Look on Spotify, and you’ll see a billion and a half playlists dedicated for study help and productivity and the like. (Approximately one billion and a half; no more, no less.) And that’s great and all that some people have found music that works for them, but I’ve never been able to focus with classical music or smooth jazz or any of that “calming” stuff. It’s about balance for me, between something too distracting and too calm. I, like many other modern humans, can get diverted to other things pretty easily. But to make something boring to distract one track of your mind while leaving another one to work doesn’t really pan out well. I need something that figuratively tackles that other part of my mind that wants to go and look on Facebook and pins it there. The following list contains a few albums that I like to listen to for this very purpose. And trust me, these have worked; I’ve written an innumerable amount literary analysis just to these albums alone.
Author & Punisher – Ursus Americanus
While good old Author & Punisher put out what is arguably his best album to date, Melk En Honing, last year, his 2012 album Ursus Americanus is probably the best to write to. Tristan Shone’s industrial beats are enough to suck you in and keep that ADD part of your brain taken care of, but his vocals on this release aren’t as noticeable as they are on other releases, so you don’t end up focusing too much on the album. (And on a musical level this album kicks ass; just listen to “Terrorbird” and feel the sonic monster of Tristan Shone reach for your earballs.)
MONO – Hymn to the Immortal Wind
This is pretty much the opposite of Author & Punisher, what with its lush soundscapes and dynamics that personally effect me on an emotional level whenever I hear it. But Hymn to the Immortal Wind makes for some good listening if you’re not into the other albums on this list. MONO’s use of rise and fall dynamics and the general production on this album definitely catch the ear, but not enough to completely distract. Enjoy with a box of tissues if you’re really listening to it, because you’ll most likely shed tears of joy while listening.
Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
I was tempted to make this article all jazz, but hey, there are some good metal releases that work equally well. I couldn’t in good conscience leave this article off with what is probably my favorite thing to listen to when I have to write something important. Bitches Brew is often considered one of the first jazz fusion albums, and one of the greatest allover jazz albums ever. Like the other albums on this list, it has this ability to grasp your brain in just the right way. You’re wondering what the hell Miles Davis is doing on his trumpet throughout this thing, and then next thing you know the last track “Feio” is playing, your paper is done, and Miles is whispering “ring ring ring ring” out of your speakers.
So, enjoy! The playlist is below. Feel free to add your own list in the comments section!