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The soundtrack to the Ultraworld
September 30, 2013 8:51 AM   Subscribe

The 10 best ambient tracks, according to The Orb. May your Monday be chill.
posted by escape from the potato planet (61 comments total) 173 users marked this as a favorite

 
What, no Loscil?
posted by rustcrumb at 9:02 AM on September 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


I'm glad they give Miles Davis props. (Even if "In a Silent Way" is a Joe Zawinul number)

Years and years ago a passing friend gave me a mixtape with a performance of "In a Silent Way" led by Zawinul rather than Miles which managed to be both invigoratingly energetic and more expansive than the Miles Davis track. It could take you up and bring you down again at the end without Miles' heroin haze. I still don't know where it came from; I'd love to have that album, though, whatever it is.
posted by ardgedee at 9:15 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boy, did they ever choose the wrong Eno stuff.
posted by davebush at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2013


So happy to see the Miles Davis (maybe my favorite of his) and Fripp & Eno in there.

Worth noting that the fine print at the bottom of this list mentions a 3 CD + DVD Orb box set, "History of the Future", coming out October 7. Full track listing here.
posted by the bricabrac man at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2013


Ambient fans may find Brian Eno's generative music apps on iOS intriguing.
posted by fairmettle at 9:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Cool list, but inevitably incomplete.

E.g. The Necks.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:01 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


*ctrl-F "stars of the lid"*

*no results*

*close tab*

after checking out some of the tracks of course, thanks for posting
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:03 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mean, yeah, this thread could, or will, simply snowball into an ambient recommendation post.

* koff disintigrationloops koff *
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:04 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


got to namecheck KLF's 'Chill Out', which Patterson probably didn't include here because he collaborated on the album.
posted by sevensixfive at 10:24 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks for this post--it's easy to quibble with lists, but it's, at least, a nice introduction.

Recommendation? Date Palms' 'Dusted Sessions' is a recent album I've greatly enjoyed.
posted by box at 10:25 AM on September 30, 2013


Lists-of-music-posts turning into music-recommendation-threads is an awesome, beautiful thing. Like a caterpillar cocooning itself in ten or so of someone else's personal favorites, then emerging as a fully developed multifaceted butterfly ready to spread its jewel like wings.

So!

This rendition of Aphex Twin's Rhubarb on classical guitar by the Daly City Twins is one of the most beautiful covers I've ever heard.

Hammock are one of my favorite groups, and they do ambient as well as shoegaze/postrock/dreampop.

Coil's Time Machines was a bedtime staple for me through high school, as was Steve Roach's Magnificent Void (though Structures From Silence is my favorite Roach album; a shame "Quiet Friend" keeps getting taken down). Max Corbacho is a nice compliment for both of these.

Stars of the Lid are good (and localish!). The Dead Texan side project is also very much worth looking into.

Fennesz & Sakamoto's collaboration album is...beautiful. A Winged Victory for the Sullen is absolutely lovely. The Sight Below are one of my favorites from the past few years--It All Falls Apart has gotten lots of late night circulation in my house.

We shouldn't exclude Orbital from this game, either, and everyone who likes calm, pretty, ambient, minimal beauty should be aware of Headphone Commute. The mixes are stupendous--the enormous 6 hour (!) compilation for Hurricane Sandy relief fundraising is...well, staggeringly amazing.
posted by byanyothername at 10:35 AM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


That Teebs track is lovely.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:40 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]



Boy, did they ever choose the wrong Eno stuff.


whatever -- it's The Orb, so I'm inclined to think they know a thing or two, certainly with regard to what has worked for them. Given that they only had ten choices and gave 1.5 of them to Mr. Eno, that speaks volumes.

And I just played No Pussyfooting and the dog seems to love it, so there's that.
posted by philip-random at 10:52 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man, that Aphex cover is bee-yoo-ti-ful! Thanks for that.

If we're recommending favorites, I love the album 'Sakura' by Susumu Yokota. Here's the first track on the youtube.
posted by word_virus at 11:04 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


To my mind, it's hard to always see Brian Eno celebrated but not Roger Eno, whose work, I think is far more interesting.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:07 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Patterson probably didn't include here because he collaborated on the album.

But Thomas Fehlmann was involved in Sun Electric...

Some favorites of mine they missed:
Any track from Shuttle358's Optimal.lp
A Small Good Thing - A Hole in the Heart
Monolake - Gobi, the Desert EP
Almost anything by Biosphere.
posted by aubilenon at 11:10 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


A couple more things that were never meant to be called ambient but occupy a similar space:
The Sinking of the Titanic by Gavin Bryars
Aguirre (soundtrack) by Popul Vuh
posted by ardgedee at 11:17 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a fantastic list.

it's hard to always see Brian Eno celebrated but not Roger Eno

It's nice to see Roger Eno mentioned, the track Voices has been a long time favourite of mine.
posted by Harpocrates at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2013


Here's an under appreciated one:

Nurse with Wound - 'Soliloquy for Lilith'

No matter what you think of his other work, this one's worth giving a chance.
posted by rock swoon has no past at 11:23 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter's own loquacious has been trying his hand at ambient music lately. He just put a bunch of tracks (2+ albums' worth) up in one of the most inconvenient places imaginable, Google Drive, as Thee Seldon Crisis. (The story is that no other distribution method allows for the file size/bitrate he's attained.) He may never crack the top 10, but I'll be damned straight to hell if it isn't worth a listen or eighty.
posted by carsonb at 11:45 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


ooh lots of neat stuff here. I chip in:
Global Communications - 76:14
posted by juv3nal at 11:47 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


hmm.... I hit the play button up in the top right thinking it would give me audio of the ambient tracks, it's not but I like what I'm hearing. A lot of downtempo/triphop/chill r'n'b/whatever the fuck this music is being called these days. But I have no idea what any of the tracks are.

Anyways, thanks for the post and the random soundtrack to my Monday!
posted by mannequito at 11:49 AM on September 30, 2013



Ambient fans may find Brian Eno's generative music apps on iOS intriguing.


Speaking of generative music, The Absolute Value Of Insomnia is a series of generative podcasts I've been contributing to over the past couple of years, though the vast majority of the work belongs to The Absolute Value of Noise.

The link is to the various podcasts, which are long (4hrs). The most recent stuff was posted in June, but fresh noise is forthcoming.
posted by philip-random at 12:00 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


ooh lots of neat stuff here. I chip in:
Global Communications - 76:14


Interesting. It appears that youtube misreports the lengths of videos, showing them 1 second longer than they actually are. Just as the video ends, the time indicator jumps from 1:16:13 to 1:16:15.
posted by aubilenon at 12:02 PM on September 30, 2013



The Orb are celebrating 25 years of existence next month with the release of 'A History Of The Futre',

Somehow I wish this had actually been called "History of the Futre" instead of being a typo.
posted by sweetkid at 12:04 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think that "Music for 18 Musicians" is strictly ambient in the furniture music sense, since even though it uses redundancy and incremental change to elevate its structure and development to surface level, it's really still designed for active listening. I tend to think that the music most appropriately described as "ambient" takes fuller advantage of the fact that it's not the main focus of the situations where it's played, which is no slight towards MF18M.
posted by invitapriore at 12:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


These are my jammies.
posted by aubilenon at 12:11 PM on September 30, 2013


I hear you invitapriore, except I tend to side with the listener when it comes to music. If it works as ambiance for you, then ambient it is, the nature of the experience being that you don't really notice it that much, just live with it (like a nice sculpture or piece of furniture, or even a corridor down which you must travel).

Music for 18 Musicians certainly pops up in some of my ambient playlists.
posted by philip-random at 12:11 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


> without Miles' heroin haze

Miles had been clean of heroin for fifteen years by 1969, the year he made this "In A Silent Way".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:13 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


philip-random: "I hear you invitapriore, except I tend to side with the listener when it comes to music. If it works as ambiance for you, then ambient it is, the nature of the experience being that you don't really notice it that much, just live with it (like a nice sculpture or piece of furniture, or even a corridor down which you must travel). "

Sure, and I don't think listening to it as ambient music is listening to it wrong. I just think that other works are likely to fit the ambient bill better from an instrumental* perspective, and that the circumstances of the creation of Reich's piece give a clue as to why that's the case. It's subjective, of course, and some people might even end up feeling that "Music For 18 Musicians" works better for them as ambient music than even explicitly ambient music does, and that's to be expected.

* In the sense of instrumentality, not musical instruments.
posted by invitapriore at 12:38 PM on September 30, 2013


That's a good starter list of music that is ambient without necessarily writing into the ambient genre. And even if we might disagree about specific tracks, it's difficult to argue that Brian Eno or Steve Reich don't belong on that list.

Speaking of, they incude a track from Kraftwerk 1, the red traffic cone album, for no reason that I can easily see. An early Kraftwerk piece that shows a more ambient sensibility is Ananas Symphonie from the sorta-kinda Kraftwerk album Ralf & Florian.

If I can make a suggestion, Substrata by Biosphere (sample) is some of the best ambient I have.
posted by Nomyte at 12:47 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Steve Reich obviously had a huge influence on the genre, but I can't think of a single piece of his that could be accurately described as primarily ambient in intent or effect, even if the piece in question was amenable to such a usage.
posted by invitapriore at 1:03 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's funny that this was posted -- a few days ago, Kris Weston (ex-Orb) posted his Kickstarter campaign for his new album. It sounds pretty neat. (If this isn't cool - sorry! I know KS is verboten on the frontpage...)

I don't have anything to do with it, other than kicking in myself, but I just thought it was kind of funny. Synchronicity!
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 1:14 PM on September 30, 2013


I'm just pleased that, after a quarter century of making this kind of music myself, I find it easier and easier to explain what I'm doing, rather than having to spin the whole life story of ambient each time. I'd been playing for forty-five minutes at a cocktail party gig back in the mid-nineties when the hostess came up to ask me a question.

"Hey there, Joe," she said. I looked up from my machines. "We were just wondering when you were going to start."

"I've been playing for forty-five minutes," I said.

"Oh! I'm sorry—I didn't realize it was meant to be so quiet. Sooo...you've been playing for forty-five minutes?"

"Yes."

"Well...carry on then!"

"Thank you."

Sigh.

'Course, I wish every electronic label in existence hadn't turned me down back then, too, but my attitude towards self-promotion was a bit ambient, too, so I never chased after a deal hard enough.
posted by sonascope at 1:22 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The track Always Returning on this list hit me hard when I was watching For All Mankind a couple years ago, not long after the Space Shuttles were retired. The song is quite melancholic and made me pretty sad about the possibility of people never returning to the moon during my lifetime.
posted by zsazsa at 1:51 PM on September 30, 2013


My contribution:
Skylab - Exotica
posted by elmono at 2:12 PM on September 30, 2013


I don't know if this counts but when it comes to music that will really calm me down I have been seeking out Ratatat for several years now...

Ratatat
posted by ~Bert at 2:29 PM on September 30, 2013


A lot of minimal techno also works as ambient. Check out late 90s Monolake.
posted by Nomyte at 2:39 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Miles had been clean of heroin for fifteen years by 1969

Yup. Still sounds spacy and ready to nod out, though. Bitches Brew even moreso, and it came out after In a Silent Way.
posted by ardgedee at 2:41 PM on September 30, 2013


Also, while we're recommending:

Flux + Mutability.

Plight + Premonition.

Traum Mal Wieder.

Mystery (R.P.S. no. 8).
posted by sonascope at 3:02 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Higher Intelligence Agency & Biosphere Gas Street Basin
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Susumu Yokota Saku
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:15 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nomyte: "f I can make a suggestion, Substrata by Biosphere is some of the best ambient I have."

It's a masterpiece. Blows my mind every time I listen to it.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:21 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really like a few early pieces by Fennezs like this, at any volume. There's a lot of stuff on Touch like this and this that's very nice to listen to.
posted by Nomyte at 3:41 PM on September 30, 2013


The Orb's recent stuff with Lee Scratch Perry is pretty dope. I could do without the Gilmour collaboration, though.
posted by planetesimal at 3:52 PM on September 30, 2013


* Videos as a YouTube playlist

* Songs as an Rdio playlist (I could only find about half of them, but I've left collaboration on so if you find more or just want to share something you like, feel free)
posted by Barking Frog at 4:03 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Listening to all 10 videos simultaneously is slightly terrifying, in case you wondering.
posted by lownote at 4:39 PM on September 30, 2013


Really, really happy to see Teebs getting some high-profile love. Here's another blissed-out track from him. You can hear where he has similar inspirations to FlyLo, but he's all watercolors where FlyLo is smoke and neon.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:54 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


...derp. I mangled the link to Kris Weston's KS:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/krisweston/enter-the-fuzzy-dimension

(sorry!)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 5:09 PM on September 30, 2013


Spotify: IDM / Ambient
posted by jcruelty at 5:40 PM on September 30, 2013


Haha! I saw Thomas Fehlmann grooving to Teebs last night at Decibel Festival. I'm actually pretty surprised he got on this list.
posted by azarbayejani at 6:22 PM on September 30, 2013


I could do without the Gilmour collaboration, though.

I didn't mind that in a background, tripped out groove sort of way. Preferable to all the post-Roger Waters Pink Floyd I've heard (post Animals now that I think of it, having become allergic to The Wall over the years).
posted by philip-random at 6:25 PM on September 30, 2013


Great list, but I would have picked this, over "No Pussyfooting"...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 8:03 PM on September 30, 2013


music for 18 musicians

yesssss

bear me away to the platonic form of the pbs special
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:26 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wot! No Ambient 1: Music for Airports
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:14 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can I recommend Sarin Sunday's The Lonely Hike? It's an entire album, it's free (from Archaic Horizon), and it's great.
posted by Quilford at 5:47 AM on October 1, 2013


Given the opportunity, I can't resist sharing some of the love I have for these artists:

Thomas Koner: Daikan
Lustmord: Heresy Part IV
Shinjuku Thief: The Witch Hunter
Pure: Noonbugs
Ryoji Ikeda: Matrix
Bernhard Günter ‎- Un Lieu Pareil À Un Point Effacé

Seconding The Necks and Susumu Yokota. Does Autechre count? Anyway, thanks for the recommends.
posted by bigZLiLk at 7:11 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wrekmeister Harmonies - You've Always Meant So Much To Me

You got your ambient in my doom-drone! You got your doom-drone in my ambient!
posted by dudekiller at 9:43 AM on October 1, 2013


This thread is a lovely antidote to like a ton of stuff on Metafilter and really the world. Thanksss for posting all and bringing the chill into Tuesday.
posted by sweetkid at 9:55 AM on October 1, 2013


Eat, sleep, rave, repeat!
Eat, sleep, rave, repeat!
Eat, sleep, rave, repeat!
posted by Lynsey at 10:12 AM on October 1, 2013


Vira by Talvin Singh and Rakesh Chaurasia is great, if we are allowing the inclusion of music that was not specifically made to be ambient. It lacks the cloying syrupy stodge of some Indian classical music as there are only two instruments, the tabla and the flute. But Indian classical music can be fantastic as ambient music for Western ears due to the interplay between the instruments and the confounding time cycles. I like ambient music to be interesting enough to get lost in if you choose, but unobtrusive enough not to insist on your attention.
Anyway, here is a link to Dropbox for an ambient mix I did for Mefiswap last year (contains no Indian classical, but does contain yodeling and alpenhorn).
posted by asok at 9:02 AM on October 2, 2013


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