Relaxing Albums on Hoopla

By Chris Breitenbach

Ambient, mellow, calming music for dreaming. Here are a few of my favorite albums for relaxing and floating downstream.

  • Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks

    2019 by Eno, Brian

    Arguably one of the greatest ambient albums ever made, this early '80s masterpiece by Brian Eno (with help from his brother Roger and producer Daniel Lanois) is still frequently used in film soundtracks. I've been listening to this album for more than 30 years and it never fails to remind me to breathe.

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  • The Pearl

    2005 by Budd, Harold

    Harold Budd, now retired, gifted the world with several albums of his delicate brand of ghostly piano music. My favorite is this gorgeous, twilight-lit album he made with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who add subtle, shimming production.

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  • Floating into the Night

    2006 by Cruise, Julee

    Fans of David Lynch's early 90s series Twin Peaks are likely already familiar with Floating Into the Night, several tracks of which appeared on the show. Composed by Angelo Badalamenti, with lyrics penned by Lynch and sung by Julee Cruise at her most ethereal , this is undistilled dream music.

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  • Solo Piano

    2015 by Gonzales, Chilly

    Expressive piano vignettes filled with mystery, longing, and more than a little debt to Satie's Gymnopédies. One I'm always surprised by.

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  • Structures from Silence

    1984 by Roach, Steve

    A landmark of new-age space music, this album has only grown in stature since its release in 1984. It's influenced by European new-age pioneers like Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, though it is rooted in the big sky deserts of California, where Roach came of age.

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  • Musique De Nuit

    2015 by Sissoko, Ballake

    The second album made by the great kora player Ballaké Sissoko and cellist Vincent Segal is sublimely soothing. As a bonus, many of the album's tracks were recorded outside Sissoko's house in Bamako, Mali, coating them in a lovely natural ambience.

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  • Vento De Maio

    2009 by Leao, Nara

    One of the joys of Hoopla is finding so many classic Brazilian Bossa Nova albums that are hard to find otherwise, including this late-'60s masterpiece from Nara Leão. This one swings a bit more than anything else on this list, but the vibe is easygoing, even as it puts a little shimmy in the hips.

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  • From Sleep

    2015 by Richter, Max

    8 hours and 24 minutes of music for sleep that composer Max Richter calls "an invitation to dream." The album is based on Richter's research into natural sleep cycles and made to soundtrack the land of nod, yet I've found it to be one my favorite albums to put on while reading.

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  • Atmosphères

    2016 by Hamasyan, Tigran

    For nearly 90 minutes, this stunning collection of collaborative improvisations sustains a richly contemplative mood. Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan is joined by a prestigious roster of European jazz/experimental players, including Arve Henriksen, whose distinct horn playing that is inspired by shakuhachi flute is heard throughout.

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