Top 10 chill out albums — volume 1
Listen, relax and chill out to resting music after exercise
Immerse yourself in some comforting sounds with our top 10 chill out albums which will hopefully be music to your ears.
‘Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream’ sang John Lennon on the Beatles track ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ – and that line basically sums up the reasons for listening to a chill-out album. We all need to take time out every now and again – whether it is to have a break from exercising or work, or just to switch off and forget about our surroundings – and there is no better way to do that than immerse yourself in some chill out sounds.
Any list of top albums is always likely to be controversial, and the chill-out genre is certainly no exception to this rule. One person’s chill-out may be another person's musical nightmare, with the possibilities as to what constitutes ‘chill-out’ music being exceptionally varied – from ambient, trance-like music to easy listening.
The albums that make your own personal list will be changeable depending on your mood at any given time. What may be your ideal chill-out album on one day may not be so on another. This top 10 simply aims to give you a pointer towards some of the albums that have often been described as ‘chill-out’ – some of which you may have come across on your own musical journey, and others of which will be new to you.
Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (1973)
You would hardly think that a concept album dealing with the pressures of life – such as time, money, war, mental illness and death – would help you to chill out, but this does. Dark Side of the Moon is a psychedelic rock masterpiece which works well in the chill-out genre because the majority of the tracks are relatively slow in tempo, with much attention given to creating a relaxed mood.
Oxygene – Jean-Michel Jarre (1976)
Don’t be put off by this album’s age and the fact that it is too readily dismissed in some quarters as just pure synthesiser music – Jarre was a true pioneer of electronic music and this album has certainly stood the test of time. The tracks are all instrumental, which lends to its ambient feel, making it great to relax to or even send you off to sleep at night. If you listen to this album for just one reason, then do so because it is so groundbreaking – and the chances are you will have probably heard a lot of it already without having known who the artist was.
Moon Safari – Air (1998)
Duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel created this downtempo masterpiece of French electronica, which has a dreamy yet happy feel to it. The album’s most well-known tracks include 'Sexy Boy' and 'Kelly, Watch The Stars!', and if you claim not to have heard them before then where have you been? The album has been dismissed in some quarters as easy listening music for dinner parties, and while it would serve that purpose exceptionally well, to do so would only hide its charms. Do yourself a favour and play it when you can give the music your full attention.
Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield (1973)
The record that effectively set up Richard Branson’s Virgin Records became the record company’s first million seller. The opening is best known as it featured as the haunting melody in the movie The Exorcist – but this should not instil you with a feeling that the album will put the frighteners up you, as Tubular Bells is primarily an instrumental album that takes you on a journey through varying musical territories (even ending with a sailor’s hornpipe!), making it one of the most original pieces of material ever to be recorded.
Another Green World – Brian Eno (1975)
Brian Eno, a former member of Roxy Music, made use of the recording process to produce his own meditative wash of sound, which sounds as original now as it did back then. Certainly off the mainstream radar, the album combines distorted guitars with a variety of keyboards and rhythms that are hypnotic and ethereal. Phil Collins from Genesis contributed drums and percussion on several tracks. Eno is considered to be the godfather of ambient, and Another Green World certainly showcases his unique talent.
Watermark – Enya (1988)
This album marked Enya’s breakthrough into the mass market, with the success of the single ‘Orinoco Flow’ helping her to become the multi-million selling artist she is today. Listen to any of the tracks and you’ll find something to chill out to, with the multi-layered harmonies in each song being the most distinctive features, allied with Celtic themes and instrumentation. While later albums generally delivered more of the same, this one is arguably Enya’s best work and is an absolute must-have – and a very soothing listen.
Come Away With Me – Norah Jones (2002)
Rightly deserving of its place at the top of must-haves from the often-maligned ‘easy listening’ genre, this album provides a mixture of country, blues, soul, folk and jazz – an eclectic mix which gives the album its unique edge and chill-out potential. There is a real melancholy in her strong yet gentle voice, which makes you sit up and listen – so to put it on just in the background rather than giving it your attention would not do it justice.
Play – Moby (1999)
Play seems to have a track for just about every mood, and works very well when you want to relax. There is a range of musical styles used on the album, which could loosely be bracketed as ‘ambient’, with the high points arguably being ‘Porcelain’ and ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?’. By taking original blues recordings and surrounding them with electronics, Moby creates something quite unique, and it is quite understandable that the advertising executives wanted to use every one of the songs on Play in their advertising campaigns (where must of us will have heard the songs before).
On and On – Jack Johnson (2003)
Johnson’s funky grooves allied with smart lyrics make this album hard to resist. The pop-folk style lends itself well to the delightful mellow tracks on the album, and the largely semi-acoustic songs do not disappoint. Many of the lyrics are positive and uplifting, and the music is at its best when the arrangements are stripped to the bare minimum and Johnson’s laid-back style shines through. It is definitely a ‘grower’ worthy of a number of listens.
Songbird – Eva Cassidy (1998)
This album showcases the talents of one of the most beautiful voices you are ever likely to hear, and is all the more poignant given the fact Eva died in 1996 before her talents were given full public recognition. Most people will recognise her version of Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’ and the title track – and it is her ability to take both classic and contemporary songs and make them distinctively her own that marks her out as a true talent. This album is a great introduction to her music – as well as the chill out genre.
If you liked what you heard from our chill out albums volume 1 then prepare yourself for another taster of the chill-out genre with our second volume of chill-out albums.