The 15 Best Ambient & Downtempo Tracks of September 2019

Ghunghru label founder, Ose, releases a stunning ambient album incorporating her Hindustani classical roots.
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Every month, producers and musicians alike raise the bar and challenge what the ambient and downtempo realms mean to them. With the imaginary and transcending vocals of Ose and melting, dubby electronics from Pontiac Streator, September is no exception. Piano and cello mixes make their way in as well, along with expert synth play from Steve Moore and How to Levitate. Below, you will find the top 15 tracks released in September, a list always difficult to make as there is never an end to the inspiring music!

View past selections here.

1. "I FEEL INCOMPLETE WITHOUT SOUND" – OSE [GHUNGHRU]

Opening up with “I feel incomplete without sound,” we’re plunged into spacey, twinkling synths and subdued bells that pulsate and flicker as if drifting under a beach’s shallow waters. The reverberating atmosphere is peaceful, yet imaginative as the sonic layers, both modular and vocal, develop throughout the production. Ose’s voice is ever so soft here, carrying far off like rolling waves. Inspired by Hindu ragas she grew up singing, the label-head aims to bring those classical roots and electronics together in her new album With & Without.

2. “EIGENGRAU” – STEVE MOORE [L.I.E.S.]

Enjoy this hypnotic synth ride from multi-genre musician Steve Moore. With minimal hardware, (mostly just one synth and a drum machine) this meditative track is proof that less sometimes equals more.

3. “BUT YOU TREASURE YOUR SINS (ANCIENT RELICS)” – APPROPRIATE SAVAGERY [PERFECT AESTHETICS]

An industrial atmosphere that leads with street field recordings gradually opens up into an enchanting piano melody and evolving further into a beautiful orchestra of sound. The obscure voice, heavy with static, continues the tension of chaos and elegance that is such a pleasure to listen to in ambient music.

4. “LONG DISTANCE” – HOW TO LEVITATE [LINE EXPLORATIONS]

This is such an uplifting piece that twirls and tumbles without ever feeling overdone. With far off echoing beeps and endless synth tones that weave into each other, this is what synthesizer dreams are made of.

5. “TRANSITORY” – ATMØSPHÄRE [TECHNOFONIKA]

Opening with a mysterious and desolate soundscape, this dark ambient piece develops into a solemn dream state where all who listen are lost and don’t want to be found. The melody and drones creep along extra slow, almost giving chills. Atmøsphäre’s attention to detail is unmistakable with subtle sounds amongst the choral echoes and it is much appreciated.

6. “TRIZ BEND” – PONTIAC STREATOR

Just yes. Pontiac Streator is no stranger to this list and the off-kilter, face-melting producer never disappoints. Put this dubby n’ bubbly groove on some good speakers ASAP.

7. “HASSAN” - GEORGIA [MÉTRON]

We’re taken deep into the unknown as tones cascade up and down, twinkle and echo. The electronics are delicate and playful here, pitter-pattering and warping. Expertly crafted and unexpected. Enjoy a preview of “Hassan” and “Prime Aire” below, Catch them separately on Gerogia’s album, Side Tracks on Bandcamp. 

8. “THE BUILDER” - KORINAMI [EXPÉRIMENTAL]

Lots of rippling textures and subtle clicks that sound like flipping pages. Calm, warm tones rise and fall, creating a peaceful and nostalgic atmosphere. Looking back to Korinami’s last deeper and more tribal track from March, it’s refreshing to see the artist’s range.

9. “ETUDE  9 (NADIA STRUIWIGH EXPERIMENTAL EDIT)” – VANESSA WAGNER [INFINE]

A futuristic and crumbling landscape of sonic wonder. Pounding and churning its way into the abyss, Vanessa Wagner's take on a Philip Glass classic is further experimented with by Nadia Struiwigh for an unexpected cinematic adventure. 

10. “DARK MYSTIC MARKER” – DULUOZ [ALWAYS HUMAN TAPES]

Seductively paced drones work their way through a dark and tribal atmosphere. The drumming echoes and stretched out synths are completely hypnotizing and slowly grow louder and louder as the piece moves along.

11. “I WISH FOR FEATHERS TO SPROUT FROM MY SKIN” – DJB [OPAL TAPES]

Off a label known for showcasing some of the most unapologetically experimental electronics, djb's new album, dood & verderf  ("death & decay" in Dutch), calls forth a harsh and darker take while still leaving room to play. In this particular piece, jumpy bell inflections fuse together and rupture like a race against time. It's one of those tracks where you can almost see the sounds and get lost in them immediately.  

12. “SCALABILITY” – KNAY [CIRCULAR LIMITED]

A sexy, deep track lined with acid splats and a crackling backdrop. Smooth percussions and symbols make their way in at just the right moment for a trippy, downtempo journey. 

13. “THUSNESS” – LEMNA [HORO]

Somewhere in a place where disturbing ambient and left-field techno live, lies this wicked, pounding track from Japanese artist Lemna. Twisting knocks and clicks tumble and roll as some barely audible chant repeatedly makes its way to the surface.

14. “FORGOTTEN HILL” – CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA [ROOM40]

Exploring losing direction in time, Chihei Hatakeyama takes us on a pensive journey he once made himself in a remote part of Japan. The calming, reverberating drones feel like actual snowy winds, offering the perfect meditative escape. 

15. “PARTICLE V (SEBASTIAN PLANO REWORK)” - TOM ADAMS [MODERNA]

This composition unfolds itself magically like an epic tale. Feelings of joy and longing are present in a piece that is not even three minutes long. In the cinematic and modern classical realm of ambient, this one is nothing short of stunning with just the right amount of experimental playfulness.

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