Best Ambient Music of 2020

After 5 years of budding interest – this was the year where I bought more ambient music than any other genre. Previously I had dabbled in those “6 hours of healing meditation” type BS videos on YouTube. But the trick is to go straight to the artists who are making the good stuff. This music has been incredibly soothing for me and hopefully it can be for you, too. Bandcamp publishes a monthly “best of” list an that’s a great place to keep tabs on what’s happening within the genre.

Before we begin, here’s my own personal 2020 awards 🙂

And now for the list…

Kaitlyn Aurelia SmithThe Mosaic of Transformation

The best piece of music in all of 2020 – in all genres. And my new favorite ambient artist, or musician in general. Angelic layered vocals and stunning, imaginative production. Sounds like nothing else out there. Highly recommend her back catalog as well. She’s the artist I keep coming back to the most over these past few years since discovery in 2020.

Released on Ghostly International in NYC

Skee MaskISS006

Techno lovers will be well-familiar with Bryan Mueller and his incredible work within that genre, which has occasionally strayed into ambient territory. His first fully ambient release (6 stunning tracks in all) is one of the standouts of the year While a lot of ambient has a “sameness” quality to it, the sound SCNTST has sculpted a body of work with a truly unique and otherworldly sound.

Released on Ilian Tape in Munich

Sam PrekopComma

If you know The Sea & Cake band then you know Sam Prekop, their vocalist. He’s been experimenting and releasing solo ambient and modular stuff for years, and this is his magnum opus IMO. An endlessly beautiful piece of work. Allowances for the hi-hats & percussion!

Released on Thrill Jockey in Chicago

Juliana Barwick Healing Is A Miracle

Heavenly vocal harmonies backed by soaring strings. Sounds like you’re in an ancient cathedral, hundreds of years in the future. Atmosphere for days, and a truly breathtaking piece of work. Need more of this! Title track is the highlight.

Released on Ninja Tune in London


Signature tranquilizing drone ambience from the Nairobian master. If you absolutely need peace of mind right now, this is it. His Peel album from this year also comes highly recommended.

Released on Seil Records in Germany

Heathered Pearls Cast

The Polish/Michigan/NYC artist casts a mesmerizing spell with moody loops and spoken word. Gets better with each listen. The techno background and influence is on clear display. Highlight: Life Out Of Balance ft. Shigeto

Released on Ghostly International in NYC

Night OceannSorcerer’s Dream

The lack of Bandcamp support on this one is mind boggling. Perhaps that’s because the artist and label are relative newcomers – but this release is virtually flawless, integrating feel-good string driven melodies, hazy environmental recordings, and percussive elements into a perfect whole.

Released on Expeditions Above in Tbilisi

Ana Roxanne Because of A Flower

Much anticipated 2nd release from the NYC artist. Germinated over a span of 5 years and informed by her intersex identity. “Suite pour l’invisible” – and all it’s soaring vocals, is a contender for ambient track of the year in my book!

Self-released on her Bandcamp

Mary Lattimore Silver Ladders

Harp-driven soundscapes recorded over a span of nine days. The 3rd and final album on this list from Ghostly International, whom I think we can now crown the (ambient) label of the year in 2020. Worth it for the title track alone, and it’s rapturous crescendo.

Robert Carlos Lange
An Explosion Made Me Think Of You

The artist otherwise known as Helado Negro put out two other ambient EPs this year, but it was this one-track release, made with an MPC 2000 XL, that caught my attention the most with it’s lush percussive echos and reverb; a simple yet timeless and effective piece of music.

Self-Released on his Bandcamp

Wata Igarashi WIP01

The first release on the respected Japanese techno producer’s new WIP label (with 4 releases in 2020) was the one that caught my attention the most. A 15 minute meandering arpeggiated number followed by a high pitched drone pice make for a very effective one two punch.

Self-released on his Bandcamp in Tokyo

Jogging House Be

Warm, vaguely melancholic yet comforting analog driven compositions that would be perfectly at home with a backdrop of 808s and 909s, yet make perfect sense without. The great thing about Seil is that their releases are always free for the first month or so. Highlight: Degree of Change.

Released on Seil Records

Pinkcourtesyphone Leaving Everything To Be Desired

Evoking feelings of a muted, stretched, and softened Caretaker, this project alternates between grand euphoria and darker emotions, with everything in between. First two tracks are the highlight.

Released on Room40 in Australia

Fogweaver Vedurnan

Fittingly to the cover artwork, I discovered this while lying in a hot-spring on a riverbed, nestled in the foggy mountains of Taiwan. The sounds of the music and my environment simply melded into one as I soaked the evening away. Also, strong sci-fi vibes as evidenced by the cover.

Self-released on his Bandcamp in Colorado

raays PRELUDE audio visual mixtape

Sitting here in May 2022 when this popped on my radar and my what a dope project. Straddling the lines between ambient, chill-out beats, and experimental, it’s one of the best pieces I’ve heard in a while. There is an incredibly trippy full length video to accompany the album, and all of the proceeds benefit AFRORACK, giving inner city Chicago youth access to modular synthesis! Be sure to check out his 2022 Innervsm album as well!

Self-released on his Bandcamp in Los Angeles

Did you enjoy this list/music?

Here’s a mix of my top 20 songs in 2020.

Hope it brings you as much joy as it did for me 🙂

Tracklisting coming soon…

Prefer Soundcloud?

I also recorded a version of this mix for the excellent Vykhod Sihly podcast, but forgot a song and also didn’t have any headphones/monitoring! So I recorded it again 😛

Vykhod Sily/Выход Силы · Vykhod Sily Podcast – Dj Quest Guest Mix







One response to “Best Ambient Music of 2020”

  1. […] are some from the wide array of excellent ambient releases that caught my ear this year (2020 here and 2021 here). Before we get into the list let’s do a little end-of-year […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *