As ignorable as it is interesting. That’s the classic definition taken – Eluvium – Talk Amongst The Trees ambient music, stated by Brian Eno in 1978 on the sleeve notes to his album Ambient 1: Music for Airports. And he should know, since he basically invented the genre three years earlier with his album Discreet Music.

But first, a word from someone whose work appears on this list. I’m trying to focus on this record, Carter Thomas’ Sonoma—a mid-’80s UK pressing with a trilogy of early ’70s pieces, all done solely on Buchla and Serge equipment, all gorgeous. Deep, resonant oscillator warble, void of unnecessary motion: Exactly what I’m looking for whilst scouring the darkest recesses of this music. An unheard historical example, ahead of the curve, seldom discussed. A lamp casts a sliver of light on the wall, then slowly tapers off, fading away.

Given the current life demands, multi-tasking has become a mono-activity, one that takes up our entire sensory field. Gone are the days where—eyes closed, headphones on—we can readily slip in and away for the side of a tape, lest an album. Listening to the average three-to-five-minute pop song with the distractions and thought processes of the world abated feels like a heroic act. One thing we can all agree on: No one agrees on the language surrounding this music. Not the musicians who make it, not the audience. Every time I hear it, certain lobes go into recess, and others experience a heightened serotonin boost that hints at the extra-sensory. Then, it was really possible to savor each step, make incremental decisions to dig deeper—to continue to fish, or to cut bait.

Persian Surgery Dervishes after being repeatedly steered toward it by the well-meaning Meredith Monk disciple who effectively ran the Record Collector’s Depot in Ridgewood, NJ in the owner’s frequent absence. I tended to trust him, even if his name escapes me now. I can reach by submitting fully to her recordings are significant, and as rewarding as can be expressed. Apple placement—will likely bow out here in favor of greener pastures. Ambient is a great meeting point: not so much at the center of everything, but floating just above, in a perfect geosynchronous orbit, within reach.

At its best, it casts enough shade to dampen the extraneous while causing a shift in our perceptions, enough to take us out of time and place, to wherever we need to be. Dark ambient musicians renounce the genre’s heavenly hum for the infernal simmer, the play of light for the shadows. What if this turned into a horror movie? Sten calls his assortment of cobbled-together, often archaic electronic devices—tape echo machines, theremins, analog ring modulators, etc. Motorpsycho and Supersilent before taking center stage here. In it, a newly married widow and widower, Bing and Ruth, go on a tropical vacation, frolicking with an exaggerated romantic energy that almost masks their deeper melancholy.