Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise

Style: Progressive Electronic, Ambient House, Collage Pop, Sound Sculpture

Moods: Cryptic, Surreal, Aquatic, Hypnotic, Nocturnal, Futuristic, Melancholy, Collage, Urban, Mellow, Meditative, Ethereal, Eclectic, Rainy, Romantic

Musical Qualities: Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Field Recordings, Atmospheric, Melodic, Loops

Loren Connors – Blues: The “Dark Paintings” of Mark Rothko

Style: Ambient Blues, Solo Electric Guitar

Vibe: Longing, Soothing, Nocturnal, Impressionistic, Lonely, Meditative, Melancholy, Suspenseful,

Musical Qualities: Sparse, Improvisation (solo), Atmospheric, Instrumental, Lo-fi

Terry Riley – Shri Camel

Style: Ecstatic Minimalism, New Age, Drone

Vibe: Spiritual, Meditative, Heavenly, Cosmic, Hypnotic, Mystical, Longing, Intertwined

Musial Attributes: Just Intonation, Instrumental, Minimalistic, Repetitive, Suite, Improvisation, Drone

Instrumentation: Yamaha YC-45D Organ with multiple digital delay channels for live layering & interactions

Ash Ra Tempel – New Age of Earth

Style: Kosmische Musik, Progressive Electronic, Space Ambient, New Age

Vibe: Meditative, Cosmic, Soothing, Hypnotic, Spacey, Peaceful, Ethereal, Futuristic

Musical Qualities: Instrumental, Minimalistic, Polished, Repetitive

Instrumentation: Synthesizers, Electric Guitar, Keyboard, Loops

Mind Maintenance – Mind Maintenance

Joshua Abrams – Guimbri
Chad Taylor – Mbira

Musical Qualities: Polyrhythmic, Percussive, Repetitive, Sparse, Acoustic, Minimalist

Ilyas Ahmed & Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – You Can See Your Own Way Out

Style: Drone, Tape Music, Ambient, Drone-Folk

Vibe: Nocturnal, Haunting, Hypnotic, Ethereal, Meditative, Warm, Nature, Nostalgia

Musical Qualities: Sound Collage, Instrumental, Field Recordings, Collage, Electro-Acoustic, Noisy, Home Recording, Vignettes

Instrumentation: Tapes, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Piano, Drum Machine, Synthesizers, Bass, Keyboard, Percussion, Bass Clarinet (B2)

Cecil McBee – Mutima

Style: Free Jazz, Spiritual Jazz, Post-Bop

Vibe: Mysterious, Nocturnal, Adventure, Spiritual, Communal, Eclectic, Epic, Meditative

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Improvisation, Progressive, Thematic

Loren Mazzacane Conners & Daniel Carter – The Departing of a Dream Volume VII

Style: Drone, Free Improvisation, Ambient

Vibe: Suspenseful, Haunting, Murky, Mysterious, Meditative, Responsive, Noir

Musical Qualities: Lo-Fi, Improvisation, Noisy, Atmospheric, Heavy Reverb

Bill Orcutt – Odds Against Tomorrow

Style: American Primitvism, Ambient Blues, Solo Electric Guitar

Vibe: Meditative, Longing, Spiritual, Pastoral, Loose, Kinetic

Musical Qualities: Improvisation, Dissonance, Instrumental, Sparse

Fripp & Eno – (No Pussyfooting)

Style: Tape Music, Drone, Ambient

Vibe: Meditative, Dreamy, Quiet Catharsis, Alien, Mysterious, Contemplative, Hypnotic, Mellow, Cosmic

Musical Qualities: Loops, Atmospheric, Repetition, Instrumental, Droney, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Progressive, Improvisation

Brainticket – Celestial Ocean

Style: Kosmische Musik, Prog, Space Rock, Progressive Electronic

Vibe: Cosmic, Ethereal, Aquatic, Groovy, Exploratory, Hypnotic, Meditative, Hallucinogenic, Spiritual, Futuristic

Musical Qualities: Progressive, Suite, Raga, Headphone Album, Raga, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Dense

Lyrics: Conceptual, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Spiritual, Philosophical

Earthforce – Earthforce

Released in 2021 on Lion Productions Recorded 1977, Archival Release Format: LP, includes 12-page 12″ booklet Style: British Folk, Psych … More

Sarah Louise – Earth Bow

Style: Free Folk, Cosmic Appalachia, Ambient Folk, Healing Music

Vibe: hypnotic, amorphous, confident, cosmic, dreamy, earthy, ethereal, existential, exploratory, forest, warm, spiritual, spontaneous, soothing, psychedelic, passionate, nature, meditative, hallucinogenic

Musical Qualities: Suite, Electro-Acoustic, Studio-as-an-instrument, Loops, Home Recording, Progressive, Field Recordings

Between – And the Waters Opened

Style: Psychedelic Chamber Music, Kosmische Musik, Ritual-Folk, Global Fusion

Vibe: Spiritual, Meditative, Communal, Psychedelic, Earthy, Forest, Ritualistic, Tribal

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Atmospheric, Chamber, Droney, Raga, Percussive, Chants

Instrumentation: Oboe, Keyboards, Conga, Acoustic Guitar, Bamboo Flute

Loren Connors – Beautiful Dreamer (for Steve Dalachinksy)

Style: Dark Ambient, Free Improvisation, Ambient Blues

Vibe: Murky, Meditative, Washy, Haunting, Suspenseful, Mysterious, Ethereal

Musical Attributes: Solo Electric Guitar Improvisation, Sparse, Atmospheric, Slow, Lo-fi

Pelt – Pearls from the River

Style: Ritual Folk, Dhrupad, Free Folk

Vibe: Meditative, Mysterious, Psychedelic, Spiritual, Earthy, Hypnotic

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Drone, Improvisation, Instrumental, Repetitive, Raga

Joshua Abrams – Natural Information

Style: Psychedelic Trance Music, Avant-Jazz, Creative Music, Post-Minimalism

Influences: Gnawa, Spiritual Jazz, Raga, Kosmische Musik

Vibe: Earthy, Hypnotic, Meditative, Cosmic, Psychedelic, Ritualistic, Spiritual, Tribal

Musical Attributes: Polyrhythmic, Acoustic, Minimalistic, Improvisation, Percussive, Instrumental

Tortoise – TNT

Style: Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
Influences: Dub, Kosmische Musik, Bossa Nova, Lounge, Minimalism, Jazz, Electronic
Vibe: Contemplative, Eclectic, Focused, Futuristic, Impressionistic, Lush, Meditative, Peaceful, Soothing
Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Complex, Digital Production, Percussive, Polyphonic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Loops, Headphone Album, Rhythmic, Pulse, Instrumental, Progressive, Polished

Natalie Rose Lebrecht – Mandarava Rose

Style: Ambient Pop, Free Folk, New Age

Vibe: Cosmic, Dreamy, Earthy, Ethereal, Lethargic, Meditative, Mystical, Passionate, Ritualistic, Soothing, Spiritual

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Droney, Slow

Mount Eerie – Sauna

Style: Experimental Singer/Songwriter, Avant-Folk, Drone

Vibe: Winter, Existential, Imaginative, Introspective, Contemplative, Epic, Philosophical, Poetic, Ethereal, Loner, Meditative, Eclectic

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Droney, Lo-Fi, Lyrical, Progressive

Nuke Watch – Countdown

Style: Organic Beat Music, Tribal Ambient, Ritual Psych-Folk, Progressive Electronic

Vibe: Hallucinogenic, Exploratory, Mysterious, Meditative, Hypnotic

Musical Attributes: Electro-Acoustic, Beats, Percussive, Polyphonic, Loops

Nicolas Jaar – Cenizas

Released in 2020 on Other People Records

Artist: Nicolas Jaar

Format: LPx2


Style: Progressive Electronic, Ambient Pop, Sound Sculpture

Vibe: Introspective, Mysterious, Nocturnal, Shadowy, Abstract, Dark, Hypnotic, Meditative

Musical Attributes: Electro-Acoustic, Progressive, Digital, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Golden Retriever & Chuck Johnson – Rain Shadow

Overview
Bass clarinet, pedal steel guitar, and synthesizer swirling together into a highly immersive and emotive combination of voices. Truly beautiful soundscapes that melt the worry away, with moments of quiet catharsis that I don’t experience very often in ambient music.

Botany – End the Summertime F(or)ever

While the luminescent drones and angelic simulacra of Deepak Verbera expanded out into the cosmos, Botany’s newest LP feels more rooted in the soil of our material reality. The bass heavy beats and impassioned vocal samples inspire movement and action rather than contemplation alone, not to say the results aren’t heady. Rich tapestries of resonant acoustic instruments (harps, flutes, percussion, strings), woozy synths, and warm tape hiss are as intricate as ever and easy to lose (or find?) yourself in.
Recommended to fans of Flying Lotus’ Until the Quiet Comes, Boards of Canada, and Alice Coltrane.


Robbie Basho – Visions of the Country

Style: American Primitivism, Singer/Songwriter, Folk, Raga
Vibe: Mystical, Nature, Open, Passionate, Pastoral, Peaceful, Airy, Contemplative, Earthy, Impressionistic, Meditative, Morning, Spring, Spiritual,
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Indian-Influenced, Sparse, Technical

The Books – Lost and Safe

Style: Collage-Pop, Glitch-Folk, Plunderphonics

Vibe: Surreal, Psychedelic, Peaceful, Cerebral, Meditative,  Philosophical, Spiritual, Uplifting, Warm, Playful, Hallucinogenic

Musical Attributes: Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Melodic, Sound Collage, Vocal Manipulation

Steve Reich with Kronos Quartet & Pat Metheny – Different Trains; Electric Counterpoint

Style: Minimalism, Tape Music, Chamber Music

Vibe/Themes: Pulsing,  Hypnotic, History, Meditative

Musical Attributes: Repetitive, Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Spoken Word

James Holden & the Animal Spirits – The Animal Spirits

These communal sound rituals express a digital-era longing to reconnect to the Earth. The grooves here are circular and ceremonial, not rooted to any specific musical traditions but borrowing from many, including cosmic jazz, kosmische musik and undoubtedly inspired by Holden’s collaboration with legendary Gnawa musician Maleem Mahmoud Ghania. Drums and percussion ground the proceedings while muscular sequencer and fiery saxophone arpeggiations hypnotically intertwine.  The sounds of fluttering recorder and modular synthesizer swirl through the air like offerings to the cosmos. 

Recommended for fans of The Comet is Coming, Tonto’s Exploding Head Band, Maleem Mahmoud Ghania & Pharoah Sander’s Trance of Seven Colors, Natural Information Society, Colin Stetson

Third Ear Band – Alchemy

Style: Free Folk, Chamber Music, Progressive Folk

Vibe: Ritualistic, Hypnotic, Earthy, Tribal, Nature, Meditative, Medieval, Exploratory

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Improvisation, Instrumental, Minimalistic

Instrumentation: Oboe, Violin, Viola, Recorder, Percussion (Tabla, Drums, Chimes), Cello

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Tracing Back the Radiance

Washes of piano, harp, and other ephemeral sonic artifacts float through Ledesma’s peaceful, almost static atmospheres like a night breeze through the quiet woods.

John Fahey & His Orchestra – Old Fashioned Love

Another interesting one from Fahey, side A consists of some amazingly intricate guitar duets with Woodrow Mann, including my favorite Fahey song “Jaya Shiva Shankarah”. Side B takes a strange turn though…halfway through the title track a 10-piece dixieland band kicks for a few tracks of New Orleans-style jazz. The album closes in a more familiar place with a contemplative solo piece that most Fahey fans would dig.

The Books – The Way Out

The Books’ music is simultaneously funny, innovative, catchy and enlightening. They use found sound and spoken word mixed with innovative recording techniques and acoustic instruments to create beautiful sound-collages that somehow create unity between all these disparate sources, as if they were all meant to be together. Everything these guys do, solo or together, is absolute genius.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Bitchin Bajas – Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties

A far cry from the sparse folk usually recorded by Will Oldham, “Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties” finds his intimate voice and warbly acoustic guitar enveloped by the cosmic drones, blooming synths, airy flutes, and hypnotic tape loops of Chicago new age trio, Bitchin Bajas. The lyrics are essentially fortune cookie mantras and, while there’s a chance they’re tongue-in-cheek, it’s difficult not to smile and feel a brightening of the spirit when hearing uplifting phrases like “Your hard work is about to pay off, keep on keepin’ on” or “you and your whole family are well” get repeated over and over. This collaboration is a soothing, heartwarming listen and a refreshing change-of-pace from Oldham’s tendency towards melancholy and solemn lyrical content.

Deradoorian – Eternal Recurrence

There is a fathomless void within each of us. And while many choose to run from it, clinging to anything to keep from falling in, Deradoorian dove right in on her meditative release, Eternal Reccurrence. Here she provides somewhat of a sonic roadmap for diving deep within yourself, guided by the blooming drones of harmonium, Juno synthesizers, and flutes. Arising from the ether, layers of otherworldly voices sing mantras of facing our Shadow (“Mirrorman”), finding the love that resides in the core of our being, and bringing it back with us into this material dimension.

Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas – Automaginary

On Automaginary, the Gnawa-inspired cosmic jazz of Natural Information Society is augmented by the flowing textures of Chicago new age trio Bitchin Bajas to create an album of enveloping drones and trance-inducing rhythms. (Follow link for full Review)

Tonto’s Exploding Head Band – Zero Time

A psychedelic synth odyssey created with only an expanded Series III Moog by Robert Margouleff and synth-guru Malcolm Cecil (who programmer synths on legendary albums by Stevie Wonder and Gil-Scott Heron in addition to his ambient solo work). The intricately layered results here feel like a synthetic wilderness, with a wide variety of colors and textures that sound warm, organic, and natural despite their electronic origins.

Sandy Bull – Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo

On his debut album, the guitar and banjo virtuoso starts off with a 22-minute droning epic fusing American and Arabic Folk music with Indian Raga on his acoustic guitar (often trying to imitate the feeling of the oud). Here, he is accompanied by the fluid, driving drums of Billy Higgins. Side 2 is made up of 4 shorter solo pieces, mostly for the banjo, including an impressive rendition of “Carmina Burana” by German composer Carl Orff and a folky mountain song.

Six Organs of Admittance – Asleep on the Floodplains

Pastoral psychfolk from guitar master Ben Chasney. Here his serene acoustic fingerpicking is occasionally accompanied by harmonium drones and trippy guitar overdubs, but overall the album is extremely sparse and meditative.

Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld – Never Were the Way She Was

Saxophonist Colin Stetson and violinist Sarah Neufeld employ innovative performance techniques, mutating ostinatos and an atmospheric sense of texture to compose minimalist compositions that are as brooding and haunting they are hypnotically beautiful.

Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society – Magnetoception

Meditative jazz explorations of space, rhythm and textures inspired by Miles Davis’ ambient jazz pieces, Gnawa ceremonial music of North Africa, the spiritual jazz of Pharoah Sanders and Don Cherry, and the mutating minimalism of Steve Reich.

Click for full review

Shakti – Shakti with John McLaughlin

Shakti means “Creative Intelligence, Beauty & Power” and trust me, these are all in abundance on these devotional jazz ragas. Featuring John McLaughlin joined by a quartet of Indian master musicians, this album is a blissfully uplifting and meditative release.

Mdou Moctar – Sousoume Tamache

Guitar-genius Mdou Moctar visits Portland, Oregon from his home country of Niger to record a hypnotic solo album of desert folk sung in Tamasheq. Most songs consist of intricate fingerstyle acoustic guitar with occasional electric guitar overdubs to accent the melodies.