Tokin' of Appreciation
Sleep's Dopesmoker and Other Top Pot Jams
Listen to an excerpt of "Dopesmoker" by Sleep.
Stoner-metal lords Sleep's reunion tour, along with the reissue of their 2003 magnum tokus, Dopesmoker, makes this an ideal time to survey the best songs to blaze trees to. And even though I rarely partake, I know a dope pot anthem when I hear it. Of course, thousands of tracks can bake your brain just fine, but these 10 have been chosen, after extensive research and crowdsourcing, to optimize your buzz. (We disqualified reggae and Cypress Hill because they're too easy.) Pack your bong and inhale to the chiefs!
Sleep, Dopesmoker. San Jose trio Matt Pike, Al Cisneros, and Chris Hakius let it all hang out for 63-plus minutes of third-eye-blackening metal. Moving with methodical, demonic power, Sleep imbue Dopesmoker with a sacred solemnity that augments the group's bleary-eyed, low-end bludgeon. This stentorian paean to herb and its supernatural properties could be used as a convincing argument to legalize marijuana—or maybe not. Anyone involved in the lawmaking process about the plant would have his/her critical faculties devastated by Sleep. Another pipe dream up in smoke.
Boards of Canada, "Happy Cycling." Scotland's Boards of Canada may be the most 420-friendly electronic artist this side of the Orb. Anything from BOC's classic 1998 debut, Music Has the Right to Children, could work here, but "Happy Cycling" gets the nod for its usefulness as a motivator for sluggishly funky, leg-pumping bliss. The seagull cries and distant angelic chorus add to the song's beatific aura. Not all of these selections should be about lazing horizontally, right?
Can, "Future Days." On Future Days, krautrock giants Can dispense with their overt rhythmic thrust and opt for a vast, kosmische mist of oceanic sound. That approach is exemplified in the title track, an ice-water-veined cha-cha that practically evaporates in your ears. Michael Karoli's spidery, liquid guitar figures and Damo Suzuki's wispy sotto-voce bob over Jaki Liebezeit's skittering beats, transporting you to a tropical utopia that's similar to the one on the LP's sidelong "Bel Air"—which is too sublime for y'all to handle.
Miles Davis, "Guinnevere." First time I heard this, Spring Heel Jack's Ashley Wales was spinning it before a 1995 Spiritualized gig in Lakewood, Ohio. I was on acid, and it sounded like the most languid, opiated piece of sonic beatitude ever. I asked him what it was. He said, "Miles Davis covering David Crosby's 'Guinnevere.'" I'm still chuckling at that answer. Miles & Co. turned a fluffy folk ballad into a tambura/tabla-enhanced, 18-minute score for the greatest slow-motion sex you've never had. Acid, pot, 'shrooms, E, K, salvia... this would sound amazing on any of 'em.
Earth, Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version. Yes, the whole album. Dylan Carlson's homegrown ambient-metal marathon is the big bang of doom drone—a lavish 73-minute banquet of downtuned guitars snarling and fizzing with malicious intent. Earth 2 plunges you into the belly of a mastodon after a huge feast, and the sound is like the ensuing borborygmus. Paranoia strikes deep in this one; draw the shades and sink into the sofa cushions, bro: You're in for a long, slow derangement.
Massive Attack/Mad Professor, "Radiation Ruling the Nation." Mad Prof's version of the triphop classic "Protection" sensuously fragments Tracy Thorn's forlorn vocals and transforms the watery guitar figure into a magenta lava-lamp globule. The altered bass and drums sexily shift the earth's plates and your whole world trembles when Thorn's heart-melting, chivalrous lyrics get delayed into infinity. Perhaps the best remix of the '90s.
Monster Magnet, "Nod Scene." This is a sonic vérité of the pot-smoking ritual, with lyrics about getting "our heads just right" and "seeds busting up the spine" of singer Dave Wyndorf's copies of Yes's Fragile and Led Zep's ZoSo. The resinated grunge-metal tar pit Monster Magnet manifest on this highlight from Spine of God is one from which your stoned ass will not want to escape.
Pärson Sound, "India (Slight Return)." Swedish trance rockers Pärson Sound weigh in with one of their heaviest jams, a master seminar in solemn hypnosis through lumbering beats and a simple, fluctuating riff that at times sounds like a triumphant bagpipe orchestra. "India (Slight Return)" will carry you away on majestic waves of peace.
Seefeel, "Time to Find Me (AFX Slow Mix)." AFX (aka Aphex Twin) submerges shoegaze gods Seefeel's first single into a tub of molassesy dub for maximum laxitude. Sarah Peacock's feathery coo wafts over the lethargic 60-bpm trudge and guitar/keyboard sighs, and you aren't going anywhere for its entire nine-plus minutes because every atom in your body is orgasming.
Spacemen 3, "Feel So Good," "Call the Doctor." Fug, the whole The Perfect Prescription album, whence come these tunes, could boost your THC levels for weeks. But let's go with these two mellow joints, which turn your bones to jelly and your mind to pure honey.