Stars of the Lid is an American drone-based ambient music duo consisting of Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie.
The duo formed in Austin, Texas in 1993, and they list among their influences minimalist and electronic composers such as Arvo Pärt, Zbigniew Preisner, Gavin Bryars, and Henryk Górecki, as well as Talk Talk, post-rock artists Labradford, and ambient innovator Brian Eno.
Their compositions are largely beatless soundscapes, composed of droning, effects-treated guitars along with piano, strings, and horns; volume swells and feedback fill the gap of rhythmic instruments, providing dynamic movement. Their sound has been described as "divine, classical drone without the tedious intrusion of drums or vocals.
McBride said in an interview that the band's name refers to "your own personal cinema, located between your eye and eyelid", suggesting the colors and patterns one can see with closed eyes (either phosphenes or closed-eye hallucinations). They recorded their debut album Music for Nitrous Oxide throughout 1993 and 1994 with third musician Kirk Laktas, and released the album in 1995 on the Sedimental label. Laktas did not continue with the group, and the duo of McBride and Wiltzie steadily continued with Gravitational Pull vs. the Desire for an Aquatic Life in 1996, The Ballasted Orchestra in 1997, Per Aspera Ad Astra in 1998, and Avec Laudenum in 1999, as well as the limited edition EP Maneuvering the Nocturnal Hum and a split single with Windsor for the Derby, both in 1998.
Stars of the Lid then released their first double album, The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid, in late October 2001. Nearly six years later, the duo released their second double album, And Their Refinement of the Decline, in April 2007 to widespread critical acclaim. Stars of the Lid toured worldwide throughout 2007 and 2008 in support of the album; throughout their European tour, they were joined live by a string trio featuring Lucinda Chua of Felix on cello, Noura Sanatian on violin, and Ela Baruch on viola. Their North American line-up included Julia Kent on cello.
The duo have been active pursuing side-projects and solo releases since And Their Refinement of the Decline. A teaser trailer for a possible Stars of the Lid feature film surfaced on the internet in 2008, but as of September 2016, the group has yet to release any new material.