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:
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.
With his 2015 debut LP Elaenia, Floating Points made a startling leap from purely electronic composition to hybrid jazz mastery, using a full band to bring his creations to life for the first time. The album should have been on my best of 2015 list, but I’m doing my best to spread the word going forward.
Recent posts have made clear my newfound obsession with under the radar ambient artist Gigi Masin, especially his Gaussian Curve project. Masin’s incredibly delicate, emotionally heavy music sends me floating, flying, and fantasizing through daydreams with ease.
In the lead-up to the big 4th of July holiday weekend, I’ve spent almost every night working on a new mixtape. I’ve finally got my passion for mixing back and it feels incredible. Instead of months or years between tapes, I hope to make them a regular feature here.
However, this latest mix isn’t quite ready yet. It needs a little more polish before I publish next week. In the meantime, I want to share the best new music I’ve been into all week. At least one of these three things will make your hair stand on end.