Top Ambient Albums of All Time
#1

Around christmas time, I became curious about ambient music, and I thought that I'd try to look into the genre. I have come across many of the producers and musicians before, but in my youth I never had the time, nor the concentration and will power to sit down and experience ambient music.

I have tried to compile a list of the top ambient albums of all time. Since I am not an expert, I have used various lists, listened to some albums, works, EPs, and asked around for recommendations. Although it is not perfect, I wanted to post the list in question. I curate one private list called "Ambient", where I add more than just classic albums, but also dark ambient, experimental stuff, as well as single tunes from various eras. I also curate the list mentioned above: "Top Ambient Albums of All Time". I have added the albums in somewhat of an alphabetaical order, and be sure to drop names of classics I have missed, albums that shouldn't be there, and recent albums that are solid enough to be in the "ambient" list and perhaps the "Top Ambient Albums..." list.

I will remove albums and review the list continually.

Top Ambient Albums of All Time

Alva Noto - Xerrox Vol. 2
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works Vol. II
Ashra - Blackouts
Ashra - New Age Earth
Autechre - Amber
Autechre - Incunabula
B-Zet - Archaic Modulation
Ben Frost - By the Throat
Ben Frost - Aurora
Bing & Ruth - No Home of the Mind
Bing & Ruth - Tomorrow Was the Golden Age
Biosphere - Dropsonde
Biosphere - Insomnia
Biosphere - Microgravity
Biosphere - Substrata
The Black Dog - Temple of Transparent Balls
Black To Comm - Alphabet 1968
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music For Airports
Brian Eno & Harold Budd - Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror
Brian Eno - Ambient 4: On Land
Brian Eno - Another Green World
Brian Eno - Apollo
Brian Eno - Discreet Music
Brian Eno & Rick Holland - Drums Between The Bells
Brian Eno - More Music For Films
Brian Eno - My Life In The Bush
Brian Eno & Rick Holland - Panic of Looking
Brian Eno - The Ship
Brian Eno & Jon Hopkins - Small Craft On A Milk Sea
Bruno Sanfilippo - Piano Textures 1
Bruno Sanfilippo - Piano Textures 2
Bruno Sanfilippo - Piano Textures 3
Bruno Sanfilippo - Piano Textures 4
Call Super - Suzi Ecto
Carbon Based Lifeforms - Twentythree
Cluster & Brian Eno - Cluster & Eno
Cluster - Sowiesoso
Colleen - A Flame My Love, A Frequency
Daniel Lanois & Rocco DeLuca - Goodbye To Language
Deathprod - Morals and Dogma
Deepchord Presents: Echospace  Liumin
The Detroit Escalator Co. - Black Buildings
East India Youth - Total Strife Forever
Ekkehard Ehlers - Plays
Eluvium - Talk Amongst The Trees
Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here?
Fennesz - Bécs
Fennesz - Black Sea
Fennesz - Endless Summer
Fennesz - Venice
Fhloston Paradigm - The Phoenix
The Future Sound of London - ISDN
The Future Sound of London - Lifeforms
GAS - GAS 0095
GAS - Königsforst
GAS - Narkopop
GAS - Pop
Global Communication - 76:14
Grouper - Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill
Grouper - A I A: Alien Observer
Grouper - Ruins
Hammock - Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow
Harmonia & Eno '76 - Tracks and Traces
Harold Budd - Avalon Sutra
Harold Budd & Brian Eno - The Pearl
The Haxan Cloak - Excavation
Helios - Eingya
Henrik B - Kryoniks
Huerco S. - For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)
Iambic - Under These Stars, We'll Sleep Again
Ian William Craig - Centres
Iasos - Inter-Dimensional Music
Ishq - Orchid
Jean-Michel Jarre - Equinoxe
Jean-Michel Jarre - Oxygène
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - A Year With 13 Moons
Jóhann Jóhansson - Englabörn
John Fox - The Complete Cathedral Oceans
Jon Hassell - Power Spot
Jon Hassell - Vernal Equinox
Jon Hopkins - Immunity
Jon Hopkins - Late Night Tales
Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place
Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe
Julianna Barwick - Will
Keith Fullerton Whitman - Playthrougs
Kiasmos - Kiasmos
Klaus Schulze & Pete Namlook - The Dark Side Of The Moog (complete Version)
KWJAZ - KWJAZ
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Stranger Things, Vol. 1
Laraaji - Ambient 3: Day of Radiance
Laurel Halo - Chance of Rain
Laurel Halo - In Situ
Laurie Spiegel - The Expanding Universe
Loscil - Plume
Loscil - Sea Island
Loscil - Submers
Loscil - Triple Point
Luke Abbott - Holkham Drones
Max Richter & Ben Russell - From Sleep
Michael Stearns - Encounter
Microstoria - Snd
Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
Moiré - Shelter
Motion sickness Of Time Travel - Motion Sickness Of Time Travel
Murcof - cosmos
Nils Frahm - Felt
Nils Frahm - Spaces
Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV
Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica
Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal
The Orb - The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
The Orb - Orbvs Terrarvm
The Orb - U.F.Orb
Orbital - In Sides
Oren Ambarchi - Quixotism
Oval - 94diskont.
Pauline Oliveros - Accordion & Voice
Pauline Oliveros - Deep Listening
Peter Broderick - Music For Confluence
Pink Floyd - The Endless River
Plaid - Reachy Prints
Raime - Quarter Turns Over A Living Line
Robert Rich - Below Zero
Robert Rich - Illumination
Robert Rich - Rainforest
Roly Porter - Third Law
Ruichi Sakamoto - async
Seefeel - Starethrough EP
Slowdive - Pygmalion
Stars Of The Lid - And Their Refinement Of The Decline
Stars Of The Lid - The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid
Steve Hauschildt - Where All Is Fled
Steve Hillage - Rainbow Dome Musick
Steve Reich & Ensemble Signal - Steve Reich: Music For 18 Musicians
Steve Roach - Dreamtime Return
Steve Roach - The Magnificent Void
Steve Roach - Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces
sun electric - 30.7.94 (Live)
Susumu Yokota - Sakura
Susanne Ciani - Buchla concerts 1975
Tangerine Dream - Phaedra
Tangerine Dream - Rubycon
Tangerine Dream - Zeit
Teengirl Fantasy - 8AM
Terry Riley - Persian Surgery Dervishes
Terry Riley - Terry Riley: A Rainbow In Curved Air
Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
Tim Hecker - Radio Amor
Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972
Tim Hecker - Virgins
White Rainbow - New Clouds
Willam Basinski - The Disintegration Loops III
William Basinski - A Shadow In Time
Windy & Carl - Depths
Windy & Carl - Songs For The Broken Hearted
A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Atomos
A Winged Victory For The Sullen - A Winged Victory For The Sullen
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#2

not sure I'd call all those ambient myself, but an interesting list nonetheless Xyxthumbs
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#3

My top 3 ambient records of all time (in rotating order):

Eno - Ambient 4: On Land
Deep Listening Band - Deep Listening
William Basinski - Disintegration Loops
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#4

Funny that you listed 4 Loscil albums, but I cannot find there 2 albums which are my Loscil's favourite - "Endless Falls" and "First Narrows". But his whole discography could be listed here - his latest album "Monument Builders" is great too.

In my opinion 36's albums are missing there (maybe due to alphabetical order restrictions Wink . Albums like "Hollow", "Lithea" or "Dream Tempest" are one of genre-defining for me.
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#5

(17th January 2018, 10:05)Statto Wrote: not sure I'd call all those ambient myself, but an interesting list nonetheless Xyxthumbs

Do you have any suggestions Statto?
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#6

(17th January 2018, 12:52)droid Wrote: My top 3 ambient records of all time (in rotating order):

Eno - Ambient 4: On Land
Deep Listening Band - Deep Listening
William Basinski - Disintegration Loops

Thanks for naming Deep Listening Band, I will have a look at the discography. As for Disintegration Loops, I listened to number 3 for the second time as recent as this morning on my way to work. I think that it will work as a proxy work for me when it comes to finding more hidden gems.
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#7

(17th January 2018, 18:00)Dinsdale Wrote: Funny that you listed 4 Loscil albums, but I cannot find there 2 albums which are my Loscil's favourite - "Endless Falls" and "First Narrows". But his whole discography could be listed here - his latest album "Monument Builders" is great too.

In my opinion 36's albums are missing there (maybe due to alphabetical order restrictions Wink . Albums like "Hollow", "Lithea" or "Dream Tempest" are one of genre-defining for me.

I have added all 36's works in the "Ambient" playlist. As for Loscil, I have not yet listened to all albums, but I added albums that had been featured in various lists. I may have to reshuffle the Top Ambient Album list and add one or two of those albums instead. I know that it is problematical to add an entire catalog in a "best of albums" list. I would rather add fewer albums to make the list less concentrated.
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#8

Thanks for the list, an interesting thread!
The term Ambient can mean different things to different people, for me some ambient variations would be;
Ambient Electronic, tunes with a beat.
Ambient Piano, with possibly other instruments.
Ambient Drone, synths no beats.
Ambient Meditation, pianos, keys, flutes

My top 3 ambient records (in no order)
Brian Eno Harold Budd; The Pearl
John Foxx and Harold Budd; Translucence + Drift Music 
Brian Eno; Thursday Afternoon
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#9

(17th January 2018, 20:51)Spectraz Wrote:
(17th January 2018, 12:52)droid Wrote: My top 3 ambient records of all time (in rotating order):

Eno - Ambient 4: On Land
Deep Listening Band - Deep Listening
William Basinski - Disintegration Loops

Thanks for naming Deep Listening Band, I will have a look at the discography. As for Disintegration Loops, I listened to number 3 for the second time as recent as this morning on my way to work. I think that it will work as a proxy work for me when it comes to finding more hidden gems.

You should check out Stuart Dempster as well.

Im too deep into this to really add anything succinct - you might want to check out the tracklist of some of these:

https://www.mixcloud.com/noplacelikedrone/
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#10

Here is the list of featured producers and musicians on the No Place Like Drone Mixcloud mixes:

No Place Like Drone

Elodie
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Minced Oath
Gregory Talbot
Chuck Johnson
James Murray
Gorges
Deep Listening Band
Aine O'Dwyer
Paul Horn
Olivier Alary
Judith Trip
Aino Tytti
Chris Watson
Marifa
The Inward Circles
Zvuku
Chehi Hatakeyama and Fedcrico Durand,
Donnacha Costello
Chris Watson
Windy & Carl
Stuart Dempster
Tongues Of Light
Vangelis
Phil Niblock
Black Swan
Daniel Schmidt
MoonZero
Claire M Singer
Douglas Quin
Francisco López
David Sylvian & Stephan Mathieu
Sarah Davachi

Most of the names are new to me, although I knew about Vangelis and Windy & Carl.
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#11

(17th January 2018, 12:52)droid Wrote: My top 3 ambient records of all time (in rotating order):

Eno - Ambient 4: On Land
Deep Listening Band - Deep Listening
William Basinski - Disintegration Loops

The Deep Listening album is listed as a Pauline Oliveros album at Spotify if someone is interested in listening to it.
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#12

Well it's nice to be featured in there, thanks for the list, the comments have been good too.

I've stayed away from this thread not because I don't have much to say (when is that ever the case). It's just there's so many ambient inclusive rettles out there these days that it's a constant mini-check, mini-check, check-one-two, miss one out, go topsy turvy, think you can't organise stuff properly, call it what you will.

Though I will add these five records which you haven't listed, because these to many are incredibly underrated and were at the time (mainly because they were just too plain weird for mini-checktime)

Jasper TX - An Index Of Failure (Bandcamp)
Steve Roach - A Deeper Silence (eMusic.com has the entire released Roach catalogue)
Eliane Radigue - Trilogie De La Mort
Quosp - Soundscapes I & II

Coincedentally they' also contain some of my fav ambient tracks, specifically: "Rivers Flow", "A Deeper Silence", "Koume", "Beechwood", "Deep Space", "Submerged", "Geihns".
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#13

By the way droid, seeing as we get emails by the dozens per week, I thought I'd catch you easier here with a message.

Got TDD Chapter 11 - "Utopian Shwantology" on my Dropbox for The Dastardly Diaries. It's all audio. I've run out of patience for writing much or formulating the prototype Twitter/FaceBook 2007 system.

I mean, every one can get on with it now, by themselves, algorithmically, without my guidance, and it was a big ask at the time, and everyone knows it sent FL kranky, attacking people verbally and whatnot.
Well, I'm exaggerating. But the point is, you're welcome to any of the mixes that are part of it. The Golden Ratio Mix we did together with Slug turned out really well. I still play that one 8 years on a lot.

Happy to have It donated to the content of http://www.weareie.com mate, if you are still intending to run with it.
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#14

.... notices a severe lack of Pete Namlook....  


Chin
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#15

That's no biggie. Same goes for Terry Riley, Ateleia (not exactly all ambient though, but as ambient as most stuff here), Moby, Robert Scott Thompson; it's all a matter of personal taste. This is pretty good as a popular ambient music list - for anything else, just go on Bandcamp.
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#16

(21st January 2018, 18:30)+ToRMeNT+ Wrote: .... notices a severe lack of Pete Namlook....  


Chin

I added "The Dark Side of the Moog" and the Dreamfish album to my other "ambient" list. I somewhat based the list on available albums at Spotify, so I have overlooked Pete because there aren't many albums at Spotify.
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#17

(21st January 2018, 18:10)Muttley Wrote: Well it's nice to be featured in there, thanks for the list, the comments have been good too.

I've stayed away from this thread not because I don't have much to say (when is that ever the case). It's just there's so many ambient inclusive rettles out there these days that it's a constant mini-check, mini-check, check-one-two, miss one out, go topsy turvy, think you can't organise stuff properly, call it what you will.

Though I will add these five records which you haven't listed, because these to many are incredibly underrated and were at the time (mainly because they were just too plain weird for mini-checktime)

Jasper TX - An Index Of Failure (Bandcamp)
Steve Roach - A Deeper Silence (eMusic.com has the entire released Roach catalogue)
Eliane Radigue - Trilogie De La Mort
Quosp - Soundscapes I & II

Coincedentally they' also contain some of my fav ambient tracks, specifically: "Rivers Flow", "A Deeper Silence", "Koume", "Beechwood", "Deep Space", "Submerged", "Geihns".

I think that I follow Dag at Bandcamp, although I haven't evaluated his music. I'll check the other recommendations as well.
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#18

There are a few Lps from Brock Van Wey I would consider classic in style, regardless of specific taste with the material...

Bvdub & Loscil - Erebus (Glacial Movements)
Brock Van Wey - White Clouds Drift On And On
Bvdub - The Art Of Dying Alone
Bvdub & Ian Hawgood - The Truth Hurts
Bvdub - All Is Forgiven (n5md)

Sadly siphoning is essential, so if I had to recommend one as "listen me first" it would be the n5md one. That record is beyond emotion.
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#19

(19th January 2018, 18:21)Spectraz Wrote: Here is the list of featured producers and musicians on the No Place Like Drone Mixcloud mixes:

No Place Like Drone

Elodie
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Minced Oath
Gregory Talbot
Chuck Johnson
James Murray
Gorges
Deep Listening Band
Aine O'Dwyer
Paul Horn
Olivier Alary
Judith Trip
Aino Tytti
Chris Watson
Marifa
The Inward Circles
Zvuku
Chehi Hatakeyama and Fedcrico Durand,
Donnacha Costello
Chris Watson
Windy & Carl
Stuart Dempster
Tongues Of Light
Vangelis
Phil Niblock
Black Swan
Daniel Schmidt
MoonZero
Claire M Singer
Douglas Quin
Francisco López
David Sylvian & Stephan Mathieu
Sarah Davachi

Most of the names are new to me, although I knew about Vangelis and Windy & Carl.

Thanks! There must be a bunch missing there, but we have been concentrating more on contemporary stuff lately.

A few more to check off the top of my head:

Yoshi Ojima
Hiroshi Yoshimura
Olan Mill
Charles Cohen/Ghostwriters
Inoyama Land
Celer
Chubby Wolf
Gailes
Anthony Child
TelePasmiste
Ekin Fil
Lau Nau
Greg Kowalsky
Khotin
Constance Demby
Tomonari Nozaki
Anjou
Chris Abrahams
The Chi Factory
The quiet Club
Ian Middleton
Ora
Mirror
John Hudak
Ian Wiliam Craig
Michael Stearns
Pleq

Did a twitter thread of good stuff from last year, still far from comprehensive: https://twitter.com/i/moments/951072417040031744
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#20

my three top ambient albums of all time...

Ateleia - Formal Sleep (Xeric).

Very rare. James Elliot's material is reproduced as a shimmering but fragile tonal waxwork. 

The Circular Ruins - The Birth Of Tragedy (Data Obscura)

So many have missed out on the Data Obscura label completely.

Leyland Kirby - Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was

What can I say. Rendered beautifully on 3 cds.
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#21

Yea droid Celer - Tightrope and Chubby Wolf - Envelope Petals are amazing albums.
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#22

Only one Laraaji album? How come?

You should check out these from him as well:
- Essence/Universe
- Celestial Vibration (as Edward Larry Gordon)
- Flow Goes Universe
- Islands (with Roger Eno)
- Bring On The Sun (came out last year)
- Be Still and Glow
and his self-distributed albums (found some real gems there)

Not an album, but a performance but what a beautiful trippy hour:

https://soundcloud.com/turntablelab/ttl-radio-laraaji
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#23

From the new age side:

Matthewdavid's Mindflight - Trust The Guide And Glide
Carlos Nino & Friends - Going Home
Iasos - Liquid Crystal Love


The Ohio-based Poemme produced one of the best ambient albums of recent years:

Poemme - Arboretum

Mick Chillage never ceases to amaze me with his albums in the vein of Pete Namlook & Tetsu Inoue:

Pixels I, II, III
Faxology
Zen Diagrams
Exulansis
Sheltered
and his collaboration with Lee Anthony Norris as Autumn Of Communion

From the deeper meditational (throat-singing) side:

David Hykes - Hearing Solar Winds
Baird Hersey & Prana - The Eternal Embrace

Some others:

Terre Thaemlitz - Soil
Lull - Cold Summer
MJ Harris & Bill Laswell - Somnific Flux
Lustmord - Carbon/Core
Pete Namlook & Tetsu Inoue - 2350 Broadwas 1,2,3 and Shades of Orion 2
Tetsu Inoue - Organic Cloud & Ambient Otaku
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#24

(22nd January 2018, 15:58)Muttley Wrote: Leyland Kirby - Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was

What can I say. Rendered beautifully on 3 cds.

Thanks Muttley 
Bought this on bandcamp last night Cool
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#25

(23rd January 2018, 08:51)jonesy Wrote: Only one Laraaji album? How come?

You should check out these from him as well:
- Essence/Universe
- Celestial Vibration (as Edward Larry Gordon)
- Flow Goes Universe
- Islands (with Roger Eno)
- Bring On The Sun (came out last year)
- Be Still and Glow
and his self-distributed albums (found some real gems there)

Not an album, but a performance but what a beautiful trippy hour:

https://soundcloud.com/turntablelab/ttl-radio-laraaji
My knowledge on Laraaji is extremely limited. As I started compiling the list, I looked for artists that also were available on Bandcamp. Then, I moved on to feature albums that I could find by using Spotify. So, it's a work in progress and I have not even listened to any of the albums you've mentioned. That is the problem with compiling a list such as this; one will always overlook material, and some albums will not be the "right" type of ambient, or not ambient at all.
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