This series of articles titled “Intro to: ___” will serve as a basic introduction into specific genres, some more obscure and hard to define than others. From these lists, listeners will be equipped with a solid foundation of the genre including knowledge of “the canon” as well as the skills needed to dive deeper into the genre.
Popularized by Brian Eno, ambient music, according to him, “must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” Although this may sound vague at first, listeners can easily discover the truth to this statement while being absorbed in atmosphere-building soundscapes that may fade in and out of attention. Some people may call it “background music”, but it is definitely more than that. Whether basking in the lush sounds of nature, or feeling the cold drones of darker ambient music, ambient music strives to achieve unique and vast atmospheres that place the listener in another world.
Ambient music is mostly instrumental and usually lacks vocal performances, instead relying on loose song structures in order to invoke certain feelings and atmospheres. Ambient music is able to achieve this through field recordings, synthesizers, and unconventional instruments.
In order to jumpstart you into the genre, Natural Music has created a list of 10 essential ambient records (in no particular order).
1. Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music For Airports
2. Steve Roach: Structures In Silence
3. Tangerine Dream – Zeit
4. Stars of the Lid – The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid
5. William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops
6. Gas – Pop
7. The Caretaker – An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
8. Hoedh – Hymnvs
9. Kreng – L’autopsie phénoménale de Dieu
10. Jääportit – Kauan koskematon
There you have it! This list will give you the perfect start into the wonderful world of ambient, as well as experience listening to sub-genres under ambient such as arctic ambient, dark ambient, drone, and dungeon synth.