Five Albums for Late Night Listening

Scott Wallace
10th Aug 2016

Sometimes, you just have to stay up late - Study, work, catching up with long absent friends, or maybe you can't sleep. Some people are just night owls. Whatever reason you're up in the wee small hours, some music will help to create your own little oasis in the middle of the night. Here is our selection of five albums perfect for late night listening, just be careful not to wake anyone.

In a Silent Way by Miles Davis (1969)

Miles Davis' groundbreaking jazz fusion album may be the quintessential late night album. Opening with ghostly organ, slithering guitar and shimmering hi-hats, it immediately creates an unbreakable atmosphere of solitude. Across the two twenty-minute tracks that make up the album, Davis and his band conjure a gorgeous and freely morphing ambience as if they are playing in their sleep. Even when the tempo and volume pick up in the albums final quarter, there's still that late night air of reflection that makes this such an incredible record.

Pink Moon by Nick Drake (1972)

The final album from the sadly unappreciated-in-his-lifetime folk singer Nick Drake is a late night marvel in every way. The whole record is just Drake and his guitar, his oddly deep and mellow voice ringing out with weariness and sorrow. Even within the simple folk framework, Drake finds odd spaces for his songs to nestle, from the wispy instrumental "Horn," to the unbelievably fulsome and beautiful "Which Will." The enigmatic title track which opens the album is the key to the whole thing - as soon as it rings into life, a trance-like hush falls over everyone in earshot.

Treasure by Cocteau Twins (1984)

The glimmering opulence of Cocteau Twins' masterpiece Treasure seems almost too fine and delicate to stand up to the daylight. Frontwoman Liz Fraser's distinctively mush-mouthed (it's hard to tell if it's a Scottish accent or if it's even English) floats over a lacework of heavily reverbed guitars and distant drums. At times, Treasure is almost like a midnight tour through a haunted house. Faces and finely filigreed details emerge from the shadows, bathed in silvery moonlight. It is at once both expansive and cosy, just like a being up late at night can often feel.

So Tonight That I Might See by Mazzy Star (1993)

The glorious "Fade Into You," with its lapping guitar chords and streamers of slide guitar was the single that made Mazzy Star's name, but the band's second album contained nine other equally spellbinding tracks too. Singer Hope Sandoval's foggy voice is the main draw of So Tonight That I Might See, but just as important is Dave Roback's blues-inspired fretwork. Of particular note is a cover of Arthur Lee's "Five String Serenade," which is as skeletal and still as bare winter branches, and the deeply resonant title track that closes the record on an enigmatic and wide-eyed note.

Night Drive by Chromatics (2010)

The dusky disco of Chromatics has always stuck to a template, but what a template it is. Inspired by Italian disco music of the '70s and '80s, Chromatics invest otherwise danceable beats and pulsing basslines with the blur of headlights on rain-slicked roads. Singer Ruth Radelet is by turns a pining lover and a guarded femme fatale on Night Drive, which contrasts netherworld pop jams like "I Want Your Love" with sinister instrumentals like "Killing Spree" and "Tick of the Clock." The most awe-inspiring moment may be a cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up that Hill" which is somehow both optimistic and hopeless at the same time.