Uplift and Afterlife, The Ambient Mixtape

You might think of the final playlist in our Ambient 101 series as a catch-all: Here we’ve gathered everything that didn’t fit in another category, such as Hiroshi Yoshimura’s wonderful Music for Nine Post Cards. (In an ideal world, we’d have an entire playlist dedicated to Japanese ambient and environmental music, and another one for Italian artists like Giusto Pio, but sadly, little of either genre is available on Spotify.) Here, too, we’ve put the American-primitive guitarist Chuck Johnson’s ethereal Balsams and the modular-synth sound-sculptor Emily A. Sprague’s Water Memory. But as the songs came together, a theme suggested itself: a buoyant, rosy sort of bliss, the kind promised by new age but without the spiritual trappings. It’s a playlist for Sunday mornings with coffee, for early morning on the river, for being in the moment or being outside the moment entirely. It goes to the heart of ambient music’s simple pleasures.