Many of us in this group, including myself, share a love and affinity for the Ambient musical genre, and so I thought it might be nice to have a topic for those classic, seminal, stand-out ambient works through time, for our mutual enjoyment. So here I’ll kick it off from my own musical archives and memories, and hope you’ll join in from your own collections.
Although Brian Eno coined the term “Ambient Music” in 1978, many have asked: So are there any precursers for this type of music? The consensus, which I agree with, seems to be, that the earliest instance is probably the “Trois Gymnopédie” works from the composer Erik Satie, and so in some sense he could be called “the grandfather of ambient”.
Here is the lovely “Gymnopédie No.1” from approximately 1888 (!):
When the first synthesizers started arriving in Germany, it prompted some of the “Krautrock” bands to dabble in early ambient. Here is the crushingly beautiful “Aguirre” from the band Popol Vuh. This is 1972:
Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream fame, made an amazing 1975 solo album titled “Epsilon In Malaysian Pale”, which features this lovely ambient piece for an opening:
In the mid-1970’s Brian Eno (and David Bowie) went to Germany, because of the new musical impulses coming from there. Here Eno did collaborations with several German bands and musicians, one of them with the band Cluster. They did an album together, “Cluster & Eno” from 1977, and here is the song “Schöne Hände” from that album, where you can clearly hear the ambient is well underway, for Eno’s big release the year after:
In 1978 Brian Eno coined the term “Ambient Music”, and released his seminal work “Ambient 1 - Music For Airports”, which kicked off the whole genre for the general public. I remember being very struck by this album:
He followed this up in 1980 with the release of “Ambient 2 - The Plateaux of Mirror”, which is a collaboration with Harold Budd. It’s a lovely album which I’ve listened to countless times:
Brian Eno has created a whole lot more ambient music, including his latest album “Music For Installations” from 2018. But I’ll restrict it to two more tracks, from the amazing 1983 album “Apollo”. To me, these two tracks signify the absolutely best of the ambient Eno.
Most people would not think of Peter Gabriel as an ambient musician, but he has actually created many ambient tracks. The densest collection of those are probably from his amazing 1985 soundtrack to the wonderful film “Birdy”. Peter had just gotten his Fairlight and is sampling away, and it turns out he’s rather good at it. It’s almost a crime to not list all of those tracks here, but I’ll settle for two of them.
This is “Quiet and Alone”:
And here is “Slow Marimbas”:
There are obviously many fine ambient musicians from America. From “Michael Stearns” is here the wonderful “Planetary Unfolding” album, created in 1981 on his Serge synthesizer:
And from “Steve Roach”, in 1988 on his “Dreamtime Return” album, here is the song “Towards The Dream”:
The Greek composer “Vangelis” has made some wonderful ambient music. Here is the opening track “Movement 1” from his wonderful 1984 album “Soil Festivities”:
His follow up album “Mask” from 1985 is also extremely interesting, and here is “Movement 4” from that album:
So that was the opening shot from me, and I hope you’ll continue below listing your own Classic Ambient Works …
Thank you for this Lars!! I never really got into ambient music growing up, and since I’ve spent a lot of time around here, I really started appreciating this style from all you guys. Cant wait to check all this out, it will be nice to hear some classics, thanks again!
made a little playlist of this stuff just so I can hear it all while I do some studying:) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-L2zJV5iESMR_qh4i0zXf5A8Z7PQlUdw
This is huge! Thanks
I have Cluster + Eno on vinyl, just got it about a year ago. Absolutely adore this album. It is everything I love about ambient music
@LarsBjerregaard many thanks for these. I will be checking these out very soon. I will try and post some of my faves too
Where would we be without Can?
More beat here than in some ambient, but Aphex Twin provides backwards precedent for that…