Recommended Ambient Albums

Note: Currently, no one is collecting new top 10s to add to this list.

Date: Sun, 1 Sep 1996 19:25:58 -0500 (CDT) From: Darryl Stephen Roy

On 24 Sep 1994, Sean Smith asked the Ambient Music Mailing List:

Would any of you care to give me a Top 10 of the all-time greatest ambient CDs for any collection? I thought, with such a conglomeration of people who love what i love, I'm bound to get some great recommendations for stuff I don't have.

In the interest of introducing newcomers to ambient, and providing suggestions for further investigations, I've collected all of the top-10 ambient album lists presented in response to Sean's request, and organized them by the number of votes each album has received thus far (up to Sep 1996). This is the last update I will provide, but stay tuned in the future for a "Most overrated/underated ambient" poll.

The most recent list is generally available at the excellent ambient archives at The dedicated volunteers at this site also run the Ambient Music mailing list, where you can meet the many knowledgeable fans who've contributed these recommendations. To join, mail a blank message to, or if you prefer to receive the list mail in periodic digest format. Drumroll please...

Recommended Ambient Albums from the Ambient Mailing List

28 votes:
Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Vol. II

22 votes:
Future Sound of London: Lifeforms

18 votes:
Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works 85-92

16 votes:
The Orb: U.F.Orb

15 votes:
The Orb: Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

14 votes:
Brian Eno: Ambient 4: On Land

11 votes:
Brian Eno: Ambient 1: Music for Airports
Brian Eno: Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
The KLF: Chill Out

9 votes:
Future Sound of London: ISDN
Global Communication: 76:14

8 votes:
Pete Namlook: Air II
Nurse with Wound: Soliloquy for Lilith
Tangerine Dream: Phaedra

7 votes:
Pete Namlook: Air
Peter Gabriel: Passion

6 votes:
Brian Eno: Thursday Afternoon
Robert Fripp & Brian Eno: No Pussyfooting
Global Communication: Pentamerous Metamorphosis
Seefeel: Quique
SPK: Zahmia Lehmanni

5 votes:
Amorphous Androgynous: Tales of Ephidrina
Biosphere: Patashnik
Harold Budd: Lovely Thunder
Cocteau Twins: Victorialand
Future Sound of London: Paths 1-7
Jon Hassell & Brian Eno: Possible Musics
Tetsu Inoue: Organic Cloud

4 votes:
Aphex Twin: I Care Because You Do
Art of Noise: The Ambient Collection
Autechre: Amber
Michael Brook: Hybrid
Brian Eno: Discreet Music
Robert Fripp & Brian Eno: Evening Star
KLF: Space
Alan Lamb: Primal Image
Locust: Weathered Well
The Orb: Orbis Terrarum
Orbital: Orbital 2
O Yuki Conjugate: Undrcurrents (in Dark Water)
Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians
Terry Riley: A Rainbow In Curved Air
David Sylvian & Holger Czukay: Plight & Premonition
Tangerine Dream: Rubycon
Tangerine Dream: Zeit
Woob: Woob

3 votes:
Autechre: Incunabula
Gavin Bryars: The Sinking of the Titanic
Holger Czukay: Moving Pictures
Edgar Froese: Aqua
Henryk Gorecki: Symphony no.3
Hafler Trio: Intoutof
Richie Hawtin and Pete Namlook: From Within
Tetsu Inoue: Ambiant Otaku
Thomas Koener: Permafrost
Labradford: Prazision
Pete Namlook & the Irresistable Force: Dreamfish
Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster & Panaiotis: Deep Listening
The Orb: Live 93
Organum: Submission
Pink Floyd: Ummagumma
Polygon Window: Surfing on Sine Waves
Steve Roach: Structures from Silence
Klaus Schulze: Mirage
Seefeel: Polyfusia
David Sylvian & Holger Czukay: Flux & Mutability
Various: em:t0094
Various: Excursion in Ambience I
Zoviet France: Shouting at the Ground
Zoviet France: What is Not True

2 votes:
Black Dog Productions: Bytes
Micheal Brook: Cobalt Blue
Harold Budd: The White Arcades
Harold Budd & Brian Eno: Plateux of Mirror: Ambient 2
Harold Budd & Brian Eno: The Pearl
Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd: The Moon and the Melodies
C-Schulz: 4. Film Ton
Holger Czukay: Canaxis
Dead Can Dance: Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
Deep Forest: Deep Forest
Ecstasy of St. Theresa: Free-D
Fortran 5: Bad Head Park
Edgar Froese: Epsilon in Malaysian Pale
Fuse: Dimension Intrusion
Peter Gabriel: Birdy (soundtrack)
Grid: 4-5-6
Gyoto Monks: Freedom Chants
Higher Intelligence Agency: Colourform
Tetsu Inoue: Zenith
Irresistable Force: Flying High
Insides: Clear Skin
Richard H. Kirk: Virtual State
Thomasoener: Nunatak Gongamur
Mo Buma: Jijimuge
Moby: hymn.alt.quiet.version
Muslimgauze: Veiled Sisters
Pete Namlook & Dr.Atmo: Silence
Bill Nelson: Crimsworth
Nocturnal Emissions: Magnetized Light
Nurse With Wound: Spiral Insana
Orbital: Snivilization
PGR: The Chemical Bride
Pink Floyd: Mettle
Plastikman: Sheet One
Psychick TV: At Stockholm
Psychick Warriors of Gaia: Ov Biospheres and Sacred Grooves
Rapoon: Raising Earthly Spirits
Steve Reich: Early Works
Jorge Reyes: Neirika
Jorge Reyes: El Costumbre
Robert Rich & Steve Roach: Soma
Steve Roach: Dreamtime Return
Klaus Schulze: Timewind
Michael Stearns: Sacred Sites
Seefeel: Starethrough EP
Slowdive: 5ep
Slowdive: Pygmalion
Songs of the Humpback Whale
Starseed Transmission: Metamorphic Illumination
Sun Electric: Aaah!
David Sylvian: Ember Glance
System 7: Water
Tangerine Dream: Hyperborea
Terrace of Memories: Terrace of Memories
Terre Thaemlitz: Tranquilizer
This Mortal Coil: Filigree and Shadow
Tinty Music: Sinistrata
Various: Excursions in Ambience 3
Various: From Here to Tranquility
Various: One A.D.
Various: Passion
Various: United State of Ambience
Iannis Xenakis: Electro-Acoustic Music
Zoviet France: Mohnomishe/Look Into Me
Zoviet France: Shadw Thief of the Sun
Zoviet France: Vienna 1990

1 vote:
Agitation Free: Malesch
Daevid Allen: Now is the Happiest Time of your Life
Alio Die: Under a Holy Ritual
Ambush: The Ambush
AMM: Live at the Crypt
AMM: Newfoundland
Louis Andriessen: De Tijd
Aphex Twin: Didgeridoo
Aphex Twin: Classics
Arcane Device: Also Sprach Zarathustra
Arcane Device: Trout
Arcane Device & Asmus Tietchens: Speiseleitung
 Ra Tempel: Inventions for Electric Guitar
Ash Ra Tempel: Schwingungen
Ash Ra Tempel & Timothy Leary: 7up
Virginia Astley:  Promise Nothing/From Gardens...
Astral Engineering: Chronoglide
Astralasia: Whatever happened to Utopia?
Atom Heart: Live at sel i/s/c
Aube: Flashpoint
Autechre: Garbage EP
Autocreation: Mettle
Louis & Bebe Barron: Soundtrack to the Forbidden Planet
Banco de Gaia: Maia
Banco de Gaia: Freeform Flutes and Fading Tibetans
Banco de Gaia: Last Train to Lhasa
BBC Radiophonic Workshop: Out of this World
David Behrman: On Some Other Ocean
Harry Bertola: Unfolding
Betty Blue Soundtrack
David Bowie/Brian Eno: Low
Anthony Braxton: Live
Micheal Brook: Live at the Aquarium
Michael Brook & Pieter Nooten: Sleeps With the Fishes
Gavin Bryars: Hommages
Gavin Bryars: Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet
Harold Budd: By the Dawns early light
Harold Budd: The Serpent (in Quicksilver)/Abandoned Cities
Cabaret Voltaire: The Conversation
John Cage: Pieces for Prepared Piano
John Cage: Roaratorio
John Cage & Jan Steele: Voices and Instruments
Can: Future Days
Cluster: Cluster
Cluster: Curiosum
Coco, Steel, and Lovebomb: T.G.V./Harlem
Codeine: Frigid Stars
Coil: How to Destroy Angels
Coil: Angelic Conversation
Cosmic Baby: 23
Cosmic Jokers: Cosmic Jokers
Cranioclast: Iconoclastar icons I-VI and VII-XII
Cranioclast: Lost in Karak
George Crumb: Makrokosmos III
DJ Crystl: Warpdrive
Cure: Carnage Visors
Alvin Curran: Songs and Views from the Magnetic Garden
Current 93: Nature Unveiled
Luciano Dari: Wajd
David Darling: Cello
Datacide: Flowerhead
Miles Davis: In a Silent Way
Miles Davis: Get Up With It
Miles Davis/Gil Evans: Sketches of Spain
Dead Can Dance: Into the Labyrinth
Dead Voices on Air: New Words...
Claude Debussy: La Mer
Martin Denny: Afrodesia
Deuter: Haleakala
Divination: Ambient Dub Vol. 1 (Light in Extension)
Dilate: Cyclos 
Divine Soma Experience: Welcome to the Land of Dragons
Dr. Atmo: Gamma
Dr. Atmo & Deep Space Network: I.F. 2
Dr. Pablo & the Dub Syndicate: North of the River Thames
Doubting Thomas: Father Don't Cry
Ductile Green Vegetables: Ferry
Durutti Column: first four albums
Electronic Eye: Closed circuit
Enigma: MCMXC a.D. ltd. ger.
Enigma: Sadeness
Brian Eno: Neroli
Brian Eno: Fractal Zoom moby remixes
Brian Eno: Instrumental box set
Brian Eno: Music for Films III
Brian Eno: Songs box set
Brian Eno  Jah Wobble: Spinner
Escape Trip from Mars
Exit: Exit II
Exit: Exit III
Exquisite Corpse: calling the quarters/inner rhythm
Fifty Foot Hose
Faust: The Faust Tapes
Faust and Tony Conrad: Outside the Dream Syndcate
Fleetwood Mac: The Albatross
The Murray Fonatana Orchestra Play the Hafler Trio
Friends, Lovers and Family: Hyperspatial Confusion
Robert Fripp: Flashpoint
Robert Fripp: Let the Power Fall
Robert Fripp String Quintet: The Bridge Between
Edgar Froese: Ages
Ellen Fullman: Body Music
Future Sound of London: Accellerator
Future Sound of London: Cascade
Lisa Gerrard: Mirror Pool
Gordon Mumma Megaton: For Wm Bouroughs
Godflesh: Pure
Philip Glass: Music in 12 Parts
Philip Glass: Mishima
Grateful Dead: Dark Star
Global Communication: Remotion
Bernhard Guenter: Un Pue de Neige Salie
Hafler Trio: Seven hours Sleep
George Harrison: Electronic Sound
Jon Hassell: Aka Darbari Java
Jon Hassell: City: Works of Fiction
Heavenly Music Corporation: Conciousness III
Heavenly Music Corporation: In the Garden of Eden
Michael Hedges: Aerial Boundaries
H.N.A.S: Willkur Nach Noten
Hawkwind: In Search of Space
Steve Hillage: Rainbow Dome Musick
Horizon 222: Through the Round Window
Haruomi Hosono: Medicine compilation from the Quiet Lodge
Rudy Hueting: Subantarctica
David Hykes: Current Circulation
Ingleton Falls Absconded
Tetsu Inoue & Peter Namlook: 62 Eulengasse
Irresistable Force: Global Chillage
Ken Ishii: Reference to Difference
Keith Jarrett: Spirits
Jean Michel Jarre: Equinox
Jean Michel Jarre: Oxygene
Jonzun Crew: Lost in Space
Michel Kadore: La Chambre Nuptiale
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan: The Peaceful Music of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan
Masayuki Koga: Eastwind
Luke Koyle: Structured Ambience in the Powers of 10
Thomas Koener: Teimo
Kraftwerk: Kraftwerk
Lab Report: Unhealthy
Laibach: Nova Akropola
Lanterna: Lanterna
Laraaji: Days of Radiance
Bill Laswell: Hear No Evil
Bill Laswell & Pete Namlook: Outland
Le Mystere des voix Bulgares
Daniel Lentz: Missa Umbrarum
Light Vessel: Automatic Channel
Lightwave: Tycho Brahe
Lilith: Stone
Loop Guru: Duniya
Lucky People Center: Interspecies Communication
Lustmord: The monstruous soul
Lustmord: Heresy
Main: Motion Pool
Loren Mazzacane: Rooms
Material: Hallucination Engine
Lubomyr Melnyk: Performs KMH
Chris Meloche: Wireless
Merzbow: Batztoutai with Material Gadgets
Merzbow: Loop Panic Limited
Robert Miles: Dreamland
Mimir: Miiryad
Mobius, Roedelius, Eno:  After the Heat
David Mouffang & Jonah Sharp: Reagenz
Mo Buma: Myths of the Near Future Part 1
Mouse on Mars: Vulvaland
Music from the Morning of the World
Muslimgauze: Zul'm
Mysteries of Science: Mysteries of Science
R.Carlos Nakai & Peter Kater: Migration
Pete Namlook: Silence II
Pete Namlook & David Mofang: Jambient
Pete Namlook & Tetsu Inoue: 2350 Broadway
Pete Namlook: Solitaire
Pete Namlook: Wandering Soul
Pete Namlook: Definitive Ambient Collection Vol 2
Negativland: The Willsaphone Stupid Show I & II
Bill Nelson: Chance Encounters In The Garden of Lights
Bill Nelson: Simplex
Bill Nelson: Trial by Intimacy
New London School of Electronics: The Deepest Cut
Phill Niblock: A Young Person's Guide to Phill Niblock
Nocturnal Emissions: Spiritflesh
Non: Easy Listening for Iron Youth
Pieter Nooten/Micheal Brook: Sleeps With Fishes
Not Drowning, Waving: Cold and the Crackle
K.K.Null and Jim O'Rourke: A New Kind of Water
Nurse with Wound: Brained by Falling Masonry
Ayub Ogada: En Mana Kuoyo
Pauline Oliveros: I of IV
Omala: Germ
Omala: Relicon
The Orb: The Aubrey Mixes
The Orb: Blue room single
The Orb: Assassin
The Orb: A Huge Ever Pulsating Brain
The Orb: Peel Sessions
The Orb: Pomme Fritz
William Orbit: Strange Cargo III
Orbital: Why are we here?
Jim O'Rourke: Disengage
Jim O'Rourke: recent releases
Alan Parsons: I Robot
Arvo Part: Passio
Path: Pleasant
Pet Shop Boys: Reckless
Photophobia: Iridology I and II
Pink Floyd: More Soundtrack
Pink Flowd: Wish You Were Here
Popol Vuh: Aguirre/In the Gardens of the Pharaoh
Pressure of Speech: Art of the State
Psychonavigation: Psychonavigation
Rapoon: Dream Circle
Slava Ranko: Artic hysteria
Michel Redolfi: Immersion/Pacific Tubular Waves
Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music
Reload: A Collection of Short Stories
Robert Rich: Numena
Robert Rich & Steve Roach: Strata
Steve Roach: The Magnificent Void
Steve Roach: World's Edge
Steve Roach: Origins
Michael Rother: Flammende Herzen
Todd Rundgren: I Think You Know
Terje Rypdal: After the Rain
Sandoz: Intensely Radioactive
Sketch Reasons to Sway
Suso Saiz: Hypnotics
Somei Satoh: Litania
Irmin Schmidt/Bruno Spoerri: Toy Planet
Eberhard Schoener: Meditation
Robert Schroeder: Time Waves
Klaus Schulze: Body Love II
Klaus Schulze: Cyborg
Klaus Schulze: Irlicht
Klaus Schulze: Picture Music
Klaus Schulze: Totem
Paul Schutze: New Maps of Hell
Paul Schutze: Surgery of Touch
Shamen: Arbor Bona, Arbor Mala 
Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan: Live in Concert 1972
Shibano/Ojima: Caresse
Slowdive: Blue Day
Sonic Youth: EVOL
Software: Chip-Meditation
Software: Digital-Dance
Soul Whirling Somewhere: Eating the Sea
Soul Whirling Somewhere: Everyone Will Eventually Leave You
Sounds from the Ground: Sweetdust Rising
Spacetime Continuum: Emit Ecaps
Spacetime Continuum: Sea Biscuit
Speedy J: Ginger
Spice Barons: Future Perfect State
Michael Stearns: Chronos
Michael Stearns: Ancient Leaves
Michael Stearns: Lyra-Sound Constellation
Michael Stearns: Planetary Unfolding
Stereoscope: the Vitamin Guide 
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Hymnen
Carl Stone: Mom's
Sub Dub: Coast EP
Subsurfing: Frozen Ants
Sun Electric: Kitchen
John Surman: The Road to St Ives
Suspended Memories: Earth Island
Suzuki  75cc (sp???): Satellite Serenade
David Sylvian: Alchemy
Talk Talk: Laughing Stock
Thomas Tallis:  Spem in Alium
Tangerine Dream: Alpha Centauri
Tangerine Dream: Encore
Tangerine Dream: Force Majeure
Tangerine Dream: Green Desert
John Tavener/Chilingrian: The Last Sleep of the Virgin
Throbbing Gristle: In the Shadow of the Sun
Asmus Tiechens: Marches Funebres
Asmus Tiechens: Seuchengebeite 2
Tsinandali Choir: Table Songs of Georgia
Tupilaq: Tupilaq 
TUU: One Thousand Years
TUU: All of Our Ancestors
2 bad mice: Underworld
Tylervision: Tylervision
Ultramarine: Every Man and Woman is a Star
Vangelis: Soil Festivities
Various: 3-Lux 3
Various: A Brief History of Ambient Vol. 1
Various: Ambient 2: Imaginary Landscapes
Various: Ambient Dub Vol.II
Various: Ambient Systems
Various: Analogue Heaven
Various: Artificial Intelligence II
Various: Assemblage Vol. 1
Various: Excursions in Ambience 4
Various: ESP Vol. I: The Ambient Groove
Various: Earth to infinity
Various: Earthrise.Ntone.1
Various: Fax USA compilation
Various: Fax compilation II
Various: Plug In Turn On II
Various: Sacred Flute Music of New Guinea Vol 1 + 2
Various: Serenity Dub 1.1 am
Various: Symphonies of the Planets ol 1 (Voyager recording)
Various: Synoptics: A Reflective Compilation
Various: Seti
Various: The Whole Traffic 2
Various: Tox Uthat v.2
Various: Two A.D.
Various: Versteinerung
Various: Video Wall Paper (Jap. laserdisc)
Various: X-X Section
Various Artists: One AD
Sven Vath: Accident in Paradise
Darrin Verhagen: Succulent Blue Sway
Voice of Eye: Vespers
Woob: demo
Woob: 1194
Yello Magic Orchestra: Technodon Remixes II
LaMont Young: The Volga Delta
Zenith: Zenith
Zion Train/Diatribe: split 12"
Zoviet France: Eostre
Zoviet France: a flock of rotations
Zoviet France: Gris
Zoviet France: Just an illusin
The following 88 individuals have contributed their top-10 ambient lists to be compiled above.
Jens Alfke, Mark Anderson, David Bancroft, Scott Bateman, Dmitri Bender, Robert P. Beveridge, Boy in Zinc, Mike Brown, Kim Cascone, Ctquo, D.A.C. Crowell, Cullen, Mark Czubak, Alex Dark, Groovy Dave, Steven Dean, James Dignan, Randy Dudley, Brian Duguid, Matt Duree, einexile, Tom Elliott , Ben Exit, Fabio de Brazil, Lars-Erik Fast, Laurence Fiddick, fletcher, Mark Frank, David Fry, Jan Hanford, Eddie O'Hanlon, Alan Haselden, Andrew Hime, Matt Hoessli, Robert Horton, Jesse L. Jackson, Jah Jam, noel jones, Jeremy Keens, Gordon Kelley, Paul M. Laane, Simon Letarte, Thad Lewis, dj Lovegrove, David Mantripp, Andy Mardesich, T Manassis, Peter V. Martinson, Eric Mattson, Marc Mcnulty, Eric A Meece, Lee Moore, m08, Thomas J. Newton, Dan Nicholson, Kevin O'Conner, Ryan Pals, Stuart Park, Paul3, Jeffrey Reid, Alistair Richards, Joanna Roses, Darryl Roy, Running Free, Frederick Schmidt, Scott, Scruton, Simonsen, James Skilton, Daggan Stamenkovic, William S. Stewart, Ken Stuart, TEC37, Andrew Thomas, Harvey Thornburg, Tom, transmat, Martin Trojer, Darrin Verhagen, Vitamin, Emiliano Waiselsisz, Gregory Weiss, Clark Wilkins, Bollen Wim, Wallace Winfrey, XdadaX, Zig