Music to write by
January 17, 2014 12:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting sick of writing to the same music. Suggest me new stuff please. Nitpicky particulars and what I'm listening to right now inside.

I don't know that there's a word for the type of music I'm looking for, since it seems to cross many genre boundaries, but appropriate adjectives would be: drone-y; kind of ambient without being capital-A "Ambient; more "rock" than "post-rock" (i.e. not Godspeed You Black Emperor); long, mostly wordless (or just a few repeated words/phrases) tracks that feel propulsive in some way. This, I know is utterly vague, so here are some examples:

Oneida's Preteen Weaponry (though not necessarily their other records)

Explosions in the Sky

The Ghost Dog score (NOT the soundtrack)-- which is obviously an exception to the "more rock than not" rule.

Slint's Spiderland teeters on the edge of too many words, but they're often low enough in the mix for me to ignore.

Spacemen 3 / Spiritualized (probably more the former than the latter) would be great if J. Spaceman shut up. Ditto My Bloody Valentine.

(And, yes, I have seen this thread, which is looking for a particular mood that is not quite my jam.)

Thanks for indulging my vague flailing.
posted by dersins to Writing & Language (26 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I think this track by the Swans might be what you want.

Also have a look at Pelican
posted by Sauce Trough at 12:46 PM on January 17, 2014

ha, that's my ask you linked to. I have a long ambient music playlist for when I'm writing and don't want vocals (and not necessarily feeling spooky, that was for a particular book); it includes lots of Explosions in the Sky, the Album Leaf, Boards of Canada, Saxon Shore, Ulrich Schnauss & Eluvium.
posted by changeling at 12:48 PM on January 17, 2014

I don't have an specific recommendations, but I've found Pandora to be pretty helpful in discovering new music that gels with what I generally like. It's not perfect, but (as you may already know) it takes a particular song that you give it and then creates a random and ongoing radio station that tries to reflect the style and genre of music that you've given it. You get some duds sometimes, but it learns over time as you tell it what results you like, and it's helped me discovered some new music that is absolutely in my wheelhouse that I never would have discovered otherwise.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:56 PM on January 17, 2014

I wrote a book to the Mysterious Skin soundtrack (by Harold Budd and Robyn Guthrie), which has a bit of the MBV feel, though a little more ambient than that.
posted by carrienation at 12:57 PM on January 17, 2014

Perhaps Math Rock is where you want to go rather that post-rock. Follow the trail of influence from Don Caballero to Hella to Battles to Do Make Say Think to Lite to Tera Melos.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:13 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love that Slint album. These may or may not fit into the rock thing, but they're what came to mind.

Do Make Say Think Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord Is Dead

NIN's Ghosts

The Octopus Project Hexadecagon

Black Moth Super Rainbow Dandelion Gum (perhaps too psychedelic, but fun anyway)
posted by inkytea at 1:15 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not related to Math Rock but you should check out Holy Fuck.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:15 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by jbickers at 1:24 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I feel really productive when I'm listening to Kraftwerk. I think "Autobahn" and "Trans Europe Express" might fit your criteria.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:27 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've always found Boards of Canada's "Music Has the Right to Children" to be an exemplary album to write to.
posted by erlking at 1:34 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rufus Wainwright's Want One and Want Two albums work for me like Explosions in the Sky when I'm writing. But I love him. LOVE HIM.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:00 PM on January 17, 2014

Another suggestion for Do Make Say Think, which hits a lot of the same buttons as Explosions in the Sky for me.
posted by curious nu at 2:40 PM on January 17, 2014

Would Mogwai be what you are after?
posted by Artw at 3:44 PM on January 17, 2014

You should look into classical minimalism if you somewhat enjoy some classical music. Steve Reich, Philip Glass (he experimented with minimalism in the '70s), Terry Riley.. A lot of the musicians mentioned in this thread were inspired by these guys. I would start off with Steve Reich. Music for 18 Musicians is his masterpiece, in my personal opinion. It's an hour long composition with multiple instruments cycling through chords. I'd also check out Music In Twelve Parts by Philip Glass.

I personally love listening to this music while I draw. Check them out and see if you'd like them. If you dig it, browse through Youtube to find more.
posted by morning_television at 3:57 PM on January 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've been writing to the Future Sound of London "Environments" series lately... not really all that rock-ish but I think it might work for you - I would check out Environments 4.
posted by Artw at 4:01 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Colin Stetson has been my coding music for the last few days.
posted by St. Sorryass at 5:24 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am now going to pimp my best friend's band, which as far as I can tell is exactly what you're asking for: Piano Piano. They're post-hardcore times post-rock to the power of awesome. About half their album is free to stream on the website, so give it a shot.
posted by Errant at 7:53 PM on January 17, 2014

Try Gaslamp Killer or Flying Lotus.
posted by dobie at 12:09 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also like writing while listening to Explosions in the Sky. Another band along those lines which works the same way for me is Toe (one album is here). Most of their songs are instrumental, and the few that do have lyrics are in Japanese and so don't distract me as I'm not a speaker of Japanese.
posted by tractorfeed at 8:52 AM on January 18, 2014

Thanks for all the awesome suggestions. I will commence checking them out and report back. You guys are the best.
posted by dersins at 10:44 AM on January 18, 2014

What about Tortoise?


instrumental tracks?

Bardo Pond?
posted by *s at 10:55 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Li'l Beethoven by Sparks to the rescue! A few years ago this was my go-to soundtrack when I was pulling all-nighters to meet a 3,000 word daily deadline.

Sample tracks:
The Rhythm Thief
How Do I Get to Carnegie Hall?
I Married Myself
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:49 PM on January 18, 2014

But wait! There's more!

You might also like Tosca

or Radio Department.
posted by *s at 3:25 PM on January 18, 2014

Seconding BoC, Can, and early (i.e. Transient Random) Stereolab, all of which I've used successfully as sound beds for writing.

During a three-month stretch at the end of 2009, I managed to churn out two journal articles by listening pretty much non-stop to Grails Burning Off Impurities and Take Refuge in Clean Living, both of which albums have the kind of drone-rock slow-build aesthetic I think you're looking for.

Other albums that might fit the bill: Gnod Drop Out with White Hills II and Gnod's Somnambulist's Tale. (I personally find the typewriter ambient sounds in the background of much of ST conducive to writing, but YMMV.) Oh, and re: the recommendation above for Terry Riley, Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO have an album very much in that vein. And if you've had luck with Ghost Dog, you might want to check out the Limits of Control soundtrack too.
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:22 AM on January 21, 2014

Not sure if this stuff will be too capital-A ambient but you might want to check out Music for Programming. Coincidentally, I posted to the blue about it awhile back, and there was some good discussion in the comments of music that other mefites like to write or code by.
posted by Doleful Creature at 5:42 PM on February 7, 2014

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