Top 10 Relaxing Music Albums, for Focus and Meditation

There are many different ways we chill out and relax, and many different types of music to accompany our own particular needs – both emotionally and in terms of our focus. I tend towards the more atmospheric kind as my mind, being somewhat busy can often get distracted by music with words or distinct motif’s and melodies. Over the last few months I’ve found some really good ones and so I’m going to share them for you here! (These are in no particular order)


Relaxing Meditation Music


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1. Robert Rich | Nest 2012

Robert Rich - Nest

Robert Rich is a fascinating character. In the 80’s he was known for his large concerts at night time held entirely for sleeping audiences! People would come in at 10pm and sleep through to 7am when Robert would serve them tea! Amazing.

Robert’s music is incredibly diverse and yet remains in largely within the realms of ‘ambience’ – in that it’s spacious and promotes relaxation. However, he is a true artist and explores different realms within his work so not all of his stuff works for me. 

I’m still exploring his massive collection of work but so far ‘Nest’ has been the most ‘useful’ for me in terms of promoting relaxation and my therapeutic work. Based around the theme of nature and internal spaces, the album begins with simple bird song and goes through a number of poignant journeys. However, although there is pathos in the album, I have never felt ‘sad’ whilst being with it.

It’s a stunning work to guide and help with meditation and is often at the top of my meditation playlists.

 

2Max Corbacho - Ars Lucis. Max Corbacho | Ars Lucis 2009

There’s something incredibly ethereal about this album. Max Corbacho is brilliant at evoking reverence, space and a feeling of… well… the cosmos. Much of his work seems, bright, icy & celestial.

Ars Lucis has a vast sense of space within it. Inspired by cathedrals and the way light pours in through coloured windows, Gorbacho spaces the high bell-like textures and low rumbling music far apart from one another. I find my mind benefits greatly from this construction as there is so much space within the track, and one does not feel cluttered by the music.

“Not the blinding light from outside but light filtered through high windows of coloured glass, broken and transformed into coloured gems, transferring that which is material to That which is immaterial.” (Gorbacho)

Corbacho’s Ars Lucis is about as non-invasive and atmospheric as music gets. There’s deliberately nothing to hold on to and so the mind is held & the body can breath without distraction. It is atmospheric and reverent music at its best.

 

Rudy Adrian - Moonwater3. Rudy Adrian | MoonWater 2005

Like many, if not all of my favourite composers, Rudy Adrian is connected deeply to nature and this ultimately features in his work. He studied botany and forestry science when he was younger, going on to then to film music and atmospheric composition.‘Twighlight’, ‘Desert Realms’ and ‘Par Avion’ are just some of his albums, but my chosen album for relaxation is 2005’s ‘MoonWater’.

MoonWater features water sounds (surprised?), nature sound at night and piano. What more could you want in a relaxation album? The album does not stay at the sea but moves into other realms, exploring light, darkness and space. At the end, we are returned gently to the sea, before two live tracks of Adrian’s ‘Three Views of a Japanese Garden’. These last two are stunning and pull thematic feelings from the album into a different light – interspersed with stunning ‘ethnic-sounding’ vocals drifting in and out. 


Calming Ocean Music


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Pat-Metheny-Whats-It-All-About4. Pat Metheny | What’s it all about?  2011

Pat Metheny is a huge Jazz artist with a massive scope. As well as maintaining a high level career in contemporary jazz, he often comes out with fringe albums like this one, and spacious/contemplative music forms a core part of his musical identity. Metheny’s guitar playing on this album is rendered with large-scale reverbs and delays – giving great wash to his already incredible sounding guitar and guitar playing.

I’ve set a number of his tracks to wake me up gently in the morning, allowing my transition from sleeping to waking to be as relaxed and slow as I like.

 

6. Jeff Pearce  | Jeff Pearce With Evening Above

The king of ambient guitar drifts and textures, Jeff Pierce is well known to the new age music community. What I admire about Jeff is just how many sounds he gets out of the guitar and how many textures & spaces he creates. This album, “With Evening Above” explores the feeling of night time and while largely being made from atmospheric textures, it is sprinkled with Pearce’s distinctive guitar playing.

At all times, his playing is gentle and and thought provoking. It’s paced and powerful. Whilst for some it might not be good as meditation music, it certainly can be used as music for yoga, tai chi or movement. The rhythmical guitar playing is broad and un-focused – in a good way. Pearce uses delay, reverb and multi layering which causes more of the ‘wash’ type effect, allowing your mind to de-hinge from any particularly melodic content.


Relaxing Spa Music with Water Sounds


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Officium7. Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble | ‘Officium’ 1994

Officium is a seminal album recorded by some  of the top Jazz  and Classical musicians in the world. Recorded in a vast Austrian monastery, the ensemble consists of four singers (The Hilliard Ensemble) and Jan Garbarek on Soprano and Tenor Saxophones.

 I don’t listen to lots of choral musical at the moment but this album is truly stunning. The voices are so pure and clear, the recording so crisp and fresh that I feel complete serenity when I listen to it. The arrangements that the three singers explore within the monasteries acoustic, sometimes feel like great waves of sound, and over the top, Garbarek’s soprano saxophone sings beautifully. When one thinks of saxophones and “relaxing” music, one can often assume more ‘seedy’ music, but this is truly powerful and authentic playing.

 

Found8. David Helping and Jon Jenkins | ‘Found’ 2013

Some people relax to heavier, more rhythmical music. I remember sleeping to RageAgainstTheMachine in the car when I was a teenager – weird I know…

This album by David Helping & Jon Jenkins includes drums. Drums!? For relaxing! Yes… however, what’s marvellous about it is that the whole album is highly compressed, which means ‘squashed’ in terms of its dynamics. Basically the difference between quiet sounds and louder ones are smaller – giving the ear a more continuous – ‘bath-like’ experience.

I’m a big fan of relaxing workouts – paced workouts. I used to only feel ‘happy’ if i’d pushed myself to the brink of pain during running and weights. Now however, especially in the morning, I’m looking for music that allows me to warm up without pressure or intensity. ‘Found’ and much of David’s work with Jon Jenkins is helping me do this. If you want to know more about relaxing warm-up music, make sure you post in the comments below.

The album also has some wonderfully space-filled tracks like ‘Only Ashes’ and ‘Almost Never’. But at it’s heart it’s an album for movement and positive visualisation. I find myself connecting with emotions of passion, purpose and power when I listen to this, but all from a place of centred-ness and calm. 

These guys are some of my favourite composer/producers and actually have their own podcast about their music – you can check it out here.

 

the-melody-at-night9. Keith Jarrett | The Melody At Night, With You. 1999

Recorded in his rural New Jersey home studio in 1997, this is a homely, dry and warm selection of some of Jazz’s most folk-like and melodic ballads. This is my perfect album for relaxing to at the end of the day, or playing outside during drinks etc. Keith Jarrett is quite a firey artist sometimes, but during the recording he was suffering with an affliction that meant he had to stay at home, and the result was this entirely relaxed and slow-paced album.

Reflective and hugely melancholic, this album is still full of positivity and warmth – which is an amazing feat. There’s great peace and serentity in Jarrett’s playing and one never feels rushed. It’s an album to slow down with, it’s music to have a bath with – you get it… check it out . 🙂

10. Zbigniew Preisner |
‘Silence, Night
and Dreams’ 2007Silence+Night+and+Dreams

This album is mesmeric and incredibly powerful, left to last not because it is better – but because it is particular. Preisner is a stunning composer who writes direct, simple, tonal neo-romantic music and produces it in very interesting ways. But in my opinion it’s certainly an album to be with 100% as opposed to doing other things, as there is a wealth of material and the whole album is a real journey. Based on texts from the Book of Job, this project explores large themes within tracks like ‘To Sleep’, ‘To Dream’, ‘To Know’.

Check these out and let me know what you think! 🙂

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