In search of extremely relaxing music
January 6, 2014 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Do you have suggestions for music that is as relaxing as Enya, but sounds pretty different?

Recently I was sick, and found that putting on a mix of Enya songs helped me relax a LOT, as well as fall asleep. I was pretty amazed, actually.

I'd like to find music in this vein, not necessarily sounding similar to Enya but that is also very relaxing- music that has been proven to relax you.

I like music from all different cultures/genres- any instruments, languages, etc- as long as all of it is relaxing (i.e. no bursts of loud noise or un-relaxing disruptions)

Music from any genre is great- classical, world music, electronic, etc.

Thank you.
posted by bearette to Media & Arts (54 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
PS- specific recommendations, especially names of artists/bands, are preferred over general genres. Thanks again!
posted by bearette at 10:58 AM on January 6

The album Eifelian by Autumn's Grey Solace.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:01 AM on January 6

thanks for that link, Empress- I think I am less interested in pop and lyrical music, and more interested in instrumental music with fewer lyrics (should have put that in the question!)
posted by bearette at 11:03 AM on January 6

Not really "music," but I have a number of "nature sounds" apps on my phone for precisely this. I think this is the one I use most often - you can layer the sounds (rain, stream, waves, storms, sounds of critters), but I often prefer to listen to one - say, thunderstorms with rolling thunder, by itself.
posted by raztaj at 11:04 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

Gregorian Chant is just about the most relaxing wonderful thing ever. When I am getting pissy and stressed my husband puts on the gregorian chant station on TuneIn to try to re-happy me. And I think it counts sort of as instrumental because it is all long drawn out words that you don't understand. It just sounds like music. I don't have a specific album suggestion since, well, it pretty much all sounds the same. We just use the TuneIn station (yay Free!).

Also, the old Enigma albums were good. A lot of the tracks weren't as vocal as "Return to Innocence".

Also, The King Singers. Lyrical, yes, but very very very nice.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:05 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]

I think I am less interested in pop and lyrical music, and more interested in instrumental music with fewer lyrics

Ah, good - I don't think the Wikipedia article says this, but AGS makes mostly instrumentals - I think on the album in question, maybe every third or fourth song has lyrics and they're not tonally different from the other songs.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:06 AM on January 6

Mellow astral '80s electric harp? Try Andreas Vollenweider.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:06 AM on January 6

David Parsons
posted by rhizome at 11:18 AM on January 6

I like Sigur Ros for this. I'm also a fan of the Buddha Machine. You can buy the app for 99 cents now I see. It's a musical loop player and you can cycle through the variations at will.
posted by rdnnyc at 11:21 AM on January 6

Most of Brian Eno's ambient projects fit this bill pretty well.
posted by Dr. Wu at 11:24 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]

Cocteau Twins! Ever so dreamy.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:26 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]

Disparition. He does all the music for Welcome to Night Vale.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:26 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

The Album Leaf. Most of their albums, but A Chorus of Storytellers is a fave.

Peter Broderick's album Float (and probably also Home)

Nils Frahm's album "Screws"
posted by itesser at 11:27 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

As Dr. Wu suggests, Brian Eno. Music for Airports may be a little too ethereal, but I'll suggest it as a wild-card for extreme-relaxation purposes.
posted by jquinby at 11:29 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

These might be more electronic than what you're looking for, but some of my favorites are Michael Stearns, Fumio Miyashita, Joel Vandroogenbroeck, and Aloof Proof. Takehisa Kosugi's "Catch Wave" is great bedtime music too. Lately when I need to relax before bed I turn on Charlemagne Palestine's "Strumming Music" at a low volume. David Behrman's "On the Other Ocean" and many Robert Ashley albums hit the same nerve.
posted by vathek at 11:34 AM on January 6

I find Teardrop by Massive Attack pretty relaxing.

Also, Oxygen 7-13 by Jean Michel Jarre.
posted by stacktracer at 11:35 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

My favourite instrumental composer is Ludovico Einaudi. I had his "Islands - Essentials" albums on repeat during my revision periods!
posted by pikeandshield at 11:38 AM on January 6

Ah, you might also like Adiemus by Karl Jenkins. Here's Song of Sanctuary, which popped up in a some commercials a few years back.
posted by jquinby at 11:38 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

The Paper Kites are worth a listen. A small percentage of their songs might (might) not be Enya-level relaxing.
posted by The Deej at 11:39 AM on January 6

I find Teardrop by Massive Attack pretty relaxing.

Featuring Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:39 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

They're marketed as if they're just for kids, but I find the Putomayo Dreamland series to be very relaxing, and gives you a variety of genres.
posted by jbickers at 11:53 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

Found this on mefi a bit ago and listen to it every so often:
It's an hour of very relaxing, contemplative ambient piano. (Consider contemplating something other than the ethereal void to relax faster.)
posted by rouftop at 12:00 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]

Chuck Wild (liquid mind).
posted by phoenix_rising at 12:33 PM on January 6

Try Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works. (I prefer Volume 2.) Many of the tracks are some of the most delicate, relaxing and beautiful sounds you'll ever hear. A warning, however, that a handful of the pieces are intentionally rather disquieting.
posted by Leontine at 12:34 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]

I like Stars of the Lid
posted by jpziller at 12:58 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]

just a couple of suggestions

God is an Astronaut - Dark Rift

Subheim - Away

Del Rey - Innumeracy
posted by mrdrummed at 1:01 PM on January 6

Not a specific band, but I like Bollywood station. The "Native" station is good too. I access it through Itunes>Radio>International/World so I don't need account to listen.
posted by hellochula at 1:11 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

I quite liked Moby's song Guitar, Flute, and String.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:12 PM on January 6

Chubby Wolf. I'm particularly fond of her Ornitheology album.
posted by bmarkey at 1:20 PM on January 6

I find some of Explosions in the Sky to be like this (like Your Hand in Mine).
posted by thewumpusisdead at 1:39 PM on January 6

Hildegard Von Bingen does this to me every time.
posted by smoke at 1:44 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

posted by davebush at 2:56 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

Check out Ray Lynch's stuff. I have these albums and love them:

Deep Breakfast
No Blue Thing
Nothing Above My Shoulders but the Evening
posted by jockc at 3:20 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

I like George Winston for this.
posted by elmay at 3:41 PM on January 6

In fact, you should really become familiar with everybody recording on his label, Windham Hill. Back in the late 1980s this type of music became known as "New Age" but since that term has undesirable connotations to some, it's now lumped in with "Smooth Jazz" which is unfortunate. (Rather than relaxing, I find certain mainstays of the latter genre cringe-inducing, for example Chuck Mangione and Kenny G.)
posted by Rash at 4:01 PM on January 6

...and the Windham Hill artists I like best are founder William Ackerman, Alex de Grassi, Liz Story, Shadowfax, Scott Cossu, Nightnoise, Michael Manring and Michael Hedges; and anything featuring Chuck Greenberg's Lyricon.
posted by Rash at 4:25 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

Nick Drake is my go-to for reading + dozing off.
posted by mannequito at 4:40 PM on January 6

posted by sarahsynonymous at 4:52 PM on January 6

Try Mojave 3's Excuses for Travelers album--former Slowdive members. Their catalog is a little mixed according to me, but that album is so good. Here's one track.
posted by Kafkaesque at 5:33 PM on January 6

You want Qin music. I learned about it from a musical ethnographer friend who was also studying hypnosis. Resolutely but beautifully arrhythmic. Some pieces are more sprightly and some are like drifting down a stream the only human ears in the world. I'm partial to WU Zhaoji's recording on Hugo if you can find it.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:00 PM on January 6

What you want is Julie True.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:33 PM on January 6

Oh, and Vangelis.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:34 PM on January 6

In addition to the already-mentioned Chuck Wild / Liquid Mind, here's what I like to fall asleep to:

Inlakesh: The Dreaming Gate
Didgeridoo music, etc. I think there are some spoken words but very few.

Aeroc: R+B=?
Calm electronic music.

Billow Observatory

Vangelis: Blade Runner Soundtrack
Some tracks are not relaxing, but most of them are. And some have spoken words or singing.

Music For Programming Podcast
Great for relaxing, not just programming. Sometimes there are vocals but not many.
posted by kidbritish at 9:32 PM on January 6

Seconding Eluvium, Stars of the Lid, and artists from Windham Hill. Basically anything by those guys will do the trick. Stars of the Lid in particular is the first thing that came to mind when I read this question.

I specifically do not recommend Aphex Twin or post-rock like Explosions in the Sky or God is an Astronaut for this purpose (though they are awesome for different reasons); only very specific songs from them will fit your criteria.
posted by Jpfed at 9:58 PM on January 6

It might be too glitchy for some people to consider it to be relaxing, but I find the Rounds album by Four Tet to often be what I need while working and needing something calming (Pause is also soothing, but some of his other stuff is downright abrasive).


My Angel Rocks Back and Forth

Also, somewhat akin to Enya would be Lisa Gerard from Dead Can Dance's solo work (you've likely heard it in a film soundtrack at some point). Here's a YouTube mix of a bunch of it, some more soothing than others.

If you don't mind straying towards the new age section, Donna De Lory has an album of mantras I find relaxing - He Ma Durga.
posted by Candleman at 11:33 PM on January 6

Oddly I find Radiohead's Kid A to be very soothing. Probably because I mostly can't make out the lyrics.

Also Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians is both relaxing and focusing, depending on what you need. It soothes me when I need soothing and helps me concentrate and get stuff done when I need to do that.

Efterklang are also very good, if a tad melancholy on some albums. Tripper is probably best for your purposes but the later albums have their moments as well.

Agree with Sigur Ros - well, partly anyway; they can also be energising and sometimes a bit too depressing. Try Takk. Lisa Gerrard, mentioned above, also good. And thanks for those reminders of Windham Hill, those of you who suggested it!
posted by Athanassiel at 1:06 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]

Arvo Pärt is worth checking out.
posted by rjs at 10:15 AM on January 7

Black Sands by Bonobo.
posted by JDC8 at 11:20 AM on January 7

I find Hawaiian slack key guitar to be extremely relaxing. Try The Waikikis.
posted by Mendl at 2:13 PM on January 7

Boards of Canada, maybe Geogaddi to start?
posted by kaspen at 4:51 PM on January 7

Steve Roach. Raphael. Brian Crain. Vangelis' Soil Festivities (not all Vangelis music is uber-relaxing).
posted by tra at 6:47 AM on January 8

A Windham Hill sampler:
posted by Rash at 10:11 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

Try Mojave 3's Excuses for Travelers album--former Slowdive members

Post Slowdive post Mojave 3 there is Neil Halstead's amazing Sleeping on Roads, a record I've been coming back to for 12 years now. One of my all time favorite records.

Sleeping on Roads.

Martha's Mantra (For the Pain)

High Hopes

High and Lo and in Between
posted by eyeballkid at 1:04 AM on March 1

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