Three Albums To De-Stress
Music and relaxation are not nearly as closely linked as you might initially think. It doesn’t help that, among even the closest friends, music has a tendency to inspire quite ferocious conflicts of opinion.
Try this one for size: the music typically associated with relaxation is nearly universally awful. That new age music guff they get you to Yoga to? Eek. Maroon me on an island and tell me to de-stress, and I’d do it with these records:
Bob Marley and the Wailers – Exodus
No, not necessarily for the reason you’re thinking of. Though, yes, ‘Jamming’ has essentially been the anthem of funny smelling, over mellowed bedrooms for over three decades now. And yes, Exodus is perhaps a stranger choice than modern society would like to admit. I subscribe to the school of thought that says that Bob Marley has been declawed and sanitised on his journey towards immortality, but this is our fault and not his.
Marley’s releases may have embellished the reggae sound to be more appealing to British and American rock tastes, but the militant core of Rastafarianism is alive and well in this album. How then, does one enjoy this as a simple album for relaxation? This album proves that there’s something relaxing even in conflict, and after the call to arms of the first side, the second preaches that unity is the ultimate goal after all.
Royksopp – Melody AM
Once again, I find myself apologising for the inclusion of this piece of Norwegian Electronica. Just about every track on this debut album has been used in an advert or as ambient content in some linking sequence in some documentary or other. Unfortunately, Melody AM was just that right kind of chilled, 30s friendly electronic music to go nuclear among sad TV Executive types. A decade on and it’s returning to a safe background level of familiarity, and ripe for revisiting.
The standout tracks once headed up the album, and if you’ve exhausted them it’s difficult to get deeper into the album. But the hook for me is the beautiful, rather desolate ‘Sparks’. Perfect for a night in, but this is the one album I’d take with me I’d have in my bag if someone treated me to spa days.
The Ink Spots
Ok, so I’m going to have to break my own format here, because if this pre-war vocal quartet released anything in the way of an album, I’m ignorant of it. But if any collection of fine human beings is going to get me to break the rules, it would have to be Orville Jones, Ivory Watson, Charlie Fuqua and Bill Kenny. I owe my degree to these guys. How’s that for a tried and tested example of stress management?
I’m embarrassed to admit that I experienced these masters through video games: a number of their key tunes (‘Maybe’, ‘If I Didn’t Care’) are found in games in the Fallout and Bioshock series’. There’s something to be said for the ‘warm’ sound of all old record recordings (but not quite as much to be said for it as has been said about it already). Add to that the warmth of some legendary a cappella vocals and some soothing romantic lyrics and you’ve got yourself a lullaby to even the most intense nightmare.
There’s a comforting predictable-ness to their tunes. The vast majority of their output opens with the same four bar introduction, and the basic formula is for, at some point, Orville Jones to pipe in with his mournful bass repetition of Bill Kenny’s main tenor. Nevertheless, they’re remained a favourite for me on any rainy evening by my non-existent fireplace, and their version of the Jazz standard ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ had as much to say about my graduate life as ‘I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire’ had to say about those lonely library nights.