My fellow Americans, liberals and conservatives, deplorables and cucks, today is the day for which we have long prepared, hurling invective and memes at each other until we at last reach some marginal consensus on which manifestation of our irreparably fractured psyche should be allowed to exploit our weaknesses for the next four years. We are all, quite frankly, tapped out. We’ve shared our last New York Times op-ed/Photoshop of Hillary Clinton as the Wicked Witch of the West, posted our final cut-and-paste screed in every available comments section, and now, confident that we’ve done our part to engage in meaningful dialogue, it is time to vote our own conscience and let go. Let go of the nation and hope it comes back to you, and hope also that the ones it snubbed don’t throw a massive, violent shit-fit.
In the meantime, everywhere you turn you’re going to find election coverage, providing new and up-to-the-minute anxiety. And that’s why I’ve created this article for you, filled with nothing but blissful music culled from my very own, personal iTunes playlist. For all you fellow ’80s/’90s kids out there, think of this as the chill-out tent where you can escape the rave someone brought “ecstasy” to with some big talk about bringing us all together, but it turned out to be mostly crank and baby aspirin. At 20 songs and around two-and-a-half hours, these should get you through the rest of the workday, until you can get home and start drinking.
Feel free to share your own recommendations for calming music below—but for God’s sake, let’s not fight about it.
The Orb, “Spanish Castles In Space”
I could have just put all of The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld on here (or for that matter, The KLF’s Chill Out), but we need this track in particular. With its loping, heartbeat-in-the-womb bass and soothing birdsong, it’s a reminder that, no matter what happens today, life goes on. Also, that being in space sounds pretty good right now. Let’s go to space.
Julianna Barwick, “Look Into Your Own Mind”
Similarly, any of Julianna Barwick’s looped, wordless choral intonations over deep synth-pads would work, but this one has a title that encourages the kind of soothing introspection we’re after. Look into your own mind, and disregard any qualms about a newly emboldened white nationalist movement you might find there. Just listen to the pretty voices.
Boozoo Bajou, “Hirta”
Dub techno rhythms, jazzy, slightly mournful processed woodwinds—plenty of space to relax and not think about how, even if Trump loses (especially if he loses), his campaign will leave behind a smoldering crater of angry, even more disenfranchised people who went into this thing already feel cheated and will now be even more eager to lash out. The rest of this album is really good, too!
Air, “Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi”
Oh yeah, you gotta have some Air on here. The title of this song translates to “The sun is close to me,” which would certainly be welcome right about now. Please come down and get close to us, sun. Envelop us all in the searing warmth of your celestial hug, until all is ash.
Eluvium, “Indoor Swimming At The Space Station”
Fun fact: The International Space Station doesn’t actually have a swimming pool, and if you Google “space station swimming pool,” you will instead be directed to numerous articles and videos suggesting that the “Space Station” itself is a hoax that’s all being faked in a NASA pool, under which you’ll find dozens of comments from people screaming at each other about being “sheep” and “nutjobs.” So don’t do that! Stay here and listen to this instead.
Christopher Willits, “Clear”
Christopher Willits is a musician, multimedia artist, and teacher who believes that music can “catalyze inner change.” It’s true—listening to this changes you briefly into a person who doesn’t care about checking CNN.com just to look at footage of people outside polling places, waving signs you don’t agree with.
Brian Eno, “Ambient Music For Airports 1/1”
It isn’t a chill-out room without some Brian Eno, whose ambient works remain the standard by which the genre is judged. Most would point to Music For Airports as his masterpiece, then briefly find themselves wondering how airports would even function in a Donald Trump regime. Would the TSA be pulling anyone vaguely “Muslim” out of line for “vetting”? No, no … let’s not think about that right now.
Cluster & Eno, “Ho Renomo”
Speaking of Eno, some of his best work was done with German musicians Dieter Mobius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, both in Harmonia and two collaborative Cluster & Eno albums. This piece is perfect for the twilight of a very rough, 16-months-long day, and it proves that there are still many things we can learn from Germany. Yes, many things.
Harold Budd, “As Long As I Can Hold My Breath”
Eno also collaborated with prolific minimalist composer Harold Budd, and good God, how much longer can we hold our breath anyway? Fuck.
Grouper, “Moon Is Sharp”
It’s not even 2 p.m. CT right now.
We still have at least six hours or so before anyone can confidently declare a winner to this thing.
Steve Hauschildt, “Strands”
And even then, given the sort of rhetoric that’s been slung around throughout these last paroxysmal fits of our dying democratic process, it might be much, much longer before that winner is grudgingly accepted by the people who have spent an entire year loudly proclaiming the other side to be dangerous, manipulative frauds and kinda sorta openly suggesting they get shot. Anyway, Steve Hauschildt’s new record Strands is one of the best electronic albums of the year; here’s hoping we’re in a place where we can just talk about that by December.
Loscil, “Catalina 1943”
That goes for both sides, too: What if Trump wins? What if, after all these months of believing that a man who gorges on a steady diet of blue-collar rage and lulzing Twitter eggs simply has to choke on it, instead it finally passes through him as he takes a giant shit on America? What then? Are the soothing sounds of Vancouver experimental artist Loscil going to be enough to quell the outcry?
Gas, “Pop 1”
It happened with Brexit. Everyone there was so confident that rationality would prevail, they didn’t vote—or worse, they made “protest votes” that they didn’t think would actually count. And then they stumbled out into the next morning wondering what they’d done. Maybe some of them tried listening to Wolfgang Voigt’s seminal ambient project Gas, and maybe that helped them calm down and forget, however briefly. But then they probably just thought about how expensive importing his stuff was going to be from now on.
Stars Of The Lid, “The Artificial Pine Arch Song”
Sorry, this was supposed to be a place where we didn’t think about this stuff for a little bit. Here’s 18 minutes of soothing drone from Stars Of The Lid.
Max Richter, “On The Nature Of Daylight”
You might recognize Max Richter’s work from The Leftovers, the HBO series about people struggling to come to grips with a cataclysmic, inexplicable event that challenged everything they thought they ever knew. But this is from The Blue Notebooks, a very pretty album that has no thematic parallels to anything.
Nils Frahm, ”Says”
This track from modern composer Nils Frahm’s Spaces has a slow build, staying in a soft, familiar minor key before it shifts unexpectedly, exploding into a far more dramatic flurry of urgent notes and distortion. Just listen to the music and don’t think about metaphors.
William Basinski, “Melancholia II”
Most people associate William Basinski with his epochal The Disintegration Loops, a composition he completed the morning of the September 11 attacks that became a de facto musical tribute to American tragedy. But this is from Melancholia, and it’s just very pretty without any political subtext.
Jon Hopkins, “Immunity”
The title track to Jon Hopkins’ 2013 album (my personal favorite of that year) is a sort of early-morning rumination on the late-night peaks and valleys of all the music that preceded it, capping off an occasionally volatile emotional ride with some peaceful introspection. We could all use that. We could use about a week of that.
Boards Of Canada, “Dawn Chorus”
No matter what might be going on, this song never fails to make me feel better—calmer, warmer, and content that, despite the persistent urge to tear each other to pieces over perceived threats to our way of life, or just because we find it funny, there is an inherent goodness to the human race that’s untouchable by something so petty as politics. I’ll be listening to it a lot for the rest of the day, and quite possibly for days to come. I offer it now as my final gift to you, my fellow Americans who just need to chill out for a goddamn minute.