The Best New Ambient Music on Bandcamp, March 2018

best ambient

There are infinite atmospheric worlds available on Bandcamp. From the dreamy to the nightmarish, and the meditative to the deeply unsettling, these compositions often fall under the ambient umbrella. Albums without words that are deeply thoughtful and thought-provoking in their own way—these releases come from all corners of the globe. Every month, Aurora Mitchell will take you through the best ambient releases. In this edition, there’s music for snow days, reissued ‘80s Japanese ambient, and themes of loss and emptiness.

Wim Dehaen
12 Elegies For Pierre Boulez / Ústí OST

The latest from experimental London label ACR, a double album, comes from Prague-based musician Wim Dehaen. The first LP of the pair was created in honor of French classical composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, and is intended to be listened to as if its tracks are Boulez’s compositions turned inside out. It consists of 12 short passages that linger with the suspense of horror soundtracks. When closer “PB12” fades into silence, there’s a short pause for a deep breath. Ústí OST is a contrasting partner, a gorgeous and relaxing film soundtrack (for a short work by experimental filmmaker Lukáš Janičík); throughout, the beautiful glide of piano lifts listeners up to the heights of fluffy clouds.

Somta
Aarde

Last year, Leeds-based producer Somta released their first album, Surface to air, a dark and introspective offering. Exactly one year later, they return with their follow-up, Aarde. It starts off in blistering fashion, with bizarre voices echoing through a whipped-up wind: Every star is just a sail in the brain of the universe,they whisper. “Khiōn” is one of the album’s highlights, boasting intergalactic melodies and sliding pads. The gust of noise that blew through Surface to air is present here, but there are more moments of soft elegance, like the pleasant drift of “Ganos” and the shiny, high-pitched waves of “Zophos.” But the album really reaches an apex with “Phōs,” which makes excellent use of space (and cosmic bleeps).

Dame Cook
music for snow days

We may be in early spring, but snow is still wreaking wintry havoc around the world, leaving people housebound while the ground is covered and transport is halted. Ontario’s Dame Cook’s four-track release is designed to soundtrack these days, titled, appropriately enough, music for snow days. While the track titles reference ice and freezing temperatures, the music is neither frosty nor cold; it has the sparkling, dewy atmosphere of a world slowly thawing. Flutes flutter dreamily across the bare bones of the first track, “glacial drift.” The record alternates between the twinkling instrumentation of that song and “under the glass” to the sluggish, meandering charm of “frosted panes” and “alpine train track.”

Hiroshi Yoshimura
Music For Nine Post Cards

A few years after Hiroshi Yoshimura’s death in 2003, his music started slowly finding its way onto popular mixes and playlists, and the demand for his music grew so much that many titles were repressed. His first album, Music For Nine Post Cards, was finally reissued last year, and it proves that few composers capture the elegance of space, the balance of hope and sadness, and the healing power of ambient music quite like Yoshimura does. It’s the perfect soundtrack to drift slowly to sleep to, the silence between each note more poignant in the darkness.

Tape Sounds
The Greys

the greys

This album by Tape Sounds, on Tokyo-based label I Low You Records, has a despondent tone; The Greys is a collection of loops that center around feelings of loss, emptiness, and blankness. Each loop is two minutes or less, giving only brief snapshots of ideas or sequences before swiftly moving on. Despite the theme, there are a lot of magical, bright sounds on The Greys. It’s a largely guitar-based record, taking simple chords and notes and stretching them with the charm of delay.

Meitei / 冥丁
Meisui / 冥水

After delivering a standout release from last month’s column with the deeply unsettling and beautiful Kwaidan / 怪, it’s a delight to see that Hiroshima-based composer Meitei / 冥丁 has more to share with listeners. Meisui / 冥水 is a delightfully warped take on the light woodwind percussion and sounds of running water that often glide throughout many older ambient records from Japan. The aquatic samples here replicate not a bubbling stream in the distance, but the disorienting feeling of plunging yourself underwater and listening to the world become muffled around you.

Denis Morin
Cold Ubiquity

Denis Morin

Denis Morin’s newest offering for French label Là-haut Dans L’Océan is a lush exploration of birds chirping in echoing circles, watery samples, and shimmering pads. Cold Ubiquity plays with the tones and pitches of a large variety of bird calls. The second half of the record is more synth-based, with pixelated melodies fluttering throughout. Some of the tracks were recorded in a 1400m altitude environment, and the whole record was made to be listened at that altitude “while snow melts in a little stream on the path.”

-Aurora Mitchell

6 Comments

  1. Posted June 9, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I went to the listening/release party for this last night and was completely shook… https://ellingtonpeet.bandcamp.com/album/expectations

  2. ts
    Posted April 3, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    thank you for this

  3. Drizzley Atoms
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Or maybe…

    https://anotherneglectedhobby.bandcamp.com/album/meditation

  4. Posted March 28, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    look fwd to this column urry month, thank you Aurora

  5. dekubaby
    Posted March 28, 2018 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    just thought this should go here
    https://tidecruz.bandcamp.com/album/ambient-vol-1

  6. everett
    Posted March 27, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    https://pettycord.bandcamp.com

    what about this one??

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