10 Favorite Ambient/Electronic Albums of 2015

Started by drone on, December 21, 2015, 10:31:33 AM

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drone on

1.  Sphare Sechs- Enceladus (Malignant Records).  Spooky outer space atmospheres.  Love the sleeve artwork on this one too. 
2.  Redshift- Life to Come (Distant Sun).  Mark Shreeve's finest studio album (as Redshift) to date.
3.  Autumn of Communion 5
4.  Autumn of Communion 6 (..txt)  What can I say?  They always make my best of list.
5.  Julio Di Benedetto- Original Light (Digital Voices).  Striking, haunting ambient from Hypnos forum member!
6.  Blake Gibson/Robert Davies- Quiraing (Databloem).  Excellent "big landscape" music a la David Parsons and Mathias Grassow. 
7.  Sraunus-  Asperatus Clouds (Anodize).  Quite stunning ambient dub.
8.  S.E.T.I. - The Data Logs of Astro Myrmex (..txt)  Unique, cinematic space ambient
9.  Futurology (aka Ishq)- Martian Chronicles (Virtual). 
10. Fatal Tangent- Cenotaph (Anodize).  Rhythmic dark space ambient, like Ramp/Redshift without the sequencers meets Aphex Twin SAW II.  Outer space tripout fest!

Honorable mentions:  Steve Roach-Etheric Imprints, Bloodmoon Rising
                             Mathias Grassow- AeroArea

(as usual, excellent music from these masters but you gotta reward the lesser knowns sometimes)

This is only a very small fraction of available music out there.  I'm not very adventuresome these days and avoid downloads in favor of CD's, so I'm not exposed to what is probably a great deal of excellent work.  You can probably tell as I pick music from the same labels and/or artists every year....I would love to read everyone's lists and discover some other releases.  Thanks!


Good stuff! I see some of my favorites on your list, and a few things that I clearly need to check out.

I'm traveling at the moment, but will post some stuff when I get home and don't have to type with thumbs. Eager to read more favorites for 2016.

Dave Michuda

The number of high quality releases every year makes keeping current very difficult, which is why I love year-end lists.  They are such a great way of discovering things I may have missed and finding good music from someone with slightly different tastes.

These year end lists are always fun but difficult.  But at least the top 3 spots this year were easy selections -
Alva Noto - Xerrox, Vol. 3
Max Richter - Sleep
Chris Walla - Tape Loops

It doesn't really matter which one grabbed the top spot, I listened to these three over and over in 2015.  Noto is known for his electronic minimalism but Vol. 3 is beautiful and lush. Max Richter's Sleep is a recording of epic proportion - 8 hours long, it amazes me each time I listen.  Tape Loops by Chris Walla(drummer for Death Cab for Cutie) has an old school ambient feel.  It reminds me of Eno's Music for Airports and Music for Films.  As large as the first two albums on the list can sound, Tape Loops is just the opposite - simple and intimate.

A few albums worth mentioning - Brian Eno: Discreet Music by Contact is an orchestral arrangement of Eno's 1970s Discreet Music.  Like Bang On A Can's cover of Music for Airports this one is familiar yet fresh and different.  Worth checking out.  I've used Sine Dust tracks in several mixes and I will probably use them for years because I love the classic, spacey edge to this EP from 36.

Here are my favs from 2015:

1. Alva Noto - Xerrox, Vol. 3
2. Max Richter - Sleep
3. Chris Walla - Tape Loops
4. Benoit Pioulard - Sonnet
5. 36 - Sine Dust 
6. Olan Mill - Cavade Morlem
7. Mikael Delta & Hior Chronik - The First Ray
8. Bersarin Quartett - III
9. Contact - Brian Eno: Discreet Music
10. Marconi Union - Departures
11. Spheruleus - Chronota
12. Goldmund - Sometimes
13. Nils Frahm - Solo
14. Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie -  Travels in Constants Vol. 24
15. Horizon Fire - Earthlight

The above list in mix form here... https://www.mixcloud.com/lowlight/best-ambient-of-2015/

A few other instrumental album that I liked this year but are more jazz or alt instrumental than ambient:

Maria Schneider - The Thompson Fields
Jaga Jazzist - Starfire
Kamasi Washington - The Epic
Kendrick Scott Oracle - We Are The Drum
David Cross & Robert Fripp - Starless Starlight
food - this is not a miracle


Scott M2

Thanks for the tip on Contact's "Discreet Music". Lynn and I experienced Contact performing it as "opening act" for Bang On A Can's "Music For Airports" performance at the Music Gallery here in Toronto. I've been waiting over 2 years for the album to finally be released.

Truthfully, I found the live performance went on far too long (60") for what was a 20" or so piece, as you sit there observing the performers. In a true "ignorable as it is interesting", creating an atmosphere CD experience, I think it will be much better. Bang On A Can, BTW were much more "entertaining" performing the shorter Airports pieces, more or less to "scale".


Some favourites were:

Biosphere & Deathprod - Stator
Julia Kent - Asperities
Lee Noble - Un-Look
Eartheater - RIP Chrysalis
Ian William Craig - Cradle for the Wanting
Seabuckthorn - They Haunted Most Thickly
Pye Corner Audio - Prowler
Bersarin Quartet - III
Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee
Holly Herndon - Platform


Here are my favorites from 2015. These are listed roughly in the order they were released. I've tried to challenge myself by narrowing the list down to my top three favorites; I've placed a * next to those. (But I've learned that these rankings can change easily. In hindsight, Echo Ark was the 2014 release that got the most playtime in 2015.)

Blake Gibson & Robert Davies - Quiraing *
Haunting drone work, with a majestic, grand atmosphere. Wonderfully done. Shortly after this was released, Blake claimed he was taking time away from recording. I hope that will be a short-lived vacation.

Alpha Wave Movement - Earthen *
This is not necessarily radically different from other Kyryluk releases, but I really like the way this particular album hangs together, and the serene washes that hold it together are both fascinating and soothing. The title track is a work of art.

Autumn of Communion - Autumn of Communion 5
This was supposed to be the last release, but it wasn't. It wasn't even the penultimate release! Anyhow, it is incredible. I'm a bit ambivalent about the remix by Stormloop at the end, but the first two tracks are incredible: Beautifully evolving soundscapes.

Bill Seaman - f(noir)
This is an unusual release. It makes me feel like I'm in a David Lynch film, sitting in a dimly lit basement bar, apprehensively awaiting a meeting with a stranger. That probably doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but, if that is your jam (it is mine), you'll love this.

Mick Chillage - Pixels II
This isn't Mick doing what Mick does best, but this particular release really grabbed me for reasons that are difficult to explain. It is mostly looped material with incidentals and a really cool (deep) base line that emerges like a whale from the sea. It is mesmerizing.

Øe - Unseed
This is outstanding ambient glitch work, much in the spirit of Porya Hatami. This particular slice-and-dice style isn't uncommon, but it is rare for artists to truly merge the billowing, drift quality of ambient music that I find attractive with deft experimental processing. This album excels in that regard. It flew way too low under the radar; please check it out.

Steve Roach - Bloodmoon Rising
This represents my favorite Roach Style: Dark loops that lead your imagination to otherworldly spaces. The scope of the work is attractive too; I'm a sucker for multi-disc releases.

Max Richter - Sleep *
There are things I don't like about this release (it is not good for sleeping). But, overall, I love it. The tracks are well crafted, the instrumentation is fantastic, and the way Richter processes classic acoustic performances to create novel ambient dronescapes is magnificent. A CD version is being released in the US soon and I'll probably buy that too.

Omni vu deity - Nuiemiu Rift
Tribal otherworlds. Ishq had many, many releases this year. This one was the stand out for me. I'm not sure that it is necessarily his best or even my favorite, but it is so different from everything else that I couldn't help but be impressed with it. It also ends up being played on repeat a lot.

Virlyn - Arctic Radio
Creative dark ambient, built around unusual acoustic samples. This was released in late December, so it is probably not fair to include it in a "favorites of" list. But I love it. And, this guy releases things so infrequently that I can't help but savor it and delight in every sonic moment.


Can't make a top 10 for 2015 but so far my favorites include:

Yen Pox - Between the Horizon and the Abyss
Mathias Grassow - Wisdoom
Steve Roach & friends - Monuments of Ecstasy


The bad thing with me is I listen to stuff all the time and rarely note if it's new or years old.  ;-)  in the "new to me" department: 

I discovered Porya Hatami this year and have been enjoying his work. 

Discovered mininal techno from Donnacha Costella.

finally really listened to Pillowdriver - really good stuff.

Also discovered Martin Nonstatic. 

A couple of friends started Ascendant - they seem destined for great things.  (Don Tyler / Phase 47 and Chris / S1gns of L1fe)

Dove deeper into Martin Voigt / Gas.   More Yagya, Deepchord, Ishq.

Labels Silent Season and Dewtone continue to be consistently good.  Ultimae always a favorite.

Rhian Shiahan had one heck of an album.


We had a hell of a year at Relaxed Machinery releasing many new to us or totally new on the scene artists.   Really proud of what we released this year.

John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei


Riverside - Love Fear and the Time Machine
Robert Rich - Filaments
Alio Die x 2 .......with Lorenzo and Parallel Worlds
Blake Gibson and Robert Davies- Quiraing - also album cover of the year by miles !!!
Ecovillage - Jesus of Nazereth , just so beautiful
New Composers - Boring Music
Igneous Flame - Opaline .
Julio Di Benedetto - Original Light
Tangerine Dream - Quantum Key , excellent new Dream music
Autumn of Communion 5

There are probably more but will leave it at that