Anxiety. It’s fairly pervasive at the moment, and that’s a problem for all of us; not just because worrying is rubbish and takes focus away from more worthwhile things, but also because fear suppresses the immune system (citation needed), and we all need as much immunity as we can get.
I don’t think I’m coping with the current situation any better than anyone else, but I have always found that music has a big effect on my mood. So I’m sharing a list of albums that are helping me at the moment. They may or may not help you; I always wonder if it’s not the association of a piece of music with a particular feeling or memory that triggers a shift in mental state, and therefore that effective music is keyed to individual experience. Whatever though, here’s a short list…
First up I recommend, if you have access, listening to Lauren Laverne’s breakfast show on BBC 6Music - nothing sounds more normal than a cheerful breakfast show and Lauren has been doing an amazing job of keeping her, and her audience’s, spirits up this week. The show runs from 7.30am to 10.30am weekdays.
I’m not going to put links in here because people get their music from different places and everything here is easily sourced online in whatever format you need it.
Ludovico Einaudi - Seven Days Walking. I have talked about this box set a lot and I’m listening to it as I write this. Nothing is more soothing than this music, it’s like a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa.
The Necks - Drive By. I only recently got into The Necks (thanks, Tim Elsenberg), so I’m hardly an aficionado, but this album consists of one track that is just under an hour long and builds and builds. It’s minimalist-jazz-whatever. Check it out.
R.E.M. - New Adventures in Hi-Fi. My favourite R.E.M. album by miles, recently revisited extensively whilst driving between meetings in L.A. back in January. It belongs now to that time, in my head, and so helps et me out of this one.
Nik Bartsch’s Ronin - Awase. I’d recommend anything by these guys. It’s difficult “zen-funk”/jazz stuff that will not be to everyone’s taste, but it takes your mind off whatever it’s on.
Nicolas Godin - Au Service De La France. Really this is just stupid fun; pastiche-y 60s Euro-Spy music by one of the guys from Air.
Johann Johannsson - And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees. Or Fordlandia. Or Orphee… Anything by Johannsson actually, because it just transports.
Nils Frahm - All Melody. Again, this is just calm.
Per the title of this post, I'm also adding the Polica/Stargaze album Music For The Long Emergency. Warning: it is NOT CALM, but it is very good.
That’s the list for now. I will almost certainly think of more just as soon as I publish this, but these are the stalwarts that I’m turning to at the moment.
My friend Phil emailed the other day to say that he was using this time to listen to one album a day that he hadn't heard in years. This seems like a solid idea if nothing on the list above floats your boat.
And there's also Warren Ellis's SPEKTRMODULE which is a curation of ambient tracks that are guaranteed to transport your mind to a different place.