I’m in the process of downloading my first ambient album for 2012 (this one) and it occurred to me that I hadn’t posted my favourites from 2011. I listen to ambient electronic music constantly, so the search is always on for new sounds to get the words moving. There isn’t a clearly defined sound that works for me; some of these albums are droney, others pulse and prickle like chilled-out cactii, some are hardly there at all. But they all work for me, and maybe they’ll work for you, too.
So, my most played ambient albums of 2011 (new to me, maybe not new to the rest of the world) are:
(1) The Road Eternal by Steve Roach and Erik Wøllo – I wasn’t a huge fan of their first collaboration, but this was a hit right from the first play. A late entry for the year (November) it quickly rocketed to first place, partly on the strength of the second track, “Depart at Sunrise”, which is so Bladerunneresque it hurts, but mostly because the whole album is awesome.
(2) Sleep Theory Volume 1 by Altus – The second track, “Session 2″, is a rival for Steve Roach’s “Structures from Silence” for the perfect track to write to. It was beaten by “Depart at Sunrise” by just one playing. Best of all, it’s a free download, so there’s no reason not to give it a go.
(3) Monsters (OST) by John Hopkins – I loved this movie and made note of the soundtrack as I was watching. Didn’t realize that I’d actually bought the album in December 2010 but never listened to it. Minus some jumpy moments, it’s a brilliant writing accompaniment. Listen to this track and see what you think.
(4) Conception, various artists – A wonderful anthology of “beatless, serene ambient music”. Here’s the trailer. Also free, although I can’t find a direct link to the download page. Worth hunting for.
(5) There’s no clear album at this position, so I thought I’d just shout out to a few that I loved as well: For Nihon (another anthology, this time to benefit Japan after the earthquake early in the year), Bliss Was It In That Dawn To Be Alive by Arms and Sleepers, The Desert Inbetween by Steve Roach and Brian Parnham, and, finally, just about everything by Loscil, including their new album Coast/Range/Arc.
And that’s. I’m coming to the end of a new novel at the moment (hence my tardiness at posting anything anywhere) so this music is getting a real hammering. Meanwhile, I’m eagerly anticipating the tunes of 2012 and the words they will inspire.
(Huge thanks to those who have suggested music to me in the past. All recommendations welcome!)