Ambient - 50 Best Albums


According to Pitchfork:

Not sure I like that much ambient stuff tbh but I am increasingly finding I like stuff that gets described as drone/ambient (basically stuff I’ve come to via Grouper, who I adore).

Anyway…good list? Bad list? Obvious omissions? Any slightly more obscure favourites you’d include?


I can’t quite articulate why, but I proper hate that ignorable/interesting Eno quote. Crops up all the time as well.

List itself is fine yeah. Though I would probably include this:


it’s a good list, but feels very safe especially the #1 pick and with Eno being a constant presence. Good for an introduction to the genre, but I feel like someone with a bit more knowledge would make a more interesting list.


There’s definitely some LPs from the 70s and 80s in there I don’t really know so appreciate the list for that. Not sure in a list of only 50 that 2 Oneohtrix albums should make the grade. Some obvious but right choices otherwise I guess like Stars of the Lid, Eno, Aphex etc.

Would probably add Robert Rich and Lustmord’s ‘Stalker’ album as seminal dark ambient and a personal favourite Kyle Bobby Dunn’s ‘Kyle Bobby Dunn and the Infinite Sadness’


Very timely list as I’ve been looking to get into more ambient music.
I’ve been listening to Music For Airports a lot recently. Apart from Eno, Aphex, Grouper, Tim Hecker & Oneohtrix Point Never I’ve not really heard the rest of the list.
Looking forward to doing some digging into some of the others listed.


Also these seem like important omissions to me:

Global Communication’s '76:14’
Gavin Bryars 'The Sinking of the Titanic’
Philip Jeck


why is there no Hiroshi Yoshimura


Also missing Manuel Göttschings E2-E4 or more drones-related stuff like Double Leopards.

But the ones in the list are all great.


Substrata at 38. Whatever else is in here, the list is definitively wrong!


There’s some great albums in there (probably 8-10 that would be in my top 50) and of course hundreds of great albums that aren’t there, strikes me as a little odd perhaps to have the likes of bing & ruth (fantastic album) and not so many other semi modern classical artists like arnalds or frahm, o’halloran (not that popularity should be the counter) it’s just makes it apparent that it’s probably one of the writers big favourite. Which is fine, but makes me feel inclined to agree with Siavash a bit,

I know it’s all just opinion and semantics but the OF ALL TIME does gnark a little.

I usually pounce on the oppurtunity to write a list but i’ll restrain myself,

no boats albums is just silly though.


bad comparisons, meh


Glad to see Evening Star is in there.

The last track ‘An Index of Metals’ is a half-hour headfuck worth checking out.


No FSOL Lifeforms. Which is wrong. I think.


Most of the reaction from ambient artists is fairly negative of the whole thing. Siavash Amini saying the following:

Actually I love most of the choices on the P4K list & obviously there are very different albums I love that are not there, but thats not the point ; My problem is that we have to summarize a vast genre into best/good/worst to get peoples attention. Its like 10 best ways/to get killer abs approach. Although its informational & necessary for some writers to guide people who are new to some genre, or list the years unmissable albums, but its absolutely laughable to come up with such titles for it. It`s great to write about something you like, love or truly believe in. But finding the authority in yourself/to name your article Best… of ALL TIME ( and with such limited diversity of writers, for example gender wise- 12 male and 1 female), is a bit too much.

I agree with him completely, but also feel like this is just the way a lot of music journalism is and has been for the last ten years or so? Bit depressing.


People complaining about clickbait journalism. Door, horse, bolted.


I think you can still criticise after the horse is bolted when you’ve still got 40 horses and a very servicable bolt.

The strange thing is when “the best of all time” is pushed as definitive, which it almost certainly isn’t. I have been hosting an ambient podcast for near on three years and i’m not even close to being able to create a 50 definitive list of ambient albums. Not even close. It’s like saying “the 50 best rock albums”, and that includes stuff from early blues rock and roll all the way through to recent synthmetal. It is too broad, especially when “ambient” is commonlly used as a catch-all word for anything that isn’t rhythm based.

The list seems good. It’s passable.


It’s still fair criticism though, shouldn’t music journalism from one of the largest music websites be held to a higher standard? I agree with you that it’s too late to change for most publications, and yes it’s a tired topic to moan about, but that doesn’t make the source of frustration any less frustrating.


I love how gender neutral ambient is - I know there are far more male artists and they defintely get more exposure, but I rarely pay attention to the gender of the artists, because by it’s very nature the music stands alone (or at least very separate) from the personality of the artists.

That being said, it is pretty odd to have such a crappy split of gender.


Some thought on the list.

  1. Loose definition of ambient, I think. Quite like my own podcast definition of ambient. I mean, I don’t think Tim Hecker’s Virgins is ambient. Nor Harmony in Ultraviolet, to be frank. Or even Oneohtrix Point Never.
  2. Far too many entries from Eno man. Even considering the myth that he “created” the genre, and that I consider Ambient 4: On Land to be a stonewall classic, the Harold Budd record is a strange choice.
  3. Personally, if you’ve going to include Hecker you should have Ben Frost in there.
  4. I’d consider, personally, Loscil a real innnovator, but I don’t know what the opinion is outside of that.


I think you’re right about the overemphasis of Eno- probably ‘Music for Airports’ and ‘On Land’ would be enough? I quite like some Harold Budd solo stuff but find The Pearl patience-testing and the Laraaji album is good not a great. Apollo also has a slightly corny soft rock second half.

Good call on Loscil too- a really underappreciated artist. Pan-American too need some love.