From fireside lullabies to ambient new age synthesisers – we’ve always used music to help us get to sleep. One of the essential qualities of music is that it appeals to our body’s rhythms. And music can help bring down our own tempo, especially with so many technological distractions trying to keep us awake.
Here are five ambient albums guaranteed to help you get a good night’s sleep.
5. World Sleep Day (2021)
After an unsettling 2020 filled with news of pandemics and high-stakes elections, it’s no wonder so many of us turned to music as a way to wind-down. 2020 was also a year many artists found themselves locked down and home, with additional time to work on ambient projects.
The World Sleep Day compilation brings together brand new tracks and remixes by artists as varied as Ludovico Einaudi, Max Richter, Sophie Hutchings, Isobel Waller-Bridge, and Yiruma. It’s a collection designed specifically to celebrate the importance of sleep.
4. Stephan Moccio – Tales of Solace (2020)
Canadian songwriter Stephan Moccio made his career writing hit songs for the likes of Céline Dion, Miley Cyrus, and The Weeknd. However a late career turn towards his true passion – composing for the piano – has led a new found success as a solo artist.
His 2020 album Tales Of Solace contains 16 delicate, dreamlike miniatures for the piano that are at both nostalgic and soothing.
3. Roger Eno, Brian Eno – Mixing Colours (2020)
The Enos are icons of ambient music. In fact, it was Brian who famously coined the term for his groundbreaking 1978 album Music For Airports.
Mixing Colours is the culmination of a relaxed, 15-year-long collaboration between the brothers. The album’s eighteen soundscapes invite listeners to immerse themselves in the infinite space that lies just below the surface. It is music perfectly suited to the liminal space between awake and sleep.
2. Harold Budd, Brain Eno – The Pearl (1984)
Harold Budd first started out as a composer experimenting with the sounds of 60s minimalism. After taking a position in 1970 to teach at the California Institute of the Arts, his music soon caught the attention of another like-minded artist, Brain Eno.
Budd soon found himself in London with Eno servicing as the producer for his landmark 1978 debut album, The Pavilion of Dreams.
The two artists would continue to work together, resulting in two collaborative releases, Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (1980) – the second installment of Eno’s Ambient series – and The Pearl (1984), produced by regular Eno collaborator Daniel Lanois.
1. Max Richter – Sleep (2015)
The mother of all sleep albums. Max Richter’s “eight-hour lullaby” Sleep “redefines what music might be capable of in a digital age” (The Economist). It is a true work of “slow music”, an extended set of variations composed specifically to mirror and accompany the patterns of sleep.
Richter has observed that the hectic pace of modern life suits corporations more than it does humans, and that Sleep offers a “quiet protest” to this trend towards an endlessly faster world.
In 2020 Max Richter released the Sleep app, that allows listeners to customise their experience of the album with a specific objective (Sleep, Meditate, Focus) or to a specific duration.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash