Category Archives: Reviews

George Winston

Probably the best known of all the “new age” pianists active in the 80’s and 90’s, George Winston sold millions of records during this period with relatively little media hype. His music has been described as impressionistic, folk, blues, jazz and any number of other terms. Winston himself prefers ‘folk piano’. artist: George Winston country […]

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Essential albums: Japetus

Visions of Paradise (1986) is stunningly pretty ambient psychedelia. Its two long pieces – each with three movements – flow like the deepest river, their textures glowing and swirling like luminescent mist. artist: Japetus country of origin: Australia style(s): New age, meditation, drone, psyambient, spacemusic decades active: 70’s – 10’s essential releases: The Great, Great […]

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Essential albums: Steve Good aka Puff Dragon

The psychedelic downtempo classic Sazanami (2005) is a must-hear for the blinding first three tracks alone, all of them different but united by a powerful, epic undertow. artist: Steve Good aka Puff Dragon country of origin: Wales/Japan style(s): Downtempo, psyambient, ambient trance, exotic dub, drone, environmental, new age decades active: 90’s – 20’s essential releases […]

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Ambient Music Guide’s Best Albums Of 2018 Reviews

Reviewed by Mike G, 1 December 2018  Reviews Index: Best New Albums ALAN BROWN – Composure (Bandcamp) ALECSI – 033186 (Bandcamp/Hotham Sound) AXEL RIGAUD – Transformation (n5MD) AMBIDEXTROUS – Echoes Of Science (Fantasy Enhancing) ASTRAL HARMONIES – Peach Blossom Spring (Moonswing) ATMOSPHERE FACTORY – Sketches/Yurikamone/Liquid Crystals (Dakini) BABY GRAND – And Dream Of (Bandcamp) BRIAN […]

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Essential albums: Another Fine Day

British composer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Green’s choice of pseudonym says it well – Another Fine Day makes music that’s positive, relaxed and clear of mind. artist: Another Fine Day country of origin: UK style(s): Chillout, nu jazz, folk, world music, lounge, Balearic, ambient pop decades active: 90’s – 10’s essential releases: Life Before Land (1994, […]

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Essential albums: Tambour

One thing that makes Tambour’s music distinctive is that, unlike some other artists in the modern classical/post-classical milieu, his use of electronic synthesis and musical styles such as rock is very subtle, probably undetectable to many. But mostly, it’s simply that he’s a seriously talented in all three of the areas that seem to count […]

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Essential albums: Motionfield

Luftrum is incredibly dreamy and expansive, crowning ten years of releases by this gifted artist. There’s a perfect word for his sound: oceanic. With his synthetic paintbox Motionfield has conjured ten pieces of music, ten oceans of psychedelic sound, that bathe you is some of the most profoundly beautiful harmonic progressions and textures ever heard […]

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Essential albums: Twilight Archive

Jazzy, cinematic grooves can sound stifled when they meet electronica, but not in these hands. Twilight Archive makes twilight music that’s tuneful enough for any time of day and smart enough to appeal to listeners well beyond genre boundaries. artist: Twilight Archive country of origin: USA style(s): Cinematic, trip hop, lounge, nu jazz decades active: […]

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Essential albums: Abakus

That Much Closer To The Sun is one of the greatest summer albums in ambient dance music, full of warm nostalgic melodies, rippling guitars and luminous synth figures that echo club trance and melodic techno. Davies has captured light in his music, and he’s managed to channel it in a vital, dynamic way that elevates […]

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Essential albums: The Dread

The Plastination Of Otis T Fernbank remains a singularly remarkable achievement, deftly navigating a path between experimental noise, field recordings and chunky, tuneful grooves. The mix of melodic writing and experimental sounds reminds me a bit of classic Emit Records. artist: The Dread country of origin: UK style(s): Electronica, experimental, fourth world, post-rock, dark ambient decades active: […]

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Essential albums: Jordan De La Sierra

Gymnosphere is a lost gem from the earliest days of American new age music. Sierra’s blurry, cyclic, melodic creations on his ‘prepared piano’ are partly improvised and take some ideas from classical minimalism, yet the album has not a trace of academic coldness. The music positively glows; you can almost feel the love coming out […]

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Essential albums: Andrew Heath

It’s the clarity of Heath’s soundscapes that’s really striking; the textures are are not fuzzy as if filtered through gauze. His sound paintings are crystal clear – even when suggesting some blurry reminiscence – a remarkable achievement of uncluttered composition and painstaking sound design. artist: Andrew Heath country of origin: UK style(s): environmental ambient, impressionist, landscape, […]

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Essential albums: Pjusk

The duo Pjusk stands as one of the very few current ambient acts that’s able to draw two opposites – pure noise and pure music – into the same space and make it sound original, accessible and human…music that’s somewhere beyond both old-school ambient (Eno, Krautrock, spacemusic) and ambient dance music, occupying a mysterious and […]

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Essential albums: Mick Chillage

The 20-minute “Approaching Antares” is one of the greatest spacemusic pieces you’ll hear from any artist, in any era. It’s a thing of wonder: a sustained single chord slowly expanding to enormous proportions, overlaid with mysterious looping phrases that have a weirdly Arabic flavour. artist: Mick Chillage country of origin: Ireland style(s): Ambient techno/trance, spacemusic, […]

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Essential albums: Jeff Pearce

Using just an electric guitar, a brush, a few boxes and pedals, Jeff Pearce has taken the sound of the guitar further over the past 20 years than many of his ambient guitar contemporaries… quite different from the post-rock sounds of Hammock or The Slow Dancing Society, for example, where the sustains and reverberations usually easily […]

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Essential albums: Sinepearl

Sinepearl dwells in the new age zone of ambient dance music – that is, ambience that has some roots in techno, trance, breaks and/or dub but is focused on meditative calm and spiritual reflection, far removed from the dance floor. Themes of nature worship and Eastern mysticism run deep in his music and – like […]

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Ambient Music Guide’s Best Albums of 2016

Reviewed by Mike G, November 24th 2016  Index: Best New Albums ABAKUS – Departure (Modus Recordings) AUTUMN OF COMMUNION – Polydeuces (Txt Recordings) ATMOSPHERE FACTORY – Atmosphere Factory (Dakini Records) ANAAMALY – Urban Metta vol. 1 (Anaamaly.com) ASCENDANT – Meridian (Synphaera Records) MATTHEW BARLOW – Hatha (Inner Islands) BIOSPHERE – Departed Glories (Smalltown Supersound) BEN […]

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Ambient Music Guide’s Best Albums of 2011

Reviewed by Mike G, December 29th, 2011 Bruno Sanfilipo – Subliminal Pulse (Spotted Peccary Music) I hope Bruno Sanfilipo’s stunning first album for the respected Spotted Peccary label win this Argentine composer the wider recognition he deserves – god knows, he’s been putting out good music for long enough. There’s synths, violin, wordless choirs, ghostly strings and glacial chords. […]

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Ambient Music Guide’s Best Albums of 2012

Reviewed by Mike G, December 17, 2012 Potlatch – Terra Firma (Cosmicleaf Records) It’s trip hop, but not as we know it. Japanese band Potlatch may have tickled your ears some years back with the stoned twilight beats of “Asleep At The Swamp”, a distinctive contribution to the Waveform Records compilation Voodoo Roux Deux (2002). Not much […]

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Ambient Music Guide’s Best Albums of 2014

Reviewed by Mike G, December 31, 2014 Best New Albums Sinepearl – Cycles Within Cycles Within (Interchill) Swedish artist Björn Ekegren aka Sinepearl has released three albums to date; all of them are distinctive but he’s reached something of an apogee on this, his third release. This one comes to us from Canada’s much respected Interchill […]

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Ambient Music Guide’s Best Albums of 2015

Reviewed by Mike G, January 7th 2016 Reviews Index: Best New Albums Abakus – The Beginning/Dreamer e.p. (Modus Recordings) Ascendant – Ætheral Code (Synphaera Records) Alan Brown – Silent Observer (alanbrown.co.nz) Alio Die & Lorenzo Montana – Holographic Codex (Projekt Records) Another Fine Day – A Good Place to Be (Interchill Records) Alpha Wave Movement […]

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Essential albums: Zoviet France

The UK collective Zoviet France is a strong contender for the ultimate cult electronic band. Anonymous, uncompromising, wryly humorous and famously fond of weird album packaging, the band has grown a loyal and obsessive fan base since the original lineup made their recorded debut in 1982. artist: Zoviet France country of origin: UK style(s): Industrial […]

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Essential albums: Zero 7

Beneath the restrained delivery and surface polish, Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker’s songs and instrumentals show a talent for harmonic progression that’s consistently impressive and occasionally jaw-dropping. Simple Things (2001) and When It Falls (2004) are Zero 7’s first two albums, and they remain the band’s finest releases. artist: Zero 7 country of origin: UK […]

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Essential albums: Xerxes

Xerxes is the ambient pop and downtempo beats project of Norwegian electronic composer Klaus Lunde…although he has only ever released one proper, cohesive full-length solo album, The Mirror Formula (2006) sets a standard that is exceptionally high. artist: Xerxes country of origin: Norway style(s): Ambient pop, chillout, psyambient, cinematic decades active: 00’s – 10’s essential […]

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Essential albums: Woob

The atmospheric electronica of Woob is cinema of the mind with few peers: cerebral, musical, vivid and emotional. In particular, the first two Woob albums – released in on the legendary UK ambient label Emit Records – are among the most refined, subtle and innovative examples of the meeting between electronics and live instrument sampling […]

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Essential albums: Vibrasphere

It’s a bit odd to think of Swedish duo Vibrasphere – now disbanded – as having helped write the book on dubby psychedelic chillout, given that their first full downtempo album didn’t appear until seven years into their recording career. Yet I can’t think of any other act in the 2000’s which set standards higher […]

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Essential albums: Urbs

Despite the oft repeated comment that they sound “groovy”, many 60’s and 70’s Euro film soundtracks have an unmistakable air of mystery and melancholy about them. Austrian DJ-composer Paul Nawrata aka Urbs uses these qualities to his advantage on this outstanding instrumental opus, the only album of original compositions under the Urbs name that he […]

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Essential albums: Upper Astral

These marvellous artefacts of early American new age music are the work of three Californian musicians who recorded in different permutations under the name Upper Astral…multi-instrumentalists David Storrs, David Naegele and Robert Slap. Listening to Upper Astral’s music now, the range of styles and sometimes progressive and experimental nature of the music is surprising. artist: […]

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Essential albums: Tosca

The early albums of Tosca are one of several possible sources of relief if you’re among the many frustrated punters who waited in vain for Austria’s pioneering dub duo Kruder & Dorfmeister to release a “proper” album of their own compositions. Tosca’s recording career goes back at least as far as K & D’s does, […]

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Essential albums: X1 Project

X1 Project’s intelligent, euphoric, multi-coloured instrumentals straddle techno, classical minimalism, gentle cosmic psychedelia and the bubbling arpeggios of old-school Berlin ambient trance…both of these albums are essential listening for fans of melodic, spacey electronica. artist: X1 Project country of origin: Australia style(s): Berlin-school ambient, ambient trance, ambient techno, spacemusic decades active: 2000’s essential releases: The […]

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Essential albums: Thought Guild

Electronic music now well and truly has a history, and Thought Guild – the late Christopher Cameron (1966-2011) and Alpha Wave Movement’s Gregory Kyryluck – are in a sense re-creating history by using vintage analogue synthesisers to capture a particularly rich sound that once dominated European electronic music. artist: Thought Guild country of origin: USA […]

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Essential albums: David Sylvian

Sylvian’s Plight And Premonition (1988), recorded with Holger Czukay of Krautrock legends Can, consists of two extended, droning compositions that are a highly sensitive and subtle marriage of electronics with ethnic flavours. Mesmerising and meticulously detailed, they’re all atmospheric keyboards and eerie chimes, embellished with seductive Eastern and Mid-eastern textures.” artist: David Sylvian country of […]

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Essential albums: Morton Subotnick

Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples Of The Moon, written in 1967, was the first piece of fully electronic music ever written specifically for commercial record release. Today it sounds quaint and a little dated, understandable when you realise it was performed on the primitive Bulcha which, along with the Moog, was one of the earliest synthesisers. […]

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Essential albums: Stars Of The Lid

Stars Of The Lid makes mood music that sighs and surges with tidal-like speed and power. Beatless and never hurried, it differs from much other electronic-based drone music in its delicate pauses and near-silences. These musical breaths, these spaces in between, draw your focus into spaces where not much actually happens. But in the best […]

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Essential albums: Spacecraft

Spacecraft is an actual group, an exception in the sub-genre of spacemusic which is usually the preserve of solo composers. What Klaus Schulze, Ashra, Tangerine Dream and other Berlin-school pioneers started in the late 1960’s, Spacecraft continued magnificently through the 90’s and beyond. The band’s love of improvisation produces music that doesn’t simply recycle the […]

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Essential albums: Solar Fields

While the often superb Fahrenheit Project compilations best define France’s Ultimae Records overall, Magnus Birgersson aka Solar Fields is one of the individual artists who stands out …his specialty is the panoramic ambient trance and new-school spacemusic the label is famous for, and there’s a picturesque quality to his music that is distinctively his own.

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Essential albums: Ultimae Records

Some of the label’s music is quite danceable, certainly, but nearly always with the enveloping ambience of psychedelic spacemusic in all its intriguing shades and colours. Liquid sounds and epic panoramas are what Ultimae does best, beginning on the trance and techno axis and spiralling out from there into other genres and into spaces we […]

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Essential albums: Sola Rosa

Some of the best sample-laden electronic downtempo is in fact made by musicians with backgrounds in live performance playing instruments like the guitar, piano and drums. They supplement their sampled sources with live playing and a natural musician’s instinct for how things fit together. The first two albums from gifted New Zealander Andrew Spraggon aka […]

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