Home > music, work > i can hear a collective rumbling, in america

i can hear a collective rumbling, in america

I’m trying to quickly put together a playlist for travelling today, and my iPod is polluted entirely with “working music,” the albums I listen to while trying to get stuff done. Not at all appropriate for a mini-vacation, especially when the themes of the next few days will be bourbon, horses, and women in big hats. Off to Kentucky for the weekend, and no posts til Tuesday. Entertain yourself with a little bit more about music to build deliverables to, won’t you?

There are times when the music you listen to while working needs to serve primarily as sonic wallpaper. I’m not particularly good at writing anything other than the occassional email or blog post – the joke is that I take five paragraphs to write what takes most people one – and so the music I listen to during has to not distract me, and maybe even help coax the words out of my head as I struggle to articulate my points.

For that there are two sure fire albums I’ll listen to: Prefuse73 Reads the Books and Jeff Beal’s Carnivale soundtrack. Both are amazing, rich soundscapes – what my friend Ryan finds in Boards of Canada is similar to what I see in these two. They stay out of my way, and get that higher level goodness off my mind and into my writing.

I do not find myself in contemplative-writing mode as often as I’m stuck in a marathon production effort. Geting deliverables produced in a single go helps me maintain consistency and overall information design, and so I tend to have long sessions focused entirely on pushing them out. The soundtrack for that tends to be on the “hella loud” side: headphones-only, punish-the-ears, break-the-neck (and, yeah, get shit done).

The two best options for that right now are The Sword and Ghostface Killah. I am not by any stretch a metalhead, but my friend Jim in Atlanta probably wouldn’t mind that title (the first three bands we had in common were Nashville Pussy, Mastodon and Early Man). He took a listen to the new Sword album, Age of Winters, and declared the band, “the new mayor of Awesometown.” There is no superlative grander than that, friends.

Ghostface put out Fishscale earlier this month, and it’s simply gorgeous. Whoever was on the boards while he was in the booth must’ve pushed the head nod levels to “11”… the whole album is just sick, but those first four tracks are ridiculous.

So. Go find, listen to, and buy the above. Hell, browse around Aquarius while you’re at it, if you’re feeling adventurous. Enjoy the tunes, and the weekend.

Categories: music, work
  1. May 5, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    You can’t go wrong with Fishscale. It has to be the best album this year. Suprisingly, not even one track was produced by Rza ! It really is amazing. Ghost is the king of New York. I’ve been listening to that album for the past two months ( “advance” copy ) and I still can’t get enough of it. The rhymes are so deep. As Rza would say; “Shorty doesn’t even have to go to summer school, the new album will give you all the education you need this year!”. Enjoy.

    ps. You did an excellent job with Sphere ( sphere.com ). I was a bit puzzled at first ( because the power features are rather well hidden ), but as I got used to it, it began to make more sense. Kudos to you.

  2. May 10, 2006 at 7:59 pm

    Thank you, Nicholas. I’m happy if people grok what we were after in trying to design Sphere – and happier still if the tool proves useful to them.

  3. jordan
    May 10, 2006 at 10:20 pm

    While I don’t have any specific music suggestions, I’ve found “grouping” tag in iTunes to be useful for these situations. Next time something appropriate comes up, just put in ‘vacation’ or the like, and you’re a smart playlist away from a happy iPod.

  4. May 11, 2006 at 5:41 am

    Thank you for the tip, Jordan. Nothing reduces labor like a little bit of upfront effort.

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