Der Watzmann by David Casper Friedrich

“Old men must be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity”
– T.S. Eliot – ‘East Coker’ from The Four Quartets.

Had a hard day on the planet?

Need some soothing music that quietens the soul but doesn’t deaden the brain?

Throw away those New Age tapes of dolphin sounds or bland electro-acoustic loops and check out my top ten albums for restoring a sense of balance and awakening consciousness.

None of the ten records listed below will disturb the flow of your writing or intrude upon your thoughts but will leave you mind free to wander towards higher ground.

ALVA NOTO + RYUICHI SAKAMOTO – Insen (Raster-Noton, 2005)
An album you should play to anyone who tells you “I don’t like glitch”.

TOUMANI DIABATÉ WITH BALLAKE SISSOKO – New Ancient Strings (Rykodisc, 1999)
The strings in question are that of the kora, an African harp. Two masters of this ancient instrument are in perfect harmony – recorded in one take.

APHEX TWIN – Selected Ambient Works 2 (Warp Records, 1984)
Richard D. James takes time out from techno beats to share his lucid dreams.

MACHINEFABRIEK – Dauw (Dekorder, 2008)
The name adopted by this Dutch solo artist means ‘machine factory’ but there’s nothing mechanical about the five pieces on this album.

GROUPER – Way Their Crept (Porcupine Society, 2005)
I could have included any one of Liz Harris’ records; this is her debut where the spooked reverb and multi-tracked voice make it sound like choral music beamed from another planet.

FABIO ORSI – Random Shades of Day (Privileged To Fail, 2012)
A marvellous three CD set of majestic drones.

STARS OF THE LID – The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid (Kranky, 2001)
Stillness and minimalism played to perfection.

JESSICA BAILIFF – Hour of the Trace ( Kranky, 1999)
Inspired ethereal tunes highlighted by a 20 minute track entitled ‘How our perception of distance is changed with each passing hour’.

BIOSPHERE – Substrata (All Saints Records, 1997)
My all-time favourite ambient album – Geir Jenssen creates supremely chilled otherworldly atmospheres.

ARVO PÄRT – Tabula Rasa (ECM, 1984)
In the sleevenotes, Wolfgang Sandner writes of this work – “The tonality of this piece has no mechanical purpose. It is there to transport us towards something that has never been heard before”; something that could be said of any of the other records listed here.