Unusual Traveler

A Journal for those who do not take a shortcut

Latest Posts

Eluvium On…
The Music of
Gudjieff / De Hartmann

Words MATTHEW COOPER Choosing a favorite ambient album is a bit of an impossibility for me. There are so many that I enjoy often, or that left an important mark on me while growing and learning about the various worlds of music out there. My initial instinct is to reach for Eno or Satie or […]

Jon Hassell / Brian Eno
Fourth World, Vol. 1:
Possible Musics

(Editions EG, 1980)

This cutting-edge collab between Jon Hassell and Brian Eno doesn’t blend into the background of whatever space it inhabits. It blasts the walls with brightly colored hues, splattering every corner with sounds you’ll have a hard time placing on this particular astral plane. That’s because Hassell’s beloved trumpet is heavily treated, a signature “future primitive” […]

Terry Riley
In C
(CBS, 1968)

A mesmerizing piece of peerless minimalism — arguably the first of its kind — Terry Riley’s In C maintains a sense of forward momentum that can’t be stopped, one that starts with the Pachinko-like pluck of a piano and quickly spirals out of control. No wonder why Adrian Utley’s Guitar Orchestra and Acid Mothers Temple & […]

Claire Rousay On…

Words CLAIRE ROUSAY Theodore [Cale Schafer] and I first came into contact during the middle of 2018. I was on tour with Jacob Wick and we passed through Santa Fe to play a show that Theo set up for us. This visit was my introduction to Theodore as a person as well as his music. […]

Live ’94
(self-released, 2021)

Something’s a little off about The NRG and its newly released Live ’94, LP, from its piss-take song titles (“The KLF,” “Earth Mother,” “Ralph Doesn’t Like Peas”) to its YouTube teaser — a crowd-enhanced clip that was uploaded a little over two years ago and left to lie dormant until today. And then there’s its mockumentary-like […]

Lindstrøm &
Prins Thomas
(Smalltown Supersound, 2020)

Don’t let the title of the opening track on III fool you into thinking it’s a full-on “Grand Finale.” Judging by its slow-moving synth lines, blunted drum beats, and lounge pants loops, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas sound more concerned with setting a “Serenity Now” scene than flooding a dance floor. And while the pace does pick up […]

Windy & Carl
(Darla, 1997)

The need for ambient music isn’t new. Many would argue it goes all the way back to Satie and his singular form of “Furniture Music.” And then there are all the compilations — some crucial (Back to Mine, Late Night Tales), some corny (Buddha Bar anyone?) — that have passed through the pipeline in the […]

Harold Budd
(Samadhisound, 2007)

As Harold Budd’s longtime friends and fans struggle to make sense of his passing this week, we’d like to point out a record that’s held in high regard by completists (see: its triple-digit price tag on Discogs) yet largely overlooked compared to his crucial Eno collabs (The Pearl, Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror) and […]

David Darling
(ECM, 1992)

When it comes to ECM Records, we’re more familiar with the iconic album covers of label founder Manfred Eicher than the many contemporary pieces he’s released since 1969. Or as New York Times writer Dana Jennings put it in a story about the Haus der Kunst exhibition ECM: A Cultural Archeology…. Most ECM covers these […]

Nailah Hunter On…
Duchenne Smile

Words NAILAH HUNTER Duchenne Smile (Geotic, 2009) was my favorite album to listen to as a young, romantic art-school student living in the suburbs back in 2011. I’d just moved out on my own for the first time and this album was the perfect soundtrack to accompany my newfound feeling that anything was possible. Composed mostly with […]

Otto A Totland
(Sonic Pieces, 2014)

Otto A Totland isn’t nearly as prolific as his Deaf Center partner (Miasmah founder Erik Skodvin, a.k.a. Svarte Greiner). Never has been; never will be. In fact, he’s released just two solo records in the 15 years since the group’s stellar debut album Pale Ravine. And that’s okay. Quite appropriate actually, considering how loudly both […]

Eliane Radigue
Trilogie De La Morte
(XI, 1998)

Some people have noise machines. Others go to bat for guided meditation apps. Us, we can always rely on Eliane Radigue. A peerless, multi-faceted pioneer of atmospheric pressure since the early ’70s, Radigue started out exploring musique concrète and electroacoustic music with the two Pierres — Henry and Schaeffer — and shared a Morton Subotnick-built […]

Lisa Lerkenfeldt
(Shelter Press, 2020)

We first stumbled upon Lisa Lerkenfeldt’s wild sound world while listening to the latest drop from Longform Editions, a Sydney label that asks guest artists to submit one long song to its series of “immersive listening experiences for the everyday.” According to Lerkenfeldt’s track notes, “29°” captures “the duality of the wind… at a post-industrial […]

(Editions Mego, 2020)

We first stumbled upon Joseph Kamaru’s womb-like world while reading a rundown of the records that helped Patricia Wolf deal with her mother-in-law’s death. “This song is a recent discovery for me,” she wrote of the revelatory KMRU single. “It resonates with the current place I am in with grief. It says to me, ‘Life […]

Run With the Floating,
Weightless Stillness

(Drut, 2020)

Earlier this year, Kel McKeown regained the rights to an old Kelpe record (2010’s Margins 12”) and reissued it on his Bandcamp page with a revealing note: “This is what I used to sound like.” No kidding. While that EP revolves around neon-lit rhythms and laser-cut dance loops, Run With the Floating, Weightless Stillness — […]

(Biophon Records, 2020)

The latest Biosphere LP to receive a proper reissue through the producer’s Biophon imprint may not be his most iconic effort (Cirque and Substrata land on more far more best-of lists), but that doesn’t make it any less essential. First teased in 2005 on Touch, the record started out as a six-track survey of slow-moving film […]

Concentric Records
On… Insen and
Trans-Millenia Music

In the spirit of Concentric Records’ recent self-titled playlist, Simone Merli (Soundwalk Collective) and Luca Calo (Born In 1986) also broke two of their favorite ambient records down in detail. Both set the scene for the label’s opening gambit (the three-part compilation Profile of the Lines) beautifully, as if they’d just been asked to reveal […]

Andrew Tuttle On…

Words ANDREW TUTTLE There’s definitely recent albums I could just as easily write about, but I want to allow myself more years with them, so I’m going to write about a record that I’ve had well over a decade to get acquainted with. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I first heard Playthroughs (Kranky, 2002), […]

Steve Roach
Structures From Silence
(Fortuna, 1984)

It doesn’t take long for Steve Roach to lull most listeners to sleep — or at the very least, a semi-comatose state — on Structures From Silence. Originally released in 1984, and expanded into an essential three-disc edition 30 years later, this is as good as the ambient icon gets — three lush, synth-led pieces […]

Roger & Brian Eno
Mixing Colours
(Deutsche Grammophon, 2020)

When it comes to ambient music, there’s often a fine line between dreadful and devastating, boring and beautiful. Brian Eno has ridden it for a while now, beginning with his bedridden 1975 breakthrough Discreet Music. Largely inspired by a hospital stay that left him listening to music at a level so low he couldn’t perceive […]

Nils Frahm
(Erased Tapes, 2020)

It’s hard to think of a more intimate, and raw-sounding Nils Frahm record than the one he released last Saturday to celebrate Piano Day. Dropped without warning — like a tree falling in a forest with no one around — Empty was originally played on a solo upright piano in the summer of 2012 as […]

Kazuya Nagaya On…

Words KAZUYA NAGAYA I’m not really sure if I could call this ambient music. It is essentially contemporary music, but it would be fine to call it that in a broader sense. All of Arvo Pärt’s albums enthrall me with their overwhelming beauty: Tabula Rasa, Alina, Arbos, Te Deum. But I picked Triodion (Hyperion, 2003) […]

Niklas Paschburg On…
Goodbye to Language

Words NIKLAS PASCHBURG When I was asked to pick my favorite ambient album I first thought about Brian Eno.  I discovered the ambient genre through his music and he is still my favorite ambient producer. However, in the last couple of years another album slowly took over as my favourite, and it’s called Goodbye To […]

Improvisational Loops
(Music From Memory, 2018)

The central piece (“Nuwav2”) on Terekke’s beat-less Improvisational Loops record lasts for nearly 20 minutes, long enough to lose yourself in its formless mist. Which makes sense; the album’s earliest stages actually stem from yoga classes at Brooklyn’s sorely missed Body Actualized Center, which founder Brian Sweeny (see also: the roaming Ambient Church series) once […]

Speaker Music On…

Words DEFORREST BROWN, JR. I first heard Vladislav Delay’s Anima around 2014. Back then I was a chronic insomniac, and worked closing shifts with a near two-hour commute from Manhattan to the suburbs of outer Queens, which afforded me a lot of time to decompress and catch up on music releases as well as experience […]

Meemo Comma On…
Through the Looking Glass

Words LARA RIX-MARTIN Photo ELEANOR HARDWICK When I was asked to write a review on my favourite ambient album I was stumped at first. What music do I listen to? Least of all in terms of genre. Midori Takada’s Through the Looking Glass album was first released in 1987, three years before I was born. […]

Telefon Tel Aviv On…
Big Room

Words JOSHUA EUSTIS This record (Big Room) came out on April 5th of 2019, very quietly. With Ulla Straus being adjacent to [Huerco S’] West Mineral Ltd. [imprint] and having already done some music that I really enjoyed, I put this on my phone before a 15-hour flight and hit play as we were taking off. […]

JQ On…

Photo ERIAL ALI Words JQ アンドロメダ translates to andromeda, a galaxy two and a half million light years from Earth, and an adequate way of summing up the music made by Telepath. An original founder of Dream Catalogue, Telepath (or t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者) has released dozens of Vaporwave albums […]

Carmen Villain On…
Aka / Darbari / Java:
Magic Realism

Words CARMEN VILLAIN The first time I heard Jon Hassell’s music was a kind of eureka moment: “WHAT is this?” It was his 1978 album Vernal Equinox, and I was immediately drawn in by the looseness of it all, the use of percussion (which I’m always a sucker for), and the unorthodox processing of his […]

Sage Caswell On…
A I A: Alien Observer
A I A: Dream Loss

Words SAGE CASWELL There are few albums I’ve come across that paint the kind of picture Grouper’s A I A (Kranky / Yellow Electric, 2012) does. Furthermore, there are few creative contemporaries that put forth the kind of honest, raw emotion found within her offerings (audio or otherwise). To this day, I’ve yet to find […]
Kin Leonn | Porya Hatami Land Album

Kin Leonn On…

Words KIN LEONN I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this album and Porya Hatami a few years ago. I do remember the phase in my life where I listened to it almost obsessively: in my army bunk during my officer cadet training days in Singapore (a nation which requires all males to serve two […]

Kyle Bobby Dunn On…
Ambient 4: On Land

Words KYLE BOBBY DUNN Maybe some folks would say On Land (EG, 1982) is a typical ambient choice; maybe some are unfamiliar with this title. I honestly find this to be the greatest ambient album in many ways. I have returned to it again and again over the years and get more out of it […]
William Orbit | Pieces in a Modern Style album cover

William Orbit
Pieces in a Modern Style
(Maverick, 2000)

One thing many people missed about William Orbit when he was busy producing left-field LPs for Madonna (the universally acclaimed Grammy winner Ray of Light) and Blur (13) was the electronic musician’s first classical album, Pieces in a Modern Style. Largely overshadowed by a club-ready Ferry Corsten remix of Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings, the […]
Celestial Realms

Laraaji & Lyghte
Celestial Realms
(Spirit Music, 1986)

When Celestial Realms was originally released in a rare cassette run more than 30 years ago, Ramana Das—the music editor of Yoga Journal—called it “the best sustained trance music of the year.” He was quick to add one other thing, however: “[It’s] definitely not for grounding or as background to washing dishes!” Which is really […]
Jonas Munk | Gone to Earth

Jonas Munk On…
Gone to Earth

Words JONAS MUNK When Japan disbanded in the early 1980s, lead figure David Sylvian pursued a more atmospheric path—first with some very rewarding Ryuchi Sakamoto collaborations, and later with his first solo album, Brilliant Trees. The latter saw him collaborating with musicians from the minimal/avant-garde school, such as Holger Czuckay, Jon Hassel and Mark Isham, […]
JAB | Desert Solitaire

Desert Solitaire

Photo CHRISTINA VANTZOU Words JOHN ALSO BENNETT Edward Abbey, known as the “Thoreau of the American West”, published his most famous book Desert Solitaire in 1968. It’s an influential example of environmental writing, a genuine attempt to engage the desert landscape in a literary dialogue and artistic examination of an environment previously left relatively untouched […]
Celestial Trax | Popol Vuh

Celestial Trax On…
In den Gärten Pharaos

Words JONI JUDÉN While the term ‘ambient music’ wasn’t fully conceived until Brian Eno’s eponymous four-part installment of albums that truly opened the floodgates for the genre, it certainly wasn’t born ex nihilo. Of its lineage, the chapter on early German synthesizer experiments and psychedelic drones I find the most fascinating. I’ve always been drawn to the […]
Yagya | Rigning vinyl

(Sending Orbs, 2009)

Having already tackled winter on his debut album Rhythm of Snow, Yagya moved onto rainier months with Rigning. Arguably the Icelandic producer’s most self-assured effort, the hour-long opus received a long overdue repress in a remastered triple LP edition last year. Alternating between dub-techno dynamics and beat-less breaks, it seems to reference everything from the […]
Abul Mogard | Above All Dreams vinyl

Abul Mogard
Above All Dreams
(Ecstatic, 2018)

We’ve given up on trying to figure out if Abul Mogard is, in fact, a real person at this point. Anyone who’s into widescreen electronic music is better off acknowledging the producer’s back story—a former Serbian factory worker, miming the machines of his youth—and head straight for the songs themselves. Above All Dreams starts off […]
Brian Eno | Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks

Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks

Words BOB HOLMES When you’re a music lover, one of the best gifts is to rediscover an album that you’d previously written off—especially when it’s from one of your favorite artists. That was the case for me with Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks (EG, 1983). Rediscovering an album rewards you in two ways: First, […]
Tangerine Dream | Rubycon vinyl

Tangerine Dream
(Virgin, 1975)

As prolific as Tangerine Dream have been since the late ’60s—they’re still active today, even after founder Edgar Froese’s passing—it’s easy to drill their sprawling discography down to a couple key releases. Namely 1974’s Phaedra LP and its swiftly released follow-up, Rubycon. Essentially one experimental piece spread over two 17-minute sides, the latter drifts through […]
Alex Zhang Hungtai | Divine Weight vinyl

Alex Zhang Huntai
Divine Weight
(NON Worldwide, 2018)

Now available in a much-needed vinyl pressing via Boomkat, Divine Weight is a heavy listen indeed—Alex Zhang Hungtai soundtracking his subconscious over iridescent drones and dovetailing hymns. Nothing is what it seems, either; all five tracks revolve around “‘failed’ attempts of saxophone compositions and recordings” that were “heavily digitally disfigured until [they] no longer resembled […]
Sunn O))) | Black One vinyl

Diamondstein On…
Black One

Words DIAMONDSTEIN I can’t remember when I first heard Sunn 0))), but I definitely remember when I first sought them out. I was about 20 years, living in New York and working in set design on bizarre fashion shoots—a completely foreign language to a kid from the Appalachian corners of Southeastern Ohio and West Virginia. […]
Bing & Ruth | No Home of the Mind vinyl

Bing & Ruth
No Home of the Mind
(4AD, 2017)

Here’s a surefire hit for numbing the noise of relatives, unsolicited advice, and incessant Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday sales. Centered around the solemn motifs of composer David Moore—and taken to transcendent heights by a tight-knit quartet (bassists Greg Chudzik and Jeff Ratner, clarinetist Jeremy Viner, and tape manipulator Mike Effenberger)—No Home of the Mind […]
Spacetime Continuum | Sea Biscuit album cover

M. Geddes Gengras On…
Sea Biscuit

Words M. GEDDES GENGRAS You would be forgiven for expecting something almost completely different not long into “Pressure,” the 10.5-minute opening track of Sea Biscuit (Astralwerks, 1994), the second album by Jonah Sharp under his Spacetime Continuum moniker. Despite a particularly gaseous introduction, a subdued kick/rim shot/lo-fi snare pattern creeps in, establishing a shuffling 108 […]
Eli Keszler | Stadium vinyl

Eli Keszler
(Shelter Press, 2018)

Stadium doesn’t fit any traditional definitions of “ambient music”—Eli Keszler’s red-blooded rhythms are far too restless and erratic for that—but the album’s prevailing mood fits that mold perfectly. Contrary to the pastel color scheme of its abstract cover art, the fully immersive record unfolds like a classic film noir cut in high contrast monochrome. And […]
The Necks | Aether

The Necks
(Fish of Milk, 2001)

Remember MP3 blogs? Well the same rule of good intentions applies here; we love this hard-to-find LP from The Necks so much we simply had to share a streaming version of it here. (It’s not on Spotify or Bandcamp unfortunately.) Have a listen below, then buy the CD or digital edition straight from the source […]
Anthony Naples | Take Me With You tape

Anthony Naples
Take Me With You
(Good Morning Tapes, 2018)

While it’s killer Biscuit cover may look like it was lifted from an old rave flyer, Anthony Naples’ newly dropped Take Me With You cassette is actually a concerted after-hours affair. Meant to be consumed like a mixtape—hence the Good Morning Tapes hook, rather than a traditional label—the 12 tracks on here are a tease […]
Kasper Bjorke | Fifty Eleven Project

Kasper Bjørke Quartet
The Fifty Eleven Project
(Kompakt, 2018)

One of 2018’s most ambitious and moving ambient records, The Fifty Eleven Project is a triple LP of expansive new material from Kasper Bjørke and such esteemed guest players as Italian composer Davide Rossi, pianist Jakob Littauer (Jatoma), and keyboardist Claus Norreen. It’s not just any old album, though; it’s Bjørke’s deeply personal documentation of […]
Fennesz | Endless Summer vinyl

Endless Summer

Words LTO I was at uni in Scarborough, an old seaside resort in the North of England, studying Creative Music Technology. When I arrived in 2002, I was mostly listening to post-rock stuff like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Do Make Say Think and Mogwai, along with the odd emo, post-hardcore and nu-metal record. Starting a […]
Laraaji | Essence Universe vinyl

Penelope Trappes On…
Essence / Universe

Essence/Universe by Laraaji Words PENELOPE TRAPPES For the past few years, Essence / Universe (Audion Recording Co., 1987) has been my go-to when I need to relax and remember all is well in the universe. Laraaji creates an aural space for me to drift away into. I feel like the title of the album is […]
Felbm | Tape 1 Tape 2 art

Tape 1 / Tape 2
(Soundway, 2018)

Here’s an example of cover art catching our eye in an era where that sort of thing isn’t supposed to matter anymore. Not in the digital realm, at least, as it’s difficult to draw a direct parallel between scanning the artful shelves of a well-curated record shop and riding the ragged algorithms of Spotify. Having […]
Joakim | The Studio Venezia Sessions album cover

The Studio Venezia Sessions
(Vinyl Factory, 2018)

For anyone who missed 2017’s Venice Art Biennale, Studio Venezia was a gorgeous Xavier Veilhan installation that happened to house rare gear (everything from medieval horns and modular synths to a Cristal Baschet and Buchla) and the roaming studio of Radiohead’s sixth man, Nigel Godrich. Joakim was among a select group of experimental/electronic artists asked […]
Shuttle358 | Frame CD

(12k, 2000)

Shuttle358’s second album dropped in 2000, when CD sales were peaking and post-IDM productions began to dominate labels like Mille Plateux (see: their influential Clicks & Cuts series), Raster-Noton, and Taylor Deupree’s 12k imprint. This is where one might find original pressings of Frame, a deeply immersive listen from producer Dan Abrams that melds spare […]
Future Museums

Future Museums Shares the Stories Behind His Cosmic Synth Cuts

In the spirit of the Free Association series at our sister site self-titled, we recently asked Neil Lord to pull the curtain back on his latest Future Museums album. Hitting shops today through Holodeck, Rosewater Ceremony Part II: Guardian of Solitude finds the Thousand Foot Whale Claw/Single Lash member in top form alongside soothing New […]
The Future Sound of London | Lifeforms album cover

Martyn On…

Words MARTYN DEYKERS It’s 1994 and I’m just some student in The Netherlands. My days at uni are filled dragging myself from lecture to lecture, from “Dutch syntax & grammar” to “PR Campaign Writing II”, but the nights and weekends are filled with fantasies about an alternate future world. Inspired by William Gibson’s Neuromancer and […]
Ashra | New Age of Earth vinyl

New Age of Earth
(Isadora, 1976)

Much like Manuel Göttsching’s dazzling solo debut (1975’s Inventions For Electric Guitar LP), early New Age of Earth pressings were credited to the Krautrock icon and his old group Ash Ra Tempel. This despite its dissolution several years earlier, when bassist Hartmut Enke and synthesist Klaus Schulze left the Tempel’s lone devotee to hold down […]
The Orb | Orbus Terrarum album cover

Rafael Anton Irisarri On…
Orbus Terrarum

Words RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI When I first heard The Orb’s Orbus Terrarum (Island, 1995), I was a teenager living in the middle of nowhere, playing bass guitar in punk and reggae bands, and had a very vague idea of what electronic music was. Growing up a teen in the mid ’90s meant barely any access […]
Chi | The Original Recordings album cover

The Original Recordings
(Astral Industries, 2016)

Cut at a communal farm right in the middle of the Regan era, and dusted off three decades later by the London imprint Astral Industries, The Original Recordings sound like something Chi’s new labelmate (Kompakt co-founder Wolfgang Voigt) would listen to while running through Germany’s Black Forest and dreaming up the next GAS album. Hypnotic […]
Bibio | Phantom Brickworks vinyl

Phantom Brickworks
(Warp, 2017)

When we first got into Bibio during his Mush days, a big part of the producer’s appeal was how close his beats hewed to a kaleidoscopic Boards of Canada template. Stephen Wilkinson’s elusive sound didn’t stay that way, however. For nearly a decade now, the mood-altering multi-instrumentalist has worked psychedelic soul, R&B, folk and pop […]
Robert Haigh | Creatures of the Deep vinyl

Robert Haigh
Creatures of the Deep
(Unseen Worlds, 2017)

After spending the ’80s writing dark ambient diatribes and working alongside Nurse With Wound, multi-instrumentalist Robert Haigh took a sharp detour into drum ‘n’ bass with his Omni Trio project, only to resurface under yet another glaringly different guise over the past decade. And that is Robert Haigh the melancholic piano man, a minimalist cut […]
Michael Stearns | Planetary Unfolding album cover

Luke Jenner On…
Planetary Unfolding

Words LUKE JENNER I can’t remember how I first found Planetary Unfolding (Continuum Montage, 1981). A friend of mine makes ambient tape music and works at Amoeba Berkeley as the world music buyer. We went to high school together; we used to trade baseball cards. The first time we traded something he ripped me off. […]
JD Emmanuel | Wizards album cover

JD Emmanuel
(North Star Productions, 1982)

Much like the Jordan Sierra album we mentioned last week, Wizards didn’t move too many copies when it first came out in the early ’80s. So what did JD Emmanuel do? He made a color version of its stark black and white sleeve and added titles to five tracks that were originally treated as abstract […]
Scott Hull | Requiem

Scott Hull
(Relapse, 2008)

Scott Hull is quick to clarify that Requiem is not his first proper solo album. It’s more of a missed opportunity—a film score that was ultimately scrapped and given another go on Hull’s longtime label Relapse Records. “I worked on this quite a long time—the majority of 2006, in fact,” the guitarist/producer explained around its […]
Ellen Arkbro | For Organ and Brass album cover

Ellen Arkbro
For Organ and Brass
(Multiverse, 2017)

There’s something about the sustained tones in Ellen Arkbro’s plaintive “For Organ and Brass” piece that reminds us of Sunn O))). Mainly their Monoliths & Dimensions album, which found the drone-on duo fusing their rumble-strip riffs with everything from an upright bass trio to a pair of trombonists. The setup on Arkbo’s first proper full-length […]
Dedekind Cut | Tahoe album cover

Dedekind Cut
(Kranky, 2018)

In case you couldn’t tell by the yoga mat Fred Warmsley sold around $uccessor—his first Dedekind Cut album—or this lengthy, immersive playlist, the producer is essentially an ambient expressionist now. The abrupt transition began when the former Pro Era member was still making beats under his Lee Bannon alias—a move exemplified by 2015’s ego-dissolving Pattern […]

Nick Malkin On…

Words NICK MALKIN Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Vrioon (Raster-Noton, 2002) album seems to be in tune with everything around it—somehow locked into the key of everyday life. It rhymes with all of it. The phase of a passing ambulance, the blurred shouting of someone in the street, birds chirping, chimes moving, tires rushing by […]
Robert Rich | Nest album cover

Robert Rich
(Soundscape, 2012)

Critics may not consider Nest the most influential or ‘important’ release in Robert Rich’s immense back catalogue, but we’ve gotta be honest; it’s racked up millions of Spotify plays for a reason. And that is its steadfast position as a more peaceful listen than what we’re used to from a dark-ambient don who once had […]
Daniel Schmidt | In My Arms Many Flowers album cover

Daniel Schmidt
In My Arms, Many Flowers
(Recital, 2016)

Sean McCann’s Recital imprint first gave this gorgeous collection of gamelan pieces a proper release in 2016. It’s gone through three blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em vinyl pressings since then, but you can still let the album’s four sublime vibrations reverberate across your living room online. Pulled from the personal 1978-1982 archive of music teacher/composer Daniel Schmidt, In My […]
The Black Dog | Music For Real Airports album cover

The Black Dog
Music For Real Airports
(Soma, 2013)

As you can probably tell from the title, The Black Dog wrote this record as a rebuttal to Brian Eno’s most iconic ambient album. Soothing and unsettling in equal measure, it’s a dark but deeply immersive take on just how debilitating airports can be—a Black Mirror episode waiting to happen, rather than Tom Hanks in […]
The Moon and the Melodies album cover

Lori Scacco On…
The Moon and the Melodies

Words LORI SCACCO “Morning music” is a big thing for me. It’s a descriptor I reserve for beloved records that resonate in that window before the waking mind has fully taken hold. It’s that liminal space in which there is a residue of night logic, and conscious thought remains fluid, expansive, and yet to be […]
Steven Legget | Bathhouse album cover

Steven Legget
(Firecracker, 2018)

Already sold out at the source—Edinburgh’s rather excellent Firecracker Recordings—but still available digitally via Bandcamp, this stunning effort is the long overdue solo debut of Steven Legget. Never heard of him? That’s not your fault; while the UK producer has been making electronic music since the mid ’90s (including such collaborative projects as Four Hands […]
Charlemagne Palestine | Strumming Music album cover

Charlemagne Palestine
Strumming Music
(Shandar, 1974)

Long considered a masterful display of pure, unadulterated minimalism, “Strumming Music” is calm for about a minute or two of its album-length running time. The rest is off to the races, with Charlemagne Palestine whipping his Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano into a frenzy without the safety net of notation or a proper game plan. The […]
Tropic of Cancer | Restless Idylls album cover

Tropic of Cancer
Restless Idylls
(Blackest Ever Black, 2013)

On the surface, Camella Lobo’s sole LP under the name Tropic of Cancer lurks in the shadows like an O.G. (original goth) who smokes cloves and quotes Sisters of Mercy. Wrap its lonesome melodies, lean synth lines, and steam-pressed beats around you like a wool blanket, however, and its eight abstract ballads start to feel […]
Daniel Avery

Daniel Avery Releases First Round of Ambient Music

Photo STEVE GULLICK In honor of his upcoming dates with Jon Hopkins, Daniel Avery has shared a new 46-minute piece loosely inspired by the ambient lulls in his epic DJ sets. Available below via XLR8R, “Visible Gravity” is a slow-burner that revolves around a melancholic, unchained melody and a stunning Hiroki Kikuta sample. “I’ve had […]
Gas | Nah Und Fern

Nah Und Fern
(Kompakt, 2008)

We know what you’re thinking: Nah Und Fern isn’t an album; it’s a box set. And a long-out-of-print one at that. So why is it self | centered’s lead Album of the Day? Well, that’s simple: because the first phase of Wolfgang Voigt’s influential GAS project could double as one long, never-ending LP. It doesn’t […]
The Orb

The Orb Bring Us Back to the Chill-Out Room

In honor of the excellent ambient record The Orb released on Kompakt a couple years back (COW / Chill Out, World!), self-titled asked Dr. Alex Paterson and his longtime collaborator Thomas Fehlmann to cut an exclusive chill-out mix for its Needle Exchange series. Presented in two parts below and recorded in their respective London and […]

Kid606 Covers Brian Eno’s “Discreet Music”

Miguel De Pedro has dabbled in ambient music before (see: such introspective Kid606 listens as Resilience and PS I Love You), but he’s never embraced wide open spaces and the power of silence quite like he does on his Bored of Excitement LP. Inspired in part by the recovery process De Pedro went through after […]

Lustmord Discusses Three Decades of Dark Ambient Music

Words ANDREW PARKS This may come as a surprise given how sinister his soundscapes are, but Lustmord’s demeanor on the phone is downright delightful. In fact, he talks so fast–with a thick British accent, no less–it’s hard to follow it all. Here’s what you need to know about him in a nutshell, though: for more than […]

Liziuz Shares the Ambient Half of His Debut Album

Photo BECKA DIAMOND Hospital Productions is heading into its 21st year with one hell of a debut album: Geschichten des Lebens, a deeply immersive double LP from ambient/techno architect Liziuz. The widescreen effort presents two entirely different versions of the same epic track—one for restless living rooms, and one for the darkest corners of the […]