5 New Age/Ambient Albums To Soundtrack Your Zen
2020 was a stressful and heartbreaking year, but it also provided impactful lessons. For many of us, it showed us the power of slowing down and taking time to heal and nurture ourselves. However and wherever you found relief and support during the pandemic, here's a handful of great ambient and new age albums to soundtrack some peaceful, grounding moments in your life. This list is far from all-encompassing, but is a great place to start, and offers a taste of the breadth of new age and ambient works.
Jon Hopkins, Piano Versions (2021)
GRAMMY-nominated British electronic producer Jon Hopkins creates immersive soundscapes. On his latest project, the Piano Versions EP, he covers songs from Roger and Brian Eno, Thom Yorke, Luke Abbott and James Yorkston, recontextualizing them on his ambient, spacious piano renditions. Piano Versions is a follow-up to 2014's Asleep Versions, on which he chilled out some of his own tracks. Also, check out 2020's Meditations, which he created with a single singing bowl.
Laraaji, Moon Piano (2020)
New age icon Laraaji has been experimenting with mystical sounds since the '70s. His latest album, Moon Piano, which he's described as the "more introspective and minimal" counterpart to the "uplifting" Sun Piano. (Both were released in 2020 and recorded in the same session.) Pretty much all of the Philadelphia-born, New York-based artist's music will put you in a blissful trance, so pick one, pop on your headphones and be ready to be transported to the cosmos.
Ichiko Aoba, Windswept Adan (2020)
Japanese new wave folk singer/songwriter Ichiko Aoba creates haunting, beautiful music primarily with her ethereal vocals and a classical guitar. Her latest album, Windswept Adan, will have you gently swaying with the wind.
Brian Eno, Ambient 1: Music For Airports (1977)
Legendary GRAMMY-winning producer Brian Eno coined the term "ambient music "with his classic 1977 album Ambient 1: Music For Airports. The idea for the album came to him "while spending several hours waiting at Cologne Bonn Airport, becoming annoyed by the uninspired sound and the atmosphere it created," and was envisioned as an endlessly looping airport sound installation. Although not the first-ever ambient music, it gave the genre a name and has inspired countless artists since. Check out his expansive catalog for more zen gems.
Alice Coltrane, Transcendence (1977)
Alice Coltrane was a deeply spiritual woman, and listening to her experimental, unbounded music is often an ecstatic experience. On the first three tracks of Transcendence, she used her harp, backed by an angelic chorus of string arrangements, to create heaven on earth. The final four songs bring listeners to her Southern California ashram, as she and its members deliver handclaps, tambourine shakes and call-and-response chants. Listening to it, along with any Alice Coltrane project, is sure to awaken your spirit and calm your nerves.