Originally Posted by LOOMER
(Sadly, my initial impression of this forum is that it's full of boring threads of name-dropping without any real reflections about the music. Not that everyone does that, but why bother to post two names..?)
In an effort to acknowledge Loomer’s remark I’ve put together a more in-depth response than a mere list. I’ve included noteworthy recordings from the ambient family of subgenres and a chronology of essentials with a synopsis of each. These span the wider umbrella of ambient music to include downtempo electronic and ambient future jazz. If I’ve omitted any critical recordings let me know and I can amend the post.
Windham Hill Highlights:
William Ackerman - Passage, In Search of the Turtle's Navel, It Takes a Year, Past Light, Conferring with the Moon, Imaginary Roads, Childhood and Memory
George Winston - Autumn, December and Winter into Spring.
Liz Story - Solid Colors may be the finest Windham Hill release.
Michael Hedges - Aerial Boundaries
Alex De Grassi - Southern Exposure (a great stereo reference record)
Various - A Quiet Revolution: 30 Years of Windham Hill 4CD compilation is an excellent collection showcasing the most memorable works from the label’s history.
Classical Crossover / Ambient Modern Classical Highlights:
Canadian arranger and composer André Gagnon has released over forty albums of solo piano works. Piano Solitude (Un Piano Sur La Mer) is a good introduction.
Equally enjoyable are the quiet melodies of Sophie Hutchings and those of UK composer Helen Jane Long, whose Embers LP quickly became widely requested on worldwide classical radio stations, and was "most requested" on Classic FM radio.
Fax +49-69/450464 Label / Carpe Sonum Ambient Highlights:
The Dark Side of the Moog V is considered the apex of the FAX label.
Pete Namlook & Dr Atmo - Silence (1)
Pete Namlook - Air (1), (and see also the Die Welt ist Klang and Dark Side of the Moog box sets later in this write-up.)
Namlook & Laswell - Psychonavigation (1)
Jah Wobble & Bill Laswell - Radioaxiom (issued on the Palm label)
Rhythm & Sound - s/t and w/ the artists
Arctic Ambient / Drone Favorites:
The discographies of Deathprod, Deaf Center, Loscil, Carbon Based Lifeforms, William Basinski, Biosphere, Tim Hecker, Gas, Deepchord Presents Echospace, Thomas Köner, Higher Intelligence Agency, and Lull are all wonderful specimen of the genre.
A Note on the Illbient Subgenre:
While I don't have an extensive catalog of illbient artists, (just the mainstays like Scorn, Third Eye Foundation, kIRk, and DJ Spooky ’Gas’ Optometry LP), I wanted to call attention to the pending vinyl reissue of Future Sound of London's masterpiece, Lifeforms. I'm friends with Gaz Cobain and he was delighted by the crowdsourced petition to reissue the genre classic, and the preorder has just gone live in the UK. I’ll be publishing a full feature once the LP arrives Stateside.
A Chronology of Ambient Highlights:
I apologize if most of this is review for many members, but we don't seem to have a solid roster of ambient classics so I wanted to contribute.
Manuel Göttsching / Ash Ra Tempel - Inventions For Electric Guitar. A minimalist classic of the space music genre.
Terry Riley - Persian Surgery Dervishes is four variations of a meditative cyclical piece for organ.
Fripp & Eno - (No Pussyfooting) and Evening Star. I am a tremendous fan of frippertronic tape loop electric guitar treatments and these two albums showcase the effect exquisitely. These were followed 30 years later in 2004 by Equatorial Stars.
Brian Eno - Discreet Music, Another Green World, Music for Films, Cluster & Eno, Eno-Moebius-Roedelius - After the Heat, and the incomparable Ambient 1: Music for Airports. Eno is a one-man supergroup. With a catalog spanning hundreds of albums and production credits on many hundred more, the 1970s comprised many of the finest works of his expansive repertoire.
In 2015 Harmonia issued a glorious vinyl box set of their complete recordings from 1973-1975 including Musik Von Harmonia, Deluxe, Live '74, Documents, and Tracks & Traces. Exquisite instrumental ambient rock bliss.
Tangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation, Alpha Centauri, Zeit, Atem, Phaedra, Rubycon, Ricochet, Stratosphere. Another band with well over 100 albums, their earliest efforts are by far their strongest.
Klaus Schulze - Irrlicht, Cyborg, Blackdance, Join Inn (with Ash Ra Tempel), The Cosmic Jokers (feat. Klaus Schulze), Timewind, Moondawn, and the minimal electronic symphony, "X". Schulze is one of the greatest Moog synthesizer virtuosos in the world, but unlike Keith Emerson, Schulze explores the minimal sonic space that the instrument can create.
Steve Hillage - Rainbow Dome Musick. This record was spun almost daily along with Gottsching's E2-E4 LP at the VIP room at Heaven in London around 1990 at the dawn of the ambient house explosion.
The next several parts will explore a chronology of essential ambient releases.