Out of all of the different musical genres, the one I think I've been listening to the most in the last few months is ambient. I enjoyed ambient before then, but recently I've developed a deeper understanding and passion for the genre as a whole. It really is one of the more immersive and profound genres of music, once you can appreciate the lack of readily accessible melodies and the free-flowing nature.
As strange as this may sound to some, ambient, whilst being incredibly easy to make, is actually one of the hardest styles of music to make well. Most ambient is either mellow but completely boring to listen to if you don't wish to immediately go to sleep, or it's far too busy and you can't drone out/go to sleep to it. It's a delicate balancing act, and like in every genres, only the masters can achieve it. The best ambient also has what I call the 'transport factor', which basically means it is extremely evocative and paints a picture in your mind...
So, my top 5 ambient songs!
A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld - The Orb
A brilliant 18 minute track that centres around an ethereal synth line, with random samples as diverse and tribal drumming to Minnie Ripperton's "Loving You", without being overly obtrusive.
Either Poa Alpina or Kobresia - Biosphere
Couldn't separate these two. Poa Alpina is almost dark ambient, without being cheesy, whilst Kobresia is filled with emotive string arrangements and lonely piano. Both conjure images of the Arctic Circle (which is where Biosphere is from).
School of Fish - Dreamfish (Mixmaster Morris & Pete Namlook)
This heads to the less ambient side, but it's still very relaxing. It has a very floating aquatic feel from one of the more prolific ambient gurus.
The Mysterious Fish Named Kun - Aglaia
Any of the three songs on this album are good, but I stuck with Kun. Aglaia's style is very traditional, very 'noisy' for lack of a better term, like something you'd hear at a massage parlor, which is ironic considering Aglaia is a masseuse.
1/1 - Brian Eno
The pioneer and one of the main founding fathers of the modern ambient era. A sparse piano track with floating synths played by Robert Wyatt, it almost invented what we consider ambient today.
I'd just like to add that all of these albums are brilliant as well, and there were some unfortunate omissions, which I might post later.