As autumn comes to an end, most of us have reached hibernation mode, an ideal time to round up the best ambient/ chill tunes of the month. With risk-taking artists and innovative labels like Silent Season and Latency constantly brewing fresh sounds, November has been an exciting month for ambient. From analytical composition to Eastern forest chants, I'm constantly blown away by the wide range of styles that make up this genre. Choosing just 15 was difficult, but hopefully, these selections will provide you with some chilled out weirdness to prepare for the winter ahead!
1. “ANC ALT”- EXAEL [WEST MINERAL LTD.]
Off the album, Collex, the experimentation of sounds on this track is really satisfying. The percussion throughout the track is at times soft, then louder, then completely disappears. The backdrop, something like liquid being poured down a drain, made me feel like I was melting in the best way possible.
2. “PASSAGE OF SILENCE” - SUBMERSION & MON0 [SILENT SEASON]
A euphoric, wavy journey akin to floating. At first, the deep bass echoes below the surface, slowly building until it fully emerges accompanied by an array of sensual textures. Light waterfalls and reverberating waves are some of the sounds I felt consumed by. The fact that this track is 11 minutes long is a delight in itself. I didn’t want it to end. Submersion and mon0’s collaborative album, Unison // Einklang, will drop on December 14.
3. “IRIDESCENCE SHIMMER”- ALPHAZONE AND XERXES THE DARK [CRYO CHAMBER]
While the entirety of the album, Aftermath, is dark space cinema, (I felt like I was on the set of Stranger Things or Prometheus) “Iridescence Shimmer” seems to give a gleam of hope, kind of like the first naïve arrival on an unexplored planet (before alien tombs are discovered, before everyone dies, etc.). This Oregon based label delivers cinematic, dark ambient albums nearly every other week.
4. “AUDIO 026”- CHARLTON
Transmissions. That’s what this track feels like, a crunchy warp through different channels, the next destination always unclear. Known for his unforgiving experimental incorporations, Charlton doesn’t disappoint with this heavy ripping, slow paced track. Sounds of machines, static, and high frequencies twist and rip each other apart, throwing us into different dimensions for just under 2 minutes.
5. “LIVE @ GOOGLE DATA CENTER (EXTRACT)” - SAM KIDEL [LATENCY]
With Kidel’s LP, Silicon Ear, scheduled to release on December 14, we’re given a glimpse into his analytical approach to sound. Here, the experimental producer addresses the data centers that hold many of our private recordings, asking who has access to this information or if anyone should. Using audio software to simulate the acoustics of Google's data center in Iowa, Kidel simulates a break-in, through music. As a free-flowing xylophone melody gives way to soft percussions that bounce around the humming of voice snippets, I visualize Kidel as an ambient tech rebel.
6. “VEGAS NERVE"- BETA LIBRAE[ALLERGY SEASON]
Returning with her second EP, Subspecies, Beta Librae once again shows her versatility from bumping, percussive techno to elusive, hand-played drums. "Vegas Nerve" is an undulating, dubby arrangement that carefully places one delicate sound in after another the entire time.
7. “CANAL CITY”- STAGE R
A combination of urban life soundscapes and post-rock elements, “Canal City” is an ideal headphone track to tune out the rest of the world. From the movement of people to the high-frequency sounds accompanied by a soothing guitar, this track manages to be calming while seamlessly layering all kinds of different sounds. Follow Stage R on SoundCloud for new ambient tracks every weekday.
8. “FAIRBANKS” - LIGOVSKOI [FIELD RECORDS]
I felt like I was soaring through the sky with this one. The French duo, Ligovskoï, creates lots of pleasing vibrations entwined with an ethereal atmosphere. A dreamy, magical gem. Check out a discussion of their album, Esam, with Inverted Audio.
9. “CANOPY” - DRAVIER [NOT NOT FUN]
A truly meditative exploration of sound here with a combination of field recordings, melodic drones, and soothing static. Co-founder of the experimental house and techno label, Jungle Gym, Dravier is known for his improvisational approach to music and working with limitations. His album, Spirit Channels, will be released on December 7.
10. “LOST AND FOUND(FOUND MIX)” - OBJEKT [PAN]
Enjoy this journey through leftfield explosions, echoing whistles, mystical synths and so much more. Producer, Objekt returns with his LP, Cocoon Crush to give his fans riveting machine music with more organic textures than ever.
11. “MIDNIGHT TALE (ANCESTRAL ELEPHANTS CELESTIAL RAINFOREST REVISION)” - ANGELITE & HUUN HUUR TU
Part sound meditation, part ancestral ballad, this spiritual track will echo in your ears long after it’s over. The constant rainfall and subtle bells made me feel like I was briefly transported to monsoon season in India, which is always a nice change from the NYC noise I call home. Enjoy a free download at The Artist Union.
12. “HYPER SLEEP” - KYMATIC
As the title suggests, this track is like sleeping with one eye open. There is an alertness created by a ticking clock and droplets, but there is also something calming about the heavy, drawn out bass. I felt like I was in a horror movie or some post-apocalyptic world.
13. “ACID KISS”- MAAYAN NIDAM [PERLON]
Maybe not what you’d call ‘ambient,’ but this is definitely an ideal chill track by a really talented artist. Nidam’s latest EP, Sea of Thee, really demonstrates her range of experimentation from the hypnotic vocals in "Dust and Dirt" to the catchy acidic beat in "News from East." “Acid Kiss” in particular infuses hypnotizing chimes and a deep bass in such a way that makes me want to sway rather than two-step on the dancefloor. Enjoy this teaser for now.
14. “ALGOL” - DEMIAN LICHT AND EOMAC [EOTRAX]
Off the album, ETXC003, this track begins almost dreamlike with echoing vocals until intense and scattered percussions come in without warning. Voices and sounds fade in and out and are cut up and distorted, creating a really trippy journey that still has a smooth rhythm.
15. “ESCAPE TOWARDS THE TUNDRA” - THE DAG
Rising DJ and producer, The Dag, is known for her fast, industrial style, but here she slows it down for a seductive and disturbing walk through howling winds and machinery. Starting with a long, drawn-out breath, the beat begins almost calmly, then the percussions quicken as new sounds are introduced, like a conveyor belt being sped up until it loses control (cue the screams). This track has everything to satisfy your dark and experimental tastes.