10 Great One-Track Albums to Lose Yourself in This Winter

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The fancy vinyl reissue of Sleep’s proto-stoner classic Dopesmoker has been on high rotation at Flavorpill central now that we’ve descended into the depths of winter, and the necessity to get up and flip the LP halfway through has got us thinking about other great records that contain precisely one track. It’s a pleasantly music geeky topic to address for a quiet Tuesday afternoon, and we’ve amused ourselves by scouring our iTunes library for some of our favorite albums by artists with one-track minds. As it were. Check out our selections after the jump, and let us know if you have any to add.

Sleep — Dopesmoker

If you’ll allow us to choose a favorite, we’re going with this one — it’s the sound of strapping yourself into the new triple-chambered spring-loaded turbo-charged vaporizer your roommate bought home from that fancy bong shop in the West Village and smoking yourself into another dimension. In other words, it’s pretty much the best thing ever (and, for the record, your correspondent isn’t even a “dopesmoker.”)

Kevin Drumm — Imperial Horizon

If Dopesmoker is the sound of blasting yourself into oblivion, then this is the sound of letting yourself drift away into the same place. The album’s one track is called “Just Lay Down and Forget It,” and both the song title and the album’s cover art — an evocative image of a sun-bathed cemetery path in the fall — give some indication of its atmosphere, which is both dreamily beautiful and somehow somber.

William Basinski — El Camino Real

While Imperial Horizon‘s transportive power is underpinned by a certain sense of numbness and mortality, El Camino Real takes a similar idea and imbues it with light and warmth. The music is a simple repeated tape loop, echoing Basinski’s masterpiece The Disintegration Loops, but the mood is far less solemn than that record — at times it’s reminiscent of Julianna Barwick’s sublime The Magic Place — and the abiding sense is that of quiet serenity.

Boris — Absolutego

If you mixed the sound of tectonic plates shifting with the sound of a wall of amps all slowly self-immolating, the result might sound something like this. Things get really weird about 26 minutes in, when the drums start going crazy and some sort of weird black mass apparently starts happening at the back of the mix. Ah, Boris. What would we do without them?

Eluvium — Static Nocturne

We’re not generally given to reading YouTube comments, but someone below the line on the above video describes Static Nocturne as “the soundtrack to the afterlife,” which is pretty much spot on as far as we’re concerned.

Coil — Queens of the Circulating Library

A weird conceptual piece shaped by Spiritualized’s keyboard player, and featuring his mother playing the part of some sort of futuristic dominatrix librarian? Sure, why not?

Jim O’Rourke — The Visitor

The track-long album seems to lend itself to guitars with lots of distortion applied to them, but despite the fact that its liner notes invite you to “listen on speakers… loud,” this music here is largely quiet, untreated and understated. It unfolds slowly over the course of some 38 minutes, building from the Spanish-inflected acoustic guitar of the intro through a series of movements that are both subtly complex and entirely engaging.

Edge of Sanity – Crimson

From the sublime to the ridiculously loud, this is a 40-minute conceptual death metal piece about the end of civilization. It will make your ears hurt. It will make your neighbors angry. It will terrify your cat. It’s pretty great, in other words.

Nurse with Wound — Salt Marie Celeste

Steven Stapleton’s work is often abrasive and challenging, but this particular record — a 60-minute-long piece of atmospheric strangeness — is more subtly disturbing than anything else. It sounds like a slow trip through a haunted house or a gloomy graveyard, a place that both makes you want to leave ASAP and also somehow makes you want to stay.

Brian Eno — Thursday Afternoon

And finally, this feature wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, so here it is. Eno’s pioneering 1970s ambient albums have been an influence on plenty of the other artists here, and this 1985 release took the ideas on those records and applied them to a 60-minute piece that accompanied a series of seven “video paintings.” But the fact that said video required viewers to turn their TV on its side rather limited its utility, and we’re pretty happy listening to the music alone.