BEST AMBIENT The Best Ambient Music on Bandcamp, January 2024 By Ted Davis · January 24, 2024

Each month, writer, musician, and DJ Ted Davis wanders through the ethereal outskirts of Bandcamp. Embracing a fluid, forward-thinking approach to ambient, anything deemed worthy of the genre tag is considered fair game for this column. To kick off 2024, here’s a roundup of atmospheric live jams, vibe-y downtempo beats, deconstructed jangle pop, and more.

Nailah Hunter

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Nailah Hunter cut her teeth in the Los Angeles New Age scene, crafting harp music suffused with pastoral whimsy. As the CalArts grad’s sound has evolved, Hunter has pushed into increasingly ornate terrain; she’s developed a commanding voice as a songwriter, while also ceaselessly honing her musicianship. Lovegaze, Hunter’s long-awaited full-length debut, arrives via influential indie label Fat Possum. It came to life in the UK, first on the coast of the English Channel and later in London, with producer Cicely Goulder. Across 10 tracks, Hunter’s harp darts in and out of light, jazzy grooves and sleek production. Equally indebted to Nancy Sinatra, Dorothy Ashby, and Julianna Barwick, Lovegaze is one of the most wholeheartedly beautiful records I’ve heard in quite some time. Over the last few years, countless artists have tried to pivot from pop arrangements to peaceful, freeform ambient. It’s exciting to hear Hunter attempt the opposite—backtracking, to infuse cascading freak folk with grounding structure.

Piper Spray & Lena Tsibizova
Debtor Of Presence

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Sydney-based label Theory Therapy is an extension of Low End Theorists, which touts itself as “an imprint specializing in the stranger side of ambient music.” On releases from artists like Conna Haraway and Concave Reflection (aka Purelink’s Tommy Paslaski), the label has successfully embodied its wonky ethos. With the imprint’s latest release, Debtor Of Presence, Theory Therapy shines a light on Russian artists Piper Spray and Lena Tsibizova, who typically make music as Air Krew. The gauzy record came to life over the course of three years, and ruminates on time, place, and memory. Across 14 tracks, crackly sound effects offset misty synths. Sometimes—like on the track “Fisher”—things are serene and spa-like. At other points, though, the music is more intriguingly off putting. Mastered by rising Australian artist Other Joe, Debtor Of Presence provides a snapshot of an intriguingly off-kilter moment for the electronic underground.


Piezo is known for putting a feisty spin on techno-laced dubstep. On releases for labels including Wisdom Teeth and Version, the Milan-based producer and DJ has doled out skull-rattling sounds for discombobulating dancefloors. Piezo’s new record, Soothe, emphasizes his subdued side. A collection of airy loops and sketches, these 12 tracks split the difference between left-field downtempo and full-blown ambience. It’s centered on drum machines and muted synth leads, which call to mind some surrealistic lounge. On cuts like “oh man, there was a lot of tiny weird animals,” “Hadi Hadi,” and “Wacky Water Kooler,” Piezo lets his usual taste for dense programming shine bright. But for the most part, Soothe lives up to its laidback title—an intricate record that highlights the rejuvenating potential of percussion and bloops.

V. Kristoff, Yu Ogu & Precipitation
Transcendental Meeting at Hatagaya

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As Precipitation, Tokyo-based synthesist Zefan Sramek has asserted himself as a master of airy house and pink-hued soundscaping. His approach to sound design is academic and groundbreaking, but Sramek’s output always seems effortless. Sramek’s latest release, Transcendental Meeting at Hatagaya, is a live recording from a show he performed with V. Kristoff and Yu Ogu at the Tokyo space Forestlimit. The trio’s playing hovers around a low-octave drone peppered with dubbed-out sound effects. Trebly string-work and key flourishes occasionally punctuate the murk, allowing the record to exude the spontaneity of a jazz jam. Transcendental Meeting at Hatagaya is issued by the new Tokyo label Ato Archives, and appears alongside records from Seiji Nagai and Tomonao Koshikawa in a promising first run of releases. Sramek’s dancier side is highlighted on another January release, Live At BushBash II, which was issued by Jungle Gym Records.


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On Sequentia, Russian guitarist Marat Shainsky (aka Frunk29) strips jangle pop to its roots. In place of vocals or straightforward arrangements, youthful nostalgia bubbles up from the ether. Vast strumming and bittersweet melodies rest atop barren, almost nonexistent grooves. At its warmest, the music here sounds like what I imagined Fennesz’s Endless Summer would be like, before I actually pressed play on that searing masterpiece. The back half of Sequentia is more quintessentially ambient, carried by pearly synth arpeggiations, supported by a thin fog of tape hiss. But the most singular moments on Sequentia are the ones that embrace Shainsky’s lonesome fretwork, and put an experimental spin on ‘80s college rock. Issued by California psychedelia stalwarts Not Not Fun, the record offers a slice of pure summer bliss for the dead of winter.

Forest Hills

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Hunter P. Thompson is best known for his work under the monikers Akasha System and DJ Panthr. For the better part of the last decade, the Florida-based producer has masterfully doused electro rhythms in a soft, neon hue. It’s a mesmerizing formula, which calls to mind the blissed-out club music of Daphni and DJ Python. On Forest HillsThompson’s new record under the fresh moniker Tegu—he strips his music of its trademark drum sequencing. In place of shuffling grooves, hazy synth pads and outdoorsy field recordings shuffle under an easygoing spotlight. The record mostly came to life over the course of a single day, and one can practically feel the humidity and Spanish moss growing off of the outcome.

Itsï Ramirez
New Animals

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
✓ following

Itsï Ramirez is a Chicago-based avant-garde composer. On New Animalsher new record for Philadelphia experimental imprint No Rent—she explores the intersection of provocative noise and Steve Reichian ambience. Warily, yet proudly owning its sonic scars, the five-track album came to life as an attempt to harken back to the rough-hewn aspects of early electronic music. The whole thing is both mesmerizing and brutal, like it emerged from a sheet of twinkling chrome with razor-sharp edges.

Mike Cooper & Andrew Tuttle
One Volt per Ampere

Independently, Mike Cooper and Andrew Tuttle create unconventional sounds using country-indebted musical palettes. Cooper is a seasoned Italian lap steel player and singer, whose dense body of work lands somewhere in between folk and musique concrète. Tuttle is an Australian banjo player and guitarist, whose last full-length, Fleeting Adventure, was one of my favorite records of 2022. Issued by Lawrence English’s daunting label Room40, One Volt per Ampere finds Cooper and Tuttle joining forces for the first time. The 20-minute piece came to life over the course of an afternoon, after the duo met while performing at OHM Festival in Brisbane. It’s made up of three separate jams played in the same key, which the pair stitched together to surprisingly cohesive ends. One Volt per Ampere is glitchy and mesmerizing, highlighting an uncharacteristically melodic side of Cooper’s formula, as well as the most contemporary aspects of Tuttle’s earthy sound.

Dew Life

Bloooom is something of an ambient supergroup. The project is made up of Brazilian guitarist Carlos Ferreira; dublab employee/Ki Oni mastermind Chuck Soo Hoo; bu.re_’s Devin Blair; and Amsterdam-based synthesist Luke Elliott. In tandem, the quartet craft clean, shimmering cuts that feel at once freewheeling and meticulous. Dew Lifethe quartet’s new album for A RED THREAD—is peaceful, and just a touch melancholy. Across five tracks, cinematic woodwinds and bendy string-work rest atop a bed of burbling synthesis. The record basks in chilly whimsy, calling to mind Emeralds and mid-‘00s post-rock.

Doris Saturday

Doris Saturday is a musical project from designer and musician Roby Saavedra. I became aware of his work through releases on the label Mechanical, which has issued a number of 2-step singles from the Philadelphia-based producer. But Saavedra has an atmospheric side, which is showcased on the curt EP Memorylessness. Across three tracks, crystalline synthlines rest atop sparse, click-y drum machines and strange samples. The whole thing is frosty, meditative, and pristine. It calls to mind the seminal IDM of Boards Of Canada, or Loraine James’s naturalistic side project Whatever The Weather. More of Saavedra’s ambient explorations are collected on the personal website Mood Palace, meaning that the tastefully-underpopulated Doris Saturday Bandcamp page is only the tip of the iceberg for those looking to dig a little deeper.

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