Jeffrey Silverstein’s top 10 albums for recentering

photo by Shade Standard

Jeffrey Silverstein is a musician, writer and special education teacher living and working in Portland, Oregon.

He recently put out his debut album ‘You Become The Mountain’ on Arrowhawk Records. The record is inspired by the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, mindfulness meditation, long-distance running and his work as a teacher.

The result is a soothing collection of guitar pieces that are perfect to get you in a calm & collected mindset. The album shines in its simplicity and we can perfectly imagine listening to it during a long car drive into a sunny horizon. Just smiles all the way.

Intrigued by the world Jeffrey has set out, we asked him to share with us a mood list that captures the mood he was in when he recorded the album.

Jeffrey shared – “Instrumental music has a way of grounding me in a way lyric-driven songs often cannot. The albums I’ve selected below help bring me back to the present moment and towards my spiritual center. I’m grateful that music has that power over me. Perhaps one these records will have a similar effect on you. Happy listening.”

David Naegele – Temple in the Forest

I first discovered David Naegele’s Temple in the Forest via one of my favorite Instagram accounts, Ultra Village. A classical piano prodigy, Naegele became the first in-house music producer for Dick Sutphen’s Valley of the Sun label, one of the most prolific new age/self help labels out of Los Angeles in the early ‘80s. He put out five albums with the label under his own name including Temple in the Forest which contains just two long tracks of harmonious music for relaxation. 

Ryan Dugre – The Humors

My Arrowhawk Records labelmate Gabriel Burnbaum turned me on to this one. A talented multi-instrumentalist, this is Dugre’s second full length release from 2019. His guitar playing is technical but not overdone. Every note counts. The title refers to the ancient medical system based on the theory that one’s health and emotional well-being is determined by the balance of the body’s four fluids, or humors, each of which corresponds to an aspect of temperament. 

Green-House – Six Songs for Invisible Gardens

Six Songs for Invisible Gardens is the first release from Los Angeles based artist Olive Ardizoni under the moniker Green-House. Designed as “a communication with both plant life and the people who care for them,” I’m sure Mort Garson would be a huge fan of this one. Simple, calming, meditative and great for focus.  

Alabaster DePlume – To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol. 1 

The backstory of this album drew me in immediately. Cy & Lee was written for two gentlemen with learning differences that DePlume supported via his work at Ordinary Lifestyles, a charity in North Manchester. His job was to get the guys socialising and he did this by making up songs with them. They’d make up melodies together, humming tunes in the house when they needed something calm, or when they were haring round the city in a battered car. DePlume would record these impromptu sessions on his phone, then go to the studio and use the material as starting points for songs. The result is a set of gorgeous instrumentals sitting at the crossroads of psych, folk, jazz and more. 

Amparo – Dark Sky City

I came across the music of Sweden based Arizonian Lela Amparo via the Rural Sounds label/blog. This five song EP was released in 2019 and Amparo says the release is a “way of remembering and recalling memories of years spent in the Arizona mountains and desert valleys. Each track carries with it a connection to a special place or adventure that helped guide me to where I am today. The warmth that emanates from each guitar recorded in the ep is reminiscent of the feeling when the summer heat clashes with the approaching autumn and the distinctive feeling in the air when seasons are about to change. “

Channelers – The Depth of Rest 

I was just blown away the first time I heard this record. Released in 2019 on Inner Islands, I have returned to it countless times throughout quarantine and it continues to have the same restorative effect on me with every listen. My highest recommendation. 

Ernest Hood – Neighborhoods

Released in 1975, Neighborhoods is the lone private press LP from Portland, Oregon musician Ernest Hood. During the early ‘70s, Hood would go on “special road trips” around Oregon, visiting different covered bridges or country stores, recording ambient sounds and sketching the locale (the cover of Neighborhoods is one of Ernest’s own drawings). He would then return home to create a “travel tape” that was intended for the disabled and housebound. Originally given away for free in Portland to modest fanfare, there is now a beautiful reissue from the Freedom to Spend label. 

Smith & Erickson – Blue Skies

Originally released in 1985, this is a favorite new age record of mine. Not a ton of info out there on this one, but there is digital reissue via Yoga Records now available. Starts with a really neat guided meditation. 

Misha Panfilov Sound combo – Days as Echoes

Recently I have had the pleasure of becoming internet friends with this group. Released in August of this year, Days as Echoes channels Krautrock philosophy and Library music and is peppered with elements of jazz, Ethiopian, cinema, ambient and bits of everything between. Perfect for a crisp autumn drive/walk. 

Peals – Walking Field

Composed of Future Islands bassist William Cashion and Double Dagger’s Bruce Willen, Peals are one my favorite Baltimore-based groups of all time. Walking Field is a record that turned me on to the idea of writing instrumental music of my own. I love how quickly they establish mood. Such beautiful melodies and a record I’ve used countless times as a reference point for myself before entering the studio. 

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