Beginner's guide to... Ambient

Which records would you include?

Music for Airports was my gateway album, but I guess also a lot of Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky opened my tastebuds up.

At work we compiled this last week, feels like a good place to start

Then on Sunday, 6 Music listeners picked 2 hours of their favourite ambient tunes - was really nice to hear Julianna Barwick on the radio

A Winged Victory for the Sullen
Non-vocal M83

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Apex Twins Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and Vol 2, for sure.

Some Loscil for sure.

Check out this Sean.


Also, not sure Jon Hopkins is ambient…


Biosphere - Substrata
Susumu Yokota - Sakura
Loscil - First Narrows




I’ll be honest that some of those selections don’t really feel ‘ambient’ - BoC, Four Tet? Great ‘gateway LPs’ though

A Winged Victory / Stars of the Lid
Tim Hecker
William Basinski

All more ‘mainstream’ ambient-type acts

But you can also come from the classical direction too…
Steve Reich
John Adams
Max Richter
Johann Johannsson (RIP)


I was listening to this on loop most of the weekend. Incredible…

The listening club would be a terrific place for anyone to start - firstly, it’s an amazing selection of records (15 so far) and it also contains loads of great discussion around influences and where to go next from the selections.

Was thinking about this (and the hip-hop club) in light of @sean’s recent posts on what direction DiS could take. I wonder if listening clubs would be of interest to the broader readership?

Think both of these are good intro shouts. Not sure if Tim Hecker is the easiest way into drone though? I found Fennesz’s Venice a really good entry point there.

I think Ravedeath is pretty accessible and seemed to blow up quite a bit in the mainstream music press.

Just clicked into some Steve Reich on spotify

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Even SAW 85-92 is basically a techno album. I don’t think an ambient record can’t have beats and we could/should argue all day and night about what is/isn’t ‘ambient’. Not sure where this post is going now.

Me too, buddy. :wink:


You’re right though. It did gain an unexpected traction.

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Obvious shout for The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. Was probably my introduction to ‘Ambient’ music.

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Or even UF Orb, which is catchier…

My entry points were:

Eluvium - Talk Amongst the Trees
Stars of the Lid - And their refinement of the decline
Biosphere - Substrata
Gas - Nah Und Fern
Johann Johannsson - Fordlandia
William Basinski - The Disintegration Loops

Not necessarily an essential album, but it was one that I got into at the same time as the above list:
Library Tapes - A Summer Beneath The Trees (a bit more lush than the other stuff here, I guess, but still bordering on ambient.)

I probably still judge all new ambient releases against these tbh.

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Terry Riley - In C
Future Sound of London - Lifeforms
Pauline Oliveros - Deep Listening

they’ve made quite a few decent albums but the first stands out of me. Hearing Peel play A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld at 2am on head phones when I was 15 absolutely blew my mind.

UFOrb is great though. Two of the newer albums, Moonbuilding 2703 AD and COW (chill out world) are also really really good…

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This was the second ambient album I picked up after SAW 2. Was a great entry point tbf

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