Put the kettle on
It’s World Book Day – so we’ve compiled a list of ten calming instrumental albums to listen to while reading. So, breathe in, get a cup of Earl Grey, and take that dusty copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses off the bookshelf.
1. Brian Eno – ‘Ambient 1/Music for Airports’
Sparse, broken piano cords. Calming bass-y undertones. This is the first of four albums in Eno’s ‘Ambient’ series – made up of music Eno said would “induce calm and a space to think” – and features four pieces created from layering tape loops of different lengths.
2. Yann Tiersen – ‘Amélie (soundtrack)’
Allow the soothing sounds of Yann’s pianos, accordions and harpsichords to wash over you as you read – while thinking wistfully of Paris.
3. Laurel Halo – ‘Dust’
An electronic, experimental album – complete with some flitting voice samples – to lie back and listen as you read.
4. Max Richter – ‘Sleep’
This serene masterpiece by composer Max Richter is based on the neuroscience of sleep – hence its length at nearly eight-and-a-half hours long. There’s pianos, violas, and cellos. Put it on in the background and get cracking on Melville’s Moby Dick.
5. Mogwai – ‘The Hawk is Howling’
The Scottish post-rock band’s sixth studio album, filled with gentle guitar-strumming, is a great record to focus your mind. There’s a fair amount of drumming and some heavier guitar chords, however it’s carefully balanced – the music is just enough to help you concentrate, but not so much that it becomes a distraction in itself.
6. Aphex Twin – ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92’
This electronic album is beat-drive yet atmospheric – food for concentration.
7. Helen Jane Long – ‘Porcelain’
The debut album by this British composer – known for her work on the film score for The Lord of the Rings trilogy – is piano-driven and tranquil. There’s some strings and guitar, too.
8. Kamasi Washington – ‘The Epic’
Fancy some jazz? Try Washington’s debut album for saxophones, trumpets and trombones played over piano and bass.
9. 2814 – ‘新しい日の誕生’
This British collaborative’s album is slow, futuristic and spacey. It’s full of urban sounds.
10. Moby – ‘Long Ambients1. Calm. Sleep.’
Oh, Moby, what would we do without you? The electronic pioneer took a step away from his heavy-sounding drum machines to create 11 tracks of ambience.