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Radical Tracks: waves of melancholia

A playlist curated with the purpose of rumination, reflection and emotional release

As Winter Solstice arrives, the sun’s journey around the earth comes to a close and we mark the end of the solar calendar, the magic allure of manifestation can be particularly powerful. The month of December often prompts a time of inner reflection. We may find ourselves looking back at the past, finding hope in the future, counting our blessings, failures and getting lost in a dream of imagined reality. The dark and cold of the outside world provides an opportunity to pause and shine a light inwards so that we can mirror this externally and project light out. This month’s Radical Tracks, Waves of Melancholia, is a playlist curated with the purpose of rumination, reflection and emotional release. 

Why is it that listening to ‘sad music’ can make us feel good? This question has been studied profusely, with sociologists, scientists and psychologists alike pondering the answer to why it is we enjoy lowering ourselves into melancholia while we listen to ‘sad music’ – what does it actually give us?

From a granular perspective, it was discovered the chemical release of Prolactin (the comforting hormone) is stimulated when listening to sad music. A more psychological nuance argues it heightens traits such as fantasising and dissociation, which can lead to positive emotions such as nostalgia, empathy, peacefulness and wonder. Famously, this has been coined as a “paradox of pleasurable sadness” – the examination that despite our efforts to avoid misery, we find it beautiful or pleasing in art. 

While what constitutes ‘sad music’ is widely subjective, this playlist offers an interpretation laid consecutively from lyrical tracks to drone ambient with the purpose of steadying and relaxing our vibrational frequencies, to focus our mindset into a state of meditative reflection. Beginning with the visionary Jamaican reggae artist John Holt, Strange Things, then sweeping to more grunge influenced murky-guitar melodies with IVVVO, Bleached Butterfly and ML Buch, River Mouth. The sequence progresses to hopeful, textured and soft storytelling electronica with Malin Genie, Venus to make way for the second half of the playlist, which sees the descent to ambient centred tracks. Starting a more classically driven composition with DjRUM, Unblocked and finishing with Blanket Swimming, Vessel, a delicately crafted minimalist track.

Words and curation by Charlotte Hingley