definition of ambient now: Music that works well in the background, but is interesting in the foreground.

some suggestions would be,

Secede - Tryshasla (2005)
Woob - 1194
Pete Namlook & Richie Hawtin - From Within (1994)
Pentatonik - Anthology (1995)
Beaumont Hannant - Texturology (1994) (IDM)
Children Of The Bong - Sirius Sounds (1995) (IDM)
G-Man - Kushti (1996) (Techno)

Sure, I'll download them.

The Woob album is really good...I'll add that after another listen to decide it's place. I don't know why I haven't added it up to now; I've been listening to it for years.
Thanks!

Almost forgot,
This one is essential listening,
The Irresistible Force - Flying High (1992)
This is a must have too
Legion Of Green Men - Spatial Specific (1994)

two really excellent albums

Sure, I'll check them out.

Oh.. another recommendation, from Harold Budd, the album The Room. I think it's a bit less electronic but veery ambient, please give it a chance :-) .

Harold has worked with Eno, you'll like it.

sure, definitely. I'm downloading it right now, I'll let you know what I think.

I'm sure this has been asked before, but in what way is Irrlicht "ambient", other than it's electronica roots? The album, Ebene in particular, seems far too dramatic to been called "ambient". Then again, I don't know much about the ambient/electronica genres.

Well, I find that it fits well both in the background and foreground: interesting to leave as a piece of atmospheric aural furniture, but also great to actively listen to. Yes, it's dramatic, so it's a bit more distracting than other ambient on this list, but I still think it fits on here.

Nevermind me; I was just being a smartass.

Nah, it was a reasonable objection.

i see im not the only avid ambient listener

Yes, it's a great genre. It's more popular than you'd think.

do you like chillout? it's like ambient but with beats. almost like progressive but slower, and more relaxing.

Ambient with beats is ambient dance. Chillout is different, AlacritMusic has a huge list for it, so if you like the genre check it out.

Yes. But "ambient with beats" encompasses a lot of genres:
ambient house, ambient techno, ambient psy, ambient trance, ambient glitch, some of the slower acid jazz, some of the more relaxing IDM, etc..

I do like it, quite a bit.

i meant the kind of music they play on di.fm; both their ambient and chillout stations are excellent

That tends to be ambient psy, although they have some ambient house and "ambient trance."

I'll post some suggestions here to you of that type sometime in the next couple of days.

try:
The Infinity Project - Mystical Experiences

Sure, I'll check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.

I am so downloading the rest of these albums

I've just realised I have them all except:

# Steve Roach - Dreamtime Return [album]

They're all really good, my ordering would probably be a bit different though.

That's because I downloaded them all a while ago :P
Dreamtime Return is a new addition to the list hence why I didn't get it.

Yes I know but I didn't realise you had so many of them, maybe I'll do my own ambient albums list...

Well, I'll be adding to this one considerably in the very near future anyway.

I look forward to it! Any particular ones you can think of now which needed a placement?

Yeah:
Mimesis - Art Imitating Life
Orange Crush - The Field
Shpongle - Are You Shpongled?
Tuu - One Thousand Years
Plastikman - Consumed
and possibly more...

Plus I'm going to clean up some of the mess in the list, bad labels, etc.

I only have the bottom three of them so I'll definitely look into the first ones. By the way have you considered Aphex Twin's Ambient Works Volume II? It's a great ambient album.

I have a lot of mixed feelings on that album - I've never really enjoyed it per se (maybe because of it's darkness). I'll give it another listen though...

How are you enjoying them, khriz?

In terms of a single song I would say that A Huge Ever Growing... is probably my favourite ambient track. Although I enjoy 3 Organic Experiences I would not give it the number one spot, I prefer Substrata. In addition to that, although ambient is generally meant to be listened to as an entire album I absolutely love Poa Alpina on there, so simple yet so effective. It seems to finish so quickly I cannot believe its a 4+ mins song. Radio Amor I enjoy, and Hong Kong has definately gone up in my opinion. When I first got hold of it I didn't see much in it. Interestingly enough I think it is since my exposure to more Techno that has helped me to enjoy this album much more. I enjoy pretty much all the others, though I have not listened to Desert Solitaire or Thermal Transfer recently so cannot remember them very well.

They're good, I'd say; digging them up again is worthwhile (Desert Solitaire and Thermal Transfer, that is)

AHEGPBTRFTCOTU was at the top for a while, but 3 Organic overtook it. I just like 3 Organic more now.

I don't know, I think all of Substrata is equally effective, although Poa Alpina is very good.

Hey darktremor, how about the albums Ambiant Otaku by Tetsu Inoue, or Trances/Drones by Robert Rich? If you haven't already got them, I highly recommend.

I love Ambiant Otaku, and I still need to acquire Trances/Drones (before I can decide). Robert Rich ahs so much backcatalogue that listening to all of it is really difficult. I'm going to add Ambiant Otaku - I'm really not sure why it isn't on already. Thanks. :D

Nice, and I love your description, very evocative imagery created by that album for sure. Trances/Drones is definitely worth getting, and I really want to get Somnium, but I can't seem to get hold of it.

Somnium is pretty good, but I find it over-long (like a lot of Robert Rich's work). The first track is worth the whole album, but as it gets further into it, I find it starts to drag and get too dark, in that awful "obvious" way. Maybe I need to give it more than 2 listens, but it's very hard to do that with an ambient album as long as Somnium, especially since I (mostly) only listen to ambient going to sleep. Plus I found it disrupted my sleep a bit, which to me isn't acceptable for good ambient.

i cannot wait to listen to all of these from my recent experience with Aglaia's Three Organic Experiences, but you should label what album each of the tracks come on, especially if you are referring to a specific version of a track that may only come on a soundtrack or compilation...so i, or anyone else, does not get the wrong track. i know you stated which album the Orb's "A Huge Evergrowing..." was on below it, but i am not sure about "Peary Land" or "These Days" (though, maybe i should have at least looked for them before writing this, but my experience has been that there are sometimes 10 versions of one track like the first time i listened to "Halleluwah" was the 6+ minute version on a best of and was greatly misinformed).

Yes, good idea. Although actually, Peary Land and These Days are singles, and weren't really part of an album at any point (correct me if I'm wrong on this, and I may be) - besides DJ mixes they've found their way on to. If I add more tracks in the future that are off of albums, I'll be sure to give the location.

Hi All,

Great to see quite a few followers of the Ambient Genre. I've been a fan of electronic music since the late 80s and always appreciated the 'thinking person's music'.

Thought I would add my '2 cents' and list my favourite ambientish tracks (not albums) if you want to check out. Top 10 in no particular order include:

1) Aphex Twin - #3 (aka as 'Rhubarb')
2) Boards of Canada - Amo Bishop Roden
3) MLO - Wimborne (MLO Mix)
4) Global Communication - 9'25
5) Ulrich Schnauss - Crazy For You
6) Ulrich Schnauss - Monday Paracetamol
7) Rabbit in the Moon - Deeper
8) Rabbit in the Moon - FlooRI.D.A (AK1200 Mix)
9) Blue States - Heroes' Elegy
10) Future Sound of London - Dead Skin Cells

All stunners! Enjoy.

I've got a lot of those on the list already (inside some of these albums, generally), and I wouldn't call some of them ambient, but I'll definitely check out those that I haven't heard.

Another recommendation: Robert Rich & Lustmord's Stalker, it's very dark but very effective.

Most people here mention all of the essential ambient releases, however I haven't seen a single person refer to Global Communication's Pentamarous Metamorphosis album. Not only is this one of the best ambient releases of all time, I would argue it is THE best!

I'll definitely check it out, given how much I love their other album.

I personally don't like it. I find it too obvious: no subtlety at all. It's like the soundtrack to the moment before getting crept up on in the dark by a demon and tortured. Many of people have recommended that to me, but it's never gotten any reaction out of me but annoyance.

I can see why, some of Lustmord's stuff does sound cheesy and overdone.

Hey, I do agree with you on one thing though: it is very dark and effective - it would work very well in a horror movie soundtrack, for example. It just isn't really all that fun to listen to (to me) or particularly creative (I mean, horror movie mood music has been around for decades).

On listening again I think you're right anyway, it lacks the longevity and originality that truly great ambient has, it seemed a lot worse on my third listen, which is the opposite with what happens with some of my favourites (they get better over time). It would be suitable for a twisted horror movie though definitely.

Indeed, dark ambient is really hard to do properly without sounding forced.

I'm finding this board interesting in terms of what people consider 'ambient'. Though most of the albums that are discussed would be termed as 'ambient' without a doubt, some I have to scratch my head about. It all comes down to opinions and interpretation, of course, and I find it entertaining. I would never consider Boards of Canada as 'ambient', for example. They're music is much too hyperactive and menacing to toss it into any genre. Sure, they have moments of 'ambience', but so does Madonna or any other act that primarily use electronics for their sound, and once you consider early Orb and Global Communication albums as 'ambient', you'd have to agree that BOC does not fall into this category. Same goes for Autechre. 'Amber' is, without a doubt, their most 'ambient' album to date, but it is far more complicated and erratic to be defined under this term. As you do consider these releases as 'ambient', I highly recommend releases by the 7th Plain (a Luke Slater pseudonym) who put out two albums named 'My Yellow Wise Rug' and 'The 4 Cornered Room'. Lots of Detroit influences in the sound on these two records, but the best 'ambient' records released during the past twenty years all contain many elements of 'techno'. I hope you all get a chance to eventually check out 'Pentamorous Metamorphosis' by Global Communication. To be accurate, it comes from an album called 'Blood Music' by Chapterhouse which is an early shoegaze band from Britain. Global Communication 'retranslated' this album into one of the brightest and inspiring moments in not only 'ambient' music history, but in the vast expanse of electronic music in general. I've had a chance to listen to over 10,000 electronic albums in my lifetime, and 'Pentamarous Metamorphosis' is truly one of the best I've ever heard, and better than Global Communication's excellent effort '76:14'. Which I know is saying a hell of a lot! Check it!
Love this board by the way! Always fun to discuss great music of any kind!

Indeed, it is a difficult term to define. However, I find, at least, that everything I've got on here fits the actual definition of ambient. I'll check out that other Global Communication album - I'm a bit fan of 76'14, so I'm looking forward to Pentamorous Metamorphosis (although I didn't like Blood Music much, I found it annoying and dull). I'll also check out those 7th Plain albums.

I don't know if you've heard Stars of the Lid's The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid, but I just got it on CD, and it is amazing.

I've actually gotten into it a bit more now, and I'm considering adding it.

What about Mantram: Steve Roach, Byron Metcalf, Mark Seelig?

Sure, I'll give it a spin, I like Steve Roach. I have many albums to think about for this list, so I'll start updating it soon.

Slumberland and Slumberland episode 2 are amazing albums. Just Crater Lake is beautiful beyond belief to me. Make sure to check those albums out if you haven't already.

free download of Mooma: Herd Forming too. Check out this album especially, because it's free and amazing (so far after one listen). Hope life is treatin' ya well.

Also, check out this artist, I have mixed feelings thus far. Let me know what you think of his two albums (free download here). It's on the page on the lefthand side, just got to scroll down a bit. Let me know what you think of these if you have the chance also.

Sure, I'll give them a listen.

What I've heard of Herd Forming so far sounds pretty good (just part of the first track).

Starlit Realm sounds like it would work well in an "ambient game," but I don't think I'd listen to it otherwise.

Max Richter...

Sure, I'll take a look. Any album suggestions?

my first choices would be "memoryhouse" and "the blue notebooks"

Cool, thanks.

I've listened to about half this list. All good selections.

I would recommend the following that all have ambient elements:
Pocahaunted - Island Diamonds
Explosions in the Sky - How Strange, Innocent
Sleep Research Facility - Deep frieze
Birchville Cat Motel - Gunpowder Temple of Heaven
Ananta - Inside My Room, Watching The Rain

Sure, I'll give them a listen. Thanks.

Sleep Research Facility though? I've found a lot of their work to be the space music equivalent to Lustmord: Halloween-cheesy darkness - but in a collapsing space station, rather than a lava-filled cavern. Is that one any different? I listened to Nostromo.

Also note that I'm not much of a dark ambient fan. I generally find it either poor-quality and cheesy, or not very conducive to sleep. The aim of full-on dark ambient literally is inducing nightmares (or colouring a room with a terrifying atmosphere), and that's not my thing - nightmares give me a poor quality of sleep. In other words: good dark ambient would be that which would always cause nightmares (and I wouldn't be interested), bad dark ambient would be music that aimed for this and failed, and would therefore be poor quality music (and I wouldn't be interested).

You might not like SRF then. But none of the others are dark ambient.

I really enjoy dark ambient. Its like the soundtrack to an Ocean at night or different aspects of nature. Its not necessarily dark either. Some of it actually overlaps with drone and isn't really dark ambient- like the Biosphere/Deathprod split.

Indeed, although I wouldn't call Biosphere dark ambient at all. I'm actually quite fond of albums that are like soundtracks to oceans at night or different aspects of nature.

There's certainly great ambient out there that has bleak, cold, and empty vibes in places - Biosphere especially - but I wouldn't call it dark. I may be wrong on this one, but I've always defined dark ambient as being sort of horror movie background music: the soundtrack to impending torture or brutal murder, or to something quietly excruciating like being buried alive or drowning. Like almost any Lustmord, or SRF's Nostromo. If that SRF album is more Biosphere than Deathprod, I'd probably like it.

I would not say that EITS (Explosions in the sky) has any ambient elements at all. Maybe I don't know enough ambient or something, but I've never felt that I was listening to ambient while that album (or really any EITS album) was playing. I may be wrong, but I've listened to every single album they have ever created at least 5 times, and no ambient feel. Nonetheless, it is a drop dead amazing album, as they are tied for 1st place for my favorite Post Rock artist ever listened to :).

Sure, I'll give them a listen at some point.

I fell asleep last night listening to number 10, an album I love more each year.

I'm such a poser...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs