Ambient music: a musical genre that soothes the souls, calms the tormented spirits, helps with relaxation and also enhancing our abilities to focus. It’s a genre that is constantly reaching more and more people, becoming more popular by the day – we are think in particular of the undisputed success of the French compilation “Music For Containment”, and of the French ambient compilations of the music label Tigersushi. Likewise, Underscope, whose main purpose is to support the French underground electronic music scene, likes to ask its community through Facebook to send them their favorite ambient music gems, resulting in a huge community-curated playlist of 18 hours of ambient music.
In short, ambient music has been considered for a long time as music you’d hear in elevators or airports (and Brian Eno, pioneer of the ambient scene, proved otherwise). However, it is being widely accepted and popularized today thanks to the streaming era, but also the ongoing social and health crises that have largely helped popularizing the music genre, as people were craving to relax. Today, we intend to make you relax as well, and for that we have curated 7 tracks that you might as well add to your own playlists afterwards. Today we listen to the most recent releases of C.M Jenkins, Omantra, Away From The Earth, Chris Other, Olec Mün, Raffael Seyfried and Scholler.
Chris Other – Warmth That Melts The Snow
We open our selection this week with an atmospheric, cinematic and stellar track called “Warmth That Melts The Snow”. Chris Other had already proven in the past his ability to synthesize the best of ambient music in each of his tracks, and the latter is no exception. If you are not a connoisseur : this track represents exactly what the ambient scene tries to offer, which means a feeling of calm, peace, while portraying pristine wild landscapes, stretching as far as the eye can see. The atmosphere is as reminiscent of the sun rising over snow-capped mountains as the morning dew falling on endless fields of flowers. “Warmth That Melts The Snow” is part of an EP that has been released only a few days ago – guaranteed relaxation ahead !
Chris Other is an ambient music composer who produced all of his albums from his apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Largely influenced by ambient music pioneers like Nils Frahm or Harold Budd, he composes in order to bring a sense of serenity to his listeners, the same one he felt when composing his songs.
If you enjoyed this new EP, we recommend you to listen to his previous album, entitled “Radiant Thoughts About Pasts and Futures Possible“, an album just as elegant and minimalist as this one.
Omantra – Io
We keep exploring the vast lands of ambient music by listening to the first track of quite a mysterious producer : Omantra. Named after Io, one of the many satellites of the gas giant Jupiter, this track explores in almost six minutes a feeling of grandeur, of grace. The solar notes and enchanting vocalizations punctuate synthetic ambient layers and muffled keyboard notes. Then, we hear a saxophone playing in the background, its melody progressing through the reverb, adding a feeling of freshness and a new dimension to the track.
Omantra is a duo that gathers a pianist and a saxophonist together, and whose major influences lies in the music of Pink Floyd. “Io” was recorded spontaneously, out of the blue, when Nick – the pianist – who was improvising some piano chords, then heard Freddie – the saxophonist – also improvise on his side a melody on the saxophone. “Io” has been recorded in one take, with only synths being added afterwards, making “Io” a very contemplative track.
Raffael Seyfried – Passage
Sometimes, ambient music mingles with neo-classical, piano centered pieces. Among the myriad of tracks that might have been uploaded on streaming platforms, we stumbled upon “Passage”, the latest track of Raffael Seyfried, a German composer based in Düsseldorf. This track, which bears an enigmatic name, begins with nostalgic, melancholic piano notes, which end up overlapping gently, in what seems to be a random pattern at first. Little by little, Seyfried let the main theme develop, a piano theme that slowly puts in the background the scattered, random notes we heard in the introduction. The whole track feels like watching a movie scene unfold before our eyes, a scene during which memories come and go in the head of the main character.
Raffael Seyfried is a German composer & pianist. He enjoys working with both electronic and organic instruments, and he uses cutting-edge composition techniques to produce his tracks, and “Passage” is no exception. The track was indeed composed by recording parts of the piano intermissions on cassettes, then playing them on a loop, thus allowing the notes to overlap. The use of modern computer music techniques but also much more analogical and nostalgic means make “Passage” a one of a kind piece of ambient music.
Olec Mün – Aba
We keep listening to more ambient, and this time around, we listen to the most sentimental track on our playlist : “Aba”, by Olec Mün. Olec Mün is a composer whose works & personal story have already moved hundreds of thousands of people on streaming platforms, worldwide. “Aba” means “father” in Hebrew ; Olec Mün, although he was born in Argentina, is the grandson of a Jewish man who had to flee his country during World War II. Due to the pandemic, Olec Mün has not seen his father for over a year, and this track was composed in order to pay tribute to his father ; it is a way for him to maintain strong ties with his family, despite being several hundred kilometers away from his peers.
“Aba” is a song that is largely led by a melody played on the piano. This specific melody expresses, without the use of words, the feelings of tenderness, memories of another world, loneliness, but also hope, joy, a desire to be reunited with your loved ones, and validation. We get to experience during these five minutes the internal thought process of Olec Mün, an internal monologue which could be summed up in a few words explaining that we must hold on, keep going, and that very often, bad days are followed by better ones.
If you enjoyed this track, know that Olec Mün recently collaborated with the musician Michael Sarian on an EP that brings together ambient and jazz music, which we strongly recommend you to listen to !
C.M Jenkins – Piano Etude In Agitato
Let’s put aside all electronic instruments and computer-assisted music for a moment and let’s listen to C.M Jenkins’ first ever release : a neo-classical piece played on the piano and entirely composed by the artist himself as a way to react to the sudden pandemic that is hitting our planet still. Entitled “Piano Etude In Agitato”, this track expressed the notion of eagerness, of confusion, of helplessness but also of the need to act quickly – feelings that are still largely reminiscent of the year 2021. When the main theme returns in the middle of the song, however, our feelings are more measured, we get to feel rational emotions, somewhat of a sense of control but also of hope, as if we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
C.M Jenkins is a composer from Maryland, United States. Now living in Washington D.C, he is currently working on his debut album that he is composing from home, and from which “Piano Etude In Agitato” is taken – the album is called “First Movements Along A Curve” and should be released in the coming months !
Scholler – The Dreaming Poet And His Cello
As we started mentioning above, ambient music is vast and sometimes crosses the path of neo-classical music. On our way to discovering those two genres, we meet that of Scholler, a composer with a rich musical past – he used to be a chorus master in opera houses – whose music translates emotions on the piano but also on the cello. Among the recent music pieces he has released, we came across the aptly named “The Dreaming Poet and His Cello”. Soft piano notes slowly tell the story of the song ; the piano is being supported by what seems to be the centerpiece of the track : the cello, which seems to be almost singing throughout the track. If Scholler’s intentions behind the composition of this piece are mysterious, the listener nonetheless leaves with the impression of having lived a bit of the Renaissance era.
Since the release of “The Dreaming Poet and His Cello”, Scholler uploaded a new track called “The Fairy Tale of Ferdinand Strange”, another instrumental piece that is somewhat more dramatic and in which the cello is even more present ; we could almost consider this latest track as the sequel to “The Dreaming Poet and His Cello”.
Away From The Earth – The Secret Is To Begin
We end our great ambient journey on a slightly more hybrid project ; we listen to Away From The Earth, and more particularly his track “The Secret Is To Begin”. His approach to ambient music is much more fluid, less orthodox than some of the artists we have presented to you so far. Tinted with lo-fi and downtempo references, Away From The Earth’s music includes both the ethereal and synthetic layers characteristic of the ambient genre as well as saturated guitar notes, bringing fresh & new sounds to this very codified music genre.
“This EP was the result of a ton of pent-up hope about the future, born out of lockdown and protests” – Away From The Earth about his EP “Paint With Grey, See In Colors”.
Even if he has released an entire EP, we focus today only on “The Secret Is To Begin”. On this intro track, we hear notes of synths and electric guitar that seem to be repeating and answering each other, making for an unusual conversation to listen to ; the electric guitar then takes over the second part of the song. Besides, the track was composed in a rather unusual way : Kyle Wright, aka Away From The Earth, explains in fact that the guitar sounds that we hear at the beginning of the song are the result of experimentation during which he taped bubble wrap to a fan that he then laid over the strings of his electric guitar !
hauméa selects #4 is also available on our Spotify. If you enjoyed this curated selection, we recommend you to give a listen to our “Ambient & Downtempo” playlist that we regularly update with fresh new finds !
– Disclaimer : this playlist has been curated via MusoSoup #SustainableCurator.