The past week was especially rough in relation to my PhD studies, so listening to ambient/downtempo music became the best way for me to relax and decompress. This made me think of my trip to Croatia and the music I would listen to on the plane and during my waits at the various airports (as well as the nostalgic feeling I get just thinking about traveling). I noticed that even on the in-flight radio (on the KLM trans-Atlantic flights I was on) this type of music was popular (on the proper channel). Out of the multitude of albums and artists I have in my music collection, a few I consider the best music for traveling and relaxation (most of which was played on the in-flight radio): Talkie Walkie by Air, Melodica by Frost, Simple Things by Zero 7, and Suzuki by Tosca.
Two of the albums can be considered more ambient and downtempo than the others: Melodica by Frost and Tosca’s Suzuki. Tosca, made up of Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber, created a wonderful album that is a perfect blend of subdued vocals, deep beats and downtempo breaks. It’s one of those rare works which you can listen to from beginning to end and enjoy every moment. If I had to chose my favorite songs (even if the whole album is easy to listen to), they would be "Suzuki", "Orozco", "Honey", "Ocean Beat" and "The Key". In the same field of downtempo music comes Melodica, the first album from the Norwegian electronica duo Frost, comprised of vocalist Aggie E. Peterson and instrumentalist Per Martinsen. The album has a light feel to it with layered backgrounds and attractive vocals. Frost has potential and the album does contain remixes which are very good, but it cannot be compared to Tosca’s work. All in all, the album is easy to listen to and is worth having. My favorite songs in Melodica are "Amygdala", "Klong" and "Endless Love [Royksopp’s Analoge Euromiks]".
Air’s JB Dunckel and Nicolas Godin have made an album that takes electronica to a different level. Talkie Walkie gives us more psychedelic and dreamy soundscapes to contemplate. A very good album, nice to have at a party when you just want to relax (or anytime when you just want to relax). "Venus" and "Mike Mills" are my favorites in this album. In the same league as Air comes Zero 7, the British duo of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, with their debut album Simple Things. The album is full of atmosphere and lush soundscapes, truly hard to describe unless you listen to it. It’s a smooth and perfect mix of gurgling and ringing keyboards, soul-influenced vocals, and classical string arrangements. Some songs are different than others, giving the album variety, yet all are pleasant to the ear. The best songs for me on the album are "Red Dust" (I just can’t get enough of this song, probably one of my all time favorites) and "In the Waiting Line".
So if you are trying to relax or need a soundtrack to your trips, listen to any of these albums and put your mind at ease.