10 Genuinely Relaxing Songs to Ease You Off to Sleep

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We’re not usually big readers of the UK’s Daily Telegraph, but we did read with interest a recent report that UK band Marconi Union’s song “Weightless” has been proclaimed “the most relaxing tune ever.” The article claims that “scientists played the song to 40 women and found it to be more effective at helping them relax than songs by Enya, Mozart and Coldplay.” This doesn’t exactly sound like scientific proof to us, and although the song is certainly a pleasant, Eno-influenced piece of atmospheric ambience, it’s nothing revolutionary (if you want to hear it, you can head to another UK newspaper site, where it’s streaming). Either way, we were more concerned by the fact that the Torygraph claims it’s “more relaxing than Enya, Mozart and Coldplay,” as if those three artists were the yardstick by which a piece of music’s relaxing qualities should be measured. We’re not standing for any such nonsense, so here’s a Flavorpill relaxation playlist — next time you’re having trouble sleeping, give some of these tracks a spin and see if they help any!

Zelienople — “All I Want is Calm”

An appropriately titled song from one of Flavorpill’s favorite post-work sit-on-the-couch-and-de-stress records, namely Zelienople’s 2009 album Give It Up. Pretty much all the songs on this album share the curiously detached, disconnected feeling that pervades “All I Want is Calm” — we’ve always thought it would have made a lovely soundtrack for Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void. Listen to it long enough and you may start to feel that you’re suddenly viewing the world from an entirely different place — a place where all the annoying shit that’s been occupying your mind suddenly doesn’t seem so important after all.

Spacemen 3 — “That’s Just Fine”

We included this song on our 4/20 mixtape six months back, and we’re so partial to it that we’re going to repeat the selection here. There’s something about the song’s slow, blissed-out vibe that makes us just want to stretch out and relax and close our eyes, even if no THC or other substances are involved.

Motion Sickness of Time Travel — “The Walls Were Dripping With Stars”

We’re big fans of Rachel Evans here at Flavorpill — apart from holding one of the great monikers of recent times, she makes remarkable music that’s both spacey and abstract and yet somehow still warm and engaging. Her recent album Luminaries & Synastry is another of our favorite post-work decompression releases, not quite as detached as Zelienople’s work, but still laden with the ability to relieve you from the tedium of everyday life — for a while, at least.

Earth — “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull”

There’s something meditative about the eastern-influenced drone action on Earth’s 2008 album The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, and we’re particularly fond of the title track. It’s definitely heavy (although not nearly as much as their earlier, pre-hiatus work), but its slow-building majesty is also curiously restful. And before you scoff that you’d never be able to sleep to a drone doom band, give it a try, and let us know tomorrow whether you still agree.

Brian Eno — “In Dark Trees”

Sure, you could just put on Music for Airports and be done with it. But since we’re selecting individual songs for a mix here, we figured we’d go with something off Another Green World, an album that found Eno beginning to incorporate the ambient sounds he’d been exploring with Robert Fripp into his own solo work. It’s a less raucous record than his first two post-Roxy Music albums, and you can certainly see the atmospheric direction in which he was heading on tracks like “In Dark Trees,” which sounds exactly like its title.

Julianna Barwick — “Envelop”

Nearly six months on, we still think that Julianna Barwick’s The Magic Place is one of the most underrated albums of 2011. And we still put it on late at night when everyone else is in bed and our mind is still racing. If you ever find yourself in the same boat, then trust us: listen for half an hour, drink a cup of chamomile tea, and all will be well.

Mazzy Star — “Fade Into You”

Even before we saw the news that Mazzy Star will soon release their first new music in 15 years, we were planning on including this all-time classic single here — and now we’re all excited!

Panoptique Electrical — “Tingling Cheeks Are Love”

The album from which this song was taken, Let the Darkness at You, was designed to facilitate sleep, which makes this piece a natural inclusion on this list. Like all the other music on the album, “Tingling Cheeks are Love” is a piece of strange, otherworldly music that’s both wholly absorbing and strangely relaxing, suggesting that Jason Sweeney — the Australian producer who works under the name of Panoptique Electrical — had a pretty fair idea of what he was doing.

Sigur Rós — “Svefn-g-englar”

C’mon, you must be nodding off by now. Close your eyes, think of glaciers, and all of a sudden it’ll be morning. And if not…

Kevin Drumm — “Just Lay Down and Forget It”

Thanks to YouTube’s abandonment of the ten-minute limit for videos, we can link you to this entire piece — a single, 64-minute epic that constitutes the entirety of Kevin Drumm’s 2009 album Imperial Horizon. It’s a remarkable piece of work — minimal yet never dull, immersive and hypnotic. If this doesn’t put you to sleep, then maybe it’s time to give up and reach for the Xanax. (And if you do like it, then don’t just listen to it here. Go and invest in the album — it’s a wonderful piece of work from an artist who deserves your support.)