When Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald hooked up for a joint album in 2013, it seemed like a weird dream, the answer to an unasked question. These two legends seemed so far apart, physically and musically, yet somehow produced low-key dub techno magic.
Now they’re back with a followup that seems to strike an even better balance of their respective styles. It’s called Transport.
I say this with no reservation: Steve Hauschildt is one of the most creatively generous artists working in electronic music today. His work is utterly timeless, unmoored from trends and familiar signposts alike. On his latest album, Strands, he seamlessly blends the entire spectrum of dreamy synthesizer music into a breathless futuristic rush.
Here it is, the Optimistic Underground list of best ambient albums ever made. Inspired by all the discussion surrounding Pitchfork’s list of the genre, I decided to lay out my favorites. This is a sound that I’ve been in love with my whole life, so the only problem was narrowing it down.
Lots of people like ambient music for lots of reasons. Some love to fall asleep to it. Some are fascinated with the granular detail of slow songs. Some enjoy the way that it can dilate time, shifting perception for vast stretches.
I love it for all of these reasons, and for the way it can utterly transport my mind in a way that frees me to have all sorts of thoughts, the kind of ideas that spring up during a long bike ride or a mediation session. Ambient music is contemplative music, for all intents and purposes. It’s music to think about, and think to.
As of right now, I can’t imagine setting a strict order for these albums. So they’re not numbered. Some are definitely more beloved than others, but the important thing is that these are all incredible works of music that deserve your attention. Every single album here is a defining example of the power and possibility of ambient music.
These are the best ambient albums ever made:
So it goes and so it goes, and in some bleak moments, the world seems a bit more abrasive this year. Sometimes I retreat entirely into art and fiction, absorbing as much beauty and weirdness as I can before having to emerge to responsibility. It’s inevitable, it’s cathartic. It’s where things change.
Marielle V Jakobsons is back with a second full length album under her real name. It’s called Star Core. It’s both sharper and far more expansive than her debut, but shares the same otherworldly tenor that could never be mistaken for anyone else.
Boris playing Just Abandoned Myself.
After years of waiting, I finally saw Boris live. It was incredible. It was exactly what I was hoping for. It changed my perception of a band that’s been a favorite for almost a decade. I now see Boris is completely new light.
Standing in the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, MI, I felt a blast-furnace heat that burned away any trace of skepticism I had about the power of live rock music. It’s been a long, long time since a band gave me such a revelatory experience.
This mixtape is about that warm glowing feeling you get when you dream about the right path in life. You see it materializing before you, and although it isn’t real yet, you’re filled with the light of understanding.
After this kind of dream, you wake with a newfound sense of purpose and optimism.