As much as I love to melt my ears off with the occasional bit of Drill-n-Bass (follow this link for an example), I’ve always loved music I can kick back and relax to. Something I can listen almost passively to; something that doesn’t require me to be 100% attentive, perched on the end of the sofa, soaking up every detail…
For the artist it’s a tricky task, recording work that has to be unique and of high merit, but that can also step out of the way and not always demand your full attention. Whilst it’d be easy to make a “Top 25” albums list out of my favourites, the below are works I feel are hugely worthy of a listen if you fancy nothing more than putting your feet up and mellowing out!
In no particular order…
Air – Moon Safari
The French duo’s debut release and probably the best known album in the “Chill Out” genre it went on to spawn, Moon Safari is an achingly hip blend of wonderful, jazzy instrumentation, fantastic production and excellent songwriting. Tracks such as Talisman, Ce Latin La and the mesmerising All I Need, featuring the vocal talents of Beth Orton, would go on to soundtrack a thousand late nights and just as many sunny Sunday mornings. This one belongs in every music collection. A true classic!
Chet Baker – My Funny Valentine
Chet Baker’s take on the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart showtune is one of jazz’s all-time great songs, and it sits nicely as the lead track on one of Baker’s best albums, which shares the same title. This is classic, beautiful, wistful jazz that also sees Baker record versions of some of the Great American Songbook hits that had been popular at the time of its release in 1953. Baker’s trumpet playing is brilliant throughout, especially given this album was recorded before an unfortunate incident that led to him losing most of his teeth and affecting his playing style somewhat – although it was something that never stopped him recording a great many albums over the following years.
Marsen Jules Trio – Les Fleures Variations
German musician, Marsen Jules second release is a sumptuous work, consisting of classical instruments recorded and looped across four tracks. Phrases are repeated, floating in and out of the aether, revealing themselves before slipping quietly away until the cycle restarts. The highlight of the album is second track, Coeur Saignant, with its climbing violin passages and ethereal chimes, this is music for the darkest hours.
Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music for Airports
“The Godfather of Ambient”, Brian Eno’s Ambient series of records effectively birthed the concept of passive-listening. Whilst Eno’s reputation as a super-producer for bands such as Coldplay and U2, not to mention playing keyboards for Roxy Music in his early years, precedes him, Ambient music aficionados will always point to these seminal works as the defining work of his career. As the title cunningly imparts, this is music intended to be played in airports (or other large, bustling spaces), its softly repeated piano notes, treated vocals and warm synths bringing an air of calmness and serenity. Fortunately, the album sounds as good at home as it does in Terminal 1, so you won’t have to book a holiday to enjoy it!
Fennesz + Sakamoto – Cendre
Austrian electronic wizard Christian Fennesz teams up with legendary Japanese pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto for their first of four releases, combining their two extraordinary talents in a haunting yet beautiful work. Fennesz’ found sounds, glitches, static and noise are the canvas for Sakamoto’s beguiling chords, the two playing off each other’s talents with fantastic results. This is far from being a light and chirpy work, but its sounds remain pleasant nonetheless. The album definitely works best when taken as a whole, but if I was pushed to pick a best track, I’d plump for Haru, with Sakamoto’s playing here particularly pretty. It might take a few listens to fully appreciate, but it’ll reward those who stick with it immensely.
Do you agree with the list? Have we missed any classics? Let us know in the comments below!
Author: Chris, Liverpool store