Thursday, May 31

The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time: A Playlist Curated by Pitchfork

"What makes a good ambient record? I’m not sure I can even begin to answer that question, and I count myself a longtime fan of the genre, such as it is. Though conceived, ostensibly, by Brian Eno as modernist mood music—'as ignorable as it is interesting,' he wrote in the liner notes to 1978's Ambient 1: Music for Airports—the term has come to encompass 'tracks you can dance to all the way to harsh noise.' This description from composer and musician Keith Fullerton Whitman at Pitchfork may not get us any closer to a clear definition in prose, though “cloud of sound” is a lovely turn of phrase. Unlike other forms of music, there is no set of standards—both in the jazz sense of a canon and the formal sense of a set of rules. Reverberating keyboards, squelching, burping synthesizers, droning guitar feedback, field recordings, found sounds, laptops, strings… whatever it takes to get you there—'there' being a state of suspended emotion, 'drifting' rather than 'driving,' the sounds 'soothing, sad, haunting, or ominous.' (Cheerful, upbeat ambient music may be a contradiction in terms.) ..."
Open Culture (Audio)
Pitchfork: The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time (Video)

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