Best Ambient of 2018

December 9th, 2018

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As much as I like end-of-the-year lists, I also get a bit anxious about them. As I compile them I keep thinking that I've missed something. Then as I'm re-listening to albums I start thinking "Is this one really that good?" & "Maybe this one deserves a slot...or this one...or this one..." Eventually I realize that these lists aren't anything definitive that I'll be judged on. Unless there's an ambient god in ambient heaven who will let me in or cast me out based on a lifetime of music choices. In that case I will pay for having listened to so much Enya in the 90s. ;-)


So after that meandering introduction, here is my Best of 2018 list and mix. As you'll see, the list is longer than the mix. That's mostly due to not wanting a 4 hour mix and also to some stuff just not fitting sonically. 


It was another good year for music. Between my ambient/electronic fandom and my continued obsession with indie music, I barely have time to breathe sometimes. I'll post some links to Spotify playlists that kept me going this year.


In alphabetical order, here's the list of my favorite ambient albums of 2018:


1. A Strangely Isolated Place - Full Circle

2. Albrecht La'Brooy - Tidal River [2018]

3. Christina Vantzou - no. 4 [2018]

4. Dean McPhee - Four Stones [2018]

5. Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society - Wow and Flutter [six degrees 2018]

6. Eli Keszler - Stadium

7. Frank Bretschneider - Lunik

8. From the Mouth of the Sun - Sleep Stations

9. G. B. Beckers - Walkman

10. GiGi Masin - kite

11. Halftribe - For The Summer - Or Forever

12. Helios - Veriditas

13. Hibernis - Middle of the Meds

14. Joseph Shabason - Anne

15. Kasper Bjorke Quartet - The Fifty Eleven Project

16. Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo

17. Klangriket & Sjors Mans - The Amsterdam Sessions

18. Leon Vynehall - Nothing Is Still

19. Lost Tribe Sound - We Stayed The Path That Fell To Shadow

20. Luton - Black Box Animals

21. Markus Guentner - Empire

22. Monty Adkins - Empire

23. Ocoeur - Inner

24. Olafur Arnalds - Re;member

25. Rival Consoles - Persona

26. Robert Davies - Elemental Shimmer

27. TAYLOR DEUPREE - Fallen

28. The Advisory Circle - Ways of Seeing

29. Triac - departure

30. William Selman - Musica Enterrada

 

 

And here's the mix:

 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Leon Vynehall - From The Sea It Looms(Nothing is Still)
  • 04:12    The Advisory Council - The Soft Dissolve(Ways of Seeing)
  • 07:20    Ocoeur - Mother(Inner)
  • 12:50    Halftribe - Balm(For The Summer-Or Forever)
  • 16:07    Helios - Harmonia(Veriditas)
  • 19:30    Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society - She Brought The Sun(Wow & Flutter)
  • 26:28    Klangriket & Sjors Mans - Prinsengracht(The Amsterdam Sessions)
  • 31:47    William Selman - The Island Before The Internet(Musica Enterrada)
  • 36:11    Eli Keszler - Which Swarms Around It(Stadium)
  • 38:46    Taylor Deupree - The Lost Sea(Fallen)
  • 43:51    Need A Name - Road to Berlin(A Strangley Isolated Place - Full Circle)
  • 49:00    William Ryan Fritch - Burrow(Lost Tribe Sound - We Stayed The Path That Fell To Shadow)
  • 53:24    Olafur Arnalds - Undir(Re;member)
  • 58:15    Frank Bretschneider - Optik(Lunik)
  • 1:01:28    Kasper Bjorke Quartet - Os(The Fifty Eleven Project)
  • 1:12:48    Rival Consoles - I Think So(Persona)
  • 1:16:58    Markus Guentner - Refraction(Empire)
  • 1:25:20    Christina Vaztzou - No. 4 String Quartet(no. 4)
  • 1:28:02    Robert Davies - Tangled Undergrowth(Elemental Shimmer)
  • 1:35:28    Monty Adkins - Empire(Empire)
  • 1:41:31    Triac - departure three(departure)
  • 1:45:32    Luton - Ice Museum(Black Box Animals)
  • 1:49:22    G.B. Beckers - Klandschwaden(Walkman)
  • 1:54:19    Albrecht La'Brooy - Datbreak(Tidal River)
  • 1:59:24    end

 

 
 
 
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The Dreamer Descends - InSight Lands on Mars

November 26th, 2018

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After six months of travel from Earth, NASA's InSight spacecraft is on a precise trajectory to land on Mars. If all goes well it should be touching down on the surface of the red planet about 6 hours after this mix is initially posted.

 

The tracks for this mix have all been selected to tell the story of InSight and its journey to Mars. The track titles take us chronologically from Farewell, O Earth to Between Two Worlds to Arrival to Descent to Landing to Sunrise on Mars.

 

Godspeed InSight!

 

Cheers!

 

 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Murcof & Vanessa Wagner - Farewell, O World, O Earth
  • 07:15     Warmth - Insight
  • 14:50    Moon Wiring Club - Between Two Worlds
  • 15:52    Rival Consoles - Untravel
  • 21:10    Johann Johannsson - Arrival
  • 23:27    Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Mars
  • 27:05    Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Mars Theme
  • 28:40    Ohrwert - Angle of Incidence
  • 30:05    Pye Corner Audio - Descent
  • 31:15    Steve Roach - The Dreamer Decends
  • 35:30    Seabuckthorn - Blackout
  • 38:08    Tonepoet & Cloudfall - Free Falling Through Life's Cavernous Atmosphere
  • 43:25    Porya Hatami - Landing
  • 45:25    The Future Sound Of London - The Dust Settles
  • 48:25    Dirac - Elysium
  • 51:56    Lights Out in Asia - All Is Quiet In The Valley
  • 55:18    Heavenchord - Sunrise on Mars
  • 60:13    Julien Marchal - Insight XIV
  • 62:45    end

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Breathe Deep

November 17th, 2018

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I work in TV news so as you can imagine with the midterm elections, wildfires, mass shootings, presidential tweets, etc., things can get pretty crazy. Sometimes you need to step back and take a breath. That's where this new mix comes in.

 

This collection is called "Breathe Deep" because all the tunes have a pace to them that sort of mimics breathing. In and out, back and forth, ebb and flow. It's similar to three other mixes I've done that follow the same path. This works very well as a sleep mix because it follows the slow breathing of a sleepy human(and dog).

 

Breathe deeeeeep.

 

Cheers!

 

 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Helios - Mulier
  • 06:25    Deepspace - Dark Dark Blue
  • 14:25    Max Corbacho - Starlight Grace
  • 20:12    Chequerboard - A Field of Night
  • 26:07    Tonepoet & Cloudfall - A Recollection of Distances
  • 34:08    Time Rival - Thorn Bird
  • 40:04    Billow Observatory - Montclair
  • 44:20    Steve Roach - Magnificent Gallery
  • 52:45    Laraaji - Introspection
  • 63:16    end
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Shimmering Land

November 4th, 2018

 

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I have collaborated with Paul Asbury Seaman and several mixes and I look forward each and every one. Paul's mixes tend to be more ethereal, spiritual than mine and that's why I enjoy them so much. they take me on journeys I would go on otherwise.

 

They way Paul and I work on these mixes is he sends me his well thought out tracklist in order. Then I just mix them together so they flow well. Essentially, Paul does all the heavy lifting.

 

So here is our latest collab - Shimmering Land. Paul had this to say about it:

 

"Meg Bowles is one of the few (prominent) female artists working in the ambient/electronic genre. She has only released five albums, including Evensong earlier this year, seven years after her last one, so there’s cause for celebration. All her albums are top-notch ethereal/soothing journeys similar to the tracks by other artists featured here. This mix includes a beautiful piece by Deborah Martin from her recent compilation."

 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Cheers!

 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Meg Bowles - Into the Gloaming (The Shimmering Land 2013)
  • 08:25    Sherry Finzer & Tom Moore - Infinite Space (Whispers From Silence 2016)
  • 14:30    Alio Die - Radiance Revealed (Time Zone Portal 2017)
  • 22:25    Ishq - Scielienta (Lyght 2018)
  • 27:30    Jeff Greinke - High Flyers of the Night Sky (Before Sunrise 2018)
  • 35:50    Meg Bowles - The Forgotten Valley (From the Dark Earth 1999)
  • 42:55    Zero Ohms - Glimpsing the Eternal (Process of Being 2014)
  • 55:00    Deborah Martin - Blue Lake (Selections 2018)
  • 61:10    bvdub - Rainless [R]ivers (A Different Definition of Love 2018)
  • 72:07    end

 

 

 
 
 
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Shadowland Diaries

October 27th, 2018

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I stumbled upon the song "Was The Singing Bellowing" by Eli Keszler while listening to Spotify at work and I immediately knew I wanted to make a Halloween mix. The tune creates this great odd feeling without being too dark.

As I have stated here before, I'm not a fan of dark ambient. Especially the dissonant, droney kind of dark ambient. So when I've made Halloween/dark mixes before they have tended to be more off kilter than straight up dark. This mix leans more towards acoustic arrangements than electronic. It also leans heavily on new music with all but 3 or 4 songs having been released in 2018.

Grab a bowl of candy, a Dead Guy Ale and sit on the front porch with this mix blaring from the speakers as you wait for the trick-or-treaters to show up.

 

Cheers!

 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Eli Keszler - Was The Singing Bellowing
  • 03:25    Luton - Step Into The Void
  • 06:25    Gamardah Fungus - Actus Fidei
  • 11:52    Christine Vantzou - Doorway
  • 17:18    Seabuckthorn - Blackout
  • 19:55    Grouper - Wind & Snow
  • 23:15    Sarah Davachi - Evensong
  • 26:26    Spheruleus - I Could Live Here
  • 29:33    The Caretaker - Advanced Plaque Entaglements
  • 30:55    High Plains - The Buttes
  • 35:05    Fred Frith - No Birds
  • 37:00    Ólafur Arnalds - Before the Calm
  • 38:00    Tim Hecker - Boreal Kiss 3
  • 39:25    Wil Bolton - A Garden Lost
  • 42:25    Peter Gabriel - In Doubt
  • 43:38    Luton - Black Concrete
  • 48:25    Peppermoth - Underground
  • 52:25    Stars of the Lid - F*cked Up 3:57am
  • 57:25    From the Mouth of the Sun - Risen, Darkened
  • 61:38    end

 

 

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mental medication

October 15th, 2018

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My hometown baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, had a fantastic finish to close the regular season. They captured the central division title and are now in the playoffs. I am loving every minute of it but it's also stressful as heck! I am definitely too old for this kind of roller coaster ride.

I went to the first two games of the playoffs and between standing for half the game, clapping on every pitch, screaming my head off and the adrenaline rush of close games, I am exhausted! I don't know if I'll last the whole post-season.

So I figured I needed a little "mental medication" and came up with this mix. It's even more soothing than my normal ambient mix. This is music for meditation. Music for contemplation. Music for concentrating...on destroying the Dodgers. Oops! See that's exactly why I need this mix. Haha! This mix actually is a meditative type of mix that you could almost play in a spa. If that spa was way cooler than a normal spa and it played good music.

 

Cheers and Go Brewers!

 

 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Sonmi451 - Angel
  • 05:22    Bengalfuel - Arcs
  • 09:40    Julia Rovinsky - An Arc of Doves
  • 15:40    Ruven Nunez - As Above, So Below
  • 26:05    The Heart is Awake - Ec
  • 30:35    Spheruleus - Saturday Drones
  • 37:35    Hiroshi Yoshimura - Clouds
  • 42:30    Alex Crispin - Rosewater
  • 47:00    Raul Lovisoni & Francesco Messina - Prati Bagnati Del Monte Analogo
  • 58:45    Eternell - Resting On The Surface Of A Stream
  • 74:30    Ruven Nunez - As Below, So Above
  • 96:00    end
 
 

 

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Memories are an old film

October 7th, 2018

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The idea for this mix came from a track by Andrew Sherwell on his wonderful new album, Orthodox Tales, released by the excellent label Whitelabrecs.


https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/orthodox-tales



The song, "And the Smoke of the Incense," starts off with the sound of a film projector. That sound is strangely evocative and I love how it sounds in that cut. After hearing that tune I created a folder called "My Life is an Old Film" and I would occasionally toss in similar sounding tracks. Eventually I collected enough cuts for a mix and decided to change the name to "Memories are an Old Film."


Many of these tracks have a bit of noise and scratchiness that one would associate with an old 8mm film. I added a few film projector sound fx here and there to continue the vibe.


Cheers!



T R A C K L I S T :

 

  • 00:00    Andrew Sherwell - And the Smoke of the Incense(2018)
  • 03:15    L. Pierre - 1948 part 2(2017)
  • 08:45    Ghost And Tape - Eostre(2017)
  • 13:25    Luton - Spectres of Mark(2018)
  • 15:38    Masaya Kato - Desensitization(2018)
  • 18:05    Max Richter - Old Song(2004)
  • 19:55    The Caretaker - Synapse Retrogenesis(2018)
  • 21:30    Parallelism - Tapes(2018)
  • 25:30    Lusine - drip(2004)
  • 27:25    Clem Leek - Rogers Park(2018)
  • 30:50    Aaron Martin - Memories are Drifting Bells(2018)
  • 32:15    Ashlar - Same Fate(2018)
  • 36:15    Tape Loop Orchestra - Inner Voice(2018)
  • 43:30    Time Rival - Carbon Fever pt. 3(2018)
  • 49:55    Max Richter - Shadow Journal(2004)
  • 52:10    The Caretaker - Advanced Plaque Entanglements(2018)
  • 53:55    Kilchhofer - Nihic(2018)
  • 57:41    Dakota Suite - De Ziekte Van Emile(2018)
  • 61:04    end

 

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Rivers & Roads

September 16th, 2018

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I'm not sure where this mix started but I've had a playlist on Spotify called "Rivers & Roads" for awhile. It's mostly acoustic, folk tunes dealing with, you guessed it - rivers and roads. I figured it might make for a nice change of pace.


The mix alternates between vocal tunes & instrumentals. All of which have the typical Low Light Mixes feel.  It also works nicely as a soundtrack for fall.


Easily my favorite song is the one from Damien Jurado. "Over Rainbows & Rainier" is from his wonderful 2018 album, "The Horizon Just Laughed." If you like this tune check out the rest of the album.


I hope everyone enjoys this vocal diversion. We'll be back to electronics soon.


Cheers!

 

 

T R AC K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Damien Jurado - Over Rainbows & Rainier
  • 04:05    Explosions in the Sky - To West Texas
  • 07:50    Nick Drake - River Man
  • 11:52    Phil Cook - Old Hwy D
  • 14:58    Neil Halstead - Sleeping on Roads
  • 19:05    Phosphorescent - This Land is Your Land
  • 22:30    Bill Frisell - Small Town 
  • 23:25    Lowland Hum - Nightdriving
  • 27:16    John Fahey - Sunflower River Blues
  • 27:47    Adam Torres - Mountain River
  • 30:52    M. Ward - Slow Driving Man
  • 35:10    Clem Leek - Burlson,TX
  • 37:38    Sun Kil Moon - Like the River
  • 40:32    Western Skies Motel - Empty Rooms
  • 44:05    Mountain Man - River
  • 46:15    Gillian Welch - Apache Tears(reprise)
  • 49:01    The Lumineers - Long Way From Home
  • 51:27    Daniel Lanois - Dusty
  • 52:45    Tallest Man on Earth - Rivers
  • 56:30    A.A. Bondy - Highway Fevers
  • 61:08    The Head & The Heart - Rivers & Roads
  • 65:40    end
 
 
 
 
 
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The Way Home

August 26th, 2018

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Earlier this year I was asked by the folks at Lifted Icons to do a guest mix. It was a unique mix because I did two 20 minute sets that were then incorporated into a larger nearly 2-hour mix.

 

The parameters for my mixes were as follows:

1. A lonely, melancholic wander through the void between stars

2. A triumphant end for our struggle to the stars

 

You can find the 2-hour mix at Lifted Icons here... https://www.mixcloud.com/LiftedIcons/cartographer/

 

I liked how everything turned out. It was especially fun to cut the 2nd mix as it had a few louder tunes that I normally might not use. I was too lazy to put together a totally new mix so I decided to put my two parts of the Lifted Icons mix into one new mix. 

 

After I put them together I started tinkering. I added a few tunes to make it longer. And then I changed a lot of the first part but kept the same "drifting in the void" feel. The transition from melancholic wander to triumphant return starts at the 22:28 mark with the Underworld tune. The title for the mix comes from a track I used by the same name from Tony Anderson. It fit perfectly with the journey from part one to part two.

 

Cheers!

 

 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Lunar Testing Lab - Space Traffic Control(& added Nasa quindar Tones)
  • 00:40    Steven Price - Aurora Borealis
  • 01:50    Tim Hecker - Boreal Kiss
  • 04:06    Chris Weeks - Spiders & Plugholes
  • 05:42    Clinton Shorter - An Impossible Dream
  • 07:25    Strië - Man with Thick Glasses
  • 10:20    Northumbria - Helluland
  • 13:10    Bryantist - Spherical Harmonics
  • 14:30    Conet Project & other fx
  • 14:57    Memories of JJ
  • 18:12    Jon Hopkins - Feel First Life
  • 22:28    Underworld - Capa's Last Transmission Home
  • 24:12    Ólafur Arnalds - Doria
  • 27:05    Tony Anderson - The Way Home
  • 30:13    Stellardrone - Red Giant
  • 32:30    Johann Johannsson - A Pile of Dust
  • 34:20    M83 - Another Wave From You
  • 35:50    Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk - Amaris
  • 38:25    B. Fleischmann - A Letter From Home
  • 43:22    Jon Hopkins - Light Through The Veins
  • 50:45    Johann Johannsson - End(Snowing)
  • 57:00    end

 

 
 
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dubstrates & dreamstates

August 11th, 2018

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Ambient dub is one of my favorite sub-genres. I've done several "dubby & dreamy" mixes over the years. Such as:

 

http://lowlightmixes.blogspot.com/2015/09/dubby-rainy.html

http://lowlightmixes.blogspot.com/2016/05/dubscapes-seacapes.html

http://lowlightmixes.blogspot.com/2013/01/dubscapes-dreamscapes.html

http://lowlightmixes.blogspot.com/2012/02/dubby-noisy.html

http://lowlightmixes.blogspot.com/2013/08/dub-transmissions.html

http://lowlightmixes.blogspot.com/2010/12/subatomic-dubscapes.html

http://lowlightmixes.blogspot.com/2008/12/motion-for-relief.html

 

There could be a couple more mixes floating out there but those are the ones that I could recall.

 

This new mix follows in that same dubby/dreamy mode that I love. Also I have found that these ambient dub mixes work well as stargazing companions. So the timing for this one is good as the Perseid meteor shower is at it's peak tonight & tomorrow night.

 

Cheers!

 

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Halftribe - Balm
  • 03:13    Docetism - One Forest
  • 06:55    Segue - Vapour Trails
  • 09:55    Pan American - Double Rail
  • 13:39    Hannu Karjalainen - Love Unconditional
  • 17:00    Martin Goodwin - Fifty
  • 19:45    Radius - Always Dreaming
  • 24:25    Dub Surgeon - Crazy Dub
  • 26:10    Yagya - Very Long Daydream
  • 28:30    Lars Leonhard - Circular
  • 32:10    Lee Gamble - Helicopter
  • 33:30    Ohrwert - Sonometric
  • 40:00    SVLBRD - Vessel
  • 45:00    Snufmumriko- Eterspar
  • 50:15    Fluxion - Moving On
  • 54:20    Joergmueller - DFM #8
  • 59:15    Mokira - Untitled #6
  • 62:20    Gray Acres - A Beauty Not Theirs
  • 65:55    Purl & Hivetribe - Airwaves
  • 74:38   end

 

 

 

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