Newage Music Index

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AMBIENT music is an even-textured, spacious and contemplative piece in which several musical events appear and recur more or less regularly. AMBIENT music is always changing, yet always the same. Each event recurs with a different cyclic frequency and thus the whole piece becomes an unfolding display of unique sonic clusters. Brian Eno has characterized this style of composition as "holographic", by which he means that any brief section of the music is representative of the whole piece, in the same way that any fragment of a hologram shows the whole of the holographic image but with a lower resolution.

Ambient Music is intended to induce calm and a space to think. It must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting. Yet unlike Suzanne Doucet, this music tends to be very slow to the point that it just hangs in the air. As a listening experience, it remains distinctive: calm, still and deep, yet always slowly evolving. It has also been called "Wallpaper music" due to the way it seems to just hang in the air, unobtrusively in the background, doing nothing, yet it still survives. It is sleepy, atmospheric, and relaxing.

The primary contributors to the AMBIENT MUSIC category are Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Jon Hassell, Robert Fripp, Patrick O'Hearn, Vidna Obmanda, Stephen Bacchus, Vir Unis, and especially Steve Roach (see There are no doubt others.

[GROUP 1]:  Albums consisting of one very long single piece of continuous music. The epitome of AMBIENT MUSIC. The music has no beginning, no middle, no end, and no plot. It is slow, contemplative, unobtrusive "Wallpaper music" that just hangs in the air, always changing, yet always the same. It adds ABIDANCE to the room. The following albums are very similar:

     Thursday Afternoon (1985,Brian Eno)[***]
        One continuous 60-minute piece. This is true "holographic" music, in that you could start playing it anywhere on the disk and it sounds the same. The music also "hangs around" as previous notes echo for a moment before new notes are added. Much like Lovely Thunder taken to a lengthy extreme.
Neroli: Thinking Music Part IV(1993,Brian Eno)
One continuous 58-minute piece similar to Thursday Afternoon and Lovely Thunder.

[GROUP 2]:  Albums consisting of several Medium length AMBIENT pieces. These are all similar and similar to group 1 above.

     Ambient 1/Music for Airports (1978,Brian Eno)[***]
        4 medium length pieces. Very slow and quiet keyboard canthi notes and canthi choral.
Ambient 2/The Plateaux of Mirror (1980,Harold Budd/Brian Eno)[***]
Beautiful slow quiet music, with a bit more of slow careful piano, mixed with supportive canthi keyboard. Another review says, "Absolutely beautiful piano music, very relaxing".
The Pearl (1984,Harold Budd/Brian Eno)[***]
Beautiful, slow, very quiet music. 11 short pieces, each piece "holographic" in that you could start playing it at any point in the piece, atmospheric. Another reviewer says, "piano - background music".
Lovely Thunder (1986,Harold Budd)[***] More of The Pearl
I can't even tell the albums apart. Music that hangs around and permeates the air.
The Room (2000,Harold Budd)[***]
Ambient with piano as primary instrument. Another piece has sprinkly bells.

[Some ambient music by Steve Roach]
     Structures from Silence (1984,Steve Roach)[***]
        Another review says "serene, yet haunting synthesizer breaths". I don't know about haunting, but is sure is serene and quiet.
Quiet Music (1988,Steve Roach)[***]
Another review says "a subtle collection of ambient pieces with subdued melodies". It's definitely serene quiet music as the title implies.
Desert Solitaire (1989,Steve Roach) Collaboration with Kevin
Brahney, featuring some powerful work by Michael Stearns. A bit louder and more active than other ambient albums.
Try: Western Spaces
Western Spaces (1990,Steve Roach)[***]
Considered by many to be a classic in the progressive electronic and ambient genres. A bit louder and more active than other ambient albums.
Try: Desert Solitaire
The Magnificent Void(1992,Steve Roach,HOS)
Traditional AMBIENT music. Although there are eight tracks, each one bearing a different theme, they are all contiguous making the album one long uninterrupted listening experience.
Well of Souls(1995,Steve Roach/Viands Obmana,2cd set)
Traditional AMBIENT.

NOTE:  The following Steve Roach albums are quite different and don't fall into the AMBIENT category.
     Stormwarning: Live in Concert(1989,Steve Roach)
         A cross between AMBIENT and SPACE music. More on the spacey music side. Some what like Klaus Schulze.
Try: Klaus Schulz Timewind,Moondawn
Truth & Beauty: The Lost Pieces Volume Two(1999,Steve Roach)
Again some good spacy music like Klaus Schulz.
Try: Klaus Schulz Timewind,Moondawn

[Steve Roach not rated. Comments are from "All Music Guide" review book.]
     Dreamtime Return(1988)
         An "Essential Collection" item, meaning it should be a part of any beginning collection.
Australia: Sound of the Earth (1990)
A sonic journey through the outback.
World's Edge (1992 double CD)
An accomplished album.
Now/Traveler (1992)
This CD reissue features music from Roach's first two albums, originally recorded in the early 80s. A good example of his early, high-energy, sequencer-based style, with some hints at his developing ambient and tribal learnings.
The Lost Pieces
Dream Circle
Soma (with Robert Rich)
Now/Traveler (both on one CD)

Also see below for a list of albums which are definitely NOT ambient.

      Om and Hum (1989)[****]
      Ambient music taken to such an extreme that it's almost mind blowing. I think it's a superb classic. Music that is constant, always the same, yet always changing. It may be too constant to call this "wallpaper music", but it is extremely holographic, in that you can start the CD at any point and it's all the same, yet always changing. These CDs still haven't been officially released, but if you ask her as I did she might sell you a copy. Om is now Available as "The OM Sound" at! Includes a 2 minute sound clip. One low base synth organ like chord held constant throughout the piece, with small variations in the background barely perceptible, almost subconscious. My non 'New Age Music' friends just stare at me blank and say "I could have done that with one finger!". It's the small variations in the background that hold it together. This is music that's always changing yet always the same. An interesting paradox that she has superbly mastered. If you just glance at it it's just a base chord, but if you listen closely, there's always things happening, so it never gets stale. Hypnotic music to meditate by. (Very hypnotic)

[AMBIENT music of a different sort]
Sounds of Nature series
      The Song of the Whale (1997,onam)
      Some gentle water combined with the crying sounds a whale makes as it communicates long distances under water to other whales. A different sort of AMBIENT album as this one contains no music, yet it is "Wallpaper Music", and any part of the CD is representative of the whole.
Virtual Audio Environments
Produced by Suzzane Doucet and Chuck Plaisance

[albums featuring Brian Eno which contain some AMBIENT music]

      The Shutov Assembly (1992,Brian Eno)
     All Ambient

      A Tribute to the Music & Works of Brian Eno (1997,various artists)
      A variety of music from numerous different albums, some quite beautiful AMBIENT music, others quite irritating fingernails on the chalkboard music.
        AMBIENT tracks are: 1.  Another Green World "Becalmed"
10.Alien Planetscapes "Energy Fools the Magician" very quiet AMBIENT.
11.Surface 10 "An Ending"

[More ambient albums]

      Decay Music (1975)[**,Mychael Nyman]
      Experimental. Piano notes which decay into silence. Ambient, holographic.

      Another Green World (1975)
      Great album, masterpiece, less vocal, atmospheric, moody, Rock Album. Track "Becalmed" is very AMBIENT. Suggesting the rest of this album is AMBIENT?
Discreet Music (1975)
Belongs to the family of works which also includes Thursday Afternoon and Music for Airports
Nerve Net (1992)
It's very ambient-like.
Waiting for Cousteau(1990)
Quite surprising is track 4 "Waiting for Cousteau" (46:53) is very Ambient, like Brian Eno, quite unlike any previous Jean-Michel Jarre music.

Sun At Midnight(????)

[Definitely NOT Ambient music]

      The Essential Fripp and Eno(1994,Robert Fripp/Brian Eno)
The Familiar(1992,Roger Eno with Kate St. John) Try: MYCHAEL NYMAN?
Body Electric(1999,Steve Roach/Vir Unis)
Here Come the Warm Jets (1973) More rock, avant, vocals all over it. Fingernails on the chalkboard music.
Light Fantastic(1999, Steve Roach,
Strata(1990, Robert Rich, Steve Roach)


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