Here Is Music to Chill To

We all need music that is therapeutic in nature that helps us de-stress, unplug, chill out–whatever you wish to call it. And as you know, chillaxin’ music is what I have been producing lately, but I thought I’d share my short list of other people’s music that always takes me to a serene place. Warning: Many of these records are now quite old.

Mark Isham – Film Music  If you have never seen the film “Never Cry Wolf”, then you will never have heard Mark Isham’s sweeping synthesizer soundscapes. I remember going with my wife and a friend to see the film in the old Crossroads theatre in Bellevue (a long time ago) and being totally captivated by the textures. Mr. Isham, who is primarily a trumpet player, has composed dozens of film scores since, but this will always be my favorite. Another great CD of his is “Castalia” if you can find it.

Checkfield – Water Wind and Stone  A co-worker turned me onto Checkfield back in the late 80’s. In fact, he gave me two of their CDs. This one is their second offering–the first was never released on CD. The opening cut, “Crystal Water”, starts out with the sound of water and soothing, pastoral acoustic guitars, accompanied by gentle synths and percussion. But this eclectic album ranges from folk textures to sweeping symphonies with a full orchestra as well as electronic grooves. Their later music got more “poppy” but still very enjoyable.

Iona – Journey Into the Morn  Iona is a unique blend of different genres. They are a celtic band. No, they’re progressive jazz/rock. Wait, they’re CCM. They are all of the above and in a way that works. This album was their fourth. I distinctly recall having a moment at our house in California where I was floating on my back in the pool in the dark, the speakers pointed out through the sliding door, and just being transplanted to another place. It opens with synth textures and Joanne Hogg’s haunting voice as she sings something in gaelic. The music gets boisterous and intricate at times, but always in way that is not jarring. Perhaps it is the ever-present generous amount of reverb.

Loreena McKennitt – The Book of Secrets  I could choose any of the recordings by this Canadian songstress, but this was the first I heard, and even features a song that got some airplay back in the day, “The Mummer’s Dance”. I love music that blends a variety of styles and her’s fills the bill. Celtic, new age, and various world textures all blend together in a way that doesn’t seem contrived. The CD includes a generous amount of liner notes that reads like a diary that chronicles the evolution of each song. This is the epitome of eclecticism.

This was just a short sampling of my “go to” music when I need to take a chill pill. But I only want this to be the start of a conversation. So I ask you this: What music do you like to chill out to?

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Filed under Art, Monday Musicologist

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