The ambient and downtempo tunes from August continue to explore different styles and emotions, offering a unique variety of perspectives from around the world. With so many incredible artists out there, it’s impossible to have the best in just 15 slots. However, these are some favorites not to be missed. Returning artists Ekin Fil and Kris Vango bless us again with their hypnotizing, emotive soundscapes while experimental masters YYYY, Sabiwa, and Suumhow bring forth unforgettable albums. As always, there are fresh sounds coming from the underground not to be missed with Uganda musician Rey Sapienz offering a trippy downtempo take on clubby electronics and unhurried, wondrous atmospherics from New York’s Daniel Klag.
More sonic journeys from previous charts here.
1. “SUNRISE OF MALASPINA” – SEGUE [SILENT SEASON]
Ambient dub-techno label, Silent Season, releases another gem from artist Segue who also hails from British Columbia. This track instantly transports you to the more mysterious lands of Western Canada that the producer is fascinated with. With deep pulses and sounds that are part wind chime, part steel drum, this track gives off the warmest, tropical ease without ever sounding overworked.
2. “FORESTS WITHOUT BIRDS” – HEAVENCHORD [SECRET DOMAIN]
More artists continue to raise awareness about the devastation of our planet and Heavenchord’s album, Save Siberian Forests is calling attention to recent fires that devastated a huge amount of land in Siberia. Though it carries an ominous title and an equally ominous tone, there is something hauntingly beautiful about this track’s atmosphere and pace as if reflecting on the beauty of the forest that was so easily destroyed.
3. “ANTI MACHINE” – REY SAPIENZ [HAKUNA KULALA]
This psychedelic downtempo piece comes off Rey Sapienz’s album, Mushoro, a more upbeat release that deconstructs Congolese pop music. "Anti Machine" will put you in a sweet trance and get you moving ever so slightly. Check out the album now on Uganda label, Hakuna Kulala's Bandcamp. A sublabel of Nyege Nyege Tapes, they're highlighting electronic explorations from the Congolese and East African underground.
4. “EL TOMAÑO DE MI SILENCIO” – YYYY [EERIE]
A haunting and otherworldly masterpiece from the mysterious Argentinian duo YYYY. Inspired by the mystical prairies of the Argentinian Pampa, YYYY has put together an album where most of the sounds happen to be a manipulation of the human voice. Industrial touches are added to this track, giving off an eerie feel that sucks you in. Fittingly, the album will be out on Berlin’s Eerie Records in October.
5. “MUUUSCL” – SUUMHOW [N5MD]
Hailing from Brussels, IDM duo Suumhow takes the stage with this nostalgic, glitchy piece. The whistling harmony weaves through chopped up bass and transmissions, providing a nice contrast of softness against the crunchy, sporadic vibrations. Suumhow’s album, Secuund, is out now via Oakland label n5MD.
6. “STREW” – SETH NEHIL [OPAL TAPES]
Bursts of breath and voices set the tone of this track, like an aggressive machine spitting out broken parts. The experimentation here is dark and twisted with moments of quiet before picking up the pace again in a frenzy. Sound artist, Seth Nehil has created more unique drone expressions on his album Skew / Flume, out now on UK label Opal Tapes.
7. “EQUIVALENT 7” – LOSCIL [KRANKY]
Like floating through infinite space, you can completely let yourself go to this one. Striking drones echo beyond comprehension as the mysterious narrative pulls you in until you are consumed. Check out Loscil’s album, Equivalents, through Kranky.
8. “MOTHER MOON” – KRIS VANGO [NVMPHS]
Once again, Kris Vango has graced us with more breathtaking dreamscapes. This trance-like composition is so enchanting, you’ll feel like you are rolling in the clouds as the soothing voice sings life into you. And a gradual wind down at the end grounds you back into reality. Kris’ album of the same name is out now via Berlin label NVMPHS.
9. “SIDE A EXCERPT” – MIKE SIMONETTI [ENMOSSED]
This trippy, atmospheric blend feels like being in some sci-fi tundra and then the tables turn into a tumbling piano melody. The soft static of a record turning can just be detected. 2MR label head, Mike Simonetti gives us a glimpse into his vast record collection with this track and his album At the Juncture of Light & Dark Vol. 8, out on September 23 through Maine-based label Enmossed. All proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood Northern New England.
10. “STILL NUMBERS” – EKIN FIL [VAAGNER]
The voice of Turkish composer Ekin Fil is completely breathtaking here. It drowns in aquatic, sorrowful soundscapes as a low crumbling of waves builds, eventually drowning all sound into nothingness. Ekin Fil and Berlin label Vaagner are strong forces in the ambient world and I highly recommend wandering through Bandcamp to get lost in this reissue of Heavy and other releases.
11. “PARTICLE” – SHUTA YASUKOCHI [VAAGNER]
These rolling, dreamy textures are the perfect lullaby. The tone is very calming, evoking patience while chimes and bells layer on top of one another. “Particle” is the closing track of Shuta Yasukochi’s Themes For A Better Tomorrow Vol. I 'In Full Bloom,' an album described by Vaagner as slowly unfolding like a story. Listen to some of the other tracks on Bandcamp before the album’s release on September 16.
12. “ENIGMA” – SABIWA [CHINABOT]
This industrial collage of flowing sound feels like being trapped in a horror film, the psychological twisted kind. With waves of jittering beeps and crushing machine clicks that somehow remain cadenced, “Enigma” is a distorted sonic journey made for those who are in need of a far-out perspective. Stay tuned for Sabiwa’s album, Daba, out in October via Chinabot.
13. “TRUE NEUTRAL” – DANIEL KLAG [MUZAN EDITIONS]
New York artist, Daniel Klag has put together an absolutely dreamy and stunning piece here. Angelic drones are finely paced with gentle rhythmic pads, creating an atmosphere that aligns well with the track’s title—not too fast, not too slow. Neutral. His album of the same name is out now via Japan label Muzan Editions.
14. “TRANSFIGURATIONS IN BLUE” – ASHAN [INNER ISLANDS]
If you’re in need of a peaceful and meditative journey, look no further. Ashan’s “Transfigurations in Blue” captures that feeling of oneness when you are alone in nature and feel connected to every living thing, every element. That could just be me, but I highly recommend giving this calm track a listen.
15. “SITTING WITH THOUGHTS” – SALAMI ROSE JOE LOUIS [BRAINFEEDER]
A surprise track I stumbled upon that I thought best left for the end! This magical sound journey is accompanied by the beautiful, soft vocals of Salami Rose Joe Louis and with the gentle guitar strings, the song has a folky and almost whimsical feel to it. The unique album, Zdenka 2080, is out now.
Listen to all of the songs together in our playlist: