The Modern Lullaby

August 30, 2017

Matilda Morley

“Curating a Musical Midnight Remedy”

The first time I fell asleep to a dedicated sleep playlist I was fifteen.

Earlier that day I had checked in for my knee reconstruction surgery at Sunshine Hospital, a shining beacon of medical adequacy that rests off the side of the Western Ring Road and boasts a two-star rating on Google.

Waking up in a hospital room with three fledgling mothers and their tiny bundles of unpleasant infancy, I soon realised that not only had I chosen the worst possible hospital to stay at, I had also put myself in a position where it was nigh on impossible to sleep comfortably. After an interesting trip to the bathroom with my numb, bandaged dead weight of a left leg, I resigned myself to making a vaguely sleep-themed playlist in an attempt to get some rest.

Of course what followed was far from a peaceful night, but nevertheless it began my exploration of the modern lullaby. Approximately fifteen separate playlists entitled “sleepytime tea”, “slep slep slep”, “nu slep slep” and variations thereupon later, I decided that playlists weren’t enough. I needed the v i b e. As such, here are my vague yet rather specific instructions for creating the ultimate bedtime atmosphere.

STEP ONE: Selection of Songs

When choosing my list of elite sleep-inducing tunes, I first turned to that fateful night in the hospital. Recalling certain choice tracks, I began to piece my project together. Prioritisation is the key – when weighing up one’s options one must consider the fact that putting one’s favourite song on the list may cause resentment and obstruct the sleep process (in much the same way that making one’s favourite song their alarm will forever cause one to associate it with panic).

STEP TWO: Technical Difficulties

It is not enough to simply play songs one after the other. Having been associated with the vaporwave movement, as well as having been well-off enough to own a Mac (but not quite well-off enough to afford a better program than Garageband), I took it upon myself to remaster these tracks (read: butcher these tracks), slowing them down ever so slightly and adjusting the EQ to extremes on all frequencies. The final result was intended to make me feel as if I was underwater, but of course my inferior workstation and lack of experience meant that it just made me feel vaguely woozy. It was good enough for me.

STEP THREE: And Just a Pinch of Pretension

I recorded it onto a cassette. This step is optional for those who haven’t yet compromised their integrity in favour of shameful aesthetics. Since the era of the gentrified cassette has not yet arrived, obscure tapes with names like “Country Classics” and “New Worship Songs ‘89” can be picked up for cheap at most op shops. Putting a little bit of sticky tape over the square-shaped holes on the top edge will enable the cassette to be taped over. Be sure to choose only the most unimpressive tapes, otherwise one day you may regret destroying a hidden gem.

The final result? I have created something beautiful. It sounds like it exists somewhere between blissful serenity and a hellish echo chamber. I suppose it vaguely achieves its purpose. I’m sure others could do much better than I, and I’m still not certain that it’s actually sending me to sleep, but it was an interesting project to have used my sleepless midnight energy pursuing. 

Click here to hear the (sleepy?) mixes

Click here to hear the original tracks