Photo Credit: Portal by Tim Kuret of Warp Time Photography



With another year coming to a close, we look back on some of the music that further shaped and defined Journeyscapes Radio with our third annual Top 25 Albums list and accompanying special episode. As with before, I want to avoid presenting this as some kind of definitive “best of” list, since every programmer, reviewer and music connoisseur has their own tastes and preferred musical styles, even within a particular genre or sub-genre.


Likewise, Journeyscapes has developed its own signature feel and playlist format that mostly centers upon what I like to call ‘melodic ambient’ music, while incorporating related styles that closely touch on its perimeters. From groove-laden soundscapes to deep space excursions, with threads of exotic vocal tapestries sewn in along the way, the moods delved into on the program typically range from dreamily sensual to darkly foreboding – and even mysteriously sacred at times – while tending to shun anything that feels depressingly nihilistic in favor of an overall vibe that conveys exploration, mind-expansion and curiosity about life.


With what I strongly feel is our best year-end top 25 list and program yet, the albums presented here were programmed and charted between November 1st, 2017 and October 31st, 2018 on our 24/7 station. However, because so much other outstanding music made big waves over the past year, you’ll want to check out our Monthly Top 25 Albums section for more sonic delights!


Already excited about what music 2019 will bring, we now wrap-up 2018 here at Journeyscapes with a special 2 ½ hour show chaptered into five mixed sets with commentary along the way. (See the full playlist here!) You can also read a brief overview of every album listed in alphabetical order by artist first name below.





Ascendant – Particle Horizon

 



Ascendant is electronic music producers Chris Bryant and Don Tyler who also head-up a leading ambient/electronic music label called Synphaera. Released late last year, their album Particle Horizon is an immersive yet vibrant display of spacey psychedelic ambience that’s full of shimmery sequenced patterns. 



Byron Metcalf – Inner Rhythm Meditations, Vol. II

 



Byron Metcalf is a master percussionist, ambient composer and shamanic practitioner. Featuring Norwegian guitarist/ambient composer Erik Wøllo and world flutist Peter Phippen throughout, his second installment of Inner Rhythm Meditations released on Heart Dance Records is a tribal-ambient delight comprised of enveloping shamanic rhythms.


Carbon Based Lifeforms – Derelicts

 



Johannes Hedberg and Danial Segerstad are the Swedish duo behind Carbon Based Lifeforms (alternately known as CBL) – one of the most well-known acts in today’s ambient and downtempo music scenes. Released late last year, their most recent album Derelicts marked a stunning comeback for the duo, which is characterized by glacial atmospheres and lo-fi beats that are seemingly filtered through a liquid iridescence.


David Arkenstone – Colors of the Ambient Sky

 



One of the leading forefathers of “new age” music since the 1980’s, David Arkenstone once again showcases his musical versatility with Colors of the Ambient Sky, a brilliant sonic masterpiece that is both musically accessible and far-reaching in its appeal. Easily one of the best albums ever recorded of its kind, Colors of the Ambient Sky is a spellbinding concoction of euphoric ambient, dreamy downtempo and intoxicating chill-trance.


Eamonn Karran – I’ll Be With You

 



Irish pianist and composer Eamonn Karran also made the final year-end list on our sister station Aural Awakenings. Although his album I’ll Be With You may be defined as Celtic “new age” music, its notably ethereal and ambient influences were enough place it in Journeyscapes rotation – and ultimately – on our top 25 albums list.


Echo Season – Periphery

 



Also hailing from the Synphaera label is Echo Season whose full-length debut album Periphery is an instant “psybient” classic with its mind-bending brew of scintillating sequencers and flickering textured beats making it simply unforgettable.


ELEON – Dreams Beyond Terra

 



Another stunning debut this year came from ELEON who released his album Dreams Beyond Terra on Heart Dance Records. Co-produced by guitarist/ambient composer David Helpling, Dreams Beyond Terra is an expressively melodic and colorfully euphoric sonic excursion that integrates trance, downtempo and ambient musical concepts to perfection.


Erik Wøllo – Threshold Point

 



One artist who consistently crafts outstanding work is Norwegian guitarist/ambient composer Erik Wøllo. Released on Projekt Records, Threshold Point seemingly conveys a wondrous trek through an arctic landscape, while its emotive passages are often set to dynamic yet low-key rhythms that border on the tribalesque.


Frore & Shane Morris – Eclipse




Another landmark album in the tribal-ambient vein is the second collaborative work by Frore & Shane Morris entitled Eclipse, which was released late last year on the Spotted Peccary label. Deftly melding organics with electronics, Eclipse feels inspired by the ancient and apocalyptic, as it boasts foreboding atmospheres intensified by shamanic tribal drumming.


Gold Lounge – Floating




Last year the chill/lounge label Sine Music delivered what was perhaps the sexiest summer album with Polished Chrome’s Happiness. This year they did it again with the release of Gold Lounge’s Floating, which boasts sultry grooves and balmy atmospheres reminiscent of sunset beach parties.


Lena Natalia – Lonely Satellite




Another artist who made the final lists on both Aural Awakenings and Journeyscapes is pianist and composer Lena Natalia. Comprised of ambient piano and classical minimalist soundscapes, Lonely Satellite employs deeply affecting melodies and is easily her best work to date.


Lisa Gerrard & David Kuckhermann – Hiraeth




Legendary Australian singer/musician/composer Lisa Gerrard (of Dead Can Dance fame) and renowned world percussionist David Kuckermann released a beguilingly ethereal album called Hiraeth in late summer that seemingly takes the listener on a timeless journey through gothic-hued soundscapes of tribalesque neoclassicism.


Majestica – Auriga to Orion




Majestica is the collaborative duo of multi-instrumentalist Cass Anawaty and flutist Sherry Finzer. Further expounding on their debut album’s innovative blend of spacey electronics and earthy acoustics, Auriga to Orion is sleekly imbued with sensuous ‘chill-rock’ motifs, boasting compositions conducive to both dancing and stargazing.


Mario Raposo – Humanization




Mario Raposo is an electronic music composer who has released several albums over the past decade. Incorporating both vintage and modern elements into his stellar compositions, Humanization conjures up images of a retro-futuristic and technological world, yet is melodically beautiful, infectiously rhythmic and overall personally engaging.


Max Corbacho – Nocturnes II




Ambient composer Max Corbacho has released particularly fine works in the genre over the course of several years. Seemingly timeless and moving in slow-motion, his album Nocturnes II offers pure ambient-space music bliss with its gorgeously drifting atmospheres and ghostly passages.


Meg Bowles – Evensong: Canticles for the Earth




Meg Bowles is another name that is well familiar to many ambient/space music fans, having released albums since 1993. An album composed as a sonic tribute to our beautiful planet Earth, Evensong: Canticles for the Earth is an epic beauty that feels supremely cosmic yet intentionally earthbound.


Michael Crain & Jason Carey – Tiamatu: Volume I




Diving into more aquatic realms is another gorgeous ambient excursion entitled Tiamatu: Volume I. The debut project of collaborative duo Michael Crain & Jason Carey, Tiamtu is oceanic space music that evokes imagery of hidden treasure caves, ghostly marine apparitions and lighthouses in the foggy distance.


Numina – The Chroma Plateau




Although having released numerous albums over the years, The Chroma Plateau is Numina’s debut solo release on Spotted Peccary Music. Comprised of spacious tones and vaporous drones, the album’s beautifully haunting soundscapes also touch on subtly sequenced patterns and tribal-ambient textures along the way.


One Arc Degree – The Glow Beneath




Another album hailing from the Synphaera label is The Glow Beneath by One Arc Degree. Bathed in lushly ambient marine environments brimming with smoky dub-techno rhythms, this breathtaking masterwork seemingly paints images of a bioluminescent seashore beneath a starry sky.


Steve Roach – Return to the Dreamtime




Steve Roach is an ambient music legend who celebrated the 30th year anniversary of his landmark double-album Dreamtime Return by releasing Return to the Dreamtime earlier this year. Recorded as a live concert performed at the Galactic Center in Tucson, Arizona, the album revisits and reworks the original compositions of deep inner-spaces and tribal-ambient soundscapes, which were inspired by the Australian outback – and in particular – Aboriginal dreamtime.


Stellardrone – Between the Rings




An accidental through magnificent discovery, Stellardrone’s seventh album and second EP entitled Between the Rings is a colorfully radiant sonic sojourn into cinematic yet psychedelic sensual ambient-groove.


Sverre Knut Johansen – The Vast Expanse




Sverre Knut Johansen is a versatile electronic music composer who released his album The Vast Expanse on Spotted Peccary earlier this year. Accompanied by David Helpling’s intricately interwoven electric guitar among the album’s dynamically electronic though perfectly understated space music melodies, the album is characterized by a cinematic yet molecular sci-fi feel.


Tangerine Dream – Quantum Gate




One of the strongest artist comebacks in recent memory was that of pioneering electronic act Tangerine Dream and their exceptional album Quantum Gate released on KScope in late September of last year. The final album involving the band’s founder Edgar Froese who passed away in 2015, Quantum Gate earned Tangerine Dream the most press they’d received in more than two decades, with the album’s engrossing sonic tapestries involving a magnificent spectacle of sequencers, synthesizers, acoustic elements and driving rhythms throughout.


Tsode – The Quiet Music, The Sonorous Loneliness




Budding electronica artist Tsode released his third full-length album earlier this year entitled The Quiet Music, The Sonorous Loneliness. Seemingly traversing an otherworldly mythical realm, the album’s enthralling compositions range from chill-trance anthems to ambient panoramas, to cinematic audio vistas.


Unusual Cosmic Process – Spacetime




Released in late August of last year but making its way to my ears earlier this year, Spacetime comes to us from the Astropilot Music label. Inspired by the work of Albert Einestein, Unusual Cosmic Process creates epically hypnotizing psybient expanses that are further illuminated by multi-dimensional grooves.

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