By Shane Hisner
It is that time of year again. When each Oberlin student gathers up all his or her necessities—MacBook, headphones, several packages of Sour Patch Kids, and a case of Starbucks frappuccino—and stakes out some remote corner in Mudd Library as their own. A flag is planted, a written statement read, and the hours of facebook creeping and iTunes sorting are ahead. From time to time, this ritual procrastination is interrupted by brief periods of study.
Whether studying or just chilling out like the worthless slacker you are, you should at least do it to good music. Below is a list of albums that, during my time at Oberlin, have proved to be great study music:
Specifics by Midwest Product
This 2002 release is prescribed to the student on a deadline. Subdued yet danceable electro-rock from the now defunct Ann Arbor band. Coupled with the 40mg’s of Adderall you just snorted, your heart rate should have no problem staying above 100bpm (ideal for studying) for the rest of the night. Here’s the opener:
Machinarium Soundtrack by Tomáš Dvořák
Machinarium is a puzzle/adventure game available for download here. It comes highly recommended—an artistic masterpiece, really. The visuals are out-of-this-world, and the music is the dopest—maybe somewhere between Four Tet and Bjork. I have no idea who Dvořák is, except for that he’s Czech and that at the time of his last photoshoot he was sporting a bowl cut.
Dreamcatcher by Andy Mckee
Mckee is the artist behind one of the first viral videos in the history of Youtube. His video for Drifting has claimed over 35 million views and has been on the tube since 2006. He plays his guitar almost exclusively open-tuned, and gets more noise out of it than one would guess is possible. For some reason the sound of harmonics being played on a guitar makes me feel like I should be thinking. It’s the natural soundtrack of the active brain. Here he is playing some mass of an instrument beautifully:
Self-titled, 13 & God
This album is for a long night when the lights go out on the fourth floor, and you’re pretty sure there’s something living behind the wall you’re propped up against—something large.
This is the only album on this list that is not strictly instrumental. Generally I find studying to music with lyrics intolerable. Once, after turning in a paper that I never bothered to proofread, I got it back with question marks surrounding an errant Springsteen lyric. 13 & God is somehow different. It’s a collaboration between the German recording wizards from The Notwist, who you may know for their 2002 cult-classic Neon Golden, and California-based hip-hop group Themselves. Here’s a strange video:
Music Has the Right to Children by Boards of Canada
My absolute go-to in a crunch. If you are searching for inspiration for your surrealist fiction final, this is it. Some music has a way of inspiring writing’s creative process. Boards of Canada falls into this category. The Scottish duo changed the path of electronic music forever when they emerged in the 1990’s. Eerie vibes, eerie vibes.