15 Songs to Listen to When You Want to Relax

Take a breather.

relaxing music for work
P&P Original

Image via Jonathan F

relaxing music for work

Music can be many things to different people, but its ability to soothe and de-stress listeners isn't something we don't highlight enough. It's not always about a catchy chorus or a stellar vocal performance—sometimes music heals, soothes, and distracts the brain from anxiety with subtler elements.

Existence can be pretty overwhelming. Every now and then a little assistance is needed in shutting off from the world. From spa soundtracks to one of Frank Ocean's most tender moments, we've got you covered. Instead of stressing out about work or studying, take a breather and just unwind for a moment with some of the most relaxing music around.

Instupendo - "Boy"


There’s a whole bunch of streams on YouTube right now of lo-fi hip-hop, usually with a melancholy looking anime girl studying as the thumbnail. While these are enjoyable enough, few of them really embody that slice-of-life feeling. Philadelphia-based producer Instupendo, however, produces music that’d make the perfect accompaniment to something as beautiful and breathtaking as Your Name. Describing his own sound as "electronic melancholy-nostalgia music," the 17-year-old's latest track is his most cinematic and best yet.

As for whether we can ever expect his music to soundtrack something in the future, he told us, “I’m a huge fan of visual art in all forms, and the intersection of music and visual performance has always been fascinating to me. When the opportunity comes, I’d love to score something I completely appreciate creatively.” Here’s hoping, because “Boy” is perfect for it.

Yamaneko - “Lily’s Dream Fountain”


Local Action producer Yamaneko isn’t one to put himself in a box, often delving into his own niche curiosities with fascinating results. He’s made a full album worth of music inspired by keygens (software used to illegally crack software that requires a license) and even collaborated with Mr. Mitch for the grime meets ambient collaboration Yaroze Dream Suite.

But with Spa Commissions, an album specifically made for people to relax to, he released his strongest body of work. Originally commissioned for a spa in Europe, as the name suggests, he expanded upon the commissions and made nine intoxicating loops. “Lily’s Dream Fountain” channels the feeling of a PS1-era loading screen, and there are few things as relaxing as that.

Stars of the Lid - “The Mouthchew”

Stars of the Lid

Throughout their discography, Texan drone duo Stars of the Lid have composed some of the most beautiful and minimal ambience ever committed to record. Blending new-age classical sounds with synths that fade away into the background ever so slightly, their two most recent albums, The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid plus And Their Refinement of the Decline, are minimal masterpieces in their own right.

Picking just one song from either of the albums, which both run over two hours, is overwhelmingly difficult. “The Mouthchew,” however, is a good indication of what to expect.

Burial - “Young Death”


With the release of his transformative 2013 EP Rival Dealer, mysterious British producer Burial widened the lens of his cinematic music. Instead of relying on claustrophobic drums, racing to overlap the samples and textures beneath, he further explored how far he could take his idiosyncratic, rain-soaked atmospherics.

2016’s “Young Death” saw him dialing back the percussion even further, drawing back until his signature click-clack is almost non-existent. Geniusly expanding upon the gorgeous interludes found on his only two albums, 2006’s Burial and 2007’s Untrue, “Young Death” is gorgeous.

Mount Kimbie - “Fall Out”

Mount Kimbie

Warp Records duo Mount Kimbie returned last year with the stunning Love What Survives, mastering their songwriting talents and expanding the scope of their sound. It’s easily their best album yet, but it’s missing the very particular sound that made Cold Spring Fault Less Youth so comforting. Rife with static and warm, inviting guitar melodies, the album’s closer “Fall Out” moves at a brisk pace but begs the listener to slow down.

Grouper - “Headache”


Liz Harris, the sole artist behind Grouper, is remarkably prolific, having released ten solo albums since putting out her debut effort in 2005. She’s slowed down a bit recently, but what she has given us since her latest album, Ruins, has acted a brilliant reminder of what makes her distinctive sound so appealing.

Slathering the singer-songwriter approach in layers of reverb and fuzz, she blends ambient music with more traditional songwriting in some incredibly interesting ways. “Headache,” the first track on a two-track single she released in 2016, is a great starting point for the rest of her intimidating, but rewarding discography.

Boards of Canada - “Open The Light”

Boards of Canada

It’s been around five years since we last heard from them, but enigmatic Scottish duo Boards of Canada should be one of the first acts that come to mind when talking about nostalgic music. There’s a timeless quality to their output that’s consistently haunting, yet comforting. It all sounds like something you’ve heard before, and yet it sounds like nothing else. Their Music Has the Right to Children highlight, “Open The Light,” is a great example of that.

This isn’t going to be the last time a Warp Records signee shows up on this list, either.

Brian Eno - “An Ending (Ascent)”

Brian Eno

Aside from being one of the most important and influential figures in popular music, Brian Eno is also considered to be the godfather of ambient music. After working with David Bowie on his legendary Berlin trilogy, Eno split his time between the worlds of pop-rock and the avant-garde.

One of his most accessible and prettiest forays into experimental music is 1983’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, which was originally composed for Al Reinert’s 1989 NASA documentary For All Mankind. “An Ending (Ascent)” sounds every bit as if it were made to be listened to while floating in space, weightless and yet so significant at the same time.

2814 - “恢复”


For the most part, vaporwave was a dorky meme that went way too far. But on the other hand, it’s also responsible for launching one of Bandcamp’s most interesting labels. Dream Catalogue have been putting out all sorts of curiosities over the years, but with 2814’s 新しい日の誕生 (Birth of a New Day), they released one of the most essential ambient albums of the last decade.

Blending the feeling of a futuristic cityscape with swirling melodies and warped pianos, the album’s opening track makes it abundantly clear what type of record it’s going to be. As if crafted to recreate that feeling of looking out a hotel room window as rain pours, “恢复” is the first of many transportative experiences the album offers.

Falls - “Indoor”


Minneapolis producer Falls is at his absolute best when he strips everything down, working with as few elements as possible. With a number of projects to his name, his production ranges from ethereal lo-fi hip-hop, to more adventurous experiments. He’s been fine-tuning his approach for years now, and when he focuses on simply creating an atmosphere, his talents really shine. With over ten releases to his name already, including one on Shlohmo's WeDidIt label, Falls just keeps getting better.

Taken from his most recent EP Sunwarmed Window, “Indoor” features dozens of subtle tracks layered on top of each other, and it’s one of his most relaxing and serene pieces to date. His more beat-oriented and ambient work is still very much worth checking out, but when he combines the two his music is essential.

Frank Ocean - "Seigfried"

Frank Ocean

With his long-awaited return, Frank Ocean challenged his listeners and came out the other end with 2016’s best album. Blonde was one of the most popular and talked-about albums of the year, and it reached such heights by blending more avant-garde elements with R&B and pop. “Seigfried” might not be the clear favorite, but it’s definitely one the album’s prettiest moments, hitting the heart and mind like a tranquilizer.

Aphex Twin - "Avril 14th"

Aphex Twin

In every sense of the word, Aphex Twin is a certified legend. No one does ugly and pretty as well as he does, shuffling between the two extremes and sometimes even combining them. Nowhere is this more apparent than on his baffling 2001 release Drukqs. As daring as its breakbeat and avant-garde noise experiments are, his songwriting skills and knack for melody are what has allowed this album to stand the test of time. “Avril 14th” is its best, and most iconic moment. It’s simply wonderfully composed, and even if you don't know Aphex Twin you might recognize it from Kanye West's interpolation on "Blame Game."

Bibio - “Phantom Brickworks”


It’s hard to pin down Bibio, as he constantly evolves and shifts his sound from one album to the next. His fidgety approach to folk-infused electronic music really struck a chord, but just as he reached the height of his popularity, the Warp Records signee moved on.

After singing on his colorful production and writing full-blown pop songs, he decided to create something wholly removed from the rest of his discography with Phantom Brickworks. His most bare, but also perhaps his most cohesive album, Phantom Brickworks is almost purely textural. Melodies drift in an out, resulting in a wonderfully soothing listen. The album’s title-track is the standout for sure, but the whole release is perfect to unwind to.

Gold Panda - “Pink And Green”

Gold Panda

Gold Panda first made waves thanks to his J Dilla meets microhouse aesthetic, blending hip-hop production techniques with more dance-oriented beats. But as much as his music is good at getting people moving, it's just as good as calming listening too. Inspired by a lengthy stay in Japan and wearing the influence it had on him proudly, Good Luck and Do Your Best finds the British producer in fine form. Songs like “Pink And Green” are capable of making the most stressful work that much easier, offering a much-needed mental escape in times of crisis.

Nicolas Jaar - “Killing Time”

Nicolas Jaar

Chilean-American composer and producer Nicolas Jaar made a huge splash when he released his debut album, Space Is Only Noise, back in 2011. After five years of working on side-projects, commissions, and extensively touring, he finally returned with the mammoth-sounding Sirens in 2016. The opening track sets the tone, “Killing Time” hinting at what Jaar has in store for the rest of the album. It’s a larger-than-life follow-up, but “Killing Time” eases us in.