Remedy Your Restless Nights: Six Albums To Stimulate Deep Sleep
As lockdown measures remain in place and we continue adapting to the 'new normal', many will be losing sleep as they feel the effects of an uncertain future. Sleep, for many, is the only thing offering daily lockdown life some structure, so a good night's sleep is vital if you want to maintain a degree of normalcy.
So, to remedy those restless nights, here are six albums to stimulate a deep sleep:
Nils Frahm - Screws
Released in 2012 on Erased Tapes Records, nine gentle piano compositions comprise Nils Frahm's Screws. Frahm proves himself to be the master not just of the notes he does play, but those he doesn’t. Empty space can be felt in each piece, in pauses between chords and extended silences between tracks. His style of playing distinguishes his pieces from a majority of solo piano music (his recent book of sheet music warns: “pieces like this can sound cheesy if played with too much pathos”). Using a combination of pedals, dampers and a light touch, Frahm has perfected the art of the understated.
Hiroshi Yoshimura - Wetland
Wetland draws you into Hiroshi Yoshimura’s ambient world of drifting synthesisers and minimalist harmonies. Composed for stressed-out Tokyo city-dwellers in the 1990’s, Yoshimura incorporated natural sounds such as birdsong and running water to remind his listeners of the world beyond the urban sprawl. Unrecognised outside of Japan until his recent internet resurgence, his music was designed for specific locations, train stations, runway shows and shops, inspired by Erik Satie’s idea of “Furniture Music”. Released in 1993 on Eastworld, Wetland is a 38-minute watery soundscape that will send you into a deep slumber.
Gaussian Curve - Clouds
The product of two days in an Amsterdam studio with a collection of instruments including guitar, melodica, synthesisers, drum machines, trumpet and piano, Clouds conjures an aura of calm. Minimal percussion laden with reverb is interspersed with hypnotic piano parts and lightly distorted guitar lines. Released in 2014 on Music From Memory, it is the backdrop for a slow and steady approach to the 'new normal'.
Bill Evans Trio - Waltz for Debby
Recorded live on 25 June 1961 at The Village Vanguard jazz club in New York, Waltz for Debby is regarded as one of the greatest works of Bill Evans who, after his death in 1980, left behind over 50 albums, a jazz documentary, and the piano parts to Miles Davis’ seminal Kind of Blue. If you listen closely you can hear the background hum, the clink of glasses and laughter of 1960’s New York. The album was recorded just ten days before Evans’ bassist Scott Lafaro was killed in a car crash, causing the pianist to retreat into seclusion. The lazily seamless interplay of drums, piano and bass is quietly masterful.
Brian Eno - Thursday Afternoon
Brian Eno’s name is almost synonymous with ambient music. Composed for a series of seven “video paintings”, this sparse, beat-less soundscape is designed to create a background atmosphere for footage he filmed during one Thursday afternoon. “I call them video paintings” he says, “because if you say to people ‘I make videos’ they think of Sting’s new rock video or some really boring grimy video art…it’s just a way of saying ‘I make videos that don’t move very fast’”. This is music for a slow pace.
Fumio Miyashita - White Morning
After playing in two pioneering progressive rock bands during the 1970’s, Fumio Miyashita began making solo electronic music and composing soundtracks after 1977. Many of his 100-plus albums are made specifically for the purpose of healing and sleep. Comprised of only two tracks, this album is nevertheless over 49-minutes long. The first track, 'See the Light', projects an atmosphere of calm with a sustained pedal in the bass, the fifth interval held in a static harmony. A gentle raga-like melody is punctuated by steadily recurring octaves lulling the listener into a docile state.
If you still can’t sleep having sat through the above, you can find a carefully curated playlist with a selection of sleep-inducing tracks on Spotify here.