Music is a great way to relax and calm the mind so I thought I'd pull together a list of my favourite albums to relax to.
1. Stars of the Lid - The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid
This album blew me away when I first heard it. Slow, fluid drones wash over you with subtle melodies building a very dense and all-encompassing world. It's a double album too so prepare to go deep! Highly recommended.
2. The Dead Texan - The Dead Texan
An offshoot of Stars of the Lid, a lot of the same elements are in force here but this is a more melodious, song-based approach (there are even some words here!).
3. Max Richter - From Sleep
This is my current favourite. Recently released, this is a 1 hour version of an 8 hour piece by British composer Max Richter. The full version is meant to accompany you through the night as it reflects the cycles of sleep but this 1 hour version with its soft, slow piano melodies, haunting vocal passages and patient strings working through variations on a single theme is a beautifully relaxing listen.
4. Brian Eno - Apollo - Atmospheres and Soundtracks
No such list would be complete without the godfather of ambient music, Brian Eno. This is one of a host of his albums I could have chosen but this one always captivated me and it includes one of my favourite ambient tracks (and one you will all recognise) - An Ending (Ascent).
5. Global Communication - 76:14
From the ticking clock of the first track, 76:14 is a real journey of an album and deserves to be listened to in its entirety. A wonderfully relaxing album for mind and body. It's a true classic of the ambient genre.
6. Marconi Union - Weightless
This one will be familiar to many of you as it is the music played in the centre and was voted the most relaxing album ever in a Guardian poll some years ago. A delightfully sweeping ambient electronica album from the Manchester band.
7. Cliff Martinez - Solaris (Soundtrack)
Once a drummer for Captain Beefheart, Cliff Martinez moved into soundtrack music and has produced some excellent work (Traffic, Drive) but the soundtrack to Solaris is just about perfect and for me his highest point. Dark, ominous yet highly melodic, this album reflects the isolation and uncertainty of the film's subject brilliantly. Highly recommended.
8. Carbon Based Lifeforms - Twentythree
Another staple of the ambient genre, this is perhaps Carbon Based Lifeforms' most ambient album. An almost spiritual, dream-like quality pervades throughout. A great immersive listen.
9. Biosphere - Substrata
All of Biosphere's albums are great but this one is my favourite by some distance. Different from the other albums on the list, this is a typically less ambient album as there are more decorations to the sound - conversations, typing on keyboards etc. - but the overall feel is a very quiet, peaceful one. A good one for the late evenings.
10. Boards Of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children
Now, I can't talk about ambient music without including Boards of Canada. Their early output in particular redefined the ambient electronica genre infusing it with a dark, urban feel and this, their first album, is a real masterpiece. Has more of a rhythm than the other albums on this list but again has a masterfully relaxing feel with that touch of "cool" too!
I know that there are many albums I've overlooked/forgotten about so feel free to leave your comments on your favourite chill-out albums below and if you're looking for something new, hopefully you'll find something above.