The Top 25 Albums of 2017

 

 

As another year wraps up, we reflect on some of the music that made the greatest impact here at Journeyscapes with a special 2 ½ hour show presenting The Top 25 Albums of 2017. Both long-established and newer artists landed on our list with varying sub-styles of ambient/electronic music reigning supreme again this year. Also in a seeming parallel with last year’s trend, a couple of ethereal Celtic albums made the list again, as did a minimalist classical piano album. Additionally, albums released late into 2017 (or those which I discovered nearer the year’s end) will be rolled over into next year, with 2018 already shaping up to be an equally promising year in the dreamworld of music. I’d also like to thank all the amazing artists and labels out there, as well as our many devoted listeners for all their feedback, support and accompaniment along this ever-exciting journey. So with that said, please take some time to get comfortable and tune-in to this very special show. I’ve listed the 25 albums below unranked and in alphabetical order by the artists’ first names with a brief commentary for each. Likewise, you can view the playlist here. Enjoy!

 

 

The Top 25 Albums of 2017

 

 

Áine Minogue ~ In the Name of Stillness

 

 

Irish harpist and singer Áine Minogue released an album entitled In the Name of Stillness , which is an enchantingly mesmerizing work that she describes as Celtic meditation music. Combining the lulling sounds of Celtic harp with gentle classical and contemporary instruments and a brush of Áine’s own airy vocals on one composition, this album epitomizes some of the finest musical beauty found among the Celtic-ethereal genre today.

 

 

Argus ~ The Architect of Time

 

 

Not to be confused with the heavy metal band of the same name, this Argus is the brainchild project of Serbian electronic musician Branko Stojiljkovic. Released on Altar Records, his debut full-length album entitled The Architect of Time  is a beat-driven trek into the infectiously tripnotic realms of psychedelic chill and ecstatic trance music.

 

 

Artenovum ~ Mystic Voices

 

 

Artenovum is an artist that has appeared on numerous Ibiza-style chill and lounge compilations over the years. Released on Freebeat Music Records, their third album entitled Mystic Voices (A Chill Lounge Journey from Ambient to Electronic)  consists of seventeen dreamy electronica pieces that are lushly overflowing with sensual enigmatic moods and classic mid-to-downtempo grooves.

 

 

Byron Metcalf ~ Inner Rhythm Meditations

 

 

Arizona-based recording artist Byron Metcalf is a master world percussionist whose musical career spans five decades, having collaborated on projects with other contemporary electronic music heavyweights like Steve Roach and Erik Wøllo. Released on Sounds True, Inner Rhythm Meditations  is continually guided throughout by the hypnotic sounds of shamanic drumming, as it exudes an earthy sensual sacredness and esoteric sense of mystery. Simultaneously ecstatic and energetic, yet meditative and peaceful, the album also features beautiful ambient-guitar work by Erik Wøllo along with contributions by world flutist Peter Phippen.

 

 

Chronotope Project ~ Ovum

 

 

Chronotope Project is the recording alias of Oregon-based musician Jeffrey Ericson Allen whose seventh album Ovum was released on the prestigious Spotted Peccary Music label. Creating a deeply immersive experience, the album’s lushly ambient organic-electronic soundscapes incorporate natural instruments such as cello, flute and Irish whistle, as well as the Haken Continuum Fingerboard which is frequently featured as a solo instrument.

 

 

David Helpling ~ A Sea Without Memory

 

 

After releasing a few ambient-electronic albums plus a handful of highly-acclaimed collaborations with Jon Jenkins, David Helpling’s latest album on Spotted Peccary Music, entitled A Sea Without Memory, is his first entirely solo ambient-guitar album. Inspired by the feedback he’d been receiving for his weekly YouTube series that he named Sunday Loops, the concept ultimately resulted in an album of dreamily drifty and somewhat wistful compositions, which evoke nocturnal images of the sea and sky.

 

 

Deep Imagination ~ Carefully Kept Secrets

 

 

One of this year’s best new musical discoveries was an album entitled Carefully Kept Secrets , released on the Prudence label by German band Deep Imagination. Appropriately described as “Clannad meets Pink Floyd”, this intoxicating album weaves semi-veiled vocal layers and Gilmour-esque guitars among dreamlike soundscapes, which are mostly guided along by percussive, often tribal rhythms.

 

 

Enigma ~ The Fall of a Rebel Angel

 

 

Best-known for the ‘90s worldwide hits “Sadeness Part I” and “Return to Innocence”, Enigma made a remarkably stunning comeback following an eight-year musical hiatus with The Fall of a Rebel Angel. Released on Universal Music, the album is chock-full of erotically-charged atmospheres that encompass haunting ambient moods and weighty downtempo beats with a fair amount of titillating vocal performances (both whispered and sung) making appearances throughout. Easily Enigma’s finest album since their earliest works, it was also our top airplay album of 2017.

 

 

Erik Wøllo ~ Different Spaces

 

 

Renowned Norwegian guitarist and electronic music composer Erik Wøllo released a double-album earlier this year on Projekt Records, entitled Different Spaces . Highlighting Erik’s distinctly emotive electric guitar passages throughout, he creates panoramic soundscapes consisting of sequenced patterns and rhythmic currents that effectively conjure feelings of solitarily traversing vast and unexplored regions of earth. A simply breathtaking magnum opus, this album is surely destined to be a future ambient classic.

 

 

Forrest Smithson ~ Journey of the Outshining Source

 

 

California-based electronic music composer Forrest Smithson may not be as universally known as some of his other contemporaries, but given his impressively solid output of releases so far, perhaps he should be. Often stylistically evocative of ambient/electronica legends such as Ishq and The Orb, his album Journey of the Outshining Source , which was released on Sphere Music, explores warmly inviting yet curiously alien sound-worlds evocative of spiraling geometrics and trippy light effects.

 

 

Hollan Holmes ~ Prayer to the Energy

 

 

Electronic music composer Hollan Holmes released a double album of breathtakingly beautiful magnitude entitled Prayer to the Energy . Utilizing both vintage and digital analog hardware synthesizers to create mesmerizing sequencer passages, Hollan continually layers new textures over rather simple yet deeply affecting chord progressions. One of the most rewarding surprises in a long time, this album easily sits among the greatest ambient works ever.

 

 

Jeff Pearce ~ From the Darker Seasons

 

 

Ambient-guitar veteran Jeff Pearce released a gorgeous album inspired by the autumn and winter seasons entitled From the Darker Seasons , which is comprised of drifting ambient melodies and enveloping atmospheres with melancholic underpinnings. Capturing the enchanting beauty and mystery of the colder, darker months of the year, these compositions elegantly convey haunting aesthetic emotion and wistful reflection.

 

 

Jeffrey Koepper ~ MantraSequent

 

 

Molded in the classic style of European electronic space music, Jeffrey Koepper’s Projekt Records release entitled MantraSequent  showcases dynamic yet dreamy sequencer-driven passages that colorfully unfurl throughout like an aural kaleidoscope. Created using vintage synthesizer equipment, the album shares common musical ground with the likes of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Steve Roach.

 

 

Jim Ottaway ~ Timeless e-Motion

 

 

Australian electronic music composer Jim Ottaway has released several recordings that range from ambient-space to chill-out electronica. On Timeless e-Motion , Jim takes the listener on a mesmerizing voyage into what feels like a futuristic parallel dream-world or virtual reality simulation, as he blends classic styles of ambient-electronica and Berlin School with subtle progressive rock.

 

 

Johan Agebjörn & Mikael Ögren ~ We Never Came to the White Sea

 

 

Swedish recording artists Johan Agebjörn and Mikael Ögren collaborated for a sublime project entitled We Never Came to the White Sea , which was released on Spotted Peccary Music. An ambient-electronic soundtrack to an unreleased road movie, the album features the ethereal, semi-shrouded vocals of Sally Shapiro and melancholic piano passages along the way, infusing modern musical technology with the haunting nostalgia of an age-old culture and landscape remembered.

 

 

Jonn Serrie ~ The Sentinel

 

 

Electronic space music veteran Jonn Serrie has worked on projects for NASA, various film scores and performed concerts at planetariums over the years. Released on New World Music, The Sentinel  perfectly embodies Jonn’s pioneering signature brand of panoramic cosmic-themed music that sounds incredibly life-like and three-dimensional, as the listener acts as commander at the controls of a spaceship navigating the furthest reaches of space.

 

 

Keith Richie ~ For the Willow Wept... (Sunrise Edition)

 

 

Texas-based musician Keith Richie is a newer rising star in the field of electronic music despite having composed for many years. A bit lighter and more song-oriented than his other dynamic sequencer-based albums, For the Willow Wept… (Sunrise Edition), is personally reflective, sensitive and melodiously melancholic, while notably recalling some of Mile Oldfield's and Vangelis’ works as well as other 80s and 90s-era fantasy/sci-fi themed music.

 

 

Lena Natalia ~ Almost Home

 

 

Lena Natalia is a Chicago-based pianist and composer working in a classical minimalist style. Applying processed effects and layers to the piano on her album Almost Home , Lena’s music subtly recalls other contemporaries such as Ludovico Einaudi, Johan Johansson and Philip Glass. An underrated compositional genius, her musical style potentially lends her greater appeal among fans of ambient and minimalist neoclassical as opposed to those of the more “new age”-styled solo piano music.

 

 

Moya Brennan ~ Canvas

 

 

Internationally-acclaimed Irish singer and musician Moya Brennan is a member of the Irish folk band Clannad, sister to Enya and notably accomplished solo recording artist. Dubbed as the “First Lady of Celtic Music”, Moya’s album entitled Canvas , which was released on Beo Records, showcases her beautifully enchanting voice and harp-playing amid gentle, misty soundscapes that are often subtly rhythmic.

 

 

Polished Chrome ~ Happiness

 

 

Released eight years after their debut album, Polished Chrome brings us Happiness  courtesy of Sine Music, marking a celebratory return for this artist even though they'd remained musically active during that time releasing tracks on various compilations. Groovy, sexy and evocative of a sunny tropical paradise, Happiness was one of the most enjoyable releases this summer and epitomizes some of the finest chill-out music around today.

 

 

Purl & Sinius ~ Oceans of Sound LP (Special Edition)

 

 

Another musical discovery this year was the recording duo Purl & Sinius who released a gorgeous album entitled Oceans of Sound LP (Special Edition) . Mostly hovering between the stylistic boundaries of ambient-space and dub-techno, the album includes three versions of an entrancing piece called “Not of this World”, a title which perfectly captures the music's euphoric sensation of having slipped into a parallel dream-world.

 

 

S1gns of L1fe ~ Pathways to Ascension

 

 

Bay Area California musician S1gns of L1fe released a supremely hypnotic album on Synphaera Records entitled Pathways to Ascension . This sophisticated ambient excursion is characterized by bubbling outflowing textures that lend it a distinctly psychill vibe, as the compositions are smoothly guided along by low-key dub-flavored beats.

 

 

Steve Roach ~ Spiral Revelation

 

 

Tuscan, Arizona-based musician Steve Roach is a renowned grandmaster of ambient-electronic music with a discography going back decades. Easily sitting among Steve’s best works to emerge in recent years, his Projekt Records release entitled Spiral Revelation  boasts a continuous set of entrancingly dynamic, sequencer-driven passages that were composed entirely on analog hardware.

 

 

Stimulus Timbre ~ A Place We Never Been

 

 

Another recording artist new to my ears, Stimulus Timbre put out a bedazzling release on Cosmicleaf Records in mid-September, making it just in time to land on this year’s top 25 list. Entitled A Place We Never Been , this fantasy-imbued album is comprised of rhythmically guided ambient-chill tunes that effectivley take the listener on a magical sonic adventure of the imagination.

 

 

Thomas Lemmer ~ Ambitronic

 

 

Thomas Lemmer is a renowned German music producer who released the aptly-named Ambitronic  on Sine Music. Often reminiscent of a mysteriously beguiling film score, the album’s echoing ambient passages consists of drifty piano, liquid layers and minimalist textures, which are often underscored by softly muted dub beats.

 

 

And that’s a wrap! You can also see our Top 25 Albums of 2016 here.

 

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