Collection: Essential Ambient Albums

You could call French composer Erik Satie the father of Ambient music. In the first years of the 1900's he wrote pieces he referred to as "furniture music," meaning music that you could have playing in the background while entertaining guests. It was relatively simple and soft piano chamber music, now ubiquitous in film soundtracks. The official start of Ambient music as a genre is often credited to Brian Eno, starting with his album Discreet Music in 1975 and his work with Krautrockers Cluster. Eno's Ambient 1: Music For Airports remains an Ambient masterpiece 40 years later. The key element of the style is spacious atmospheric texture replacing the traditional music structures of well defined rhythm and melody. Some 70's Synth music like Tangerine Dream and Manuel Gottsching falls into the Ambient category. Electronic musicians like Aphex Twin, The Orb, KLF, and Future Sound Of London took the sound in a new direction with a more dense and often collage oriented style, which thrived in "chill out" rooms in the early 90's scene. Many artists experimented with dub processing techniques and classic analog synthesis to achieve psychedelic textures reminiscent of early synth music, but utilizing samplers and computers to aid in their sonic explorations. There are many different approaches to Ambient Music coming from various disciplines. Hammock, Stars of the Lid, and Windy & Carl use guitars and FX. Julianna Barwick uses loops of her processed voice. Grouper uses lo-fi recordings to create haunting Ambient Folk. Bibio and Gas use stripped down synthesis based loops in their approach. Nils Frahm echoes both Satie's Furniture Music and the slow modulating ostinato of 70's synth music to create new Modern Classical textures. Max Richter and A Winged Victory For The Sullen also use a classic chamber music approach with modern layering and electronic techniques. Theses are just a few Ambient albums to get you started on your journey.