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August 12, 2010 6:40 AM   Subscribe

Happy Ambient Music? I'm looking for ambient soundscapes that won't make me feel like demons are slowly approaching (Aphex Twin, etc) I'm looking for study music that'll help me get in a happy zone.
posted by leotrotsky to Media & Arts (54 answers total) 90 users marked this as a favorite
Eno's Music for Airports is sort of calming/happy-ish. Which is to say that it's not dark or brooding at all.
posted by jquinby at 6:48 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I quite like the maple mountain sunburst triolian orchestra, The Real Tuesday Weld and, of course, a bit of Lemon Jelly.

Also, check out Dave's Lounge for a nice weekly-ish podcast of trip-hoppy, chillout type stuff.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:48 AM on August 12, 2010

When I need to be in that mood, I just stream Space Station Soma, Groove Salad or other streams from Soma FM. I find that most of the time I barely realize that the song has changed, which I take as a sign that I'm paying attention to what I'm doing rather than the music.
posted by vanar sena at 6:50 AM on August 12, 2010

Boards of Canada, some of the mid-90's Future Sound of London, Biosphere and Stars of the Lid are names to check out.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:50 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

My suggestion is to spend an hour or so listening to Groove Salad or one of the other fine streams from somafm. Plenty of non-demonic ambient there. In fact, the stream itself might be your study music.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:51 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ulrich Schnauss' work might interest you. Its a nostalgic sort of happy. Here's "Blumenthal."
posted by googly at 6:51 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Scratch the 'Stars of the Lid' part; most of their stuff is pretty down now that I recall. SETI had some good upbeat tunes in the mid-90's too.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:53 AM on August 12, 2010

Oren Ambarchi definitely. Maybe Fennesz. Possibly B. Fleishmann.
posted by at the crossroads at 6:56 AM on August 12, 2010

Manual's The North Shore.
posted by mkb at 6:59 AM on August 12, 2010


posted by Jaltcoh at 7:01 AM on August 12, 2010

Chill Out by the KLF. Probably one of the best ambient albums ever made, if you ask me. I can't find it on iTunes, but it's really worth getting.

Boards of Canada and some of the Ulrich Schnauss stuff is good (e.g. Here Today Gone Tomorrow on Goodbye, some of the Far Away Trains Passing By. Phaedra by Tangerine Dream. Pieces in a Modern Style by William Orbit.
posted by teedee2000 at 7:05 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Colleen's The Happy Sea, I'll Read You A Story, Summer Water. Warm fuzzy ambient deliciousness.
posted by mullingitover at 7:09 AM on August 12, 2010

Music for Airports is supposed to prepare you for the possibility of death in a plane crash. It used to help me study.
posted by grobstein at 7:15 AM on August 12, 2010

Victor Bermon.
posted by telegraph at 7:16 AM on August 12, 2010

I'll also throw in a plug for Air and Thievery Corporation.
posted by jquinby at 7:17 AM on August 12, 2010

Lanterna. Also, Robin Guthrie's solo stuff.
posted by jbickers at 7:19 AM on August 12, 2010

Future Loop Foundation is more Drum and Bass but somehow it chills me out big time and uplifts me at the same time.
posted by jasondigitized at 7:25 AM on August 12, 2010

Ah now here is my sort of question:

Surprised no one has yet to mention the superb Telefon Tel Aviv.

Chris Coco
Sigur Ros
Kruder and Dorfmeister

Also check out old streams of The Blue Room (BBC R1) with Rob Da Bank and Chris Coco.
posted by numberstation at 7:47 AM on August 12, 2010

The German record label Kompakt has an entire compilation series called Pop Ambient which should (mostly) suit what you are looking for. Here's a link to the most recent addition.
posted by the foreground at 7:55 AM on August 12, 2010

Re: Stars of the Lid—yes, some of their stuff is dark/haunting (especially The Ballasted Orchestra) but some is also very warm and calming. Try Piano Aquieu, Requiem for Dying Mothers Part 2, or December Hunting for Vegetarian Fuckface.

Also, some of Spacemen Three's drony instrumental stuff fits this bill. Start with Soul 1.
posted by cirripede at 7:56 AM on August 12, 2010

Deep Breakfast by Ray Lynch has been one of my favorites for over 20 years now!
posted by kimdog at 7:57 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've listened to a lot of ambient music while working, though leaning more towards contemporary minimalist classical music (which you may find conducive to work). You might like:

Akira Kosemura's "Polaroid Piano" / parts of "III" and "Le Voyage" by the Alps / Arovane's "Tides" / Terry Riley's "In C" / Bibio's albums, especially "Vignetting the Compost" / Eno's "Thursday Afternoon" and "Neroli" are wonderful / Sylvain Chauveau is very tender, and Chihei Hatakeyama's "Minima Moralia" is humming summer air / Colleen's "Les Ondes Silencieuses" is some of the greatest daydream music ever made / The Dead Texan's S/T is a more soothing version of the great but glacially sad work of Stars of the Lid / and I can't recommend Gas enough! "Königsforst" and "Nah Und Fern" are brilliant for writing.

Goldmund's "Corduroy Road" and "The Malady of Elegance" (exquisite and spare piano) / Gui Borrato has a great pulse for turning pages (as does Pantha du Prince, "This Bliss") -- Hans Otte's "Das Buch der Klänge" comes and goes like clouds in front of the sun. John Luther Adams's work, like "The Light That Fills the World," is like working in a snowfall. Library Tapes, especially "A Summer Beneath the Trees," is a series of perfect, still vignettes. Lubomyr Melnyk's "The Voice of Trees" is a rushing waterfall, perfect for getting inspiration on a deadline. Monolith's gentle psych on the self-title album can be great for 3 am reading. Rachel Grimes's "Book of Leaves" is Satie in autumn. Whitetree's "Cloudland" is in more of a song form, still great for our purposes.

Seconding Boards of Canada and Biosphere, and Oren Ambarchi, who's amazing!

(DM me if you'd like a sampler, I love putting little things like that together.)
posted by finnb at 7:58 AM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]

Eno's "Thursday Afternoon" -the link is to a 3 minute extract from the hour long original. Which I think he wrote partly to show what could be done with a CD recording.
posted by rongorongo at 8:07 AM on August 12, 2010

Gas: Nah und Fern. It's phenomenal.
posted by Nelson at 8:19 AM on August 12, 2010

Eno's Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.

Even when zombies have overrun the UK, this will still be a calming melody.
posted by Beardman at 8:38 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Caribou makes me really happy.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:45 AM on August 12, 2010

Verbose's Wonder is a little on the melancholy side, but it's my #1 work music.
posted by Zozo at 8:55 AM on August 12, 2010

Seconding Eno's "Apollo".
posted by Joe Beese at 8:58 AM on August 12, 2010

George Sarah's Ossia might be up your alley.
posted by scody at 9:12 AM on August 12, 2010

Liquid Mind.

It's usually lumped in with the New Age/Crystal/Hippie type stuff, but is quite relaxing and completely non-referential. I do loves me some Stars of the Lid and Eno when I'm feeling spacey, but when I want to create some negative space to relax or work in, I listen to Liquid Mind.
posted by the matching mole at 9:21 AM on August 12, 2010

Highly seconding "Chill Out" by KLF. A favorite for years.
posted by smelvis at 9:37 AM on August 12, 2010

I would suggest some Andrew Chalk, Keith Berry, Harold Budd, Tetsu Inoue, Loscil, or Belong- dreamy, underwater, outer/inner space ambience without the schmaltz of new age and minus the threatening gloom of the more isolationist acts-imho
posted by donabean at 9:48 AM on August 12, 2010

Actually, this ties in with a question I've been meaning to ask: a few years back I had a freeware no-longer-supported-by-the-author win program that reduced to the taskbar and would generate a huge right-click menu of nature sounds and soothing machine noises, etc. I can't locate it on my old machines nor can I wade through the google fluff to find it. Thanks for the above suggestions, and if anyone knows the program whereof I speak, I'd love to find it again. That simple little noise generator got me through many a writing project and I'd recommend it along with the items above.
posted by umberto at 9:56 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Global Communication's Pentamerous Metamorphosis, 76:14, and Remotion
Irresistible Force - Flying High
Datacide - Flowerhead & Ondas
Lloyd Cole - Plastic Wood

Most of these have YouTube links so you can listen to some examples.
posted by rhizome at 10:20 AM on August 12, 2010

Zoe Keating, Zoe Keating, ZOE KEATING!!!!

She plays phenomenal cello music that she loops and layers until it sounds like a whole orchestra. Everyone that I have recommended her to has loved it.
posted by Bango Skank at 10:32 AM on August 12, 2010

I'm looking for ambient soundscapes that won't make me feel like demons are slowly approaching (Aphex Twin, etc)

This is a really unfair generalization about Aphex Twin.

But I'll drop Global Communication's 76:14 & Arovane's Tides on the pile.
posted by juv3nal at 10:34 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Systrum Sistem was a fantastic net radio station that sadly isn't around anymore. However, the last.fm group set up in its absence might be a good starting point.

posted by yeahwhatever at 10:37 AM on August 12, 2010

Oh also the Son De Mar soundtrack by Piano Magic. Couldn't find that one on youtube though.
posted by juv3nal at 10:40 AM on August 12, 2010

Forgot to link to a mini review of Son de Mar. Here's something else by Piano Magic on youtube.
posted by juv3nal at 10:43 AM on August 12, 2010

Try these three excellent bands (all from Gothenburg!):

Air France
Boat Club
posted by mokudekiru at 11:32 AM on August 12, 2010

Four Tet got me through many manic and marathon study sessions.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:02 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

I was thinking of the ambient noise/media player, Aire Freshener.
posted by umberto at 12:35 PM on August 12, 2010

Seconding Gas. Microstoria is also terrific, but a little sparse.
posted by activitystory at 1:45 PM on August 12, 2010

Boards of Canada - Campfire Headphase
Air - Moon Safari
posted by talldean at 3:23 PM on August 12, 2010

Deadly Avenger
posted by lalochezia at 4:07 PM on August 12, 2010

Terre Thaemlitz - Hovering Glows
Jon Hopkins - Light Through The Veins
old spacetime continuum (Jonah Sharp) tracks like floatilla and Drift .
posted by 3mendo at 4:36 AM on August 13, 2010

Sakura - Susumu Yokota -- light, pretty, intermittently melancholy.

Echoing recommendations of: Gas, KLF's Chill Out, 76:14.

Other ideas can be found on the I Love Music "Ambient Listening Club" thread.
posted by my face your at 5:54 AM on August 13, 2010

You need the Radio Dept. (see: Pulling Our Weight, Where the Damage Isn't Already Done, Heaven's On Fire)

And Lemon Jelly (see: Nice Weather for Ducks, Space Walk, Ramblin' Man)
posted by HeKilledKennedy at 11:46 AM on August 13, 2010

Anything by Koop.
posted by schleppo at 1:43 PM on August 13, 2010

In addition to many fine suggestions above, back in my freelancing days, I wrote many an article to Mouse on Mars, especially autoditacker. It's not ambient per se, but keeps me working.

Depending on how instrumental, you might enjoy tosca (one half of kruder and dorfmeister) - suzuki is as good a place as any to start.

Harold Budd, Agua is a great album for working - and if you're gonna go Eno, the Bang on a Can's Music for Airports - live, is just terrific.

Sakura is a great album, far and away Yokota's best in my opinion. I bought like four otrhers of his trying to get that magic again, but his other stuff is nowhere near as subtle/interesting.

Lusine is another musician you may enjoy. I bought A Certain Distance earlier this year and it's just terrific, one of my favourite ambient working albums for a long time.

Journal for People by Takagi Masakatsu is enjoyable for this too. It's actually audio from a video project but stands on its own.

Tijuana Sessions volume 3 by the Nortec Collective might be up your alley. It's irresistibly happy. Don't bother with the rest of the volumes.

I presume your o'erfamiliar with Rokysopp already.
posted by smoke at 5:13 AM on August 15, 2010

Eno - Another Green World
Eno - Music for Films
Frip and Eno - No Pussyfooting
Fripp - Radiophonics One
posted by marienbad at 7:25 AM on August 15, 2010

Justin Bieber
posted by sanko at 9:07 AM on August 18, 2010

You might also like the Osmos soundtrack (free!).
posted by juv3nal at 9:58 AM on August 18, 2010

Erik Wollo's Emotional Landscape is ambient and, if not happy, at least pleasant, rich, and deeply immersive. Skip the first 20 seconds of the album; the rest may be what you're looking for. Sounds of the Seen, Pt. 1 is my favorite track.
posted by nicodine at 11:10 AM on August 20, 2010

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