Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Top 5 Ambient Albums of 2013

Good evening, readers!  Another year has come and gone.  Per tradition, we like to break down what we feel are the top album releases of the year. 

In December of 2012 we published a list of the top 12 overall albums.  There were some great albums that year, and limiting the list to only 12 releases proved to be difficult.  The year 2013 has been even busier.  So many new albums and EPs were released this year that we decided to make a simple top 5 for each genre we cover.

I have been increasingly enthralled with ambient music, and 2013 has given us at least a dozen masterful releases.  We have five spots and some honorable mention awards to hand out.

1. Olekksii-Iris
This Kiev, Ukraine composer put together a very impressive album early this year.  Iris presents to us a classy mixture of lovely, minimal synths and modern classical-styled compositions set against electronic elements to add further texture.  The result is a real treat.  Listen for yourself below.

2. A Veil of Water-Reminder
Norway may be home to numerous metal bands, but sometimes a more somber, beautiful type of music emerges from the chaos.  Reminder is a remarkable album that renders thoughtful, airy piano work into a breathtaking work of art.  Not many pianists can do what Rune Trelvik has done.  Trelvik is a self-taught musician of piano, drums, guitar, and bass.  This album is almost entirely piano melodies interspersed with some lightweight ambient guitar textures.  Listen to some of this incredible work below.

3. Endless Melancholy-Epilogue
We have raved about Endless Melancholy here before, and with the sheer number of quality releases Oleksiy Sakevych has put out this year alone, it should come as no surprise that his debut full-length album makes our list,  Like A Veil of Water, Endless Melancholy's works appear on the Hidden Vibes record label.  And, like said band, Endless Melancholy deliver sensational piano tunes interspersed with electronic ambient music.  Sakevych is also a self-taught pianist.  Listen to the title track from Epilogue here.

4. Olafur Arnalds-For Now I am Winter
Olafur Arnalds is an Icelandic composer we have talked about here before.  This year he released a spectacular album that is as much about varying styles as it is peaceful melodies.  Several tracks on this album feature vocals from a variety of artists.  This style of music is easy to enjoy.  You just sit back and lose yourself in the waves of layered sounds. A featured track is available here.

5. Gamardah Fungus-Night Walk With Me
This Ukrainian band's music is slow, meditative, and, at times, dark.  This may be as close to drone as I can realistically enjoy, but the band incorporates a plethora of other sounds from a variety of instruments, all juxtaposed against a backdrop of sweeping, atmospheric synths.  Night Walk With Me was largely inspired by a 1992 prequel to the movie Twin Peaks, starring David Bowie.  While no Bowie-esque music makes its way into this release, it has plenty of other things going on.  It is more than good enough for a top five ranking.  Check it out here.

One of the better aspects of these brilliant pieces of work is that most of them are available as name-your-price downloads from the respective bandcamp pages. 

If you liked what you heard above, check out these honorable mentions from 2013:
Berserker Children Club-Someday (EP)
Endless Melancholy-Five Songs, Autumn Outtakes, and November
Equal Stones-To Erase a Lifetime
Linear Bells-For Your Eyes Only
Myosotis-Too Little Too Late
Ulver-Messe I.X-VI.X

As always, thanks for reading and enjoy these wonderful tunes!