If there were ever a moment when the world needed yoga, we are now living through it. Anxiety management is in high demand. This month’s soundtrack is designed to lead you through a rigorous and ultimately peaceful yoga practice. Given the global nature of this public health crisis, this soundtrack features artists from across the planet.
The set opens with a beautiful guitar rendition of one of Malian superstar Salif Keita’s biggest hits “Folon” by South African musician Derek Gripper. I had the opportunity of catching Gripper’s debut U.S. performance in Los Angeles last year; he’s a stunning performer.
We enter the flow with Richard Russell, founder of Britain’s XL Recordings and the mastermind producer behind “Everything Is Recorded.” Showing love is something we could all use right now. We segue to Los Angeles–based Swedish singer Snoh Aalegra with a killer remix of “Whoa,” featuring Pharrell Williams. Brazilian singer Ceu is releasing her newest record soon. The single “Coreto” signals that she’ll have another smash on her hands. Closing out this midtempo set, Les Amazones d’Afrique is a stunning female Malian supergroup. “Smooth” is a wonderful introduction to this incredible project and a wonderful addition to Mali’s deep musical catalog.
We’re heavy into the flow at this point with an upbeat dance track by Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke on this fascinating collaboration with Gnawa musicians—the merging of Morocco and Ethiopia. Following up this trance song is the French electronic duo Synapson. On “Bensema,” we have another Malian star, Oumou Sangare, crushing the vocals. The Weeknd’s latest single “After Hours” is too seductive to pass up; it’s one of his best tracks to date. We close the dance portion with the latest single from Duke Mushroom and myself, aka EarthRise SoundSystem. “Vai Tristeza” features Brazilian singers Fabi and Davi Vieira.
We swerve into heavy soul next. One of my favorite collaborations of the past year has been a Thai psychedelic rock–inspired outfit from Houston, Khruangbin, with Fort Worth’s prodigal son Leon Bridges. While their styles are normally disparate, they merge a Texan soul sound on the silky “C-Side.” “Fade Away” is on Robert Glasper’s soundtrack work for “The Photograph,” featuring New Orleans singer Lucky Daye on vocals.
We travel to Portland, Oregon, to visit gospel singer Liz Vice. “Empty Me Out” is one of the most asked about songs I ever played in a yoga class. One listen and you’ll understand. We stay on the “gospel-lifted” tip with “Take Me Home” from Jose James’ new record. The beautiful devotional features Lizz Wright joining James on vocal duty. I only recently came across Malaysian singer Yuna’s cover of TLC’s “Creep,” and am I happy I did. You will be, too.
We descend with “Solid Ground,” a stunning song by British-Ugandan singer Michael Kiwanuka. Remaining in the U.K., where New Zealand’s Jordan Rakei now lives, we settle into a stop-in-your-tracks live version of “Best Part.”
We wind down our flow with three ambient tracks: “Approach in a Breeze” by German producer Pantha du Prince from his latest record; a beautiful rework of British ensemble The Cinematic Orchestra by Southampton pianist James Heather; and finally, “Nap Blanket” by New Jersey–born, Los Angeles–based pianist Pete Kuzma. It’s a restful way to end.
Here’s hoping this flow excites and ultimately calms you during this challenging time.
Editor’s note: Derek Beres is now streaming his yoga flows and you can tune in or watch later, here.
Photo credit: vgajic, Getty Images