Ambient music is unique in that it spans such a wide variety of other genres. Here you’ll find selections that really stood out in October with their lush textures and industrial nuances. There have been several notable VA compilations from the likes of C Minus, Orphan Records, Corridor Audio, Lowless Records and Ghostly International featuring top ambient and downtempo gems along with exploratory and infectious beats from LA's Brown Irvin and New York-based producer Galcher Lustwerk.
1. “LOCUTION” – BROWN IRVIN [MOTION WARD]
Off his two-track 12”, Run Me That Soul, LA-based producer Brown Irvin brings some true experimental fire. “Locution” pokes and prods at stability with rickety dub lines and flexing acid waves. Have a listen here and peep its more atmospheric partner, "Overcast," on Bandcamp.
2. “INVISIBLE MACHINE” – CELESTIAL TRAX [TRUE AETHER]
Experimenting a lot with tone and frequency, ambient genius Celestial Trax has shifted into more minimal waters, but unveiling a very towering sound that is all-consuming. “Invisible Machine” comes off the producer’s album Listen, Hear, Know, Become, Be out on November 15.
3. “MORNING REVELATIONS” – CYSPE [LOWLESS]
This smooth deep ambient cut is so aquatic and dreamy. Paired with a sexy bass and warm tones, it calls to mind an island sunrise, much like the title suggests. The piece comes off Confluence, the new compilation series from Lowless incorporating deep and dub techno tracks inspired by nature.
4. “FRUTTO” – LUIS [ORPHAN]
Off a compilation made to raise awareness on mental health for the Child Mind Institute, this bubbly beat gleams with uplifting chimes and snappy-smooth percussions. It is also super meditative, perfect for a drive alone on the open road.
5. “KONFUSION” – JONAS MEYER [SEREIN]
A delicately layered dream with luscious textures, leftfield piano keys, and finely placed transmission with the volume going up and down. As the volume increases, the static moans into a consuming, pulsating backdrop. Though this makes you feel like you’re moving in and out of two atmospheres, it’s a pleasant transition, complimenting the track’s mysterious, yet comforting mood.
6. “MELLAN” – DAKIM [LEAVING]
Drum rolls give way to a lush bubbling atmosphere that warps and ripples in different directions. A synth melody brings on 80s nostalgia as the sounds build on top of each other gradually, always keeping things spicy without ever overflowing.
7. “TRANCE GENEALOGY” – STEVE ROACH [PROJEKT]
Ambient and atmospheric mastermind, Steve Roach, delivered his album Trance Archaeology this month and this track is one of the more wondrous and glistening additions I was drawn to. Being almost 16 minutes long, you can just let this one play and let go. Echoing drones seem to blow with the wind and gentle melodic pads pulsate as if the sound is alive. Maybe it is.
8. “CATCHING FIRE SLOWLY” – CABASA [NO SUIT]
Mysterious echoes move through a twinkling and melancholic soundscape like walking down an endless dark tunnel. The melody here is very calming with occasional soft lasers and twitches of sound making the journey unexpected without disrupting the pace.
9. “FEELING REMEMBERING” – ULLA STRAUS
More ambient exploration from Ulla Straus, an artist who manages to put listeners in a dreamlike state with her music, making them feel as if they are a part of the creation. Well, at least that’s how I feel!
10. “GRAVITY FAX” – VAXOID [CORRIDOR AUDIO]
A rolling ambient techno piece with a dark and tense mood. The way the rippling sounds echo off each other makes you feel as though you’re in some post-apocalyptic underground lair.
11. “ANOTHER STORY” – GALCHER LUSTWERK [GHOSTLY]
Cleveland raised, New York-based producer and DJ, Galcher Lustwerk brings his smooth, psychedelic hip-hop essence to his Ghostly debut, Information, with touches of jazz and velvety rap vocals. “Another Story’s” steady drums and moody synth lines call to mind a laid-back Afterhours with Lustwerk’s honest words flowing like fragmented memories.
12. "ROADRUNNER” – PAN-AL [APOLLO]
The track title is perfect for this one. A breezy, tranquil atmosphere accompanied by speedy percussions. Part break-beat flow, part dream-like lullaby, this unique piece could weave right into any set or be the perfect tune to start your day.
13. “MESA” – EMILY A SPRAGUE [GHOSTLY]
To celebrate its 20th year, Ghostly International sought submissions of gentle, melodic pieces from artists like Space Afrika, Grand River, Sarah Davachi, and Rafael Anton Irisarri for their special VA, Thousands of Eyes in the Dark. Included here is LA-based modular synthesizer expert, Emily A Sprague, with a wondrous and twinkling addition that folds and floats like drifting clouds.
14. “THE TREE OF THE RUSTLING SOUND” – ROBERT HEEL [SHIMMERING MOODS]
On the dubbier side of ambient and techno is this smooth, lo-fi track. The 'rustling sound’ is expertly captured with a wistful, trembling backdrop. The pads are quiet, letting the mystery of the crackling whispers take hold.
15. “PIER.SALUT” – KOYIL [C MINUS]
Trippy ambient collective C Minus is back at it again with another sick VA. The opener was my personal favorite and had to be included for the best of October. With a warm, sensuous pace and smooth percussions, producer Koyil takes us through an almost forest-like atmosphere. The subtle thrumming nuances add to the layers of sound, temporarily taking you out of this reality for a bit.