Best Ambient Music of 2021

by Jan 23, 2021

Coming off the heels of a particularly eventful 2020, I can’t think of any other kind of music more suitable than ambient. In what has been a slowly building trend – it was my most purchased genre of music in 2020. And the new year is off to a good start!

The Lifted Index – Sanctuary

Another hot spring session, but this time I struck gold on the first attempt, and came out of the springs fully renewed and refreshed. There’s enough texsture to keep you interested but not overwhelmingly so. Very feel-good stuff, and the standout release on Seil Records so far this year.


taennya natural serentiy

I was in the local hot spring last night, searching fruitlessly for a good album. Nothing was working until I came across this. Although sounding like warmly enveloping drone ambience at first, you’ll soon realize chord progressions are at play, and beautiful ones at that; ever so subtle, delayed, and stretched. Along with the hotter than usual spring water, it took me to another world. Big ups to this young Russian artist who only has 42 Soundcloud followers at the time of writing!

Released on Cached Media (Cleveland)

Sam Prekop In Away

He’s done it again. My favorite ambient artist of the moment is on a tear. After last years’ epic Comma album, he has returned with an EP of self-released songs from recent studio sessions, that arguably push his (already impressive) modular sound envelope a bit further. Highlight for me is the techno jam ‘Triangle’.

Self-released on his Bandcamp

Vivian Koch – Beyond Contact

Not stricly ambient but close enough. And incredible at that! As a label, AD 93 (formerly Whities) almost never fails to impress, or at the very least, turn your head with futuristic sound design. In this case, it does both to marvelous effect. Or shall we say the artist did. Bravo!

Brin, Dntel, More Eaze 

Futureangelics

A standout release, and not your typical ambience. Somewhat soundtrack-y (in a good way), and full of sounds and textures that will turn your ear.

Released on Cached Media (Chicago) 

The KLF Come Down Dawn

Wow. Driving home from work one night, a song from this album came on my Spotify Discovery (which leans heavily towards ambient these days!) and I was instantly taken aback and dove into the entire album. Come to find, this is a re-issue (slightly re-worked) of a classic album from 1990. And it sounds just as fresh today as what I imagine it might have then.

Andrea Porcu

Music From a Sinking World

Fans of The Caretaker apply here: soft, stretched, muted & otherworldly sounds of yesteryear. Both haunting and incredibly relaxing all at once. I might also add that his output rate is rather impressive.

Self-released on his Bandcamp (Sardinia, Italy)

City of Dawn – Ambedo

 
I was working late tonight, shuffling through Soundcloud, Spotify, and Bandcamp. And nothing was doing the trick – until I came across this. No frills string-like atmospheres that put you at ease and/or help you concentrate on whatever task you have at hand.

Released on Healing Sound Propogandist (Indiana)

Neotantratʌntrə XII

 
My introduction to the Neotantra label that came none too soon. Surprisingly consistent for a compilation of 28 artists, and heavily string based. It’s a free download, and judging from the title, you’d be correct assuming there are 11 more free volumes as well. Dig in…

Released on Neotantra (UK)

Landon CaldwellBicycle Day 

Two 20 minute tour de forces (pun intended) that never stop evolving and keep you hooked around every corner. “We grew up in a small town riding bikes as children, then eventually eating acid and riding bikes as teenagers. We wanted to capture the sense of wonder where we always dream to return.” Boom!

Released on Mock Records (LA) 

Ashan – Sacred Spring

Enchanting stuff. Full release out Feb 22. Could be album of the year (so far). We’ll see…

Released on Inner Islands (Oakland) 

Blanket Swimming + Gallery Six 

Meet the Rising Sun with Infinite Stillness

I was, somewhat frustratingly, having a hard time finding a standout ambient release for the past couple of weeks until this came along. An extremely calming, comforting sound. Best song: all of them.

Released on Healing Sound Propogandist (Indianapolis) 

Iu Takahashi  – Late in Life

There’s a very strong KMRU quality in this one. Soft, cloudy, major chord progressions that just float by peacefully and serenely. Tranquilize yourself here.

Released on Regional Attraction (Portland) 

Sam PrekopSpelling

His work is so good I had to include him twice. A beautiful, hyptonizing 25 minute piece on Australian label Longform Editions. Spellbinding…

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