I listen to Slowdive’s Souvlaki album to help me sleep. That is meant as a very sincere compliment. I’ve never been someone who could fall asleep just because it was time to. Most nights I browse something on my phone, read or listen to a podcast until I start to power down. Sometimes, the sleep catches me off guard and I’ll fall asleep on the couch with the TV on. Then there are the times when I make the decision to not entertain any more thoughts or be the audience to anything for the rest of the night. This is when I will play Souvlaki on my headphones. Maybe it’s some sort of extreme Pavlovian Conditioning at this point, but if I’m in bed, the opening chords of “Alison” will immediately cause my mind to let go and dissipate into a dark cloud. If I somehow make it through “Machine Gun,” then I will definitely be out before “40 days” is over.
I suggest you try drifting off to it sometime. It’s a wonderful shoegazer album that’s great to listen to at any time but I love the fact that there is no other album that has filled my head while I’ve been asleep as much as this one. My subconscious knows this album better than my waking self.
Before I started using the Headspace app for guided meditation, I would listen to Radiohead’s “Treefingers” on repeat. This Kid A track can barely be considered a song as it’s nothing but ethereal droning and humming. Bells and chimes sparsely twinkle in the background. It sounds like floating in space even though it’s title is probably a reference to branches. There were many times where I would concentrate on my breath as this track just existed around me. Fifteen minutes or so later, I’d open my eyes realizing I was still on the ground. Now after listening to a guided meditation session on Headspace, I’ll listen to the “Interspace” interlude on STRFKR’s Being No One, Going Nowhere. This track sounds like it’s landing on the planet that “Treefingers” was orbiting. Broadcasting over the beeps and boops, Alan Watts delivers a version of his famous quote, “You are that vast thing you see far off, far off with great telescopes.”
Sometimes after having an anxiety attack, I’ll listening to the opening track of Ladies and Gentlemen, We are Floating in Space on repeat. There is something so beautiful and yet so sad about that track. I’m not even a big fan of the rest of the album. You never know why certain songs will mean as much to you as they do.
I used to think that there was a clear theme in what I found peaceful. The idea of floating in space, completely detached and inseparably connected to everything at once. One of the songs on that Slowdive album is called “Souvlaki Space Station.” I thought that maybe the album was named after the plans of some Russian space station that never made it into orbit during The Great Space Race.
It wasn’t. Souvlaki is a Greek meat skewer.