Studio Soundtrack 026: On Repeating
Studio Soundtrack features songs selected by a student at Waterloo Architecture.
I’m Sean Maciel, with the latest installment of this long-running series where hip people share hip songs and I share five songs that will ruin you.
Deadlines bring to light the worst of my musical preferences, which is probably true of everyone. If you need a playlist filled to the brim with only Joanna Newsom, Eric Prydz, and the saxophoniest mid-00s ska you can find in order to cope with studio stress, that’s okay. This is a safe space. We’re not here to judge you, we’re here to judge me
When I really need to concentrate, I loop music on repeat: usually a single song, over and over and over. We’re not talking ten times in a row, or fifty; this is hours, potentially days, of listening to the same four minutes of sound. I discovered this early in second year, I think, when I realized (to my deep confusion) that the only thing I wanted to hear for the rest of the weekend was two songs from a nu-folk Christian album I’d accidentally found on Grooveshark.
Apparently, the desire to simulate the circumstances of psychological torture for perceived mental benefit is a thing some of us just do, and I’ve met a number of classmates who pass deadline mode in much the same way. Perhaps you do, too. Or perhaps some of you are filled with anxiety at the very thought. I get that.
I’m not sure how to explain the appeal other than it is one less thing to worry about: an entertaining white noise machine that my attention can dip in and out of easily. The sort of song that catches my fancy is usually some quick, loud, upbeat pop: Clean Bandit’s only song was a big one, and I’m certain that during one three week period on co-op I heard Oliver Nelson remix Marina and the Diamonds around a thousand times. Last deadline, I was stuck on Kimbra and the essential Carly Rae. Otherwise, my ears turn toward synthwave: Kavinsky, the excellent Pilotpriest, SURVIVE. Not all genres are fair play, but the stuff I repeat is stuff I like.
Again: I believe all of this is normal and not some freaky ASMR stuff – I am convinced it helps me concentrate. #noshame!
except SOMETIMES it gets weird. That’s because a few of the songs I loop, for VERY long, just… can’t be accounted for. These are them. I’m very sorry.
- Teen Dream – Beach House
We’ll start easy, by which I mean: actual music. During an early Rome deadline I sat down to work and decided it had been a while since I heard any Beach House, so I let Teen Dream play on repeat for the rest of the day, blocking out the kids in the daycare and the street performers around the corner.
When I headed back in the next day, I figured I’d enjoyed it so much I would try again. Not long after starting, though, a vaguely unfamiliar song came up, and then another, and then a third. That’s when I realized that instead of listening to the entire album, I had accidentally listened to the first song, for hours, without ever recognizing I wasn’t listening to an entire album.
Can’t fault them for having a consistent sound.
- Neil Cicierega
god help me
- Big Ideas (Don’t Get Any) – James Houston
ok now we’re gettin weird
During the final Rome deadline I was consumed by this version of Radiohead’s Nude. What sets it apart, you’ll note, is that it is played entirely by old and obsolete pieces of technology not intended to be used musically.
And I mean, it’s good enough, but – I ask you – is it good enough to listen to for three days? The hard drive speakers make Thom Yorke sound like he recorded the song in a can of potatoes. The first minute of the video is a single E note. The bass line is a flatbed scanner. what is wrong with me
- Mizue – Inoyama Land
I found the Music Interiors mix by way of BLDGblog, because of course I did. This curated hour of aggressively minimalist 1980s Japanese corporate music is delightful, and I can’t recommend it enough.
One of the songs in the mix particularly caught my attention. Mizue by Inoyama Land is an obscenely mild thing, drifting by on a slow and measured series of tones. Just a whole bunch of ’em! The greatest tones. The real treasure of Mizue is that it’s basically infinite, looping both every thirty seconds and between the start and end. A significant departure from nearly every other song I’ve ever listened to for nightmarish lengths of time, I find this series of quiet byongs and bwoops to be uniquely enthralling. It’s like you’re working next to a very busy train crossing, he typed excitedly.
- half life 2 overwatch voices in russian (archive)
Hoo boy, okay. Here we are.
In first year, I remember that Donald McKay told our class he doesn’t like listening to music while he drafts; he prefers audiobooks, because (among other factors) they lack a set rhythm. I also remember finding this funny, at the time.
This audio track, recorded for the Russian-language version of popular science fiction video game Half Life 2, has joined me at every job I have held since 2012. I will sometimes put it on in the morning and forget it is there until I try to put another song on. I have no doubt whatsoever that I’ve listened to this YouTube video more than any other piece of audio in my entire life.
Anyway, that’s all.