Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia of the Air

Style: Experimental Hip-Hop

Vibe: Futuristic, Mellow, Aquatic, Brooding, Cryptic, Haunting, Liberation, Philosophical, Poetic, Ritualistic, Spiritual, Sombre, Sci-Fi

Musical Qualities: Rap, Vocal Manipulations, Glitchy, Sampling, Digital, Spoken Word, Catchy, Suite, Percussive, Sound Collage

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

On this mournful offering, Cave’s poetic reflections on loss, longing, and loneliness slowly float down a river of gloomy synth drones, somber strings, and sparse piano. While not exactly uplifting, the album has a sense of peace and beauty that continues up through the repeating final refrain, “and it’s alright now”.

Popol Vuh – Hosianna Mantra

Style: Ecstatic Chamber Music, Kosmische, Neoclassical New Age

Vibe: Spiritual, Ethereal, Mystical, Meditative, Mysterious, Soothing, Peaceful, Mellow, Ritualistic, Sentimental, Religious (Christian), Pastoral

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Lush, Chamber Arrangements, Atmospheric, Melodic, Suite

Instrumentation: Harpsichord, Piano, Electric Guitar, Oboe, Tanpura, Hymnal Vocals, Violin

Tortoise – The Taut and the Tame (The Luke Vibert Mix) / Find the One (Wait, Abstraction No. 3)

Style: Ambient Dub, Post-Rock, Experimental Electronic

Vibe: Hypnotic, Spacey, Mellow, Abstract, Nocturnal

Musical Qualities: Remix, Atmospheric, Rhythmic, Instrumental, Sampling, Loops

John Martyn – Inside Out

Style: Jazz-Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Psychedelic Folk-Rock

Vibe: Romantic, Warm, Cryptic, Reflective, Passionate, Heartfelt, Lethargic, Stoned, Sunny

Musical Qualities: Lyrical, Melodic, Improvisation

Jerry David Decicca – Understanding Land

Style: Americana, Singer/Songwriter, Folk

Vibe: Peaceful, Rustic, Deadpan, Mellow, Lethargic, Nature, Warm, Morning

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Slow, Vocal Harmonies, Lush, Simple

Instrumentation: Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Lap Steel & Pedal Steel Guitars, Strings, Upright Bass, Vibraphone, Tabla, Bongos

The Iditarod – The Ghost, the Elf, the Cat and the Angel

Style: Psychedelic Chamber-Folk

Vibe: Haunting, Pastoral, Melancholy, Rainy, Delicate, Intimate, Psychedelic, Intertwined

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Slow, Soft, Electro-Acoustic, Sampling, Home Recording

Instrumentation: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Cello, Turntables, Banjo, Tanpura, Violin, Singing Bowls, Percussion, Dulcimer, Bouzouki, Organ, Wine Glasses

Boards of Canada – Geogaddi

Style: Trip-Hop, Psychedelic Electronic, IDM, Downtempo, Ambient Techno

Vibe: Mysterious, Hallucinogenic, Woozy, Occult, Cryptic, Nature, Eerie, Warm, Surreal, Hypnotic, Mellow, Haunting

Musical Qualities: Atmospheric, Beats, Sampling, Vignettes, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Rhythmic

Fletcher Tucker – Unlit Trail

Style: Ritual Folk, Drone

Vibe: Ancient, Forest, Meditative, Ritualistic, Intimate, Devotional, Earthy, Nature, Autumnal, Contemplative

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Field Recordings, Drone, Atmospheric, Sparse, Suite

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

Burial + Four Tet + Thom Yorke – Her Revolution / His Rope

Style: Trip-Hop, Ambient Pop, Electronic

Vibe: Nocturnal, Moody, Melancholy, Ethereal, Detached, Lonely, Cold, Heartfelt, Depressive

Musical Qualities: Sampling, Atmospheric, Slow, Mellow

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)

Meg Baird – Don’t Weight Down the Light

Style: Psychedelic Folk, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Flowing, Dreamy, Nocturnal, Mellow, Soothing, Introspective, Haunting, Pastoral, Airy, Ethereal, Intimate Bittersweet, Melancholy, Contemplative, Loner, Peaceful, Soft

Musical Qualities: Vocal Harmonies, Acoustic, Lush, Melodic, Sparse, Reverb

Roy Harper – Valentine

Released in 1974 Chrysalis Pressing (US, 1978) Format: LP Style: Psychedelic Chamber Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Progressive Folk Vibe: Romantic, Floating, Heartfelt, … More

David Crosby – If Only I Could Remember My Name…

Style: Folk Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Cosmic Americana

Vibe: Dreamy, Hippy, Longing, Bittersweet, Airy, Autumnal, Warm, Loose, Peaceful, Ethereal, Introspective, Psychedelic, Hypnotic, Mellow, Meandering, Stoned, Communal

Musical Qualities: Vocal Harmonies, Heavy Reverb, Jams

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

Califone – Heron King Blues [Deluxe]

Style: New Weird Americana, Warped Folk Rock, Psych Folk

Vibe: Twangy, Cryptic, Mythic, Surreal, Mysterious, Rustic, Mellow, Warm, Rootsy

Musical Qualities: Percussive, Loops, Electro-Acoustic, Rhythmic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Improvisation

Instrumentation: Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Percussion, Organ, Piano, Vocals, Electronics, Cello, Electric Guitar, Pump Organ, Bass

Mogwai – Rave Tapes

Style: Post-Rock, Space Rock, Electronic-Rock, Kosmische-Influenced

Vibe: Futuristic, Nocturnal, Mechanical, Focused, Cinematic, Restrained

Musical Qualities: Instrumental, Dynamic, Pulse, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Bonnie Prince Billy – Ask Forgiveness

Bonnie covers Björk, Mickey Newbury, Danzig, R. Kelly and others with help from Espers’ Meg Baird & Greg Weeks

Style: Folk, Slowcore, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Introspective, Morning, Melancholy, Existential, Bittersweet

Musical Qualities: Covers, Vocal Harmonies, Sparse, Soft, Acoustic

Papa M – Whatever, Mortal

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Slowcore, Americana

Vibe: Apathetic, Bittersweet, Breakup, Contemplative, Depressive, Humorous, Intimate, Lethargic, Loner, Love, Melancholy, Mellow, Moody, Personal, Rootsy

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Sparse, Simple

Cluster – Sowiesoso

Style: Progressive Electronic, Kosmische Musik

Vibe: Forest, Mysterious, Pastoral, Cosmic, Nature, Mellow, Contemplative, Focused, Motorik, Nocturnal

Musical Attributes: Instrumental, Repetition, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Instrumentation: Analogue Synthesizers, Drum Machine

Robert Wyatt – Shleep

Style: Surreal Pop, Imaginative Singer/Songwriter, Prog-Pop, Canterbury Scene

Vibe: Dreamy, Ethereal, Airy, Floating, Surreal, Eclectic, Introspective, Complex, Mellow, Imaginative, Atmospheric

Musical Attributes: Progressive, Melodic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Active listening, Jazz-Influenced

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.

Anna & Elizabeth – The Invisible Comes to Us

The Invisible Comes to Us is a haunting, modern take on Appalachian and Irish folk songs. Beautiful close-harmonies, banjos and acoustic guitars are juxtaposed with droning atmospheres of woodwinds, Moog bass, pump organ, and euphonium. Guest musicians include Jim White on drums and Susan Alcorn on slide guitar.

Ilyas Ahmed – I Am All Your Own

Style: Loner Folk, Singer Songwriter, Psych Folk

Vibe: Lethargic, Loner, Peaceful, Soothing, Airy, Mellow, Contemplative, Dreamy, Droney, Hypnotic, Intimate, Introspective

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Droney, Slow, Sparse, Soft

Jamila Woods – Heavn

Style: Soul, Art Pop

Vibe: Confident, Heartfelt, Introspective, Colorful, Triumphant, Uplifting, Urban, Loner

Lyrical Themes: Conscious, Poetic, Political, Personal, Black Pride, Love, Feminist

Musical Attributes: Groovy, Lush, Headphone Album, Polished, Catchy, Technical

Sandro Perri – Impossible Spaces

The cubist sophisti-pop of Impossible Spaces feels both breezy and proggy in its chilled-out intricacy. Sandro Perri’s evocative songwriting and catchy melodicism are brought into high-definition by warmly  futuristic production, atmospheric synthesizers, and lush arrangements for strings, horns, and woodwinds.

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.

Bibio – Ribbons

On his latest, producer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Bibio blends serene folk pop, lush instrumentation, pastoral guitar instrumentals, nature field recordings, Walt Whitman-esque lyrics and beat-oriented grooves into the perfectly crafted springtime album. Ribbons feels like daydreaming in a garden or out in the woods under a tree or by a trickling stream.

The Incredible String Band – The Big Huge

Warm, mellow Scottish folk with lyrics that border spiritual, philosophical, and fantasy themes. The arrangements are a bit stripped down from their lush psychedelia of previous releases, but still feature a good amount of sitar, organ, Irish harp, and violin to add some color to the vocals and acoustic guitar-centric songwriting.

Ryley Walker – Golden Sings that have been Sung (Deep Cuts Edition)

Ryley Walker’s virtuosic fingerpicking and intricate folk-rock songwriting vibe heavily with a backing band of Chicagoan jazz musicians, including upright bass, drums, Rhodes and electric guitar. The first LP of this release is a studio album of jazzy folk rock songs for fans of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks or Tim Buckley’s Happy Sad, while the Bonus Lp of this “Deep Cuts edition” is a 40 min live improvisation on one of the album cuts that probably beats anything on the studio LP. It’s rad to be able hear both the concise, song-centric studio side and the loose jammy side of this exciting artist in the same release.

Brokeback – Field Recordings from the Cook County Water Table

Doug McComb’s first album as Brokeback is imbued with pastoral Impressionism, experimentalism, and a sense of Zen contentment. The record is mostly centered around his Bass VI, a short-scale bass with six strings that is trebly enough to function in both guitar and bass roles. This versatile instrument is usually wet with chorus and reverb that sculpt a fluid, aquatic tone to complement the slow, tranquil melodies. Outside of some solo pieces Doug is joined by a variety of accompaniment including lap steel guitar, synth, upright bass, Rhodes, vocals from Mary Hansen, and light percussion provided by producer/Tortoise bandmate John McEntire. This is a record that can be appreciated from a passive impressionistic standpoint, as well as under the microscopic attention of an engaged ear. (Follow link for full review)

Recommended for fans of Tortoise or Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Western soundtracks

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.