I'm going to post some of my favourite albums of the decade in the coming months. I've already posted some: Sinoia Caves & Kopernik, for example.
This 2002 album by celebrated ambient artist Geir Jenssen is a thing of beauty. Constructed primarily from loops of music by Debussy, many sampled from vinyl, this has a real otherworldly feel. The organic woodwind and orchestral parts repeat away, seemingly trapped in some kind of time capsule, competing against the gentle synth backings and cavernous bass rumblings.
Some of these loops were recorded from vinyl, and this only adds to the curious co-mingling of eras - heard to great effect on 'Ancient Campfires'.
This album serves many of the commonly accepted uses for ambient - going to sleep to, putting on in the background etc, as it is soothing and beautiful. But it is just as captivating as any prog album with a million notes. Well, maybe you have to like repetition and minimalism for that to be true, but this album will still serve you as a gorgeous backdrop.
nb. I should have added that Geir Jenssen has recorded quite a few excellent albums as Biosphere, well worth buying: I especially recommend Dropsonde and Patashnik. Not only that, but he has climbed Himalayan peak Cho Oyu without bottled oxygen, which is pretty cool.