I could call these "soothing" or "calming" (which they are) but that undersells both their power and shelf life.
  1. Miles Davis, "The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions." Box sets are normally just a way to fleece Christmas shoppers. In this case, though, it's the appropriate format. You want to hear all three of these disks: it's a manageable commitment. The musicians create a language with Miles: quiet, clear, strong, relentlessly delicate, and charged.
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  2. Nick Drake, "Pink Moon." My 15-year-old son hates anything "softly sung," because it makes him think of sad things. "Pink Moon" is kept in the sad barn by many, but I never hear the pain. This is a short record of short songs, almost all just Drake's voice and guitar, two sounds coming out of one instrument.
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  3. Ornette Coleman, "Body Meta." This album fully embodies Ornette's view of harmolodics. He described iit in a way that always sounded like a definition of love to me: "Don't follow me. Just be with me." (Paraphrased.)
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  4. The Congos, "Heart of the Congos." This isn't an album with one identifiable triumph. It's the sound of tape run underwater 18 times, the sound of three voices moving together in perfect total unison, and the uncanny feeling of being moved by songs about fishermen who aren't doing much more than fishing.
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  5. Brian Eno, "Ambient 1: Music For Airports." I have nothing more to say than this got me through the two biggest breakups of my life. It's also real pretty.
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  6. William Basinski, "The River." I am voting mostly for disc 2 here. There is no Basinski album that doesn't mean something to me but "The River" has an added layer of almost imperceptible chaos that makes me love it more. I mean, it's loops, let's not fudge; but he knows how to make you forget repetition is repetition.
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